Monday, September 5, 2016

Dallas-Fort Worth: Travelling and Billing on North Texas Toll Roads (NTTA)


If you visit the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you could have the following options driving on its toll roads:
  • Driving your own car
    • Order a TollTag (i.e., either a sticker or a hardcase)  in advance 
    • Pay by ZipCash later
  • Renting a car
    • Use the TollPass service provided by a car rental company
      • For example, here is the information from one car rental company (note that this information may vary):
        • $3.95 per usage day, not to exceed $19.75 per rental period
        • Note that this is the administration fee which doesn't include your unpaid tolls
    • Open a short-term Zip-Pass account with NTTA 
      • By calling NTTA Customer Service at 972-818-NTTA (6882)
    • Move your hardcase TollTag (not available to the sticker ones) temporarily to a rental car 

The reason is that some roads or toll stations in NTTA (North Texas Toll Roads) coverage area are "electronic payment only" and this may be the only way to pay your toll.  Alternatively, you can use the service roads alongside the toll roads (see map below; click to enlarge). Finally, read the toll enforcement policy from NTTA before you head out to its toll roads.


TollBag vs ZipCash



Differences
TollBag
ZipCash
What is it?
  • A prepaid account opened to cover the cost of tolls using a credit or debit card
The NTTA’s pay-by-invoice option:
  • Developed to replace cash collection as the NTTA transitioned to all-electronic toll collection
  • Designed for non-TollTag customers
How are you charged?
  • Tolls are automatically deducted from the account each time a vehicle with a TollTag passes through a tolling point.
  • Bills are sent by mail to the registered owner of the vehicle
  • When a motorist without a TollTag drives through tolling points, high-speed cameras take digital images of the license plate, and the tolls are billed to the registered owner of the vehicle.
Advantages /
Disadvantages
  • May be used on any toll road in Texas, including area TEXpress Lanes
  • Accounts opened with a credit or debit card also may be used for parking or pass-through at DFW International and Dallas Love Field airports
  • Rates for travel are at least 50 percent higher than TollTag rates.
  • May incur NTTA fees and/or rental agency fines
How to open an account or pay for it?
  • Opening or managing a TollTag is just a click away at the Online Customer Service Center.
  • Visit an NTTA TollTag in Plano, Iriving or Fort Worth, or call them at 972-272-(6882) or 817-731-(6882).
  • NTTA also has Regional TollTag Partners such as local municipalities, grocery stores and more than 1,100 MoneyGram agents throughout the Metroplex. View a complete list of Regional TollTag Partners Customer Information Section.
ZipCash invoices can be paid:


If You Rent a Car


Rental Car Company's TollPass


Various rental car companies share vehicle information with the NTTA to offer toll road access to their customers, while others offer an optional toll road plan at the time of the rental. Before driving NTTA roadways in a rental vehicle, please ask your rental car company about its individual toll policy. If your rental agreement includes toll road usage, the vehicle may be used to travel on any NTTA road, and you will receive a ZipCash invoice referencing the rental car tollway use.

If NTTA does not have an agreement with a driver’s rental car company or the driver declines their rental company’s toll policy, then the driver may be subject to NTTA fees and rental agency fines upon use of toll roads.

NTTA's Zip-Pass

Rental car companies have varying toll payment methods, but NTTA’s Zip-Pass offers a consistent way to pay tolls accumulated while driving a rental vehicle during a visit to Dallas/Fort Worth. A Zip-Pass account is available as a short-term method for visitors to pay for tolls while driving in rental vehicles. A Zip-Pass account allows motorists to avoid added fines, fees and opt-in costs charged by rental car companies and assures tolls are paid on time while driving a rental car or visiting Dallas/Fort Worth in a personal vehicle. Customers must call NTTA Customer Service at 972-818-NTTA (6882) to open a Zip-Pass.

You also can ask your rental car company about its individual toll policy. If NTTA does not have an agreement with a driver’s rental car company or the driver chooses not to opt-in to their rental company’s toll policy, then the driver may be subject to NTTA administrative fees and rental agency fines upon use of toll roads.

If You Have a Hardcase TollTag

If you have a hardcase TollTag, you may temporarily move your TollTag to a rental car after updating your TollTag account with the rental vehicle’s information. You may update your information through Online Account Management or by contacting NTTA Customer Service at 972-818-(NTTA) 6882.

After using your hardcase TollTag in a rental car, you must update your TollTag account with your regular vehicle information to avoid administrative fees.

This option is not available to customers with sticker TollTags, since attempting to remove the sticker will damage the tag.

References

  1. FAQ
  2. NTTA (official) site
  3. North Texas Tollway AuthoritySign and Traffic ControlDevice Guidelines
  4. Free roadside safety services (NTTA.ORG)
    • Call at 214-224-2203 or dial 911, if you need 
      • Changing flat tires
      • Jump starting vehicles
      • Filling radiator water 
      • Giving gas if you run out

Friday, September 2, 2016

When you are old





Lyrics


When you are old and tired and gray
Wear you overcoat on sunny days
When your brave tales have all been told
I'll ask for them when you are old


When you are old and full of sleep
And death no longer makes you weep
When your body aches with cold
I'll warm your heart when you are old


You'll still be the same to me
A comfort and a mystery
And I will be able to you see
I'll need someone to comfort me


When you are old and pale and gaunt
A gentle hand is all you want
I will give you mine to hold
And I'll be here when you are old
Yes I will give you mine to hold
And I'll be here when you are old

Written by Gretchen Peters • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Friday, August 26, 2016

Time Will Tell



Turning in the grain again
The bells begin to chime

Time, she says,
“There’s no turning back,
Keep your eyes on the tracks”
Through the fields, somewhere there’s blue
Oh, time will tell, she’ll see us through

Howling out,
The windy hills
And all the time we took
You should know just how it steals
Keep your hand on the wheel
And through it all, somewhere we knew
Time will tell, she’ll see us through

And all fire and flames took all we trust
We’re kicking up dust
Stations fade just like they do
Oh, time will tell, we always knew

Oh, time will tell, we always knew

— Gregory Alan Isakov 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dead Outlets — What It Could Be If Breaker Is Not Tripped?


After moving to Texas from another State, I have run into issues with sections of the outlets that suddenly stop working. But, when I checked the fuse box, no signs of tripping was found there . What happened?

Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)


A ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a safety feature required usually when an outlet is installed near
  • Water–bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Exterior fixtures
They are designed to trip when a current imbalance occurs. When this happens, it’s easy to reset the outlet.

However, knowing what happened is the first challenge and locating where the GFCI outlet is the second challenge.


Personal Experiences


My first experience of GFCI tripping happened outside the house. Thanks to a contractor who has kindly shown me where the GFCI is—it is located inside my garage.

As shown in the above photo, you can never guess CFCI is actually located on this outlet. To see it, you need to unplug the plug .


The second experience happened recently in the kitchen when I started my water heater. I heard a click sound which puzzled me. Then I have found my outlet stopped working. After looking around, I have identified several outlets also stopped working. On one of them, I have found the GFCI as shown in the photo below:





How to Reset?


To reset the interrupter, you just press the "RESET" button which is the first button in the middle. The second button is "TEST" and only for testing.

If your GFCI outlet continues to trip then you may have a short or a defective GFCI outlet. You may want to contact a licensed electrician to address the problem for you.

References

  1. How to Reset a GFCI Outlet
  2. What is a GFI outlet used for, and where should I install them?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Blogger: 2 Ways to Recover Deleted Blog Post

While migrating posts from one blog to another, I have inadvertently lost some posts in the following steps:
  1. Opened post on the old blog in editing mode
  2. Copied and pasted it to a new post on the new blog
Somehow, my new posts were lost in the middle of process. Also, I have deleted all posts on the old blog immediately after they were copied.

The end result is that I cannot find migrated posts on both the old and new blogs. Here are the approaches I have taken to recover them.



Google Cache


Google search engine crawls article posted frequently, indexes them and saves a cache version of the page.  It also keeps on updating it in a timely manner.

As described in [1], I have started looking for my lost posts in the "Google cache" first.  This approach works for posts that have been published.  

To find deleted blog posts, type the following URL in Google search:
  • Blogger 
    • site:yourblogname.blogspot.com
  • Sites
    • site:sites.google.com/site/stanleyguansite 
      • For Sites, Google has deprecated it and here we just show you how it works for sites other than blogs
Since all my posts are drafts and unpublished.  I didn't find them from the "Google cache."

    Browser History


    Then I have tried to recover lost posts from the browser history.  Unless or until you clear the browser history, it is possible to recover your deleted draft post from it.  Here are the steps:
    1. Look up your browser history 
      • In the picture above, we have shown the list from Chrome
    2. Open all the address to find your draft post(s)
      • The list can be long.  So, view them in chronological order and also jot down the time stamp of each link after you visit them
    In my case, I can further narrow down my search to links related to "editor" such as:
    https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=4544184179023228052#editor/target=post;postID=5245457364490338775

    References

    1. Easy Methods To Recover Deleted Blogger Blog Post

    Saturday, April 30, 2016

    StateTaxes—All Things Considered

    As Harry Dent said in his article:
    Like It Or Not, It's The Democrats' Era And Your Taxes Are Going Up

    Assuming his prediction is correct, in which state, should a retiree reside to reduce his/her tax burden?



    State Taxes


    There are three major state/local taxes to be considered:
    1. State income tax
    2. Sales/local tax
    3. Property tax

    In a map, AARP has shown nicely which states do not have income tax, sales tax or taxes on social security.

    When a state comes to raise its revenues, each could be very different —except in each being heavily dependent on one main source of tax. For example,  Oregon state— which has no sales tax — relies far more heavily on income taxes than any other state (see below chart —click to enlarge).


    Comparing states for overall tax burden is a bit tricky and sometimes confusing.  Based on different consensus, survey year, methodology used in comparison, you may get different rankings.  For example, see the rankings based on different categories:

    Median Real Household Incomes


    Real median household income is among the most important measures of economic well being.  Read [4] for what real median household income is. 

    A clearer picture emerges when we divide households by age groups. The graph below, by Doug Short, shows this breakout, and note especially the approximately 50% decline in income for the retired age cohort.

    In below article
    its ranking is based on the effective tax rate for single taxpayers earning a taxable income of $50,000. Maybe it can be used as a guideline for a retiree's consideration.





