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Entering Early Retirement

After a 5-year hiatus on this blog, I will finally be able to find the time to blog about finance and investing again. I will be entering early retirement in my late forties in January 2017.

I plan to share on this blog the many choices that I face that are related to the various aspects of early retirement. Some of these choices include

  • Portfolio asset allocation and withdrawal strategy
  • Tax planning
  • Relocation choices
  • Medical care options
  • HSA selection

Stay tuned!

Refinance Started With First Internet Bank

It looks like the refinance train is here again. Due to the weak economy statistics, mortgage interest rates have dropped to rates not seen since October 2010.

Last week on 6/1/2011, I requested quotes from two brokers and two banks to refinance my 30-year fixed jumbo-conforming mortgage. The criteria for my refinance is that it has to be no-point and is either no-cost or has very low-fee.

Broker H

I have worked with broker H for previous refinances before. She quoted me a rate of 4.375% with a 0.375% fee.

Broker A

This broker was recommended to me from a co-worker. She told me the rate was 4.375% with no-point and no-fee at that particular instance, but the rate was valid only on that day and it was already too late to prepare the documents to lock in to that rate. She requires an upfront $25 for the credit report and another $50 to submit the loan (which will be reimbursed at closing).

Bank of America

I received a quote of 4.75% for a no-cost no-fee loan. My current loan is 4.625%, so this option is a no-no.

First Internet Bank of Indiana (FirstIB)

Based on many good reviews, including that from TheFinanceBuff, I have been watching the online rate quote from FirstIB. The online rate quote on this particular day was 4.375% with ~$1200 fee.

What I did

I decided to wait for a better rate from the brokers, and at the same time, to submit the application with FirstIB and wait for the right moment to strike.

FirstIB does not charge a fee to submit the online application, so it was a relatively easy decision, with the only “cost” being a hit on my credit report.

I submitted the online application with FirstIB’s Gary (who has received many good reviews). I received a call back from Gary about 3 hours later. He told me the rate had improved after my application was submitted, and the new rate was 4.375% with a $5000 credit. This credit can be used to pay for the closing costs (estimated to be $3000), with the remainder going into the impound account to pay for future property taxes and insurance.

Since this mortgage rate and fee scenario met all my criteria, I locked the rate with Gary on the spot. Gary told me that he expects the refinance to close in 25 days.

I am keeping my fingers crossed and will post the timeline once my refinance with FirstIB is completed.

TD Ameritrade New Account Bonus

I recently took advantage of a TD Ameritrade new account bonus. This promotion can be accessed through

http://www.tdameritrade.com/upto500

and runs through 7/15/2011. The fine print is as follows

Offer valid for one new Individual, Joint or IRA TD Ameritrade account opened by 07/15/11 and funded within 30 days of account opening with $2,000 or more. To receive $100 bonus, account must be funded with $25,000-$99,999 within 30 days of initial minimum funding. To receive $250 bonus, account must be funded with $100,000-$249,999 within 30 days of initial minimum funding. To receive $500 bonus, account must be funded with $250,000 or more within 30 days of initial minimum funding. If you open a new TD Ameritrade retirement account, cash awards are valid within your IRA only and non-transferable to another existing TD Ameritrade account. Please consult a legal or tax advisor for the most recent change to the U.S. tax code and for rollover eligibility rules. Offer is not transferable and not valid with internal transfers, Amerivest-related accounts, TD Ameritrade Institutional accounts, current TD Ameritrade accounts or with other offers. Qualified commission-free Internet equity or option orders must execute within 60 days of meeting minimum funding requirements. Contract, exercise, and assignment fees still apply. Limit one offer per account type. Account must remain open with minimum required funding for 12 months or TD Ameritrade may charge the account for the cost of the cash awarded to the account. TD Ameritrade reserves the right to restrict or revoke this offer at any time. This is not an offer or solicitation in any jurisdiction where we are not authorized to do business. Please allow 3-5 business days for any cash deposits to post to account.

Taxes related to TD Ameritrade offers are your responsibility. Retail values totaling $600 or more during the calendar year will be included in your consolidated Form 1099.

Since I already have an existing account with TD Ameritrade, I wanted to check if I can qualify. This is the reply to my inquiry

Yes, you can use that promotion if you open another account.  Please let us know if you need further assistance.  We really appreciate your business.

I opened a new account online. The account application and the credit of bonus went through very smoothly and quickly. The following is the timeline:

  • 5/30/11 (Memorial Day) : Submitted application online.
  • 5/31/11 : Faxed in signature form and asset transfer request in the morning. Later that day, received an acknowledgment that the asset transfer request was received.
  • 6/3/11 : Assets were transferred into the account. The new account was credited with the new account bonus as well as 100 free trades.

From start to receiving the bonus, it took 4 business days. Now I just need to keep the assets there for the next 365 days. 🙂