September 20, 2019

Fast Food Fried Chicken Wars Rage On!

Fast Food Fried Chicken Wars.


They're not just about Popeyes' Fried Chicken Sandwich that has taken the Fried Chicken Sandwich World by storm, or the related social media feud between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A.

Oh, and by the way, propps to Popeyes for a BRILLIANT marketing and social media sales promotion!

But now we have another participant in the Fast Food Fried Chicken Wars:  KFC.

KFC recently market tested a new plant-based fried "chicken" nugget and boneless wings product at an Atlanta location.  Line was out the door to purchase the new product.  The restaurant sold out of the plant-based "chicken" in a day!  Here's a pic:



KFC labeled the fried "chicken" introduction a "Kentucky Fried Miracle".  Crazy!  You can read more about the plant-based "chicken" and "meat fast food phenomenon in this New York Times article.

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

September 17, 2019

Annuity Litigation: Are You Looking For an Annuity Expert Witness? Meet Mary Rae Fouts, EA.

Annuity Litigation.
Annuity Arbitration.
Elder Financial Abuse.
Annuity Expert Witness.


Are you looking for an Annuity Expert Witness to address Annuity Litigation or Arbitration Matters, or related Elder Financial Abuse Matters?

Mary Rae Fouts, EA has 31 years of experience addressing annuity concerns for clients throughout the United States.  She provides Annuity Consulting Services, in addition to Expert Witness Services for Annuity Litigation and Arbitration Matters, including Elder Financial Abuse Matters. 

Mary has provided Expert Witness Services in federal courts, state courts, and arbitration venues throughout the United States.  She welcomes your call at (510) 421-5457 or email to Mary@FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

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

September 16, 2019

Sid the Dog: Happy 8th Birthday Sid!

Sid the Dog


Sid, my goofy Faithful Canine Companion.  About 75 pounds of food obsessed Husky-Malamute mix.  And very bonded with his fur sister, Chow Chow-Pomeranian mix Lexi.

Sid half asleep in the backyard yesterday (Sunday, September 15),
getting ready to take a nap.

Today is Sid's 8th birthday.  😀  🎂  He was found as a stray by animal control 5 years ago today, so September 16 is Sid's estimated birth date.  We adopted Sid from the county animal shelter in Pinole as soon as he became available following his stray hold.

Unconditional love is as close as your nearest 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

September 14, 2019

The Democratic Presidential Debate: What in The Heck is Joe Biden Looking at?

The Democratic Presidential Debate on September 12, 2019.


I didn't watch any of it, but did have a chuckle reading newspaper and AM radio reporting of the debate.  Do the candidates not realize they are doing themselves and the party no favor by bickering amongst themselves during the debate?  From the reporting, the candidates appeared to often act like toddlers fighting over toys in a sandbox.  One AM radio report said the audience even booed the group once.

Oh, and the Los Angeles Times is now calling the Democratic Presidential Race a three person race between Joe Biden,  Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.  The three have have pulled away from the pack in most national and early-state polls  taken during the last month.

Ok, two things for all of you ...

  1. Can anyone ... anyone ... tell me what in the heck Joe Biden is staring at in this photo?  Kinda creepy, huh?
  2. And when Bernie Sanders is standing but not talking, why does he so often have an expression on his face making his look like he's either really constipated or badly needs to go #2?

Democratic presidential hopefuls Cory Booker (left), Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris take the state for the campaign’s third Democratic debate.  Credits:  sfchronicle.com and Photo:  Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images.

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.  She has voted in nearly every election since being able to vote at age 18; just missed a couple during college.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

September 11, 2019

Travel: Who in The World Would Want to Travel by Commercial Airlines Anymore?

Airline Travel.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
British Airways.


Decades ago, airline travel used to be an experience one looked forward to.  Then air travel began to  remarkably changed following the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001:  ongoing security measures, extreme airline cutbacks in comfort and on-board services, and a new culture of cutting the base price of a ticket while charging extra for most other things, including checked luggage.



But new miseries have now only add to the dreaded airline travel factor.  Take San Francisco International Airport.  It's busiest runway is currently shut down for some 3 weeks of repairs.  In the first 4 days of the shutdown (which began last Saturday), more than 1200 flights in and out of SFO were cancelled or delayed.  And often delayed for a number of hours.  Travelers are stranded at the airport, with a particular onus on those attempting to fly home or make connecting flights.  For added misery, airlines are not paying for any overnight hotel rooms for stranded passengers, because the cancellations are the fault of SFO, and not the airlines. How's that for a way to treat your customers?  Someone ... either the airlines or SFO itself ... should pay for rooms and meal vouchers for air travelers that are stranded overnight.  And the problem is not expected to get any better during the runway shutdown.  Yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle article labeled SFO a "massive mess".

And then there is British Airways.  Their pilots went on strike this week Monday and Tuesday.  This forced British Airways to cancel nearly all of its 1700 or so flights over these two days, affecting some 197,000 ticketed customers.  And more cancellations were expected throughout the week.

So I'd say we have not one, but two Massive Air Travel Messes.

Ugh.  More misery for air travelers.

I will travel by air if I have to, but that's only for business purposes.  As far as my leisure travel, our lovely 3 night car-driven getaways to beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea, with dogs Sid and Lexi in tow, are the perfect getaway for me.

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

September 8, 2019

Health Insurance: Don't be Like Senator Kamala Harris. Know Your Policy so You Know What is Covered. And What Isn't.

Health Insurance.


Not the most exciting topic to blog about, but an important topic nonetheless.

And speaking of Health Insurance, much is being said about the topic from the larger-than-a-chicken-coop-can-hold flock of politicians running for the Democratic nomination for President.  As I've read up on the varying positions and plans the candidates have for Health Insurance, it's been headshaking to discover how little some candidates know about Health Insurance, what it covers, and why Health Insurance and health care is so expensive in the United States.

Senator Kamala Harris
Clueless on What Health Insurance Covers


Take Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris, for example.  Shortly before the 2nd Democratic Debate (of which I watched zilcho of), Senator Harris came out with her own proposal for Universal Health Care.  Part of her proposal is a provision that people would be able to purchase a private Supplemental Health Insurance Policy.  A Health Insurance Policy, she said, to cover things her Universal Health Care program would not cover ... like cosmetic surgery.

Cosmetic surgery??!! Give me a break!  Cosmetic surgery is an elective procedure.  Elective.  Health Insurance does not cover elective ... also known as medically unnecessary ... medical procedures.  Never has, never will.

Wanna Look Like Nancy Pelosi?
Sorry, But Health Insurance Won't Cover Your Face Lift.

So no, Senator Harris.  The Supplemental Health Insurance Policies you envision will not cover botox injections for wrinkle control.  Also won't cover breast implants and breast augmentation.  Oh, and the policies won't cover Nancy Pelosi-like face lifts, either.

Yet another and all too common example of a politician who speaks about a very important topic he/she knows little about.

Don't be like Senator Kamala Harris.  Review your Health Insurance Policy so you know what is covered.  And what isn't.   

Health Insurance Concerns?

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

September 5, 2019

San Francisco City Second Loan Program: A Ripoff to The Home Buying Consumer

San Francisco City Second Loan Program


What a Ripoff to the Home Buying Consumer!

I recently read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about housing aid provided by the City of San Francisco.  One program mentioned in the article - although not by name - was a city program that provided loans of up to $375,000 for the purchase of a home in San Francisco.

So I got to wondering just how this program works, and I looked it up.  Yikes!  Does anyone who uses the program actually read the legal documents they sign?  Because Holy Cow, the San Francisco City Second Loan Program is an absolute ripoff to the home buying consumer!  Here's a description of the program and why I think it's an absolute ripoff to the consumer.   This is going to be a longer post than normal, but I assure you it's worth the read.

The Home Purchaser/Borrower:  First off, the borrower's income musts be no more than 120% of the median income for the San Francisco Metropolitan Area.  The borrower must also be a first time home buyer, defined as not having purchased a property within the past 3 years.  The borrower must contribute a minimum of 3% towards the down payment on the property.  Of this amount,  1.5% must come from the borrower's own funds; the remainder from gifts or grants. 

Not with the San Francisco
City Second Loan Program!
Property Purchased:  Regarding the home purchased, only certain properties, in certain area of San Francisco, can be used with the program.  The program refers to the homes as "units", so I assume they are all condominiums, no single family homes.  None of the units has more than 3 bedrooms.  Oh, and get this:

The size of a household must be compatible with the size of the unit being purchased.
A minimum of one person per bedroom is required.

So if you are a single individual, the largest unit you can purchase is a 1 bedroom.  You're screwed if you want a 2nd bedroom to use a guest room, or home office.  If you are a couple, you can purchase a 2 bedroom.  But want to purchase a 3 bedroom to accommodate 2 children planned for the future?  No can do.  You're screwed once again.