    References

    1. Like It Or Not, It's The Democrats' Era And Your Taxes Are Going Up
    2. Taxes like Texas: Washington’s system among nation’s most unfair
    3. State and Local Sales Tax Rates in 2016 (Tax Foundation)
    4. Would The Real 'Real Median Household Income' Please Stand Up?
    5. Most Tax-Friendly States in the U.S.
      •  1. Delware 2. Wyoming 3. Alaska 4. Louisiana 5. Alabama 6. Mississippi 7. Arizona 8. New Mexico 9. Nevada 10. South Carolina
    6. Which States Tax Social Security Retirement Benefits?
      • Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia.
    7. Top 15 Most Tax-Friendly States for Retirees
      • 1. Alaska 2. Wyoming 3. Nevada 4. Mississippi 5. Georgia 6. Delaware 7. Arizona 8. Louisiana 9, South Dakota 10. Florida 11. Pennsylvania 12. South Carolina 13. Kentucky 14. Colorado 15. Arkansas 
    8. States With the Highest (and Lowest) Property Taxes
      • 1. New Jersey 2. Illinois 3. New Hampshire 4. Connecticut 5. Wisconsin 6. Texas 7. Nebraska 8. Michigan 9. Vermont 10. Rhode Island 11. New York 12. Ohio 13. Pennsylvania 14. Iowa 15. Kansas 16. South Dakota 17. Maine 18. Massachusetts 19. Minnesota 20. Alaska 21. North Dakota 22. Maryland 23. Washington 24. Oregon 25. Florida 26. Missouri 27. Georgia 28. Oklahoma 29. Nevada 30. Montana 31. Indiana 32. North Carolina 33. Kentucky 34. California 35. Mississippi 36. Arizona 37. Virginia 38. Tennessee 39. Idaho 40. New Mexico 41. Utah 42. Arkansas 43. Wyoming 44. Colorado 45. West Virginia 46. South Carolina 47. Delaware 48. Louisianan 49. Alabama 50. Hawaii
    9. The Best And Worst States For Taxes
      • Big three: income , sales and property taxes
      • 1. Wyoming 2. Alaska 3. South Dakota 4. Texas 5. Louisina 6. Tenessee 7. New Hampshire 8. Nevada 9. South Carolina 10. Alabama 11. Mississippi 12. Oklahoma 13. Montana 14. New Mexico 15. North Dakota 16. Georgia 17. Arizona 18. Missouri 19. Colorado 20. Florida 21. Virginia 22. Iowa 23. Utah 24. Washington 25. Kansas 26. Nebraska 27. Idaho 28. Kentucky 29. Indianna 30. Michigan 31. Haiwaii 32. West Virginia 33. Ohio 34. North Carolina 35. Oregon 36. Delaware 37. Maine 38. Illinois 39. Arkansas 40. Massachusettes 41. Pennsylvania 42. Vermont 43. Rhode Island 44. Maryland 45. Minnesota 46. Wisconsin 47. California 48. Connecticut 49. New Jersey 50. New York
    10. 15 States with the Highest Property Taxes
      • 1 New Jersey 2 Illinois 3 New Hampshire 4 Wisconsin 5 Texas 6 Connecticut 7 Nebraska 8 Michigan 9 Vermont 10 Rhode Island 11 New York 12 Ohio 13 Pennsylvania 14 Iowa 15 Kansas
    11. States With the Highest (and Lowest) Property Taxes
      • 1. New Jersey 2. Illinois 3. New Hampshire 4. Connecticut 5. Wisconsin 6. Texas 7. Nebraska 8. Michigan 9. Vermont 10. Rhode Island 11. New York 12. Ohio 13. Pennsylvania 14. Iowa 15. Kansas 16. South Dakota 17. Maine 18. Massachusetts 19. Minnesota 20. Alaska 21. North Dakota 22. Maryland 23. Washington 24. Oregon 25. Florida 26. Missouri 27. Georgia 28. Oklahoma 29. Nevada 30. Montana 31. Indiana 32. North Carolina 33. Kentucky 34. California 35. Mississippi 36. Arizona 37. Virginia 38. Tennessee 39. Idaho 40. New Mexico 41. Utah 42. Arkansas 43. Wyoming 44. Colorado 45. West Virginia 46. South Carolina 47. Delaware 48. Louisianan 49. Alabama 50. Hawaii
    12. 10 Major Cities With the Highest Sales Tax
      • 1. Seattle, WA 2. Oakland, CA 3. Chicago, IL 4. Memphis, TN 5. Nashville, TN 6.Los Angeles, CA 7. Long Beach, CA 8. New Orleans, LA 9. New York, NY 10. San Jose, CA, San Francisco, CA (tie)
    13. 10 Cities That Pay Some of the Highest Taxes in America
      • 1. Philadelphia, PA 2. Bridgeport, CT 3. Newark, NJ 4. Milwaukee, WI 5. Detroit, MI 6. Providence, RI 7. Baltimore, MD 8. Los Angels, CA 9. Portland, ME 10. Columbus, OH
    14. 15 Worst States for Taxes on Retirees
      • 1. Vermont 2. Connecticut 3. Rhode Island 4. Minnesota 5. Oregon 6. Montana 7. California 8. Nebraska 9. New Jersey 10 New York 11 Massachusetts 12. Utah 13. Indiana 14. Maine 15. North Dakota
    15. Kiplinger Tax Map
    16. The Worst States For Taxes
      • 1. New York 2. New Jersey 3. Connecticut 4. California 5. Wisconsin 6. Minnesota 7. Maryland 8. Rhode Island 9. Vermont 10. Pennsylvania 11. Massachusetts 12. Arkansas 13. Illinois 14. Maine 15. Delaware 16. Oregon 17. North Carolina 18. Ohio 19. West Virginia 20. Hawaii 21. Michigan 22. Indianan 23. Kentucky 24. Idaho 25 Nebraska 
      • Based on the effective tax rate for single taxpayers earning a taxable income of $50,000.
    17. Most Tax-Friendly States in the U.S.
      • 1. Delware 2. Wyoming 3. Alaska 4. Louisiana 5. Alabama 6. Mississippi 7. Arizona 8. New Mexico 9. Nevada 10. South Carolina
    18. Federal Estate Tax (Death Tax) Planning
    19. 10 Worst States in America to Make a Living in 2016
      • 1. Hawaii 2. Oregon 3. West Virginia 4. Maine 5. California 6. Vermont 7. New York 8. Montana 9. South Carolina 10. Rhode Island
    20. The 10 States People Are Fleeing
      • 1. New Jersey 2. New York 3. Illinois 4. Connecticut 5. Ohio 6. Kansas 7. Massachusetts 8. West Virginia 9. Mississippi 10. Maryland
    21. Tennessee To Become Income-Tax-Free State No. 8
      • “A lot of seniors come to Tennessee, and they get a surprise: We have a tax on people who have done things correctly by saving for retirement,” says Friday Burke, an enrolled agent in Brentwood, Tenn.
    22. 9 Worst U.S. States To Retire
      • 1. New York 2. Washington D.C. 3. California 4. Oregon 5. Hawaii 6. New Jersey 7. North Carolina 8. Minnesota 9. Illinois
    23. The Most Tax-Friendly States in the U.S. (Methodology used)
      • 1. Wyoming 2. Alaska 3. Florida 4. Nevada 5. Arizona 6. Louisiana 7. Alabama 8. South Dakota 9. Mississippi 10. Delaware 11. 
    24. Home Sales Showing Signs Of Stress

    Monday, April 25, 2016

    Gardening— A Guide to Fertilizer

    Plants need organic matter as well as water, and a fertilization schedule can be helpful to plants growing in our tough North Texas climate.

    Unfortunately, many homeowners apply the wrong fertilizer, too often, and at the wrong times. This leads to not only an expensive cycle of fertilizer application and mowing for turfgrass, but also creates pollution issues in our creeks and streams. To maximize your benefit from a chemical application, consider the following few suggestions.


    Use the right chemicals


    When looking at fertilizer products, keep in mind that the first number on the bag is always nitrogen (N), the second number on the bag is phosphorus (P), and the third number is potassium (K). Our North Texas clay soils are frequently nitrogen-deficient, but usually contain sufficient amounts of phosphorus and potassium. Each yard may have varying deficiencies in available nutrients, as well as potential deficiencies in other micronutrients, such as sulfur. To determine what your landscape needs, soil test kits are available at most home and garden stores.

    Use the right amounts


    It’s tempting to follow the “more is better” mantra, but it’s important to apply the correct amount of fertilizer for your lawn size. Measure the square footage of your landscape prior to purchasing chemicals to ensure you purchase only the amount that you need. Fertilizer labels generally contain specific and detailed instructions for application by square footage and plant type. Read the labels before applying any chemicals!

    Apply at the right time


    Many homeowners make the mistake of applying fertilizer before predicted rainfall, thinking that the rain will help wash the fertilizer into the soil. In fact, there couldn’t be a worse time to apply chemicals to your lawn! Most fertilizers are water soluble, and will wash out of your lawn during a heavy rain event and pollute local creeks and streams. It’s better to apply fertilizers when fair weather days are in the forecast. Spritz plant leaves using a hand-held hose to prevent them from burning after applying fertilizer. To ensure your fertilizer stays in your soil (where you want it), consider organic alternatives. Organic options such as compost are less water soluble than most synthetic fertilizers, and tend to be able to resist heavy rain events more effectively.

    While fertilizer can be an important part of lawn maintenance and health, there is a potential for “too much of a good thing.” Also, plants that are already adapted to our region will require fewer fertilizers, as they are accustomed to our natural soil chemistry – saving you time and money in the long run.




    Saturday, April 23, 2016

    What Men and Women Valued in a Long-Term Partner

    Study Compared Answers from 1939 and 2008:


    Top 3 Traits Valued by Men:



    Other Traits Valued by Men:



    Top 3 Traits Valued by Women:




    Other Traits Valued by Women:



    Source:

    401(k) Retirement Accounts: All Things Considered

    Qualifying for Medicare doesn't mean that your health care costs will be covered. Fidelity estimates that a couple who retires in 2013 will need as much as $240,000 beyond their Medicare coverage to pay for health care costs in retirement.[1] So it's crucial to have adequate savings set aside for your retirement.

    Assuming you have saved good amounts of money in 401(k), let's look at what the options you have when you retire.

    Key Facts


    Your 401(k)s—tax-deferred retirement plans—are before-tax investments and can continue to grow tax-free. Companies also often match your contributions up to a limit. For example, the matching contribution from Oracle is equal to 50% of your first 6% in 410(k) Contributions. which is capped to $5,100 in 2013. However, you do pay Social Security (FICA) and other employment taxes on your 401(k) contributions.

    At the time of 401(k) withdrawals, it will be taxed as your regular income. There is not a mandatory 401(k) retirement age. However, you may pay penalty taxes if you withdraw it earlier. After your have reached age 59½, you may withdraw all or a portion of your Account without incurring any penalty.

