Easy Oven Cooked Bacon Recipe

I typically fry bacon in a skillet on the stove top but a friend shared the following recipe to easily make bacon in the oven. It’s simple, and great if you need to feed a big breakfast crowd. Also requires less attention while cooking which is nice.

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees like Juvenile
  • Arrange bacon on a metal baking sheet with edges (use aluminum foil under the bacon if you like less mess and more waste)
  • Cook for 7 minutes on first side, then turn all bacon over
  • 7 more minutes on second side – but keep a watch to avoid overcooking, may be done sooner
  • Put on the table and snarf with your family and friends

Uncooked bacon like whoa

SBA Loans / Grants – COVID

Wanted to pass along the below information in case helpful for your business.  ** Please note this information was pulled together quickly, primarily from the SBA website, and has not been vetted or reviewed for absolute accuracy.  I wanted to help raise awareness of helpful funding options for businesses in the current climate and encourage anyone considering these programs to do further research before relying on this article. **

I think the Forbes article at bottom does a good job of running down the options – primarily two at the Federal level.

  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans – includes potential $10k cash grant (can be forgiven)
      • From SBA site: advance of up to $10,000. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support
        https://www.sba.gov/page/disaster-loan-applications
  • Paycheck Protection Program Loan Guarantee – bit more complicated to apply for (done through SBA approved bank).
      • From SBA site: SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. The loan will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (due to likely high subscription, at least 75% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll). Loan payments will also be deferred for six months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.
        https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/paycheck-protection-program

Very good Forbes article with more details on these programs:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianthompson1/2020/03/29/getting-cash-for-your-small-business-through-the-cares-act/#31abb07e43a0

Happy to chat about the above and assist if needed. I’ve completed a couple of the EIDL (first link) applications and was quite quick / simple to complete. With so much uncertainty ahead, good to have potential sources of funds accessible just in case.

Cheers,

– John

These times may be trying, but there are lots of good things to look forward to. These are some of mine. 🙂

Coronavirus and Airbnb – Policy Changes Hurting Hosts?

In response to the coronavirus and resulting changes to travel plans, conferences, etc. Airbnb made a decision to override host cancellation policies (previously set individually by property per preference) and issue full refunds to all guests during a certain period impacted by the coronavirus. From the Airbnb coronavirus FAQ page:

” Reservations made on or before March 14, 2020 for stays and Airbnb Experiences, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and April 14, 2020, are covered by the policy and may be cancelled before check-in. Guests who cancel will receive a full refund, and hosts can cancel without charge or impact to their Superhost status. Airbnb will refund all service fees for covered cancellations. “

This policy change has angered a number of hosts that are now left without revenue and with mortgage payments and other costs to cover. I find the policy change acceptable given the circumstances, and that it may reduce pressure on guests to travel when not ideal to do so. Although my properties are all essentially empty for the foreseeable future it seems the right thing to do and I’m happy to refund guests for changes in plans, as is my typical stance. I would guess most other hosts feel the same.

A separate change to Airbnb policies that I haven’t seen disclosed to hosts / owners is that Airbnb has apparently put a 2 week block on any new bookings. I learned of this when a repeat guest attempted to book my property for the next month and was denied the ability, receiving the following message (apologies for the poor image quality):

In case you can’t read the image message it states: “Choose another place to stay. As part of our commitment to your safety, certain last-minute bookings of entire homes are restricted right now. You can still book a hotel or private room for your stay.”

After receiving this message, a call to Airbnb resulted in the information that a “last-minute booking” was any booking starting within 2 weeks. In my experience 2 weeks is not last-minute, which I would generally assume to be 24-48 hours in advance of a stay. It also sheds some light on why my properties were receiving a similar amount of views per week as in the past, but no booking inquiries or messages. I can only guess how many potential guests I (and the millions of other hosts, if this policy is global) have lost on revenue and bookings. Additionally, Airbnb steering customers / guests to hotels, their primary competition, and private rooms, in a time of contagion, seems odd and a bit suspect. Perhaps this advice is to cater to guests that are less likely to cancel or to offload guests in a time of trouble to hotels to deal with?

The combination of overriding host refund policies and then apparently blocking new bookings for the upcoming 2 weeks seems likely to hurt hosts, and potentially guests that are looking for bookings after being removed from college campuses, or other removals due to the coronavirus. Sudden policy changes may also weaken confidence and trust in the platform – a major issue for a marketplace for connecting people.

I wanted to share my experience with other hosts as I was surprised by the block on new bookings and don’t think this information is currently publicly available.

I very much enjoy being an Airbnb host and use the platform almost exclusively when our family is traveling. However, making major changes like these without informing hosts (before or after the changes are enacted) is a problem, and not the only one that Airbnb seems to make without remorse. To my knowledge, over-charging Airbnb guests to San Diego continues years after being informed by multiple hosts the hotel tax calculations are incorrect. Apparently, a world-wide technology company valued in billions of dollars is unable to calculate local hotel taxes they voluntarily offered to pay. All of these aspects don’t make a good look for the “live like a local” ethos of Airbnb.

Friday Reading (and Listening) Roundup – 1/24/20

A short post with some articles and podcasts I enjoyed this week.  Hope you do too. Cheers!

  • Afford Anything (Episode 236) – The FIRE movement continues to gain popularity as a topic to enjoy, detest, or debate.  The Afford Anything podcast and host Paula Pant are generally enjoyable and I really liked this episode.  A pair of early retirees, now more than 3 years into “retirement” and with an immigrant background  from little money.  Well worth a listen and the guests have some non-typical ideas about how to structure investments for early retirees.
  • Animal Spirits (Episode 120) – Not picking this particular episode over another, but wanted to give a shout out to this podcast.  Really enjoy the host banter and these episodes are enjoyable, smart, and bring in a variety of articles and surveys with funny input.
  • “Globally, roads are deadlier than HIV or murder” , The Economist – I’m an advocate for bike infrastructure and generally safer, more enjoyable places to live.  It’s sad that the US lacks nearly every peer country (on wealth basis) in fatalities per capita.  This is a good, short read about the body count from our car culture globally with an interesting breakdown between countries on country economic status lines.

Oak trees are amazing – from Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego

I hope you will be rooting for the Chiefs of Kansas City in the Super Bowl as Mac Lethal surely is.

The 80-80 Rule (Incremental Goals)

A friend recently described some dietary goals – eating less meat, being more conscious of food provenance, etc. – and added that he was “only aiming to hit 64% compliance”. Interesting. He added that he had got the idea from a friend and he was aiming to pursue his new food rules by following 80% of the rules 80% of the time. 80% x 80% = 64%.

I really like this idea and am dubbing it “The 80-80 Rule”. (Apologies if this already exists but after some cursory searching I couldn’t locate so am staking the JPA flag on this moniker.)

It seems human nature to lean toward binary outcomes when it comes to goals and habits – we win or lose, are good or bad, succeed or fail. This makes it hard to stick to ideals or goals we want to pursue. January 15th and after a night out we eat a Big Mac and boom – our resolution to avoid fast food in the new year is gone. I broke the rule, failed, and so may as well eat whatever for the rest of the year since I can’t stick to even a simple goal. Perhaps a more lenient take can allow us to incrementally pursue our goals and feel good about progress, even if it’s 64% instead of 100% compliance. After all 64% of 365 days is 234 days we’ve improved in whatever way matters to us.

Kimball Elementary – Great School Crosswalk Example

This crosswalk at the entrance to Kimball Elementary School in National City has a lot of elements that make it great.

  • Marked (painted) crosswalk – many crossings don’t have even the basic painted lines that indicate pedestrians will likely be present and crossing
  • Raised crosswalk with additional markings – The raised crosswalk functions as a speed bump, reducing through traffic speed, and on the raised portion includes additional markings to highlight the presence of a painted crosswalk.
  • Bike lanes – reduces the vehicle lane width, and creates a space for kids arriving at the school or riders passing through
  • Extended parkway – Street parking has been removed adjacent to the crossing and replaced with trees and grass. The reduced width reduces through speeds, and the removal of parked vehicles increases visibility – particularly important for children that are generally shorter in stature.

Would love to see the sort of improvements present at this intersection become a standard at all schools in the area. Nice work, National City.

10 Years Riding The Bus = $84,000 Saved

Sitting on the couch last night was chatting with the spousal equivalent (“SE”) about how NextDoor is awful. Cue a recent bus rider shaming post that really bothered me:

I had to remove the screenshot from Nextdoor as it was posted against Nextdoor rules. I wasn’t aware and apologize for the error. The remainder of this post has been unchanged.

We talked a bit and then realized SE has been riding the bus to work, or biking, for the last 10 years. Wow, time flies. Somehow, neither lice nor French whore encounters have been a problem. #praise

There are a number of reasons that transit SE likes to support and use transit:

  • Traffic congestion reduction (buses move far more people than the typically single occupant cars common in the US)
  • Cost savings
  • Reduced environmental impact
  • Social unity / exposure
  • Etc

On the cost savings front we estimated that over the last 10 years we saw approximately $84,000 of savings for our family.

  • $200 per month parking x 10 years = $24,000 (Comparison from co-workers)
  • $6000 per year vehicle cost x 10 = $60,000 (About 1/3 less than the average cost per year from AAA since Cali is hella expensive but we’re cheap. Results may vary.)

SE bus cost is covered by employer so if paying the $72 monthly out of pocket would reduce the savings by $8,640 for a total 10 year savings of roughly $75,360.

We took the savings and went on a fat family trip to Vegas and Hawaii which was awesome. Just kidding. We put most of it into index fund investments to grow and throw off dividends until the end of our days.

Wanted to share our public transit savings story in case you’re also interested in saving the better part of $100k every 10 years and putting it to work for you instead of sending it out the exhaust pipe.

Bikes and scooters are fun.

Free Rides with Jump (Uber) Bikes and Scooters – New Yellow Icon Drop Zones

Jump is a company owned by Uber that operates dockless electric scooter and bicycle rentals in a number of cities. I’ve been riding their electric bikes regularly for the past few months and they are the best dockless bicycles I’ve tried. If you are in a city they operate in I highly recommend trying them out – they’re fun, easy, and fast.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a new feature on the Uber app (which is the app used to rent the Jump bikes and scooters). The map that shows available bicycles (red) and scooters (green) now had yellow icons as well. The below map of San Diego shows this:

When I clicked on the Yellow Icon for more information I was greeted with a message that any trip completed in this “drop zone” would be free and potentially also credit my account with reward points. I was skeptical but took a regular trip and parked it in a drop zone. When my billing receipt for the trip came the total cost was $0.00 instead of the current pricing of $.15 (15 cents) per minute. Awesome! I haven’t been able to figure out if I’m also accruing reward points, or what those points are, to date.

The information in the app is worded a little confusing but based on my experience of about eight trips ending in drop zones over the past two weeks they have all been free. The drop zone locations have remained in the same places as far as I can tell, which is convenient since there’s one a few blocks from my home.

Hope this information is helpful and that you can check out a (free) Jump ride soon. Cheers!

Real Estate Liability Protection – “The Protection Pyramid”

I wanted to share some thoughts about liability protection in real estate. It’s a frequent topic if you’re interested in investing in real estate and is often centered about how best to hold property – in an LLC, corporation, etc. This is certainly a point to consider but there are many other ways to go about addressing liability and working to reduce your risk. Following is a summary of the biggest areas I’d consider.


I’ve tried to build this pyramid model with the base being the broadest type of liability protection and getting more specific going up. Not every piece of the pyramid will make sense for every property or situation – the intent is to have a comprehensive set of options to consider.

  • Legal
    • Entity Form – Holding a property in an LLC, S Corporation, or other entity form can be considered to separate assets from other assets or investment assets from personal ones. Creating an entity will likely include annual fees and filings with the state. There are different tax and legal elements to consider when selecting a form.
    • Revocable Trust or Will – As part of estate planning a revocable trust can be considered in addition to holding property in an entity or directly.
  • Insurance
    • Property Insurance – Property insurance is typically required if property is purchased with debt and is likely a good idea in case of accidents.
    • Umbrella Insurance – Umbrella insurance goes “on top of” property insurance to provide additional liability for incidents not covered by property insurance or exceeding the insurance coverages.
    • Specialty Insurance – Earthquake, flood, or other insurance policies that may make sense depending on the property location.
  • Operations
    • Property Management – Hiring a professional property manager may be a good idea to make management less time intensive and to have a professional on your team. Additionally, this may reduce your liability related to tenant relations and selection.
    • Diligence
      • Due diligence (before purchase) – Inspections of the property before purchasing can identify potential issues in advance to address or avoid. A general inspection as well as specific inspections for foundation, roof, termites, radon, and other areas can be considered.
      • Ongoing diligence – Annual inspections of the property with an eye to potential water damage (roof, plumbing), safety equipment (smoke detectors, CO detectors, fire extinguishers) can identify current or future concerns to address and avoid ongoing damage.
      • Tenant screening – Considering criminal background, credit history, and other criteria when screening tenants can reduce liability.
  • Equity
    • Equity Stripping – To reduce the amount of value that is potentially at risk in a property you can “strip out” the equity in the property by refinancing the property and taking cash out or through other means.

I hope this set of liability considerations is helpful to you and best wishes in your real estate investing!

A property currently for sale in San Diego (from Redfin.com)

Note: The content of this post is for informational and discussion purposes and is not financial or tax advice. Consult with an advisor before relying on this or any information.

Small Tax Refund? Take 5 Minutes To Make It Larger in 2019

It’s tax filing season in America and given the new tax laws that were effective in 2018 there’s a lot of news about filings and refunds. Many headlines are making hay of the smaller tax refund amounts seen so far. [Note: The amount of your refund is not the amount of tax you pay.]

Here’s an example article from yesterday from Forbes:

As Tax Season Rolls On, IRS Still Reporting Fewer Returns & Smaller Refunds

If you are an employee and receive a W-2 with your wage earnings at the end of the year you can take action now to increase your refund in 2019.

Form W-4 is the IRS form you fill out when you start a job and it tells your employer how much to withhold for taxes from your paycheck. It’s a short, simple form but has a big impact on how much of your paycheck is paid to the government during the year.

The form is mostly your personal info – name, SSN, address. Easy enough. The important parts for the amount of tax withholding are Line 5 and Line 6.

Line 5 – How many allowances you’re claiming. Basically how many people will be on your tax return, usually how many people are in your household. The smaller this number is, the larger the taxes withheld. Entering 0 yields the largest withholding.

Line 6 – You can choose an additional amount to withhold on top of the amount determined by the Line 5 Allowances. $100, $500, or whatever number you want to enter will increase your tax withholding. The bigger this number is, the larger the taxes withheld.

If you want to increase your tax withholding, and most likely your tax refund, in 2019 simply complete Form W-4 and send to your company payroll or HR department.

There’s a debate about whether receiving a refund is a good thing or bad thing. Many, like this Motley Fool writer or this article from US News, think refunds are bad – an interest free loan to the government. I mostly sit on the side of refunds being a good thing. This is primarily because as a CPA I’ve seen people have to deal with a $5,000 tax bill as well as a $5,000 tax refund. It’s typically much easier to deal with a large windfall rather than a large amount due. I personally like to have high withholding because it helps to cover taxes due from side hustle / self-employment income that can be tedious to separately calculate and remit during the year.

However you feel about refunds, if you do want to alter your withholding the simple steps above should help you do it. Cheers.



Note: The content of this post is for informational and discussion purposes and is not financial or tax advice. Consult with an advisor before relying on this or any information.