February 2021 Newsblog

February, 2021 NewsBlog

Another New Year Celebration!

February already! Busy, busy month. Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day and the President’s Day holiday, all one after the other.

First, Happy Chinese New Year! On February 12th, 2021 we will start the Year of the Ox. What will that mean for those who fall under that zodiac animal?. Remember that just because you are an Ox does not mean this will be a good year for you. In fact, quite the opposite. There are other things in the constellations at play, and this is mentioned in the horoscope section of the following article. Just to make it easier for you, because I know you will want to see what your year will be like, here is one of the many sites that you can peruse. 

What do you do to usher in a great year? Here are some things that can be done before Feb. 12th to “make it more auspicious”  – 

  • Clean house to get rid of the old yuck, especially any “COVID” germs,
  • Cut/color/style your hair (if needed) to present a “new you” (don’t cut hair for a while after new year – cutting away any accumulated good luck), 
  • Replenish your wardrobe (this is the part I like the most) 
  • Prepare crisp new money bills and stuff the red envelopes! 

On the big day wear something new and preferably red. But, most important, walk around with your red envelopes and a smile and pass on good luck and good health in the new year. Gung Hay Fat Choy! 

The red envelopes work for Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14th)  and after all the fun and festivities of Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day, you will need President’s Day (Feb. 15th) to rest and relax.

Now that the February highlights are done, let’s back up a little: what a momentous January it has been! What with the Capitol riots, the confirmation of the Electoral votes, the Inauguration, the formation of the new government, impeachment and the executive orders, it has been a whirlwind of news and controversies and let’s not forget the Bernie Sanders memes (more on that in the funnies).

Our new President Biden is signing executive orders left and right. I am happy that we are going back to joining the Paris accords and the WHO, but the order with the most immediate impact will be the one that allows FHA to insure mortgages from DACA applicants. This will bring good news to real estate and lending economies as well as DACA individuals. It is time for them to take a big step forward towards homeownership.

In addition, here’s to hoping Congress passes the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which contains a $15,000 tax credit for first time homebuyers. We need to support these first timers but even with government’s help, the crux of it all is a supply of affordable homes on the market or it is not going to work. And that is something not even Congress can help with.

Among all the other news coming out of DC the President’s choice for the CFPB directorship, Rohit Chopra, is one that the financial industries are looking warily at. Mr. Chopra, presently FTC Commissioner with previous experience in Student Loan advocacy at the CFPB, is known to be aggressive in the protection of consumer rights, fair lending and advocating redress actions.This will be good for consumers, but for the financial industries, including lending, mortgage and real estate, there is the concern after 4 years of relative leniency. The future could hold expensive enforcement investigations, actions and penalties. Watch out for violations under UDAAP (Unfair, Deceptive, Abusive Acts or Practices)! 

And closer to home, what does California have to worry about? Why, we now have our very own little CFPB in the form of the DFPI (Department of Financial Protection and Innovation). Not only will we have to watch Federal regulatory guidelines, we also have the State ones to contend with. Here is a 3rd party announcement.

Another brand new California product – “earned wage access companies” will go mainstream and become part of financial services under the jurisdiction of the DFPI. “Earned wage access companies” are companies who advance earned wages to employees before they receive their paycheck, thereby facilitating bill payments and other unexpected expenses for families particularly during this uncertain period. This is a bit different from payday lending and at this time there are 5 companies with which the DFPI has signed memorandums of understanding (MOU). Here is the press release for this announcement.     

This may not be a California-centric issue, but it seems that no other state has as big of a problem about unemployment fraud as California does.The report from the State Auditor’s office show the total amount of fraud perpetrated on the EDD (Employment Development Department) could reach $31 billion (yes, that is a “b” as in “BILLION”).That is absolutely horrifying. Can you imagine what we could do with $31 billion? All the infrastructure we could upgrade?

Pandemic Fraud is on the rise. February 1-5 is IdentityTheft Awareness week, but it’s not just this week. Awareness should be there all the time. As you all know, 1099 forms have to be sent out by Jan 31. If you get a 1099G form for reporting unemployment benefits and you have never received unemployment benefit payments from the State or IRS, or the amount is different than what you actually received, this could mean fraud with stolen identity. Be aware and be proactive.  

Personally, I am at a good place now. My fears and worries about getting COVID are hugely alleviated now that I have had my first vaccination shot and an appointment for the second.  Here’s to hoping that there will be sufficient doses for that second shot. Frustrated at getting even the first appointment? Just hang in there. For my husband it was a three (3) hour exercise in patience. You can compare it to calling the IRS for a real person. The last time I did that it took 2 hours, it disconnected and I had to call in again and wait another 2 hours. How do older people who live by themselves and may not have computers or help get an appointment? There has to be a better way for the older most vulnerable or our citizens… 

Funny of the month – You have to hand it to those advertising agencies. Here is an ad for washing machines that will give you a good laugh. 

Bernie Sanders memes:

As promised, Mr. Sanders, Senator, Presidential candidate and now, Internet favorite. And you know it will be the last for which he will be remembered by. 

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