Tag Archive: Personal Finance

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.

Junk fees in AT&T landline service

Like many people, I find myself using less and less of the land line phone. A few years ago, I reduced my land line with AT&T from the “unlimited local” service to “measured” service. The current AT&T bill amount is $15.01 a month.

When I examine the bill closer recently, I find lots of fluff and taxes in the bill. Of the $15.01 bill, $7.28 is the cost of the “measured” service (I do not pay any additional toll charges) and $7.73 is the cost of taxes and all the other fluff, including

  • federal subscriber line charge,
  • rate surcharge,
  • state regulatory fee,
  • federal universal service fee,
  • CA high cost fund surcharge-A,
  • CA high cost fund-B,
  • CA advanced service fund,
  • California teleconnectFund surcharge,
  • CA relay service and communications devices fund,
  • local government fee,
  • 9-1-1 emergency system,
  • federal fees and tax, and
  • local fees and tax.

That’s right, 51.5% of my payment went towards paying taxes and junk fees; only 48.5% is the actual payment for the service. Except for the 9-1-1 fee of $0.04, I consider the rest junk fees. Something is wrong here.

I have identified my land line replacement and I am now testing out the service. The replacement is essentially a VOIP (voice-over-IP/internet) service. Once I am happy with it, I would port my existing number over and rid myself of these junk fees!