    Here are quick summary of 401(k) facts:[16]
    • Before you turn 59½
      • If you try to take money out of your 401(k) before you turn 59½, the funds are taxed as regular income — plus, you'll get hit with a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty.  Based on [25], this is a bad idea.
        • In some states, additional penalties may apply. For example, in California there is an additional 2½% penalty.
      • Age 55 (or 50; see belowis the earliest age to access 401(k) penalty-free[8-10]
        • Instead of a regular withdrawal you may be able to take a 401(k) loan, or qualify for a hardship withdrawal, if your 401(k) plan allows them.
        • You can also check with your plan administrator to see if they have a special provision that allows for something called an “in-service” withdrawal. “In-service” means you are still employed by the company sponsoring the plan.
        • The Pension Protection Act of 2006 made an additional change to the above rule: The age limit is reduced to 50 for retiring police, firefighters, and medics – so they can take distributions from their plans penalty-free at that age or after.
    • After you turn 59½
      • You have three options:[2]
        • Take the money and run
        • Leave it be
        • Roll it over
    • After you turn 70½
      • Required Minimum Distributions (RMD)
        • If you fail to take the required amount each year from pre-tax accounts, like 401(k)s and IRAs, by that age, you may face a hefty tax of 50 percent on the amount you withdraw.
        • To mitigate the tax bite from the RMD, there are several strategies:[24]
          • Purchase a qualified longevity annuity contract (QLAC) inside your IRA or 401(k). 
          • Convert your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA.(more common way)

    Now, let's look at the benefits and disadvantages of each option.[2]

    Take the Money and Run


    If you're age 59½ or older (or age 55, if you meet certain criteria), you won't owe an early-withdrawal penalty on a withdrawal of 401(k) assets, though you'll still owe ordinary income tax on the distribution.
      • Benefits
        • Free to invest or spend the money in anyway you want after withdrawal.
      • Disadvantages
        • You won't be able to take advantage of tax-deferred compounding over the course of your retirement.
        • You'll owe ordinary income tax on the whole kitty—you won't have the opportunity to spread the tax hit over many years.



      Leave It Be


      It can make sense to leave the money in your old 401(k) if your former employer offered a gold-plated plan with lots of low-cost options, some of which were exclusive to your company. For example, some plans provide access to ultra-cheap institutional share classes, and you won't find a stable-value fund outside of the confines of a 401(k) plan, either.
      • Benefits
        • Continue to enjoy tax-deferred compounding on your money.
        • For people who will need to tap their 401(k) assets prior to age 59½ are also better off leaving the money in the plan rather than rolling it over to an IRA, because they can avoid the penalty on early withdrawals once they hit age 55 and are separated from service during or after the year in which they turned 55.
        • Assets in a 401(k) often have better creditor protections than assets in an IRA, though the protections vary by state.
        • If employer stock consumes a big share of your 401(k), you may save on taxes by leaving the money inside of the plan rather than rolling it over.
        • Disadvantages
          • Some 401(k) plans are costly and subpar. 

          Roll It Over


          Provided you're not paying any administrative costs that override the benefits of those exclusive options, sticking with an old 401(k) plan can make sense.  If your plans are costly and subpar, you'll be better off rolling the money over into an IRA, where you'll enjoy full discretion over your investment selection rather than having to stick with a preset menu.

          If you roll it over to IRAs, be aware of these regulations:
          Federal tax law requires that you make the Rollover Contribution within 60 days from the date you receive your distribution from your prior employer’s plan or special conduit IRA. In order to comply with this 60-day requirement, You plan administrator must receive your distribution and all additional required documentation no later than 45 days after you receive your distribution.
          • Benefits
            • Allow you to enjoy tax-deferred compounding as long as the money remains in the account.
            • The new IRA may be cheaper and with more options.
          • Disadvantages
            • IRA assets don't always have the same creditor protections that 401(k) assets do.
            • You may opt for more risky and/or narrowly focused options, which may lose money in some circumstances.

          Conclusions


          There are 3 reasons for you to invest in 401(k):[5]
          1. To reduce your taxable income
          2. To provide tax deferred growth and allow you to defer taxes
          3. To get you free money (i.e., company matches)

          If you have saved a good amount of money in your 401(k) and are at age of 59½ or older, you have 3 options:
          1. Take the money and run
          2. Leave it be
          3. Roll it over
          If you choose to withdraw money from your 401(k), here are general distribution rules (check with your Plan Administrator for further information):
          • Your Account is payable 30 days after you terminate your employment with the Company for any reason.
          • Once you reach age 65, or if you terminate your employment after your reach age 65, your Account is payable as soon as practicable after your termination.
          Also, when your Account is payable to you, you may elect to take payment in a lump sum or in a series of equal installments. Installment payments shall be paid over a period not extending beyond your life (or life expectancy) or your life and the life of your beneficiary (or the joint life expectancies).

          Finally, a new Gallup survey shows that many baby boomers are reluctant to retire.[6,20] If you are one of them, pay special attention to the Required Minimum Distributions to avoid a hefty penalty. 

