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Old 04-04-2016, 06:05 PM   #21
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That's definitely a new twist on rent vs. buy.

Probably not too many apartments available that include built in Faraday cages. That might be a good reason to consider moving, too. A more suburban/rural location might minimize exposure to EM fields.

DW and I have made moves that have made using our medical coverage of choice (Kaiser Permanente) difficult, and we still haven't switched, so I sympathize with your dilemma. Good luck with whatever you choose.
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Old 04-04-2016, 06:20 PM   #22
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Had spinal fusion surgery and now have metal in body that reacts to strong electromagnetic fields. This has caused me to be extremely sensitive to EMF fields, pain radiates through body when exposed to high levels. Thus, I have to avoid many sources of EMF, like wifi, cordless DECT stations, cell towers, high voltage transmission lines, etc. It seems the rods and screws in my body are serving as antennae which makes problem unique in that I need a larger square footage of home to stay away from anything that exacerbates the pain (have a meter that tests this).
Uh...would you be a lawyer by the name of Chuck McGill by any chance?
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Old 04-04-2016, 11:09 PM   #23
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As far as aversion to renting, it's a long story. Had spinal fusion surgery and now have metal in body that reacts to strong electromagnetic fields. This has caused me to be extremely sensitive to EMF fields, pain radiates through body when exposed to high levels. Thus, I have to avoid many sources of EMF, like wifi, cordless DECT stations, cell towers, high voltage transmission lines, etc. It seems the rods and screws in my body are serving as antennae which makes problem unique in that I need a larger square footage of home to stay away from anything that exacerbates the pain (have a meter that tests this).

Anyway, this makes the situation incredibly complicated. Due to limited budget, I have to find a home that is fairly large and not too close to neighbors (as in connecting walls)--they have wireless which emits and the metal in body reacts to this for some reason. I have an ethernet connection which lowers the levels in my own home. In the city I live in, condos are the only homes that I can seem to afford unless very lucky. To get larger sq footage, i'd have to rent a house, but that seems out of reach in my high-cost area. Which leaves my choices very narrow I have to admit... Thankfully, condo is paid off ...
Wow, I had no idea. Sorry to hear this...

How are you coping living in a condo currently?
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:10 AM   #24
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Considering your paid off condo, medical issues and complications in finding a suitable living space, I'm not sure why you are giving moving serious consideration.It seems like a lot could go wrong financially/physically if you relocate.

So if you are concerned about annual expenses, if you feel like sharing some numbers maybe you can get some feedback about cutting other expenses. You do have a cash shortfall every month, but you have a nice nest egg to work with.
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:12 AM   #25
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As far as aversion to renting, it's a long story. Had spinal fusion surgery and now have metal in body that reacts to strong electromagnetic fields. This has caused me to be extremely sensitive to EMF fields, pain radiates through body when exposed to high levels. Thus, I have to avoid many sources of EMF, like wifi, cordless DECT stations, cell towers, high voltage transmission lines, etc. It seems the rods and screws in my body are serving as antennae which makes problem unique in that I need a larger square footage of home to stay away from anything that exacerbates the pain (have a meter that tests this).

Anyway, this makes the situation incredibly complicated. Due to limited budget, I have to find a home that is fairly large and not too close to neighbors (as in connecting walls)--they have wireless which emits and the metal in body reacts to this for some reason. I have an ethernet connection which lowers the levels in my own home. In the city I live in, condos are the only homes that I can seem to afford unless very lucky. To get larger sq footage, i'd have to rent a house, but that seems out of reach in my high-cost area. Which leaves my choices very narrow I have to admit... Thankfully, condo is paid off ...
I also have metal & screws in body from same kind of operation, but no issues with EMF.
The world is full of EMF, radio waves from humans and even the solar system floods our planet all the time with all sorts of EMF.

There is a group of folks who live off the grid as they believe EMF causes health issues, so they isolate themselves without phones, internet, electricity (I think). But that is fairly extreme.

To stop this issue, you could put metal (tinfoil with wallpaper glue, then put textured wallpaper over it) on the walls where neighbors have their devices to cut out the EMF. Or maybe just wear a shirt with a metal screen in it to block the waves ?
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Should I stay or move?
Old 04-05-2016, 11:01 AM   #26
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Should I stay or move?

I am no expert so please verify this, but we learned the hard way with my late DFIL this year that low-tax-states' Medicaid and other social net programs are not apples to apples with higher tax/service states like ours. Given your health issues, it might be wise to consult a qualified eldercare attorney or expert and think long-term about how to best position yourself and your assets in the event of Medicaid. My rudimentary understanding from DFIL's experience is that, in Arizona at least, one could keep a fully owned -house and car, but all other assets have to be spent down to $0 in the event of a nursing home. Even then, it was no guarantee he'd get Medicaid there. First we had to get power of attorney and track down and liquidate all of his accounts, which was no small project due to a crazy and uncooperative DSIL and also bill collectors looking for the same hidden assets. Even then, he had to apply for Medicaid and it was not guaranteed. He died without obtaining it and the good and dedicated nursing home was largely stiffed. So, one way to think about it is, if the worst happened, would you rather a) Own your home outright and not have to forfeit that asset in the eventuality of Medicaid/nursing home; b) Sell and rent your home so that you have a larger stash invested and more time to get commercial medical care before Medicaid kicks in and no owned-real estate to deal with then; or, c) maybe you have great long term care insurance and this is all less of a concern. There are a lot of factors, hence, my and others' comments about working a knowledgeable professional who knows your state and can help you plan. Best wishes.
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Old 04-05-2016, 01:36 PM   #27
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I think I would stay where I was at if I was in your situation. You aren't spending down an exorbitant amount of your inheritance and it *should* sustain you for a significant amount of time.

In regards to the EMF, how are you dealing with that in a condo? I live in a neighborhood where we all have at least 1/2 acre lots (closer to 3/4 to 1+ acre) and looking on my phone, there are 12 available hotspots RIGHT NOW. I couldn't imagine what it would be like in a complex of condos.
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Old 04-05-2016, 04:04 PM   #28
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Thanks everyone for the feedback! It is indeed a very difficult decision, and I've considered that I could possibly be making the situation worse by moving. The HOA is not very healthy however, not enough reserves for renovation, repairs, etc. That being said, I fear moving into an even unhealthier place than the one that I'm at already. Though, can't say current place is exactly healthy as getting unexplained tinnitus + aggravated pain, possibly from proximity in bedroom to smart meters and can't sleep elsewhere due to worse EMF elsewhere in condo. (I tried shielding the walls as a possibility but don't think I could attempt this myself, as you have to shield/ground perfectly or else risk of increased electrical field. I've searched for professionals who can shield/paint for me but none are willing to come out here and do it--I guess none are confident that they understand the EMF situation well enough to attempt it). So this leaves options very limited....

Here are monthly expenses....

-Food - $387/mo due to health issues, mostly organic, do not eat out
-Landline - $43/mo
-Prepaid cell service - $25/mo
-Furnace repair - $17/mo
-Home owners insurance - $45/mo
-Tax preparation assistance (due to having a Trust and foggy brain unable to understand anything math-related - $82/mo
-Association fee - $500/mo
-Association fee assessments - upcoming, unknown $$thousands
-transportation (no car) - $75/mo
-home repair - approx $82/mo
-utilities - $130/mo
-medical - $200/mo
-medicine - $40/mo
-miscellaneous (clothing, laundry, other misc.) - $456/mo

Above figures are avg'd per month based on estimated cost - monthly income including VGD investments is only about $1900. (I'm assuming a very conservative 5% return with 3% inflation. I'm guessing I'm only getting about 2% return on my investments) Some of the money is tied up in a poor-performing investment that is illiquid, that I won't be able to touch for 5+ more years. (I seem to be losing a lot of money somewhere, maybe investments aren't performing as well as I thought, or I'm spending more on things than I realize) ...

PS. Flyboy5, there are 17 hotspots showing in condo; one is a very strong signal plus do not live too far from cell mast
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:34 PM   #29
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However, have substantial savings ($480,000 +) due to an inheritance. Am on a fixed income (disability).

I calculated that my income is about $551 a month lower than my expenses. This equals to a loss of about $6624 a year.
First, sorry to hear about your disability and the loss resulting in your eventual inheritance. Sounds like you've had and still have a lot to deal with.

Perhaps here's another way to look at your situation financially. You essentially have a COLA'd pension (disability) providing most of your income to cover expenses. The balance must somehow come from your investments of $480K. So how much can you withdraw yearly without completely running out of money?

Most folks here would say to withdraw no more than 4% yearly, inflation adjusted, but even better with 3% yearly or less (concept of safe withdrawal rate SWR). Given your younger age of late 40's (guesstimated from your numbers) and disability, it would may wise be be closer to a 3% withdrawal or less.

Getting back to your specifics, a 3% SWR gives you $14,400 yearly. A super-safe 2% SWR gives you $9600 yearly, inflation adjusted! So you should be able to cover your $7K ish expenses.

Your costs could go up about 50% even after inflation every year for decades and you stand a reasonable chance of having money at the end. Furthermore, this doesn't even include the equity in your paid-off condo, which will probably keep up with inflation and can greatly help if you decide on assisted living or need long term care later.

The key assumptions are as follows:
- Broadly diversified holding with roughly 60% equity and 40% bonds (often done with a few broad market stock and bond index funds)--most money (beyond emergency fund) must be invested, not in cash/savings accnt/CD's
- Low expense ratio, say less than 0.25%
- NO financial advisor charging typically 1% to 2% yearly

Unless I grossly misunderstand the situation, you can afford your expenses and more for decades, probably indefinitely. Given the risks of moving, it may be wise to stay. Any decision to move should be driven by something other than finances.

Addendum: Saw your reply about poor performing investments. I too am getting only about 2% return on stock dividends and bond interest, but this does not include an stock appreciation. Stocks are critical especially in the current low yield environment if you want to succeed over decades. You may draw down principle on bad years, but more than recover on good years. This is why you want to keep withdrawals at 4% and below long term. What are your investment expense ratios and financial advisor costs? May want to post details--poor investment performance is often tied to high costs.

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Old 04-06-2016, 07:50 AM   #30
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....Above figures are avg'd per month based on estimated cost - monthly income including VGD investments is only about $1900. (I'm assuming a very conservative 5% return with 3% inflation. I'm guessing I'm only getting about 2% return on my investments) Some of the money is tied up in a poor-performing investment that is illiquid, that I won't be able to touch for 5+ more years. (I seem to be losing a lot of money somewhere, maybe investments aren't performing as well as I thought, or I'm spending more on things than I realize) ...
I don't get it. Your expenses are ~$2100/month. You have investments of $480k... if those investments return 5% in the long run (which is quite feasible) then the return from your investments of $2,000/month and your disability benefits (not sure how much or how little those are) should more than cover your expenses.... so what's the problem?

Even with a 4% withdrawal rate that would be $19k plus whatever your disability benefit is.

What does FIREcalc say?
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Old 04-06-2016, 03:30 PM   #31
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So is there a medical reason you need a landline,if not you could probably drop that...

on your transportation many areas have free or very low cost transit for disabled citizens, have you checked this out?

I'd get a requote on that's homeowners as well, in a condo some insurance should be folded into the monthly fee.

I agree with the others that since you are disabled it must be a little alarming to see a shortfall every month, but at your spend you should be fine.
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Old 04-09-2016, 03:31 PM   #32
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I have not run your numbers in a retirement calculator, so as others suggested you may be fine spending down some principal. Many posters here plan to do just that. If you prefer not having your monthly expenses exceed your income, you could probably just do odds and ends cuts and extra income to make it work. Getting rid of the landline would free up $43 of the $500. You might be able to research how to still eat healthy yet spend less. If you dropped your grocery budget by 20% there's another $76. Maybe find something easy you can do at home while watching TV on the Reddit beer money thread - there's maybe another $100 a month. Now you are already at $276 out of the $500 shortfall. Little changes in expenses and income here and there can add up over time. Low flow shower heads? Less oven more crock pot cooking? Use Bing for some searches each day and get Hulu free each month instead of paying for cable or Netflix?

I'm not a fan of the Mr. Money Mustache blog in general, but the forums there are more set up for budget reviews and they could probably help you cut some expenses. Then add in some extra income from bank bonuses, credit card hacks, downloading apps for gift cards or whatever from the various deal sites and you could probably make up the $500 shortfall in less time and hassle than it would take to sell your condo, find a new place, go through the hassle of moving and changing doctors, etc.
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Old 04-09-2016, 07:13 PM   #33
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There is an entire town in WV that is emf free by federal law for space radio science.


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Old 04-09-2016, 08:38 PM   #34
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Regarding the EMF issue, have you ever been tested to try to figure out just what things might affect you?

At MegaCorp, the engineers had 'screen rooms' (Faraday cages) for some testing they did. They basically looked like copper screened in porches. I don't think they were too terribly expensive, and I'd guess that much of the cost came from the need to get filtered power and other communications in/out. But if you had a screen room to sleep in, or sit and read or whatever, you could have battery operated LED lanterns (simple ones, no switching power supplies), and you could have an extended rest from any issues.


But if you got tested, you could find out which frequencies and levels bother you. I'd be surprised that smart-meters could be a problem - they are only on for a few seconds several times an hour.

If the screws in your body are acting as antennas, they will be sensitive to specific frequency ranges. It's hard to imagine that they pick up everything from 60 cycle power lines all the way to the million/billion cycles that communications gear works at.

A 1/4 wave antenna at 60 cycles would be ~ 776 miles long, while a 1/4 wave antenna at 1900 Mega-cycle (cellular band) would be ~ 1.5 inches long.

Some blind testing could show just what bothers you, and that could focus your efforts at avoiding and/or shielding from those.

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Old 04-09-2016, 09:02 PM   #35
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There is an entire town in WV that is emf free by federal law for space radio science.
Sugar Grove! My annual camping trip is up the mountain from there. We can drive up to the next overlook and see the satellite dishes and other equipment they have out there for intercepting everybody's communications. Cell phone coverage sucks, which is a positive on the camping trip.
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Old 04-09-2016, 09:48 PM   #36
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I wonder if there is any way you could "barter" for some of the services you currently pay for - perhaps offer to babysit on some weekend nights in exchange for someone helping with the house repairs or even tax assistance?
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Old 04-09-2016, 09:59 PM   #37
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Moving sounds extra complicated and your place seems to fit your needs right now. It sounds like you wish to maintain a balanced income and expenses phase until you wish to go into a depletion phase at another time. I agree with looking at expenses such as the landline and tax prep etc. The other option is to find any little increase on the income side such as work as telephone assistance or product support. A roomate might add financial support and companionship, although the screening process may be interesting.
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Old 04-09-2016, 10:44 PM   #38
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Regarding the EMF issue, have you ever been tested to try to figure out just what things might affect you?

Where would someone get tested for something like this? Just curious.....


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Old 04-10-2016, 02:02 AM   #39
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You guys have helped me put this all in perspective, thanks! In reviewing the budget, had quite an embarrassing oversight. Instead of losing $551 a month, I'm actually losing $895/mo, because I forgot that a huge chunk of my investments is tied up in a trust that is largely illiiquid.

The trust is hardly earning anything, and the investment firm said 5% is the only allowable w/d per year. Since inception, it's earned <1%/yr.

I wish I could just transfer the Trust assets to Vgd but for some reason due to it being a trust, w/d is limited to 5% annually, due to the special stipulations of the trust. Anyway, I am probably shelling out at least 2%/yr in expenses even if the fund ever does well.

Here is the updated budget:

$1,565.00 (total monthly income (disability + investments---assuming a very conservative return of 2% after inflation in this crazy market)
v.
$2,460.00 (total monthly expenses)
----
= - $895.00 (total monthly shortfall

Because of my investments being tied up in the Trust that is earning virtually zero, my total investable assets (which are all in VGD), are only $241885.00.

In Firecalc, I inputted 40+ more years to live, 3% inflation w/ no changes in income. In the investments section, I'm only including the $241885.00 - the rest of the $480K is a wild card, because it's either illiquid or tied up in the Trust. Firecalc said 99% of the cycles fail but not sure if I inputted correctly, could someone please doublecheck my figures there? (I only counted the liquid assets of $241885-all of it in VGD in the investment section in Firecalc. I accepted the default of .18 expense ratio, stock/bond mix, etc. It still has me at 99% failure rate, but I feel like I'm not doing something correctly...

Thanks for reading this far, with this updated budget, would staying in my condo still be a good idea? I HATE the idea of moving and would love to make it work financially even with the crappy HOA fee increase uncertainty.

PS. Thanks all for the suggestions on how to cut costs, I will try some of them esp. see if I'm paying too much on homeowners ins.
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Old 04-10-2016, 05:24 AM   #40
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jqrz: Please note that I do not have anywhere near the level of financial intelligence that many on this site do but here is my general, off-the-cuff thoughts on your situation: It sounds like the trust you have doesn't work very well for you, but might work well for whoever is making money off of your assets that are in it. Would you potentially be better off to have them give you the maximum annual payment from the trust (you stated it is very illiquid so the max you can get is 5% of a balance of $480k which should be $24,00.00 for the first year ($2000 per month)) and continue this maximum withdraw of 5% of the trust balance annually until you have used up all of the trust) and then use your disability paycheck to make up the difference of your monthly expenses (the extra $5,520.00 per year you indicate with monthly expenses of $2,460.00)? The first several years you wouldn't need to pull anything from your Vanguard account to meet your annual expenses but over time you would eventually need to pull from it as your trust payments would decrease as the balance decreases (if it never actually makes any money except for the trust managers).
I realize I am overly simplifying it, but it sounds to me that you need to get as much bang as you can out of your poor performing trust in order to preserve the balance in your $240K Vanguard for later use.
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