Alice Ann Kuder is an author. Her most recent novel is "Since I Last Saw You." She is also a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices NW Real Estate in Seattle, Washington. Known as Seattle's Single Minded Realtor, she works a great deal with single buyers and sellers, primarily in West Seattle.
The following is from The Social Security Administration website. www.ssa.gov/scam
On March 9, 2023, National Slam the Scam Day, and throughout the year, we give you the tools to recognize Social Security-related scams and stop scammers from stealing your money and personal information. Share scam information with your loved ones. Slam the Scam!
Recognize the four basic signs of a scam:
Scammers pretend to be from a familiar organization or agency, like the Social Security Administration. They may email attachments with official-looking logos, seals, signatures, or pictures of employee credentials.
Scammers mention a problem or a prize. They may say your Social Security number was involved in a crime or ask for personal information to process a benefit increase.
Scammers pressure you to act immediately. They may threaten you with arrest or legal action.
Scammers tell you to pay using a gift card, prepaid debit card, cryptocurrency, wire or money transfer, or by mailing cash. They may also tell you to transfer your money to a “safe” account.
Ignore scammers and report criminal behavior. Report Social Security-related scams to the SSA Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
Visit www.ssa.gov/scam for more information and follow SSA OIG on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to stay up to date on the latest scam tactics. Repost #SlamtheScam information on social media to keep your friends and family safe.
There are plenty of websites that will provide you with automated values for your home, but if you really want to leverage the equity in your home to build your personal wealth, you need more information. Knowledge is power.
Homebot is a web-based tracking tool that delivers personalized, actionable insights to help you track and build wealth with your home.
Access to Homebot is free, but it is only available through select real estate brokers and lenders. (see the links below
When you access Homebot, you get to choose how much information you want to give it to work with, e.g. the interest rate on your mortgage, or home improvements you’ve made. This kind of information greatly increases the accuracy of how your home contributes to your portfolio.
If you’d like to see how this free financial tool works, go to this website, https://hmbt.co/HcGcJF, and type in your home address. If you like it, you can sign up to receive the free monthly tracking report.
At first, the Homebot landing page looks much like many of the other automated websites, but when you advance through the screens, you will start to see the superior power that Homebot provides.
Hindsight is 20/20, right? I could have saved over $2,000 with a home warranty this past year.
If you are a homeowner and have been living in your home for several years, as I am, you may not have thought about investing in a home warranty, even if you had one when you first bought the home. I highly recommend you give it some consideration. Here’s why.
Just like people, houses don’t get any younger with age. The major systems (e.g. plumbing and electrical) and appliances start to wear out, even if you take good care of them. If you’re lucky, they don’t all fail at once, so you can absorb the costs of repair or replacement a little bit at a time. Purchasing a home warranty before things break down, can potentially save you quite a bit of money.
A home warranty is an annual service contract that covers the cost to repair or replace parts of home appliances and systems that break down over time.
It is essentially an insurance policy, and like other insurance policies, they vary as to what is covered and how much they cost. The information I’m going to give you here is generalized, so if you decide to purchase a warranty, be sure that you carefully compare the coverages, particularly their limitations and exclusions.
Most warranty companies offer different levels of coverage at varying monthly fees, starting at around $35/month ($420/year). I might note that the websites I checked require you to request a quote before they show you their available plans. In part, this is because not every company serves all geographical areas (but mostly, I suspect, they just want your contact info).
I recently purchased coverage for my own home, which is a 1924 bungalow. I’m not going to name the company I chose, but one reason I chose them is because they don’t require inspection or maintenance records in order to purchase a plan or get service. This means that when my 10-year-old washer goes out, I will call the warranty company and pay them an additional service fee of $75-$125 (depending on the plan I chose) to send a service person to my home to assess the problem.
If they can’t repair the covered item, they will replace it or offer an alternative solution at no additional cost.
Ironically, in a conversation with my sister a few months ago, she mentioned that she expects that her furnace will go out in the next year or so. I suggested that she buy a home warranty so that she will be covered if/when it does fail. (Note: the warranty company may require a 30-day waiting period before coverage kicks in, otherwise people might wait to buy coverage until an appliance fails.)
Why it didn’t occur to me to take my own advice, I couldn’t say. Sure enough, last year I had to replace my water heater, my refrigerator and my chest freezer, which cost me close to $2,800. If I had invested in the home warranty at $35/m and $75/service call, I would have saved over $2,000! (Don’t think I’m not kicking myself.)
The moral of the story is, learn from my mistakes. If you have an older home/appliances, and can afford the extra $35/mo, give a home warranty serious consideration.
The following is from a direct mail newsletter I send my clients each month.
Starting this month (March, 2022), I am going to begin featuring one business from my “preferred vendor” list in each newsletter. These local vendors have earned their place on my list by providing quality service to clients of mine and/or my BHHS colleagues — service worthy of personal recommendation (i.e., they have not paid a promotional fee).