          References

          1. What Health Care Will Cost You (AARP)
          2. What Should You Do With Your 401(k) When You Retire?
          3. 10 myths that could ruin your retirement
          4. Can you avoid paying taxes on a 401(k) cash-out?
          5. 3 Reasons To Use An Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plan
          6. Baby Boomers Reluctant to Retire; What About the Fed's Retirement Thesis?
          7. Social Security Tax Breaks Drive New Retirement Strategy
          8. 401k Retirement Age - 55, 59 1/2, or 70 1/2 - Different Rules Apply
          9. Did you know you can access your 401(k) penalty-free at age 55?
          10. 401(k) Withdrawals at Age 55
          11. UNC Asheville (formerly the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement)
          12. The Next Chapter
            • The Next Chapter™ projects are community coalitions across the country that are working to help people in the second half of life set a course, connect with peers, and find pathways to meaningful work and significant service.
          13. The Lifetime Income Series: Making Sense of the Retirement Plan Alphabet Soup: myRA, IRA, Roth, SEP, SIMPLE, PSP, 401k, 403B, DBP, etc. (Audio)
          14. Make Sure You Know the Ins and Outs of Your 401(k)Plan (Wiser)
          15. Retirement Account Winners and Losers
          16. 5 Retirement Penalties to Avoid
            • IRA early withdrawal penalty (59½, penalty: 10%)
            • 401(k) early withdrawal penalty (59½, penalty: 10%)
            • Penalty for failing to take retirement distributions (70½, penalty: 50%)
            • Early Social Security penalty (62, penalty: 30%)
            • Medicare late enrollment penalties (65, penalty: 10%)
          17. The Lifetime Income Series: Which Is Which: Roth and Traditional IRAs (video)
            • Rollover IRA is the same as traditional IRA.  But, they are kept separated for ease of bookkeeping.
          18. Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)
            • Contribution limits
            • Deduction limits
          19. Retirement planning (must-watch video; start at 28:00 mark for the interview with Dr. Michael Finke, Professor & Director of Retirement Planning and Living at Texas Tech)
            • Retirement stages: 80 seems to be a big dividing line when it comes to physical and mental ability.  That's the time when we start to slow down and spending data statistics supports that theory.
          20. Plan a Satisfying Retirement (good)
          21. 25 Things I Know Now That I'm 60
          22. Key Question For Millennial Job-Switchers: What To Do With Your Old 401(k)?
          23. What should you do with that 401(k) when you retire?
          24. Happy Half-Birthday, Boomers! Now Pay This Tax …
          25. The Single-Worst Retirement Move

          Technical Analysis—More on NYSE McClellan Oscillator ($NYMO)

          As reported in [1], NYSE McClellan Oscillator ($NYMO) has pulled back nicely on 04/21/2016.  So, now it's nowhere near overbought.



          NYSE McClellan Oscillator ($NYMO)


          The McClellan Oscillator is a short- to intermediate-term momentum breadth indicator based on Net Advances (advancing issues less declining issues). If it is computed for the NYSE, the oscillator is called $NYMO.  Similarly, $NAMO is computed for the  Nasdaq.  Here we will focus only on $NYMO.

          The McClellan Oscillator is the 19-day EMA of Net Advances less the 39-day EMA of Net Advances. As the difference between two moving averages, this oscillator has characteristics similar to MACD. Signals can be derived from bullish/bearish divergences, overbought/oversold conditions and centerline crossovers.

          There are two ways of computing McClellan Oscillators:[2]
          • Traditional McClellan Oscillator
            • Uses the raw data for Net Advances
          • Ratio-adjusted McClellan Oscillator
            • Normalizes Net Advances by dividing them by advances plus declines
            • Shows Net Advances relative to the total number of stocks traded
              • Is important because the total number of stocks traded changes over time.
          The $NYMO shown in the chart above is ratio-adjusted.

          Centerline Crossover


          The McClellan Oscillator fluctuates between an level below -100 and above 100.   Based on [1], it interprets the overbought and oversold conditions as:
          • Overbought
            • Readings in the +55 to +65 area generally mean some rest needed
          • Oversold
            • Usually markets bounce at the -50 level.  But, if it fails at this -50, it can fall to the -90+ range
            • Note that $NYMO below -85 is a rare event and could indicate a short term bottom
          Short-term buy and sell signals are given when $NYMO crosses above or below its zero (flat) line. The chart shows, for example, the $NYMO bouncing from oversold territory in mid January before crossing over its zero line in late January. Although it has backed off from overbought territory at 100, it bounced back twice -50 level.

          As described in [1], $NYMO has pulled back nicely on 04/21/2016, now it's nowhere near overbought.  Note that the McClellan Oscillator is only useful over the short to intermediate term. 

          References

          1. Market Recap Apr 21, 2016 (StockTrader.com)
          2. Traditional versus Ratio Adjust McClellan Oscillator $NYMO
          3. MCCLELLAN OSCILLATOR IS STILL POSITIVE (posted 04/18/2009 on stockcharts.com)
          4. Nasdaq McClellan Oscillator ($NAMO
          5. Nasdaq McClellan Summation Index ($NASI)
          6. NYSE McClellan Oscillator ($NYMO)
          7. NYSE Summation Index ($NYSI)

          Sunday, April 17, 2016

          Long-Term Investments: Morgan Stanley's 30 for 2019

          Morgan Stanley has published a list of companies for your long-term investment considerations.  The criteria are based on:
          "Our best long-term picks based on sustainability and quality of business model"
          As described in this article, Morgan Stanley maybe is talking the book. if you invest in any stocks discussed here, you take your own risks.



