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ToddF

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About ToddF

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    www.toddstaxservice.com

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    Burnsville, MN
  • Interests
    Biking, Half Timer, Bichon Frise fan

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  1. Here is a great link to Ford...excellent information. (The Edge is flat towable for many years...only the most expensive model appears to be flat towable for 2020) https://www.fleet.ford.com/towing-guides/ The Chevrolet Equinox is flat towable in FWD and AWD with the 2.4L (You can google the owner's manual for the years you are interested in and there will be specific information on towing in the manual). The Equinox is a nice, inexpensive vehicle that weights about 3200. The Edge weighs about 4200 and is a larger SUV "crossover" vehicle. Honda produces a great car. We own 2 and one is 12 years old and the other 17. Neither car has ever given us a problem ...just routine maintenance. But new Hondas are not flat towable in most cases except maybe a few with manual transmission. We also have a newer (2015) Subaru Outback (not flat towable) and we're learning that newer isn't better. Just replaced a $900 "head unit" (radio and navigation system) that failed after 4.5 years. Turns out the electronics are problematic on these cars. Would never buy another Subaru but I know many swear by them.
  2. Recapping some of my proposed solutions... Acknowledge the homeless and beggars with a "resource sheet". Donate to local organizations with a long history of success in providing services to this population. Call out fraud to the appropriate authorities if you witness it and are certain of your conclusions. If you decide to "engage" these folks (or walk amongst them), carry mace or pepper spray as a possible self-defense tool. (I have starting doing this also because of loose and aggressive dogs I encounter.) Halt! is a product I found online that is marketed as a dog repellant. These folks,who are often mentally ill, can pose a danger as we just saw in the Texas Church shooting. Don't pick these folks up in your vehicles or offer to take them to restaurants or other locations. (Just my opinion). And in the case of the guy on the scooter in Las Vegas, riding up and down the lanes in between cars with his dog on his scooter, I should have called the police.
  3. Another big problem we observe as we travel around this great country is trash. It is amazing how much trash we see along the roadways and in parking areas and even sometimes in RV parks! If I was homeless and "down and out", and I could stand on a street corner and beg for money, I would switch gears and go to business establishments and ask for a manager. I would then offer to pick up all of the trash in the establishment's parking lot and landscaped areas. I would express appreciation for the opportunity to serve a purpose and gladly accept a free meal or small stipend, although none was required. While camp hosting along Minnesota's North Shore last summer, I went out every night and rode my bike along Hwy 61 on beautiful Lake Superior and took a small grocery bag and stopped and filled it up with the trash along the roadway. It is absolutely amazing what people throw out of their vehicles. It took me a month, I cleaned up 5 miles of highway (both sides). Cig butts are the #1 item. Used baby diapers are the worst item to pick up.
  4. I drive into Minneapolis often in the Spring and Summer to ride my bike around the Chain of Lakes. The faces on the street corners have become familiar to me. They sometimes have a stash of signs behind a pillar and grab one as they make their way to the corner. We make eye contact and they know me now, I've given them a resource sheet listing every imaginable place to get help. What I get are dirty looks! How dare you not give me cash for cigs and beer! They don't need money for transportation, housing, food, or medical care because in Minnesota all of those things are paid by one government program or another! I've worked as a tax preparer for 30 years serving the mainstream. At least 50% of the people on disability could work if they wanted to. Sometimes they come in dressed for their "cash jobs", or to go hunting, fishing, snow mobiling etc. There is an underground economy that the government doesn't know about. Those who are abusing the system are essentially stealing from those who genuinely need help. We are in a great economy, people have money to give, there are jobs out there, lots of organizations willing to help. The outlook is bright if you want it to be. If you want to help, write down the phone number for the local salvation army office and give it to these folks. (Don't give them money). Truthfully, most of these folks know more about the resources than I ever will. None of this discussion is intended to minimize the difficulty many of us face in life at times. It's okay to need help!
  5. I should add 12 Step Group info (web links) to my resource sheet. Alcoholics Anonymous exists everywhere, usually meetings at least 1 every night of the week. I believe if most people sober up, they can work at least part-time. They will then be eligible for a nice tax refund in many cases and have the mental lift of being productive members of society. If you can stand on a street corner in the hot sun, you can stand in a retail store or in a factory and do a job. For goodness sake, get a job as a security gate attendant at an RV park.
  6. My understanding from reading about the homeless population is that a large percentage suffer from chemical dependency and mental illness. Clearly, giving these folks CASH is not the answer.
