February 20, 2020

Sid the Dog ... Here's What Can Happen When Sid Gets Bored!

Sid the Dog.


Every once in a while, Sid gets bored.  This in spite of a long daily walk, a large back yard, and his fur sister Lexi to rough house and commiserate with.   And as anyone who has ever had a Husky as a Faithful Canine Companion knows (Sid is Husky-Malamute mix, we think), bored Huskies can get into a lot of mischief.  And cause a LOT of trouble.

And just what did Sid decide to do on a recently lovely February Sunday morning?  Well, dig.  And dig he did, with Lexi close by cheering Sid on!  Take a look ...

If only I could get Sid to dig on command.  😕  Or at least replace his dirt and grass clods.

Oh, and about those grass clods ... They were found dispersed throughout the backyard.  You see, Sid further entertained himself by running around the backyard with grass clods in his mouth, joyfully throwing them up into the air.  😬  A great big pile of toys in the dog house isn't enough for Sid.  Nope.  That Big Goofball has to have freshly dug grass clods to throw around!



Unconditional Love ... and many adventurous days! ... is as close as your nearest Public Animal Shelter.  Please adopt, don't shop.

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

February 17, 2020

Insurance: When is The Last Time You Reviewed Your Insurance Policies?

Adequate Property Insurance Coverage


Yes, I know ... insurance is not the most exciting topic to discuss.

But nevertheless, it's a critical one.

The November 2018 Camp Fire in the Paradise, California area was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California's history.  Nearly 19,000 structures were destroyed, with an estimated damage total thus far of nearly $17 billion.  Approximately 85 people perished in this inferno.  The community of Paradise, home to about 29,000 residents, was almost entirely destroyed by the blaze.

And unfortunately, many of the homeowners and property owners in Paradise had inadequate homeowners insurance, or no insurance at all.

Adequate property insurance is crucial.  This coverage is a must, even if the property owner is not required to have such insurance coverage.  Avoiding becoming underinsured ... whether it be for homeowners, business property, liability, of an other type of insurance is easy to avoid with annual reviews of your insurance coverage.  Also, your insurance coverage should be immediately reviewed and, if necessary, adjusted if you incur significant changes in your life, including home remodeling and additions.

Insurance Concerns?  About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides insurance policy reviews, coverage recommendations, and other insurance consulting services and expert witness services for clients with a broad range of insurance concerns.  She has 32 years of experience in the insurance industry, and is one of the select few Life and Disability Insurance Analysts licensed by the California Department of Insurance.  For more information about Mary and her professional services visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

February 14, 2020

Iowa Democratic Caucus: I Couldn't Make This Stuff Up!

Photo:  Oops, Logo is a Fallin!
Watch actual video of the event below
.

The Iowa Caucus Disaster


The Three Stooges Fiasco of the Democratic Iowa Caucus only continues.  I kid you not, I couldn't make some of this stuff up!

I mean, this whole caucus thing is goofier than a circus clown to begin with.  And then there is this year's utter disaster, which a Pulitzer Prize winning fiction author couldn't have made up!

Here's one of the newest boondoggles.  The Iowa Democratic Party Logo Sign actually fell off the podium as the then - he's since resigned - Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price was giving a press conference.  Hilarious!  Here is a YouTube video of the latest comical event.  Crazy!


Once again, politics at its finest!  This time, crazy Iowa Caucus style.

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

February 11, 2020

Monarch Butterfly: How You Can Help Save This Struggling Species

The Monarch Butterfly.


The recent overwinter count of Monarch Butterflies in California held a glimmer of hope: numbers were stable from the prior year.   However, the number of Monarch Butterflies along the Pacific Coast has declined an astonishing 99+% since the 1980s.

A stunning diminutive creature weighing a 0.0026 ounce or less, yet with the ability to migrate an amazing 3,000 miles to winter living areas in Mexico and California, including my San Francisco Bay Area. 

The Monarch Butterfly is in serious trouble, with loss of habitat, and loss of essential milkweed and other nectar plants Monarchs rely on for food sources.  The food source loss is greatly impacted by big agriculture's reliance on herbicides (weed killers) such as Roundup, which have wiped out vast areas of milkweed and nectar plant food sources.

But you can help.

Plant a Pollinator-Friendly Garden

The garden does not have to be large; you can help even if you only have room for a few pots on your deck.  Plant a variety of butterfly and bee-friendly plants that will provide food and nectar throughout yearly growing seasons.

Also, don’t be in a rush to dead head your flowers and herbs.  Birds rely on flower and herb seeds for food.  Also, some annual and perennial flowering plants easily reseed, helping create a naturalized garden effect and a new supply of free plants.  And what's not to love about free gardening!

A few of my gardens' pollinator-friendly flowers.

And Don’t Forget to Plant Milkweed

One must-have plant for your garden:  Milkweed.
  
 In the butterfly stage of life, the Monarch Butterfly obtains food (nectar) from a variety of flowering plants.  However, the Monarch lays its eggs on milkweed plants.   In fact, as explained in this Natural Geographic article
“Monarch butterflies begin life as eggs and hatch as larvae that eat their eggshells and, subsequently, the milkweed plants on which they were placed. (Monarchs are dependent on milkweed plants, which larvae eat nearly exclusively.)”
Many types of milkweed plants exist.  When possible, look for varieties native to your area.  Milkweed can be started with either seeds or plants obtained from your local garden center.

Here is a Monarch Butterfly this month checking out some of my gardens’ milkweed plants.  Beautiful, huh?


Lastly, when planning and taking care of your garden, garden organically to the extent possible.  Do not use pesticides (bug killers) or herbicides (weed killers) in your gardens.  Both can harm the Monarch Butterflies (and other pollinators) as well as their plant-based food sources.  You can read more about pollinator-friendly gardening at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.

Happy gardening, everyone, and thank you for helping the Monarch Butterfly and other pollinators! 

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

February 8, 2020

IRS: TIGTA Audit Shows the IRS Once Again Fails to Protect and SecureTaxpayer Information and Data

IRS Security of Taxpayer Information and Data 


The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration ("TIGTA") recently released the results of an audit they performed, in which the agency examined "the adequacy of and adherence to the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) volunteer site requirements to safeguard and protect sensitive taxpayer information."

Here are the services the the IRS Volunteer Program Sites provide, according to the audit:
"The program provides no-cost Federal tax return preparation and electronic filing to underserved segments of individual taxpayers, including low- to moderate-income, elderly, disabled, and limited-English-proficient taxpayers.  The Volunteer Program includes the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs and sites operated in partnership with the U.S. military and community-based organizations.  The program is managed by the IRS’s Stakeholder Partnerships, Education, and Communication (SPEC) function."
Unfortunately, the audit's findings did not surprise me.  (You can view the audit report here.)  Among the disturbing findings:
  1. The IRS did not require that each IRS Volunteer Program Site have in place an adequate plan to protect and safeguard taxpayer data and information; and
  2. Volunteers who prepared tax and filed tax returns for taxpayers were allowed to electronically access and view tax returns after they had been filed.   In other words, the volunteers were allowed to snoop through IRS taxpayer data and records.
This is so wrong, it's beyond words.  Can anyone tell me how the IRS is allowed to exempt its own  programs from having adequate security measures in place to protect and safeguard taxpayer data, when, as a financial services professional, I am required by federal law to have such measures in my place for my clients?

The IRS continues to woefully fail in implementing ... even requiring ... adequate measures to protect and secure taxpayer information and data.   That's not only wrong, but criminal in my opinion.  Taxpayers deserve better.  Much better.

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts