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

August 18, 2019

IRS Impersonator Scams: Here are a Few Things You Should Know so You do not Become a Victim of an IRS Impersonator Scam.

IRS Scams.


IRS Impersonation Scams are ongoing, with new scams popping up on an ongoing basis.  Here are a few tips from the IRS Tax Tip 2019-87 to help prevent you from becoming the victim of an IRS Scam.


Tips to Help Taxpayers Recognize Tax Scams


New versions of well-known tax-related scams appear every year…and 2019 is no different. No matter what time of year, taxpayers should be on the lookout for scams. Here are some things taxpayers should remember to help them spot scams and avoid becoming a victim.


Telltale Signs of an IRS Impersonator Scam


Taxpayers should remember that the IRS generally first mails a bill to a taxpayer who owes taxes. The IRS and its  authorized private collection agencies will never:
  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments.
  • Ask for checks to third parties. The IRS has specific instructions on how to pay taxes. All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
If a taxpayer receives a phone call, but doesn’t owe taxes and has no reason to think they do, they should:
If a taxpayer owes tax or thinks they do, they should:

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 15, 2019

Healthier Eating and Living: Easy One-Dish Meals That Are Both Healthy And Good!

Simple Cooking.


So often, simple cooking = the best cooking.  And you know what?  Many simple recipes can also part of Healthier Eating and Living in your life.

I love salads and casserole-type dishes.  Heck, often leftover casserole tastes better the next day!

Neither has to be boring or difficult to prepare.  Ready to put some easy one-dish meals into your dinner rotation?  (Or supper rotation, as some areas of the country call the 3rd meal of the day.)  Check out these 10 Easy One-Dish Meals from Betty Crocker.  Sure to provide some yummy, nutritious, and easy meals for your dinner (or supper) table.

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, with an emphasis on simple recipes and fresh produce.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

August 13, 2019

Homeowners Insurance: Know Your Policy so You Know What is Covered. And What Isn't.

Homeowners Insurance.


Homeowners Insurance is required if you have a mortgage on your property.  But truly, folks, Homeowners Insurance is simply essential to carry if you own a home.  True, you may never make a claim on the policy ... And that would be a good thing!  But if you incur a significant - or perhaps catastrophic - loss such as a fire in your home, the financial burden of the loss may simply be too much for you to bear.

But do you know what is ... and is not ... covered for loss or liability on your Homeowners Insurance policy?  To help you with that question, this post is the first of an occasional post devoted to just that:  Identifying events, losses, and liabilities that are ... or are not ... generally covered under an insurance policy.

Pest Damage
Is Pest Damage Covered Under Homeowners Insurance?


Just discovered you have a termite problem in your home and garage?  Or perhap you've discovered roof rats in your attic, and areas in your home the rodents have chewed through to gain entrance.

If you think your Homeowners Insurance will pay for the termite abatement, or that your insurance will pay for trapping the rodents and repairing the rodent-induced damage to your home, you're out of luck.  Damage from small pests - such as mice, rats, squirrels, and termites - is generally not a covered loss under Homeowners Insurance.  Policies typically define these small pests as "vermin" in the coverage exclusion.


On the other hand, damage from large pests is generally a covered event.  So if a bear smashes its way into your home and consumes the 2 cartons of mint chip ice cream in your freezer and the  pounds of cheese in fridge, the damage to your home, including the is cream and cheese, is generally a covered loss.

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


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance 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 12, 2019

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

Life Insurance Litigation.
Life Insurance Arbitration.
Elder Financial Abuse
Life Insurance Expert Witness.


Are you looking for a Life Insurance Expert Witness to address Life Insurance Litigation or Arbitration Matters, or related Elder Financial Abuse Matters?

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

August 9, 2019

Your Odds of Becoming Disabled? That's a Question Nearly Impossible to Answer.

Disability Insurance.

Healthier Eating and Living.


As a Life and Disability Insurance Analyst licensed by the California Department of Insurance, one of the questions posed by clients with Disability Insurance concerns is:  "What are the odds that I will become disabled during my working years?"

And my answer?  Not one I would prefer to give ... but ... "That question is unfortunately nearly impossible to specifically answer."

Why so?  Well, there are so many variables, and so many data sources (some of which are most certainly not objective, unfortunately) that all I can typically tell clients is a very general answer:  low risk, middle-of-the-road risk, high risk, or such a very high risk that your occupation is considered uninsurable for insurance company issued Long Term Disability Insurance.

Oh, and one more thing:  Lifestyle choices can greatly improve your odds of not becoming disabled.  Eating well, exercising, avoiding excessive stress and risky activities, and getting adequate sleep all work in your favor for better odds of leading a non-disabled life.

For another take on the "odds of becoming disabled" question, read this New York Times Column "The Odds of a Disability Are Themselves Odd".  The column was written some 9 years ago, but it's still relevant today. 

Disability 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

August 6, 2019

Backyard Summer Fun with Sid and Lexi!

Sid and Lex.


My Faithful Canine Companions who provide me with Unconditional Love each and every day.

I don't know what I would do without a dog or two to share my life with!

Here are Sid and Lexi enjoying some Backyard Summer Fun.  And once again I'm reminded to Live in the Present as Sid and Lexi do.  After all, each day is a gift, and there are so many, many things in your life you truly cannot control.


Unconditional love is as close as your nearest Animal Shelter.  Please adopt, don't shop.

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


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance 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 3, 2019

Data Security: Do Your Tax Preparer and Insurance Agents Have Adequate Data Security Plans?

Data Security Plans.


Do you know that financial service providers are required, by various federal and state laws, to create and implement data security plans to protect the privacy of client information?  Professionals subject to these laws cover a very broad area, including not just stockbrokers, bankers, and investment advisors, but also tax preparers, insurance agents, and similar consultants.  The Data Security Plan must cover all forms of client communication and documents, including both electronic and paper data.

This Data Security Plan is in addition to Client Privacy Policies, which must be provided to new clients, and then made available to existing clients on at least an annual basis.

Hackers and Identity Thieves abound.  Everyone should be concerned about the safety of their private information.  Don't hesitate to ask your financial services professionals about their Data Security Plans.  Data safety is no laughing matter, for sure.

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


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

Mary Rae Fouts