  7. Just returned from a 4 month/ 7500 mile adventure. Encountering homeless and beggars everywhere, even Deming New Mexico (Walmart)! In Las Vegas, one gentlemen rode on his scooter with dog on front "step" up and down the lanes in between the cars stopped at an intersection. Here in the Twin Cities, they bring their children! (I've seen mothers with 2 or 3 out in the summer sun). Suggestion to self for next trip (and anyone else interested in helping), carry "resource sheets" with contact information For Salvation Army and United Way in the vehicle and hand out to those asking for help. I also look up the local branch of the Salvation Army online and make a donation. I do not give cash to these folks. ( I have a Minneapolis resource sheet with all the services and contact info listed and I give it out when I encounter these folks in the city. There are usually at the freeway exit as I make a stop to turn.) Veterans get tax free benefits and or taxable pensions. The feds have subsidized Sec 8 housing vouchers. Every town has a food shelf. Churches all try to help. Parents in this income bracket pay no income tax and get the earned income tax credit if they have wages. The Salvation Army in Phoenix has a day center where they can go to take a shower, make phone calls, get a cup of coffee etc. The feds give out Social Security Disability to anyone with a bad back. Encountering these folks not only on the street corners, but in public libraries, casinos, bus stations, on the buses. Happy to get home, we don't have this problem in my town of 60,000. It is possible here to get subsidized housing, free health care (much better than what I have), many food shelves, cash assistance, tax refunds if you work a little . I've lived in New York City area, and grew up with what we called "pan handlers" encountered on the street corners and subway stops. My pastor used to always reach into his pocket and give them change. Here in Burnsville, MN, I've never once encountered one in 20 years of living here. I know "its tough out there" but I am doubtful many of these folks aren't just lazy and taking advantage of the kindness of strangers. Thanks for listening.
  8. First time camping in Las Vegas. The Thousand Trails campground is a pleasant discovery...well located in the center of the Las Vegas area, so convenient to the strip, downtown, and Boulder Highway area. There are many RV parks in the area...Road Runner, Kings, Arizona Charlies, Sam's Town KOA and the Thousand Trails Park. Rates in the private parks seem quite reasonable. I've been coming to Vegas for 30 years and always flew in and stayed in a hotel either on the strip or downtown. I like this Boulder Highway area...good access to everything, seems like an area for the locals primarily. Those deals that are almost impossible to find on the strip or downtown, are here!! ($3.99 breakfast, cheap rooms, etc). Near Walmart Supercenter, Albertsons, Sprouts etc. Plan to come back for a longer stay in '21 when we are doing a Western tour. The Thousand Trails park has tight sites but that was expected and doesn't affect me here. Friendly staff, small pool and hottub, lounge with TV, newspaper, and free coffee. etc. "Thumbs up" Thousand Trails. There are sidewalks and bike lanes outside the park and a bus line for those who prefer that option.
  9. The reverse mortgage doesn't make sense for the OP. (Planning to sell home and go FT). A HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) would make much more sense, involve very low fees in most cases, and would simply be paid off at closing when the home is sold. A HELOC with a loan to value ratio of less than a certain %, will usually not require an appraisal. Closing costs are a fraction of those involved in a reverse mortgage or traditional mortgage. Reverse mortgages involve steep fees and come with the unpleasant experience of getting a monthly mortgage statement showing an ever increasing balance due to the lender. As long as the homeowner keeps current on real estate taxes and insurance, the homeowner can usually stay in the home until death. For a retiree with limited resources, who absolutely wants to stay in their home, it's an option worth exploring, when staying is otherwise not financially feasible. There are no commissions paid to the originator of a home equity line of credit. On the other hand, mortgage originators get a big fee when a reverse mortgage is sold because of the high fees and potential profit to the lender. Wings Financial is a good place to start for a HELOC if you have the ability to join them.
  10. I looked at this park last year...very well maintained and a variety of formats. Very low annual maintenance. Only 37 miles from Tampa. Zephyrhills is a nice town with everything you need. The "Valley" (Mission TX) got overbuilt and that is one reason lot prices are so low there. Sidewalks, bike trails and lanes, parks, etc are in short supply in the RGV. The area to the West and North of the RGV is a no man's land. It is also a high crime area. https://www.emeraldpointervresort.org/home/
  11. This is our 4th season in our bought new 2017 Minnie Winnie 31D. We knew from our 4 years in our Lazy Daze Rear Bath (1999) that we wanted more space. I do most of the driving and was apprehensive about the increase in length (from 27 to 32). It turned out to be a non-issue and with the rear air bags, the 31D handles like a dream. Our biggest disappointment was the # of issues that cropped up during the first year or two of ownership. Winnebago was very good about fixing anything we had trouble with and we think we might be out of the woods now (knock on wood). We are in the 4th month of a 4 month trip and haven't had a single problem. The 6 speed Ford E450 (V10) with tow haul feature is easy to drive. We haven't done any climbing yet but based upon our very positive experience with the Lazy Daze, we have no apprehension about it when we do get out West in 2021. The 31D is a great floorplan and filled with features for under 100K. We have done most of our service in Forest City and would highly recommend the Minnie Winnie series. The build quality if very high, something we became accustomed to with the finely built Lazy Daze. However, the Minnie Winnie was $86K vs well over a $110+K for a smaller Lazy Daze with fewer features. Lazy Dazer's tend to be fearful of slides and jacks, both fears unfounded in our experience. In 4 years (not FT but 3-4 months a year) we've had a few issues, and while never fun to deal with, minor in the bigger context of the pluses. (Our Lazy Daze was never a trouble free unit either). We like the extra space and ease of leveling with the HWH jacks. Features of the Minnie Winnie that continue to dazzle us include the comfortable beds (we have 3 not including the dinette), gas/elect hot water heater, ducted air, swivel front seats, 3 nicely mounted and positioned flat screen TVs, MCD solar shades, gas range with oven and glass cover, solid surface countertops, stainless sinks, abundant pantry space, abundant closet and drawer space, a "desk" area where I have my printers and computer set up, opposing slides which create a large living space, and comfortable and durable upholstery. Easy in and out with an inside step, no annoying mechanical step that moves every time the door opens at a rest stop! And we're Class C'ers for life as we love the Ford cab, 3 doors, bed over cab for soft storage, naps, nieces and nephews etc. We travel with full water and do come up right up against the GVWR at 14,500. Here is a link to a you tube tour of our rig!
  12. Both Hertz and Enterprise carry 2 good potential toads in their fleets...the Chevy Equinox and the Buick Envision. You can go their online "sales lots" and arrange for test drives of any vehicles that interest you. (I have 2 scheduled next week, 1 for a 2019 Equinox and 1 for a 2016 Envision). The Equinox FWD is flat towable. The Envision AWD is flat towable. Also looking at buying new as there are some great deals out there. The Hertz test drive is for 3 days so I'll have a good opportunity to see how I like the Chevy Equinox after many years behind the wheel of various Hondas. Both options get good reviews in the recent Consumer Reports auto issue and good crash test results, one of the reasons I want to upgrade from my 2002 Honda CRV.
  13. Here is a link to a thread I participated in regarding deeded lots in the RGV: I've ruled out the RGV for myself, but many folks are very happy down there.
  14. I recommend starting with the zone pass and Trails Collection add on. This allows you to explore the parks and make sure you like them and want to spend weeks at a time in them. (Otherwise, buying a membership for $3-5,000 with an annual commitment may not make sense). I camped in the TT parks and TC parks for 3 years, on my zone pass and TC add on, and knew that I wanted to return for 2 or 3 weeks at a time to some of my favorite destinations. I've also been RVing long enough to know that I'm in for the long haul. I maintain a KOA membership because it is so convenient to make reservations on their app when I am traveling and inbetween longer term stops. For $30 a year, I feel like I have another 800 parks in my back pocket with quick access and a 10% discount. I'm also an Escapee member and love the parks they offer. One stay per year pays for the $39 membership fee. Then I have Passport America, and again, 1 stay per year makes the fee worthwhile. I guess I'm a "hoarder" of sorts. I'm "on the road" for 3-4 months annually and get plenty of use out of all of my memberships. For fulltimers, the payback would be even better.
  15. I recommend looking for a dealer (auto/rv service tech) familiar with RVs who can install permanent valve stems that come out of the wheel cover for easy access. It takes some doing...many Ford dealers have no idea how to do it! We found Kremer Services in Inver Grove Heights MN who was familiar with the process and ordered the parts. Now checking tire pressure is a breeze. Not happy with our $500+ Tiretracker system. Sensors fall off the radar. Sensors give inaccurate readings. The display terminal inside the RV doesn't sound an alarm if a tire is suddenly deflated. (tested it). They have a lifetime warranty so we have to pack it up and send it back to them. Junk as far as I am concerned. AVOID THIS COMPANY: https://www.tiretraker.com/
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