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Post all types of finance related questions in this thread. Ask anything you were afraid to ask elsewhere, or quick questions that may not warrant a separate topic or a long discussion. Please refrain from flaming or fighting.

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This post is a wiki – feel free to edit it with links to the most commonly asked questions.


I guess I will be the first. I believe it is illegal for a mortgage company to force you to use any specific title or settlement company. I’ve used this fact to use my own title company that is a lot cheaper than the one most mortgage companies try to bundle.

However, I’m looking to buy a new house, and they offer a considerable credit to use their mortgage company… or I guess technically their mortgage company offers a credit if you finance a new home purchase through them. Can that mortgage company make it a requirement to use their title or settlement company to get the credit? IOW, are they allowed to require both their mortgage and settlement company to get this specific credit?

I’ve definitely learned a lot more about all those line items that come into mortgages from FWF… and the thousands of dollars you can save. Hope this forum can continue to help others save lots and lots of money.

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You certainly can use any mortgage company and title company you want - but if you want the extra discount or credit they are offering to use their affiliates , you probably do have to use their affiliates in order to get the discount

There is obviously no harm in asking to use your own title company , I would not tell them it’s bc yours is cheaper - try to find another reason like it’s more conveniently located or you have a long time business relationship with them or some other reason why it’s important you select your own company (besides price )

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Thanks for the tips SIS. I will try it that way – and its partially true. I’ve used this title/settlement company in the past because they are cheaper. Hence, I love them. LOL. :slight_smile:

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Quick follow up – in my case the contract clearly states its a cash discount for using the mortgage company, but not the settlement company. So I can go with a cheaper settlement/title company like I did in the past.

However, on further inspection the mortgage company basically eats up this discount in origination fees and other fees that can be avoided – I have a guy I met on FatWallet Finance many years ago that’s a mortgage broker that I think can do much better, being better than the considerable cash discount. It’s ridiculous how many places mortgage lenders have to paid their profit past just the rate.

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What credit card do you use for what?
Amex blue cash for supermarkets
Citi double cash for everything else

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We have a topic for that:


Can we start a 529 thread? We have a little one on the way and I really don’t know anything about them. I found the HSA thread very helpful.


I’m hoping the collective group can help identify the ideal checking account characteristics for manufactured spend needs and suggest banks with said characteristics.

Some suggested characteristics to start:

  • Offers electronic billpay (push not pull) - does Chase even offer electronic bills?
  • Able to pay the credit card balance in full (not just minimum payment)
  • Able to auto pay cc balance on date due
  • ACH Hub friendly


  • Offers top tier savings account
  • Rebates ATM fees
  • Mobile app
  • Electronic check deposit
  • Electronic MO deposit
  • Can initially fund with a cc

Any characteristics I should add? Any banks come to mind that meet the majority / most of the characteristics?

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I am about to cash out my mutual fund account. They are letting me choose whether or not I want Federal and State Income Tax withheld. The tax will be on about $1000 in gains. I can specify a dollar amount, a percentage, or leave it blank and they “may default to 10% Federal and any state taxes, as applicable”. I am well above the 10% income tax bracket. So how does this work? If I let them take 10% now, then they won’t send me a 1099, right? So how would I pay the difference in taxes next year? Or, should I simply elect not to have taxes withheld now?

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You’ll get a 1099 whether or not you have them take taxes out. It’s good to have them take taxes out if the amount you would owe in capital gains taxes from this transaction might threaten to push you in to penalty/interest territory. If you know where you’re at YTD at both the federal and state levels, you’ll know the best option for each. You can use any dollar amount or percentage that would work for your situation. It doesn’t have to equal your exact tax bracket.

On the 1099, there are boxes for federal and state tax withholding. You would have to remember to add those figures to any other tax payments you’ve made (withholding, estimated taxes, etc.) on the appropriate payments line on the tax forms. For example, the 1040 line says Federal income tax withheld from Forms W-2 and 1099.

I’m not a tax professional, but I do our taxes every year. I dealt with this situation when I had to take RMD’s from an inherited retirement account over a 5 year period.


I have the AmEx Blue Cash Preferred. Can I just buy Visa Gift Card at the grocery store (6% cash back) and use them to pay my bills? Just wanting to save x% on bill I would normally pay full price for.

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Yes, you can do that to earn the 6% RD up to $6K per calendar year.

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DW and I maxed out our retirement accounts and started investing in a taxable account. I used my account since I already had one. Should I make this a joint account? We already share a joint checking account.

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Investment accounts don’t necessarily need to be joint accounts like bank accounts do if only one person is the one doing the investing. Unless your wife needs to access the account to do trades, deposits, or withdrawals, you’re probably fine just making her the beneficiary. There is nothing wrong with making it a joint account if you’d rather go that route, though. If you make the account joint, go into a coma, and she needs to get money out, it will be easier for her since it’s joint. Otherwise she’d have to get power of attorney over you and go through that whole process to get access.


Or you could link the account now to your joint checking for deposits and withdrawals and give her the online login info. Then she can go sell everything and move out the cash herself with no problems and no phone calls. Just another option.


We didn’t qualify for the principal reduction and are considering refinancing to consolidate debt and get rid of PMI (FHA loan). What’s the best calculator to crunch numbers? What in general happens when you refi and use some of the money to pay off debt? If we refi, should we do it through a bank, the many lenders on zillow, or our mortgage broker? When we bought our home, she found what I thought was the best loan for us at the time. She just contacted us letting us know that our LTV was good and we could refi. What’'s the best LTV calculator and how does that all all fit into a refi. I believe we are at about 73% ( I used Chase’s calculator and if I refi through them, I get a little cash back as incentive). Any help is appreciated.

If you refinance to consolidate debt, it’s usually a cash-out refinance (because your new loan is greater than your original loan, with the difference going towards paying other debts). Cash out refinance is slightly more expensive than no cash out or limited cash out refinance (limited means you pocket <= $2K).

LTV means Loan (mortgage principal balance) to (divided by) Value (appraised value). You don’t need a special calculator for this.

PMI is usually required when LTV > 80%.

You should go through whomever is offering you the best terms (lowest interest rate and closing costs). Not much harm in getting multiple estimates – multiple loan-related hard inquiries within a short time period are usually combined for credit scoring purposes. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll do better with the top Zillow lenders than anywhere else, including Chase. Chase might offer you a $1000 incentive (or maybe even 100K UR for CPC ?), but their costs can be > $2000 higher to make up for that.


I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know my old fatwallet finance user ID (my logon was my email account).

Are the old threads archived somewhere? If I could find them I could grabe one I know I contributed too and go find my entries…and thus my actual old username.