          Evaluation Factors


          The evaluation is based on the following factors:
          • Management's Strategic Thinking
          • Competitive Advantage Trend
          • Maket Share Growth
          • Multiple Market Sahre Drivers
          • Pricing Power
          • Benefits from Scale
          • RCE Drivers
          • Cost Cuts/Culture
          • Incremental Returns Above Current ROCE
          • Capital Allocation 
          • Resilience to Current Headwinds
          • Governance
          • Environment & Social Risk/Opportunities


          Top 30 Companies


          Here are the top-30 list in alphbetical order:

          Saturday, April 16, 2016

          2016 Campaign: Candidates' Tax Plans and You


          Alright Everybody Gather round
          The Candy Man is here
          What kind of candy do you want?
          Sweet chocolate? Chocolate walnut candy?
          Gum drops? Anything you want
          You've come to the right man
          because I'm the Candy man!


          — The Candy Man by Sammy Davis Jr. 




          Democrat vs Republican

          • Democratic candidates
            • Would increase revenue and make the system more progressive
          • Republican candidates
            •  Would cut revenue and make the system more regressive. 

          Candidates' Tax Plans


          The 2016 campaign has plenty of trash talk flying around. But one of these people is likely to be president, so you’d better know their plans, especially tax plans. There are huge differences. These differences are especially stark for very high-income households.
          • Hillary Clinton 
            • Is pretty steady. No earthquake
              • Proposes much smaller tax increases, all focused on the rich
            • Read more here on CNN Money's analysis
          • Bernie Sanders 
            • Would go for the biggest peacetime tax hike in US history – but says you’ll love it.
            • Read more here on CNN Money's analysis
            • Also, read more here on Tax Foundation
          • Trump and Cruz 
            • Would cut taxes big time for the rich
            • Increase the deficit by trillions
            • Read more here on CNN Money's analysis of tax plans by Donald Trump
            • Read more here on CNN Money's analysis of tax plans by Ted Cruz

          Cartoon — Central Bank's ZIRP and NIRP Policies

          SourceHedgeye


          Source: Carlos @CharlesShwab

          Source: ZeroHedge

          SourceHedgeye

          SourceHedgeye

          SourceHedgeye

          SourceHedgeye


          Source: caglecartoons.com


          Thursday, April 7, 2016

          Retiring in Las Vegas—All Things Considered

          When planing for your retirement destinations, you should consider at least the following factors:
          • Affordability
          • Economic Health
          • Crime Rates
          • Populations of residents age 65+
          • Tax situation for retirees
          In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of retiring at Las Vegas or in Nevada state in general.

          Why Las Vegas?


          In [1], it describes top 5 reasons for people to visit Las Vegas:
          1. The Hotels
          2. The Shows
          3. The Casinos
          4. The Dining Scene
          5. The Nightlife
          If you retired in Los Vegas, you would also enjoy the same perks.  So, should you consider retiring at Las Vegas?  Before jump directly to the City itself, let's consider Nevada State in general.

          Taxes of Nevada State


          Based on an article at Kiplinger (updated: 09/2015), Nevada State has the following tax rates:
          • State income tax
            • None
              • The Silver State is one of nine in the U.S. that impose no income tax. 
              • Nevada is NOT on the list of states that tax social security retirement benefits[3]
          • State Sales tax
            • 6.85%
            • Food and prescription drugs are exempt from the state’s 6.9% sales tax, but counties may tack on up to 1.3%. The average combined state and local sales tax rate is 7.9%.
            • In addition to sales taxes, vehicle owners are charged an annual “government services tax” that’s based on the vehicle’s value and age. Tax on a two-year-old vehicle with an original sticker price of $20,000 would be $238.
          • Gas taxes and fees
            • 34 cents per gallon
          • Median property tax 
            • Median property tax on Nevada's median home value of $165,300 is $1,423, according to the Tax Foundation.
          • Estate Taxes
            • Nevada's estate tax system is commonly referred to as a "pick up" tax. 
              • This is because Nevada picks up all or a portion of the credit for state death taxes allowed on the federal estate tax return (federal form 706 or 706NA). 
              • Since there is no longer a federal credit for state estate taxes on the federal estate tax return, there is no longer basis for the Nevada estate tax. 
            • Nevada has neither an estate tax – a tax paid by the estate, nor an inheritance tax – a tax paid by a recipient of a gift from an estate.[13]

          Populations of Senior Residents


          If the percentage of senior residents (i.e., age 65 or up) is growing, it could mean two different things:
          • Good
            • It's the choice location for  retirees
          • Bad
            • Old people are too poor to move while young people are moving out to other locations for better job opportunities
          Keeping the above facts in your mind, here are some reports on the aging population in the US:
          • America's most rapidly aging cities[9]
            • Ranking
              • 1. Atlanta 2. Raleigh 3. Las Vegas 4. Portland 5. Jacksonville 6. Denver 7. Austin 8. Phoenix 9. Sacramento 10. Tuscon
            • For example, the report says that growth in senior share of population from 2010 to 2014 in Atlanta is 20.3%, Raleigh 18.1%, Las Vegas 17.7%
          • See the chart below for a report on where more people are dying than being born in America[10]
          • America's fastest-growing cities 2016
            • 1. Austin, TX 2. San Francisco, CA 3. Dallas, TX 4. Seattle, WA 5. Salt Lake City, UT 6. Ogden, UT 7. Orlando, FL 8. San Jose, CA 9. Raleigh, NC 10. Cape Coral, FL 11. Denver, CO 12. San Diego, CA 13. Oakland, CA 14. Charlotte, NC 15. Phoenix, AZ 16. Portland, OR 17. Boise City, ID 18. Las Vegas, NV 19. North Port, FL 20. Fort Lauderdale, FL 
          From the above reports, we can safely guess that Las Vegas is a retirement magnet and not the other way around.

          Crime Rates


          Las Vegas is a sin city.  So, you don't expect its crime rate be low.  In a bigger context, Nevada state is ranked 16 in a report—Top 20 states with the highest rates of death by gun:[5]
          1. Alaska 2. Louisiana 3. Mississippi 4. Alabama 5. Arkansas 6. Wyoming, Montana 8. Oklahoma 10. Tennessee, New Mexico 11. South Carolina 12. Missouri 13. West Virginia 14. Arizona, Idaho 16. Nevada 17. Kentucky 18. Indiana 19. Utah, Georgia
          In a smaller context, Las Vegas is ranked similarly to the following metro areas in the US:
          • Phoenix (AZ), St. Petersburg (FL), Tampa (FL), Boston (MA), Toledo (OH)
          based on the "frequency of murder and non-negligent manslaughter" rating.

          However, the city named Henderson in the suburb of Las Vegas has been ranked as bottom No. 2 (i.e., one of the safest metros) on the list.[12]

          Other Considerations


          Not classified in the above sections, we have listed other considerations here:
          1. Temperature[11]
            • One of the drawbacks of living in the desert area—where Las Vegas is located—is its dryness and temperature.  The recent drought in the West and global climate warning makes this situation worse.
          2. National Parks
            • There are great National Parks nearby which include:
              • Grand Cayon N.P.
              • Zion N.P.
              • Bryce N.P.
              • Death Valley N.P.


          References

          1. Our Top 5 Reasons to Visit Las Vegas
          2. Most Tax-Friendly States in the U.S.
            • 1. Delware 2. Wyoming 3. Alaska 4. Louisiana 5. Alabama 6. Mississippi 7. Arizona 8. New Mexico 9. Nevada 10. South Carolina 
          3. Which States Tax Social Security Retirement Benefits?
            • Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia.
          4. Top 15 Most Tax-Friendly States for Retirees
            • 1. Alaska 2. Wyoming 3. Nevada 4. Mississippi 5. Georgia 6. Delaware 7. Arizona 8. Louisiana 9, South Dakota 10. Florida 11. Pennsylvania 12. South Carolina 13. Kentucky 14. Colorado 15. Arkansas 
          5. Death by gun: top 20 states with highest rates
            • 1. Alaska 2. Louisiana 3. Mississippi 4. Alabama 5. Arkansas 6. Wyoming, Montana 8. Oklahoma 10. Tennessee, New Mexico 11. South Carolina 12. Missouri 13. West Virginia 14. Arizona, Idaho 16. Nevada 17. Kentucky 18. Indiana 19. Utah, Georgia
          6. 5 States Where the Middle Class Is Being Destroyed
            • 1. Wisconsin 2. Ohio 3. North Dakota 4. Vermont 5. Nevada
          7. States With the Highest (and Lowest) Property Taxes
            • 1. New Jersey 2. Illinois 3. New Hampshire 4. Connecticut 5. Wisconsin 6. Texas 7. Nebraska 8. Michigan 9. Vermont 10. Rhode Island 11. New York 12. Ohio 13. Pennsylvania 14. Iowa 15. Kansas 16. South Dakota 17. Maine 18. Massachusetts 19. Minnesota 20. Alaska 21. North Dakota 22. Maryland 23. Washington 24. Oregon 25. Florida 26. Missouri 27. Georgia 28. Oklahoma 29. Nevada 30. Montana 31. Indiana 32. North Carolina 33. Kentucky 34. California 35. Mississippi 36. Arizona 37. Virginia 38. Tennessee 39. Idaho 40. New Mexico 41. Utah 42. Arkansas 43. Wyoming 44. Colorado 45. West Virginia 46. South Carolina 47. Delaware 48. Louisianan 49. Alabama 50. Hawaii
          8. The Best And Worst States For Taxes
            • Big three: income , sales and property taxes
            • 1. Wyoming 2. Alaska 3. South Dakota 4. Texas 5. Louisina 6. Tenessee 7. New Hampshire 8. Nevada 9. South Carolina 10. Alabama 11. Mississippi 12. Oklahoma 13. Montana 14. New Mexico 15. North Dakota 16. Georgia 17. Arizona 18. Missouri 19. Colorado 20. Florida 21. Virginia 22. Iowa 23. Utah 24. Washington 25. Kansas 26. Nebraska 27. Idaho 28. Kentucky 29. Indianna 30. Michigan 31. Haiwaii 32. West Virginia 33. Ohio 34. North Carolina 35. Oregon 36. Delaware 37. Maine 38. Illinois 39. Arkansas 40. Massachusettes 41. Pennsylvania 42. Vermont 43. Rhode Island 44. Maryland 45. Minnesota 46. Wisconsin 47. California 48. Connecticut 49. New Jersey 50. New York
          9. America's most rapidly aging cities
            • 1. Atlanta 2. Raleigh 3. Las Vegas 4. Portland 5. Jacksonville 6. Denver 7. Austin 8. Phoenix 9. Sacramento 10. Tuscon
          10. Here's where more people are dying than being born in America
          11. List of United States cities by crime rate (2014)
          12. Weather Underground
          13. Federal Estate Tax (Death Tax) Planning
          14. S&P/CASE-SHILLER 20-CITY COMPOSITE HOME PRICE INDEX
          15. StateTaxes—All Things Considered (Travel to Wellness)
          16. EVERY STATE, RANKED BY HOW MISERABLE ITS WINTERS ARE