Loan Terms.  Here's the real kicker.  And the real ripoff.  The San Francisco City Second Loan Program currently provides a maximum loan of $375,000.  Nothing bad or wrong about that.  The remaining mortgage would come from a traditional mortgage lender.  The City Second Loan is secured by the property, and sets in 2nd place on the property behind the traditional mortgage lender.

Loan Repayment, when the borrower really gets it in the rear end!  Now here's the real ripoff:  The Second City Loan Terms.   The City Second Loan is a 30-year loan with no interest and no monthly payments.  The loan become due ... in full, more on that ripoff next ...  upon the (1) sale of the property, (2) rent of the property, so no roommates or airBNB business for the property owner,  (3) title transfer of the property, or (4) at the end of the 30 year loan term.  And what is the "full" amount of the loan repayment?

 The borrower must immediately repay - in full, no payment plan - an amount equal to:

The original amount of the loan plus a share of the appreciation of the property, calculated at the appraised value at the property at the end of the 30-year term, or when the borrower sells, rents, or transfers title on the property.

And just how much appreciation value is added to the original loan amount to determine what the borrower must repay to the City of San Francisco?  Get this:  After the appreciation on the property is determined, the appreciation value amount that must be paid to the City of San Francisco is same percentage the City Second Loan was to the property's original purchase price!

Example:  A borrower receives City Second loan in the amount of $375,000, and purchases a property for $950,000.  The City Second loan amounts to 39% of the original purchase price.  So the City of San Francisco must be paid back both $375,000 (the original City Second loan amount) PLUS 39% of the property's appreciation at the time the City Second loan becomes due.  If the loan comes due after 30 years and the homeowner wants to remain in the property, how is the homeowner going to immediately come up that that huge amount of money, in one lump sum, to pay of the City Second loan?  I mean, how many people are going to have access to that amount of cash?  Almost none, right?!  The homeowner likely will be forced to sell to get funds to pay off the City Second loan, or foreclosed upon by the City of San Francisco.

What a ripoff!  Yet another example that if something appears too good to be true, it likely is.

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

September 2, 2019

Disability Insurance Litigation: Are You Looking For a Disability Insurance Expert Witness? Meet Mary Rae Fouts, EA.

Disability Insurance Litigation.
Disability Insurance Expert Witness.


Are you looking for a Disability Insurance Expert Witness to address Disability Insurance Litigation or Arbitration Matters?

Mary Rae Fouts, EA has 31 years of experience addressing insurance concerns for clients throughout the United States.  She provides Disability Insurance Consulting Services, in addition to Expert Witness Services for Disability Insurance Litigation and Arbitration Matters. 

Mary has provided Expert Witness Services in federal courts, state courts, and arbitration venues throughout the United States.  She welcomes your call at (510) 421-5457 or email to Mary@FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

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

August 30, 2019

Bernie Sanders: An Environmental Hypocrite

Bernie Sanders.
Single Use Plastic Bottles.
Single Use Styrofoam Cups.
Bernie Sander's Green New Deal.


Surely you've heard of Bernie Sander's recently announced Environmental Plan, his Green New Deal.  With a eye popping $16.3 TRILLION price tag.  As in $16,300,000,000,000.  But heck, it's just a number with a few ... uh, 11 zeros in it, right?

/Sarcasm off./  Ugh.

What really gets under my skin about Bernie's political stance is that Bernie - like nearly all federal politicians, it seems - talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk.

Take plastics, for instance.  Most of us will likely agree that plastics are a world wide environmental concern.  Particularly single use plastic items, such as plastic drink bottles and flimsy plastic bags.  Same goes for single use Styrofoam items, including Styrofoam food take out containers and Styrofoam cups.

But it seems that Bernie doesn't personally feel that way, in spite of his radical $16.3 trillion environmental plan.  Just take a look at this photo of Bernie at a political event in March.  It was taken after he fell in the shower and busted his forehead open.

Bernie Sanders in March 2019.
With no fewer than THREE single use plastic bottles
 and Styrofoam cups in front of him.
Shame on you, Bernie!


What annoyed me beyond belief in this photo is Bernie's outrageous use of one-use-plastic and one-use-Styrofoam items.  You know, the items that all the rest of us human folks are told not to use, and which are banned in some jurisdictions, including where I live in the Golden State.

But not for Bernie, no sirree.  Here he's using not one ... not two ... but THREE single use items:  2 plastic bottles, and a Styrofoam cup.