In honor of Women’s History Month, I am starting off with a woman-owned business. Amy Works, Inc. Her website says, ” We specialize in BATH, KITCHEN AND BASEMENT REMODELS and on building relationships with our customers.”
You can reach Amy and her team at 206-478-2019. AmyWorks.com
Here are more non-profit community resources:
Westseattleadventures.com: If you’re a parent in West Seattle who enjoys finding new outings close to home to do with your kids, this blog is for you.
1800recycle.wa.gov: A website/hotline with information about where you can recycle all those hard-to-recycle items (like microwave ovens).
It’s been a little over a week since West Seattle scavengers checked off the last boxes on the clue sheet. You may be wondering why it has taken so long to see the results posted here. It’s because Winder Wander was so well-received that it has taken me all week to tally scores, label jpegs, retrieve yard signs, and notify the players.
Last year, 12 teams played Winter Wander and sent in 198 selfies. This year, 24 teams took part in the West Seattle scavenger hunt and sent in 466 selfies and several social media posts. 7 of the 24 teams solved all 25 clues.
The team of Rick & Morty, aka Steve and Charlie Bierman, (pictured below) solved all 25 clues AND were the big winners in the drawing for the $100 gift card!
The names and point totals for each of the Winter Wander scavenger hunt teams are listed below. The highest point total went to Charlie’s Angels. The youngest participant was 1-month-old, Lucy. Even though I made up a couple of the team names myself, I must admit that the one that tickled my fancy the most, was Sleighing It!
Team Murray: 55 points
Beyond the Disaster: 55 points
Go Gesings: 30 points
The Happy Travelers: 34 points
The Finding Falcons: 45 points
Viking and Milady: 7 points
Team Blitzen(berger): 47 points
Sleighing It!: 18 points
Louie, Louie: 47 points
Tinsel Trio: 53 points
Charlie’s Angels: 58 points
Rick & Morty: 56 points
Raining Cat & Dog: 38 points
Gill Family: 26 points
Laura Tyler: 50 points
Kim S.:50 points
Frosty Jingle Head: 43 points
Chunn Family: 46 points
Maria Wellington: 40 points
Victoria Wellington: 40 points
Lucy in the Sky with Snowflakes: 46 points
Mark & Kiarra: 10 points
The Long and Winding Lane: 50 points
Yay! Murdock: 10 points
Special thanks to the many volunteers who helped me plan and execute Winter Wander:
Randy Winn, Barb Joseph, Tammy Contreraz, Christian Jacobson, Dora-Faye Hendricks, Kathy Blackwell, Janine Michelsons, Randy Winn, John Sweetland, Kathy Mulady, Glenn Erickson, Jeff Keller, the Bui Family, the Ga/ Jacobs family, plus the West Seattle Blog.
Local businesses who played along, and albums of photos from their wanderers, are below:
I fully intend to make Winter Wander an annual event, and hopefully a West Seattle holiday tradition, as my way of giving back to the community I proudly call my home. Save the date now for the 3rd Annual Winter Wander: Dec. 2-11, 2022.
When I’m not busy planning scavenger hunts, I serve our community as a real estate broker, which enables me to sponsor events like Winter Wander. Referrals are the foundation of my business, so please consider calling me for a free consultation when it comes time for you or your friends to buy or sell a home. SingleMindedRealEState.com
Below are just a few of the 466 selfies submitted by Winter Wander 2021 participants.
Announcing Winter Wander 2021,a West Seattle Scavenger Hunt
A FREE, LIVE, 10-DAY Adventure
designed to bring friends and families together for holiday fun!
Here’s how to play:
Download the Bingo-style clue sheet, a map and an instruction sheet from the Winter Wander web page (www.WondersInAliceland.com/winter-wander). Each of the 25 squares gives a clue to the location of a local business or home.
Gather your teammates anytime between 5PM, Friday, Dec. 3rd to 7PM, Sunday, Dec. 12th, and start wandering around West Seattle with map and clue sheet in hand.
Search for as many or as few locations as you wish. Each time you identify a solution, take a selfie in front of it, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and then resume wandering.
Each selfie submitted earns an entry for a drawing to win a $100 gift card to local businesses. (Additional prizes will be awarded.)
More information under the “Winter Wander” tab at the top of the page.
We had 12 groups submit a total of 193 selfies for the contest, and countless other groups who played just for fun!
Many thanks to the 15 neighborhood businesses and institutions who agreed to participate as solutions to our clues. We hope you will pay each of them a visit and express your gratitude as well. They are:
If you’ve been participating in the Winter Wander Scavenger Hunt, but need a second clue for some of the tougher ones, there’s good news! We are now offering just that (upon request). Just call/text/email me and tell me which clues have you stumped and I’ll provide another hint. (See the flyer below for contact info.)
Meanwhile, here are some more photos of fellow Wanderers.