September 28, 2019

Weather: It Can be Crazy in Pleasant Hill And The San Francisco Bay Area! (Updated)

Weather.


Update on Sunday, September 29:  It hit a chilly and crispy 43* this morning on my backyard weather station.  That makes for updated high and low temperatures over the past 7 days from a high of 99.9* to a low of 43*.  That's a temperature swing of 56.9*!  And in just one week.  Crazy!

Here is an updated screenshot of my backyard weather station temperature readings, taken today at 1:15 PM.  Pretty amazing, huh?

Pleasant Hill, CA Backyard Weather Station Readings.  September 29, 2019 at 1:15 PM.


~  Original post from Saturday, September 28, 2019. ~

One thing for sure about weather in the San Francisco Bay Area is that it can be crazy, particularly in summer and early autumn.  The area is full of micro climates; communities can have weather and temperatures that vary widely.  As in crazy wide!  And as Mark Twain famously said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

True.  And I never put clothes in storage, as you never know what type of clothing you'll need, given the wild gyrations in my local weather.

And lately, our late summer and early autumn weather has been beyond wild in Pleasant Hill where I live.  First a heat wave followed by below normal temperatures.

Right now, at 10:00 AM, my backyard weather station reads 62.8*.  But take a look at the wild swing in temperatures over the past week (last 7 days):

Pleasant Hill, CA Backyard Weather Station Readings.  September 28, 2019 at 10:00 AM.

Yes, during the last 7 days, temperatures in my backyard have ranged from a low of 51.6* to a high of 99.9*.  That's a swing of 48.3*!  Crazy!

The last month (past 30 days) have even been crazier for weather fluctuations.  During this time, temperatures in my backyard have ranged from a low of 49.5* to a high of 100.4*.  That's a swing of 50.9*!  Again, crazy!

Just goes to show that Mother Nature is in charge, and there's no foolin' Her.

And by the way, if you enjoy following the weather at all, do install a weather station in your yard.  If you have a yard, that is.  Following your backyard weather is great fun and very, very interesting.  Current personal weather stations are very sophisticated and no expensive.

Have a glorious end of September, everyone!

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 26, 2019

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 31 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

September 23, 2019

Monarch Butterfly: How You Can Help Save This Struggling Species.

The Monarch Butterfly. 


It's worth a look back at this post, originally published 2 years ago on August 25, 2017 ...

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

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