Memo to Bernie:  Shame on you!  Buy yourself a few reusable drinking bottles and use them to consume your beverages.  They come in a variety of materials and sizes, including reusable bottles that can be used for either hot or cold beverages.  Here's my reusable bottle sitting on my work area next to me right now, filled with lemonade.

Politicians.  From all political parties.  Do as I say, not as I do.  A culture of hypocrites at their finest. 

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

August 27, 2019

Sid the Dog. Lexi the Dog. And Boe the Cat!

Sid the Dog.  Lexi the Dog.


And Boe the Neighborhood Cat!

Boe is a semi-feral cat the roams the neighborhood, primarily hanging around near my neighbor's home across the lane.  Boe really knows how to torment Sid and Lexi!  Boe will sit at the end of my neighbor's driveway, and stare across the lane toward my front window.  He also uses the utility pole nearest the driveway as a scratching post!

As shown in the video below, when Sid and Lexi see Boe out the front window, they get very excited.  Especially Lexi!  Here is one Boe Sighting Event on a recent morning ...



Unconditional Love is as close as your nearest 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

August 24, 2019

Personal and Financial Privacy: Just How Do Businesses and Professionals You Work With Use Your Sensitive and Confidential Information?

Client Privacy.


At Fouts Financial Group, I recognize the critical importance of protecting the privacy of sensitive and confidential Client information, data, and documents.  You can read the Fouts Financial Group Client Policy here.

But just how is your sensitive and confidential information used by other businesses and professionals you work with?  You may be surprised ... And not in a good way.  Unlike Fouts Financial Group, many businesses and professionals use your sensitive and what-should-be confidential information in just about any way they want to.  And for some businesses and professionals who maintain such operations, there is no way for the consumer or client to opt out of such practices.  Practices which, in my opinion, are unethical at best, and sometimes potentially illegal.

One example - On behalf of a client, I recently read the Privacy Policy of a Walnut Creek, CA Property Management Company, which I'll leave nameless for this blog.  The Company's accounting department had broadly asked for my Clients "insurance information" before paying and invoice for professional services my Client had performed for a Homeowners Association managed by the Property Management Company.

That raised a red flag for me, given that the (1) the Property Management Company had not contractual relationship with my Client, and (2) there is absolutely no reason an accounting clerk needs someone's insurance information before paying an invoice, and (3) the Property Management Company and their accounting department had no need to know and obtain my Client's insurance information and documents.

Then I read the Property Management Company's Privacy Policy.  And was absolutely astounded, and not in a good wayThe Privacy Policy essentially stated that the Property Management Company could do, and did do, just about anything it wanted for any information it received, including using the information for promotional and marketing purposes, and combining information with "other" information received .  You can bet this unethical Property Management Company got none of my Client's insurance documents.

And to add to it, the Property Manager I communicated with called my reaction "terse" and stated I was the only "vendor" of hundreds they cut checks to each month that refused comply with this "routine" request.

Hogwash, I say!  Keep your private personal and information just that way ... private and safe.  If someone, or a business, doesn't need to know it or have it, or otherwise cannot provide absolute assurance that private and perhaps confidential information will be used only for the intended purpose, don't hand your information over.

Oh, and the Property Management Company's Yelp reviews?  The company has a paltry 2 stars (out of 5 stars) rating with 40 published reviews.  So looks like I have plenty of company giving this company a big thumbs down.   

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

August 21, 2019

Sourdough Pizza: Best Pizza Ever!

Sourdough Pizza.


Homemade Sourdough Pizza with a New York Style Crust (not too thin, and not too thick) is simply the best pizza ever!  I always keep sourdough pizza dough in the refrigerator.  The longer is is in the fridge for flavors to mingle, the better the pizza is!

I bake the pizza in a 350* F convection oven, equivalent to about a 375* F regular oven.  That way the pizza bakes nicely without becoming all burned on top and around the edges.  This gives a chewy crust with just a bit of crisp around the edge, but nothing burned or charred.

Here is a recent bake on my 14 inch Lodge cast iron pizza pan.  Want some?!

Pizza before baking.  The dough includes chopped dried basil,
and has chopped red bell peppers on top.

Par baked pizza crust, ready to top!

Finished Sourdough Pizza.  Red bell peppers, pizza sauce,
pepperoni, pineapple, Monterey Jack cheese.  Crust is chewy
with a bit of crisp on the edges.  Best Pizza ever!


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.   Mary loves to cook and bake.  Don't believe her husband Jim if he tells you there are splatters of Sourdough Starter and Dough all over the house!  😉 For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts