The Vault – LGBT Weekly Sun, 23 Oct 2016 14:00:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 San Diego LGBT Pride 2015 Gallery Thu, 23 Jul 2015 18:52:07 +0000 _DSC6761 _DSC7112 _DSC7658 _DSC8266 _DSC8604 _DSC8865 _DSC8911 _DSC8935 _DSC9064 _DSC9085 _DSC9100 _PRD0007 crop _PRD0010 _PRD0013 _PRD0020 crop _PRD0028 crop _PRD0028 _PRD0032 crop _PRD0036 _PRD0040 _PRD0042-2 _PRD0043 _PRD0058 _PRD0061 _PRD0064 _PRD0123 _PRD0158 _PRD0197 _PRD0200 _PRD0205 _PRD0207 _PRD0209 _PRD0226 _PRD0252 _PRD0257 D81_9177 D82_6894-2 D82_7255 DSC_0001-2 DSC_0021-2 DSC_0159 IMG_0068 IMG_4007 IMG_4422 IMG_9437 IMG_9514 IMG_9605 IMG_9998 PRIDE2015_RapidEyeMedia-3 REP_1076 REP_1082 ROB_6349 ROB_6350 ROB_6367 ]]> 0 Don’t let hackers steal your money! Thu, 21 Aug 2014 19:39:40 +0000

First it was the Target store data theft that occurred around the holidays last year. That was followed up with the Heartbleed virus. Now some group of Russian gangsters has stolen a billion user IDs and passwords. I’m fed up!

No one has time to keep changing passwords every few months. Most people are probably like me. I have a long list of login information in the desk drawer. It’s not exactly secure or very effective. I feel completely defenseless to protect my financial accounts. Identity theft is real and has happened to clients and friends. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before I get hit.

Before changing all my passwords after this most recent security breach, I decided to do some research to find out if there is a way to make login information easier to manage and more secure. I ended up discovering a program called LastPass, a secure vault to store all of your login information.

Here’s a short overview of how it works. You download the software at You create one master password. This is the only password you must remember. LastPass scans your computer for insecure login information stored in your browser and uploads this information to your password vault. As you login to Web sites, LastPass asks if you’d like to add it to your vault.

Eventually, you have a password vault with all of your login information securely stored. You never have to type in user IDs and passwords again. LastPass signs off every time you close your browser. This is a great feature so be sure to choose this setting. Just login to LastPass whenever surfing the Internet and you have access to your user IDs and passwords.

LastPass has cool features that make passwords sort of fun. There is the Security Challenge where the software grades the strength of your current passwords. My score was a low 39 percent. Then it walks you through ways to improve your score. The Security Challenge also checks your email addresses to see if they have been involved in any previous security breaches.

The Password Generator, another feature, will create ridiculously difficult passwords to replace weak passwords. It’s surprisingly easy to replace a weak password with a strong one created by the program. Then it stores that new information for the next time you login.

LastPass works on all of your devices.

And the best feature of all is that this program is completely free! There are some premium versions that have a cost, although the free version seems to work just fine.

So far, I’ve been impressed with LastPass. The one complaint is that it took a while for me to figure out the program. Definitely watch the videos to understand how to use it.

I now feel like there is a way to fight back against hackers from emptying my bank account and stealing my identity. Give LastPass a try to see if it works for you.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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Get help to pay off credit card debt Fri, 08 Aug 2014 00:05:44 +0000

35 percent of Americans have a debt in collections according to a new study by The Urban Institute. This means people have not made payments on things like credit card debt, medical bills or even a parking ticket. This is a serious problem that shows how much financial distress Americans are under.

Now there may not be one in three people in financial distress. Millions have debt in collections they are not aware of. So the first thing everyone should do is get their free credit report at Review your report for any items in collections or any negative comments. These are summarized at the top of your credit report, so it’s pretty quick to determine if you have a problem to fix.

Where to get help

One place to look for free financial education is your local credit union. San Diego County Credit Union and Mission Federal Credit Union are two that I know of with free classes on budgeting and paying off debt.

Another resource I like is Everyone probably knows this personal finance guru from her TV shows and books. Her Web site has tons of free resources and information on paying off debt.

For those that are in way over their heads with credit card debt, then credit counseling may be your solution. You can find non-profit credit counseling companies at or Once you find a non-profit credit counseling company (and be sure they are non-profit), make an appointment to have your situation analyzed. They can put you in the appropriate program to get your financial life back on track.

You can also try to do this on your own if you think that’s the better path. Once you’ve acknowledged there’s a problem, it’s time to start paying that debt off. Here are the steps to do it:

1) Make a list of all your debts including balances, interest rates and minimum payments for each card.

2) Stop using your credit cards.

3) Choose a monthly budgeted amount to pay toward credit cards. The payment should be high enough to pay off the debt in no more than five years, and preferably no more than three years. Use the Payoff Calculator at to calculate the required monthly payment.

4) Make the minimum payments on all your credit cards with the lowest interest rates.

5) Use the rest of your budgeted amount to pay down the highest interest rate credit card. Once that highest interest rate card is paid off, move on to paying the next highest interest rate card. This is called a “debt snowball” method. Just search that term on the Internet to find a more detailed description of this process.

Be sure to track your progress!

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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‘So Say We All’ is at it again Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:41:36 +0000

Aurea Oliviera, Emily Burke, Julia Evans and Ed Farragut – So Say We All, 2013

Back in 2011, I helped produce a wildly popular event at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park. It was called The Fab and Furious Queer Circus of Dastardly Delights. The extravaganza was the largest LGBT oriented visual and literary arts event organized by So Say We All, the local non-profit dedicated storytellers of all stripes. The Fab and Furious Queer Circus of Dastardly Delights was a massive endeavor featuring a good number of well-known queer artists and writers, many traveling down from Los Angeles. Perhaps you were there!

Well, So Say We All is at it again. Their now annual LGBT storytelling showcase returns July 26, this time to the White Box Live Arts Theater in the NTC Arts & Culture District. This year’s focus is The Family You Choose and the showcase will present stories about the people, places and things that caught us at that pivotal moment following departure from the nice warm closet, into the brisk air of a brave new gay world.

The theme makes sense. As we move past “the closet” and “coming out” and even struggles for liberation as archetypal narratives, this year’s point of departure is clearly and defiantly new, pointedly about the range of family configurations we have made for ourselves. Many in the community are marrying of course, but this isn’t the only option out there. Many others in our broad community define “family” as something else altogether: a dynamic of blood relatives and friends, a close configuration of exes, fellow travelers in one support group or another, and the list goes on.

If you are familiar with So Say We All, you know you are in for a treat. If the organization is new to you, let me leave you with this elaborate endorsement from a recent attendee:

“I teared up at least seven times tonight. Please understand that I missed American Idol for this – and I don’t have a DVR. But there is nothing 35-million-dollar Ryan Seacrest could have given me that would have come close to what your compensated-with-only-a-penile-enhancement pamphlet performers shared tonight. I mean where else can you hear a real gay man, a genuine bear even, finally debunk what the deal is with the poop factor let alone get tips on how to and not to give a handy! The great thing was that no two writers’ styles were alike, yet they were all equally hysterical. All such a pleasure. In my opinion, So Say We All is a name that can truly be associated with quality. Such advanced cleverness, skill, style and realness …”

Now go hear what Brian Peyton Joyner, Henry Aaronson, Leon Decklebaum, Brian Simpson, Patrick Mayuyu, Aries Hines, J. Dylan Yates and Phelo Mbong have to say about the family they chose!

Tickets and location information can be found here:

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Five questions to ask before moving in together Thu, 17 Jul 2014 22:04:47 +0000

It’s Pride season and the summer of love is in full swing. You’ve met that special guy or gal. There’s even the possibility of moving in together. That’s amazing and exciting! However, don’t be too quick about shacking up when starting a new relationship. It could do more damage than good if you don’t first clear up some financial ground rules.

Here are my top five questions every couple should ask each other before moving in together.

How much can we afford for housing?

Rent or mortgage payments will be your biggest expense. Figure out how much you can afford before looking for a place. Housing costs typically take up about 30 percent of your incomes. Add up your total monthly paychecks and divide by three. That’ll give you a target for how much to spend on housing.

What do we have for our new place?

Take an inventory of what each of you are bringing to the household. Don’t keep two of anything. Post extra items on Craigslist and use the money to buy things neither of you have but need. Be sure to speak up if something is important to you.

Definitely avoid buying a bunch of stuff you can’t afford. Live together without taking on credit card debt. Also write down who owns what.

What’s our spending plan?

Budgets are a horrendous creation and not effective for most people. I prefer a simple spending plan. Read details about it in a previous article called “A Simple & Easy Spending Plan”. In a nutshell, save at least 15 percent and keep food costs around 15 percent to 20 percent of your combined incomes.

Don’t make this a complex exercise. What I really want couples to do is talk about their income, retirement savings and debt payments like car and student loans.

Who’s paying the bills?

Decide how the two of you will do this. Have one person be in charge of paying all the bills and the other write a check for their amount. Or each person is responsible for paying different bills. You can even open a joint account with each of you contributing your portion of the household expenses. There is no “right way” other than whatever way works for your relationship. Definitely do not combine any other assets or debts at this stage of the relationship.

What happens if this doesn’t work out?

Don’t skip this one! If you break up, there will be lots of emotions going on. It’s not the best mental state to be figuring out who gets to stay and who gets the Ethan Allen sofa. Figure it out while things are good. Whatever you agree to, put it in writing so you don’t forget.

Talking about money isn’t easy. But if you can talk through these five questions, your relationship will be set up for success and continue to grow.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or his blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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Will I ever get anything from Social Security? Thu, 03 Jul 2014 19:13:57 +0000

This is a question I am asked all the time. Will I ever get a penny from Social Security? Most people have come to the conclusion that they won’t get anything. Everyone has heard about Social Security running out of money in the about 20 years. However, I would like to go on record to say that Social Security will still be around when you retire and you will receive monthly benefits.

There’s a lot of misleading information out in the public domain. Much of it is politically motivated. If it weren’t for the careers of 535 members of Congress, problems like Social Security would already be solved.

The Social Security Administration reports on its annual statement that by 2033 there will be enough to pay 77 percent of benefits that are owed. That’s not good, but it’s not bad either. We’d love to see a projection showing 100 percent of benefits earned will in fact be paid. However, this projection doesn’t include any changes to the current program.

Social Security has been a very successful program. I would argue it’s been too successful since it is now the only source of income for millions of retirees. It was never intended to fully support an individual’s retirement expenses. Social Security was created to supplement retirement.

How to Fix Social Security

There are many changes that can be made to Social Security to fully fund future benefits. An interactive tool on AARP’s Web site called “You Earned A Say” allows you to choose between a list of options to fix Social Security. I created a scenario in about one minute. My solution involved removing the income limit for the Social Security tax and to increase retirement age by one year.

For those that don’t know, Social Security is funded by your taxes. They charge 6.2 percent of your earnings that go toward paying for the program. However, this tax is only charged up to $117,000 of income. Income above this limit is not charged the 6.2 percent tax. If this income limit is removed, then pretty much most of Social Security’s funding problems are fixed.

This isn’t the only solution to fixing Social Security. The final solution will and should be a mix of several things. Remember that this program was created in 1935. No one can expect a government program to operate forever without some changes. Eventually, our elected officials will address the problem.

Politics aside, the important thing to know is that Social Security will be around for your retirement. You will get a monthly Social Security check. You can plan on it.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or his blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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Many wartime veterans are missing out on valuable long-term care benefits Thu, 19 Jun 2014 17:21:26 +0000


The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has been in the news quite a bit lately, and not in a good way. However, this exposure brings to mind many great things about the VA and how they support our veterans. There is one benefit in particular that I am aware of that is not being utilized by enough veterans and their families.

It’s called the Aid & Attendance Improved Pension designed specifically for wartime veterans requiring assistance to do daily tasks such as eating, dressing and bathing. This benefit can also be used to offset assisted-living costs.

The benefit provides up to $1,758 per month to a veteran, $1,130 per month to a surviving spouse or $2,085 per month to a couple. This can be a huge financial boost and greatly improve a veteran’s quality of life.

Unfortunately, many veterans aren’t aware of this benefit so it doesn’t get utilized as it should. There are less than 200,000 veterans currently receiving Aid & Attendance benefits. There are over 10 million wartime veterans that served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam still living today. Add to that the number of surviving spouses, and there are potentially millions of seniors that should be receiving this benefit right now.

How to qualify for Aid & Attendance

There are specific criteria that must be met to qualify for Aid & Attendance. First, a veteran must have at least 90 days of active duty, with one day during a period of war. These periods include World War II, Korean conflict, Vietnam era and the Persian Gulf War.

The individual applying must qualify both medically and financially. To qualify medically, a wartime veteran or surviving spouse must need the assistance of another person to perform daily tasks. Being blind or in a nursing home for mental or physical incapacity or residing in an assisted-living facility also qualifies. You do not have to be in a facility to be eligible for Aid & Attendance. The care can be provided in the home by either outside agencies or family members.

To qualify financially, an applicant must have on average less than $80,000 in assets, excluding their home and vehicles. Income has to be below a certain level that is dependent upon each veteran’s situation and medical expenses, which can be deducted from income in order to qualify.

How to apply and resources

The first step is to apply for the VA’s Basic Pension by visiting or call the VA Pension Hotline at 877-294-6380. Many veterans may be ineligible for the Basic Pension due to the low income limits. However, the Aid & Attendance benefit has higher income limits. A veteran or surviving spouse that is ineligible for the Basic Pension may qualify for the Aid & Attendance benefit.

Any wartime veteran or surviving spouse should look into the Aid & Attendance benefit if they are receiving help for basic living needs. If you are a family member, friend or person working with veterans, talk with them about this benefit so they know it exists. Wartime veterans have earned this benefit and more need to be applying to get it.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email

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Something everyone needs — an emergency fund Thu, 05 Jun 2014 22:35:36 +0000

All working adults should have an emergency fund. It is that important! In fact, I believe it is the very first thing to get in place once out of school and working full-time.

An emergency fund is cash set aside in a savings account for those unexpected expenses and life events that inevitably occur. An emergency fund pays your rent when you lose a job. It pays for critical car repairs. Or it covers the deductible on your health insurance if you require medical care.

Unfortunately, about half the population does not have any kind of emergency fund. They live paycheck to paycheck. When the unexpected eventually happens (and it always will), the only option is to borrow money from family and friends or use credit cards.

The number one reason people start the downward spiral into credit card debt is due to an unexpected expense that could only be paid with credit. It’s usually the only option when you don’t have an emergency fund.

Once there’s a credit card balance, it’s easy to justify that a few more small purchases won’t add much to your existing balance. A few more impulse purchases later, and next thing you know there’s a huge balance on your credit card at a 24.99 percent interest rate and you can only afford to make the minimum payment. Using credit cards leads down a very slippery path.

Now that you have an idea why an emergency fund is so important, let’s get into the details. Here are the three main components of an emergency fund:

It should be large enough to cover three to six months of non-discretionary living expenses (housing, food, etc).

Keep this money in a savings account. Don’t combine the emergency fund with a daily checking account.

Keep it accessible so you can get it within an hour. This means having a savings account at a local bank and not an Internet bank. Quick access also means don’t invest emergency fund cash in stocks, bonds or CDs.

Those are the basics. Now for a dose of reality. Saving three to six months of living expenses is a daunting task. Don’t let that stop you! You have to realize that accumulating three months’ worth of expenses will take some time. The key is to start. Set your immediate goals to be small and manageable.

Start transferring a small amount from your checking account into a savings account. Set this up as an automatic transfer. It could be $10 per month, $25 per month, or whatever feels right to you. Save up a few hundred dollars and then see if you can bump up that amount you are transferring.

The next step is to reach a $1,000 balance. After that, focus solely on paying off credit card debt if you have it. Once all the debt is paid off, re-start the emergency fund savings until it’ll cover three months of living expenses.

Now you know that you need an emergency fund and how to do it. Remember, things are going to come up at the worst times. So protect yourself by starting to save for those unexpected expenses now. Good luck!

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or his blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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New way to support and invest in LGBT-friendly companies Thu, 22 May 2014 19:13:17 +0000

A new exchange traded fund (ETF) created in February 2014 allows investors to buy companies that support LGBT equality. It’s called the Workplace Equality Portfolio and trades under the ticker symbol EQLT. This new ETF is one of the few ways the LGBT community can easily invest in publicly-traded companies that support equal rights.

The ETF tracks an index called the Workplace Equality Index. I’ve explained what an index is in a previous article, but basically an index is a basket of company stocks. To be included in this particular equality-based basket, companies must score 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index. There are many criteria a company must meet in order to achieve a 100 percent score from HRC. For example, they must have non-discrimination policies regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, and provide full benefits for same-sex spouses, domestic partners and transgender individuals.

There’s an interesting story behind the creation of the Workplace Equality Index. Kevin Mossier was an entrepreneur and founder of the gay travel company RSVP Vacations. After he passed away, a foundation was formed in his name and this money was to be invested to fulfill his vision of advancing the cause of human rights and LGBT equality.

The investment management firm charged with this task, Denver Investments, conducted independent research to establish screens to select stocks from companies that were supportive of workplace equality and fairness. This work resulted in the creation of the Workplace Equality Index.

Until a few months ago, there wasn’t a way for investors to support this effort unless they bought stock in all 162 companies. That would cost a lot in trading commissions. Now this can be done with just one trade in the Workplace Equality Portfolio (Ticker symbol: EQLT).

A couple of things to consider before buying EQLT. The expense ratio is 0.75 percent. That’s not bad when compared to the average mutual fund expense ratio of 1.00 percent. But it is high when compared to other index-tracking ETFs with expense ratios below 0.10 percent.

EQLT is also a new ETF with only $5 million in assets. Compare this to the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF that has $165 billion in assets.

An investor doesn’t lose their money if an ETF closes. This ETF still owns stock in 162 large publicly-traded companies.

It’s exciting to see this new ETF focused on LGBT-friendly companies. If successful, EQLT can encourage other companies to add workplace equality policies for their LGBT employees. But like any investment, each investor must do their own research. You can find out more information by visiting and

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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Savings tax credit for low income workers Thu, 08 May 2014 15:17:02 +0000

There is a report called Making Ends Meet that has been in the news the past few months. This research, put together by the Center on Policy Initiatives, calculated the average income needed to cover basic living expenses in San Diego for different types of families.

For instance, a single person needs to make $27,655 per year to cover housing, food, transportation, healthcare, and taxes. A couple with one child needs to make $67,277 per year to cover these same living expenses plus childcare costs. These are bare-bones budgets that don’t include anything for entertainment or retirement savings.

What’s shocking is that the study found 38 percent of working-age households (people under age 65) don’t earn incomes high enough to pay for basic living expenses. Even with full-time work, about one in four households in San Diego earn less than the amount needed to cover living expenses.

It’s pretty tough to save for retirement when you barely earn enough to pay rent and buy groceries. However, there is a little known tax credit for low income workers called the Qualified Retirement Savings Credit if you can somehow manage to save a little bit toward retirement. Low income workers that contribute up to $2,000 to a retirement savings account can receive up to $1,000 in tax credit. A retirement savings account can be a 401(k), 403(b), IRA or Roth IRA.

Let’s say a single person makes $20,000 a year. They would owe about $1,045 in federal income tax. If they contributed $2,000 to an IRA, then they would reduce their taxable income by $2,000 and owe about $800 in taxes. But they would get the Retirement Savings Credit that would completely eliminate their $800 in taxes. So not only do they save $2,000 for retirement, but they also wouldn’t owe any federal income tax.

It’s a great deal if a low income worker can come up with the $2,000. It’s easier said than done though. Some ideas to lower expenses are to cancel cable, switch to a low-cost cell service like that has a plan starting at $15 per month or get a roommate to lower rent expense. Get creative with those expenses. Also consider taking on extra part-time work during the busy holiday season. Then put that money into a retirement account to get this tax credit.

It’s tough for everyone to save for retirement and even harder for low income workers. But if you can do it, be sure to claim this tax credit to reduce and possibly even eliminate your taxes.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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LGBT Veterans Wall of Honor Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:27:41 +0000 IMG_8518 IMG_8543 IMG_8545 IMG_8555 IMG_8558 IMG_8565 IMG_8578 IMG_8583 IMG_8586 IMG_8600 IMG_8611 IMG_8628 IMG_8638 IMG_8645 IMG_8649 IMG_8655 IMG_8679 ]]> 0 MCASD’s ’25 and Under Art Contest’ is back! Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:16:57 +0000

MCASD’s 25 and Under Art Contest

It’s no secret that I bemoan the lack of LGBT, or queer art in San Diego. Yes, the community has a theater that prioritizes gay productions and yes, there is the Art of Pride exhibition space that shows the work of a different LGBT artist each month. But, beyond this there is very little. Yet there are gay, lesbian and transgender artists in San Diego working diligently in a variety of mediums.

How do I know this? Well, I see artwork rotating on and off the walls of coffee shops and other “off the grid” spaces all the time. I participate in numerous workshops and classes and there is always a lone LGBT writer or artist in the group of heterosexual students telling their truth, making sure their story is shared.

The instinct to create and express is alive and well in our traditionally aesthetically-inclined community but it can be stifled in sunny San Diego. There are simply no spaces or opportunities for advancement, few stable forums to incubate ideas in front of a more sophisticated audience. As with our straight counterparts, there are no sales. It is pretty near impossible to make a living as an artist here in town.

To help ease this isolation I encourage all artists to research contests and competitions and juried shows in the greater San Diego community. The Athenaeum and the Museum of the Living Artist both promote competitions for local artists. CityBeat’s annual photo competition is open for entries now. But the Museum of Contemporary Art sets itself apart by inviting submissions from local artists on the younger side of the spectrum; they are actively seeking what artistic teens and twentysomethings make of the world. Yes, MCASD’s 25 and Under Art Contest is back!

So, if you’re age 25 and under I encourage you to visit some galleries, research our shared queer history, go to a library, surf that Internet thing, get inspired, and then create something great and bold and gay! The Museum of Contemporary Art is a nationally significant institution. It’s got important and influential curators and patrons. So submit something. It doesn’t even matter if your work is accepted or not. Getting seen is the thing. Your piece might not be right for this year’s theme, but if it is fresh and vital it will be remembered for another occasion.

But there is more. There are cash prizes for curator’s choice and people’s choice which means there will be a concerted effort to promote on Facebook and get San Diegans into the museum to cast their votes.

The deadline for entries is Friday, May 16 at 11:59 p.m. The museum is accepting artworks in almost all mediums and all they ask is that you use the human eye as inspiration. So, get to work. I challenge the younger folks in our community to flood the judges with art about their unique experience, art about us.

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Compare your net worth … or not Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:16:11 +0000

Many people want to know how they compare to others financially. Do they have as much saved up as other people their age? Are they ahead or behind everyone else? It is just one of those human traits we have.

There is an interesting Web site that provides a comparison to the average net worth based on age and income. Go to Enter your age and income to get the results of the average net worth of others with the same age and income.

For example, the average net worth is $51,575 for a 40-year-old and $180,125 for a 60-year-old. If we look at income, the average net worth is $168,500 for someone earning $50,000 and an average net worth of $301,475 for someone earning $100,000. (Note that these averages include real estate.)

These numbers can give you an idea of how others are doing with their savings. If you are below the average, then maybe this exercise will be motivation to make a change. Or if you are above average, it may justify that you are doing the right things with your finances.

However, it really doesn’t tell us much about you personally. Are you saving enough to reach your goals? How much money you need is based on your own set of circumstances, standard of living and what you need to be happy. Those questions don’t get answered by comparing your net worth to an average.

Think of saving for retirement like traveling in a car. You want to get from point A to point B. It doesn’t matter if you get there in a 2002 Honda Accord or a 2014 BMW. As long as you get to point B and enjoy the ride getting there, then you did it right. The same is true for retirement savings. It doesn’t matter how you get there.

One person may need to save $50,000 a year to reach their retirement goals. Another person may only need to save $15,000 a year to achieve their retirement dream. So comparing your net worth to the average of others is not very helpful in terms of you being on track or not.

Knowing your net worth is extremely helpful though. It can help you stick to savings goals, pay down debt and watch your investments. Comparing your own net worth year-over-year is something everyone should do. You’ll see it grow which builds momentum to continue with good money habits.

Calculating your net worth is fairly easy to do. You can use financial software like Quicken, an Excel spreadsheet, or a piece of paper. First, make a list of all your assets. This includes checking and savings accounts, 401(k) or 403(b) accounts, home, car and anything else that has a value. Add up all of these values to get your total assets. Then make a list of all your liabilities. These include credit card debt, student loans, car loans, mortgage and anything else you owe. Add up all of these values to get your total liabilities.

To get your net worth, subtract your total liabilities from your total assets. Don’t freak out if your net worth is negative. This is common for younger people. It can also be a wake-up call and help you start paying attention to your spending.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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What’s a stock index? Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:14:49 +0000

DJIA, S&P 500, NASDAQ, and EAFE. Does this feel like reading a menu in a foreign country? For most, it definitely shouldn’t mean much to you. Sure the pretty newscaster says things like “the S&P 500 is up 25 points today”, but you have no clue what S&P 500 stands for.

These acronyms mentioned above are stock indexes. An index tracks the performance of a particular group of stocks that let us all know if the stock market is going up or down. Everyone wants to know if they are making money or losing money, so indexes get lots of attention. Here is a list of the major indexes and what they represent:

DJIA – The full name is Dow Jones Industrial Average. This index tracks the stock prices of 30 very large U.S. companies like Disney, Intel, Coca Cola and Johnson & Johnson. It was created in 1896 to track the performance of the stock market. Since it was the first index and has the longest history, the Dow is the index most talked about in the news. However, the 30 companies in the Dow only represent about 25 percent of the stock market universe.

S&P 500 – S&P is short for Standard & Poor’s, which is a market research firm. Standard & Poor’s created many indexes, but the S&P 500 is the most popular. This index tracks the performance of the 500 largest U.S. companies that represents about 80 percent of the stock market. I like this index better than the Dow because it includes 500 companies instead of the Dow’s 30 companies. Unfortunately, the news outlets don’t agree with me.

NASDAQ – This acronym comes from the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations. That’s a great trivia question that most people won’t know the answer. NASDAQ is a stock exchange just like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) where trades are made. Pretty much any trade you make when buying or selling a stock is executed through one of these two exchanges. A stock exchange is sort of like a swap meet bringing together buyers and sellers. The NASDAQ is unique because most of the companies traded on this exchange are tech companies like Google, Facebook and Apple. So the NASDAQ index ends up telling us how the tech industry is doing rather than the entire stock market.

EAFE – This one stands for Europe, Australasia and Far East. This index was created by Morgan Stanley Capital International to track the performance of the international stock market. It tracks the performance of more than 1,000 companies in 21 countries.

These are just four indexes out of hundreds of indexes that track different market segments. There is no need to know all the different indexes. The important thing to remember is that an index tracks the performance of a specific group of stocks.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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Parting Shots: Stuart Milk: Global Human Rights Work, Ireland Fri, 28 Mar 2014 00:35:24 +0000 1913208_10152742629244199_258176699_o David Norris image_1 image_3 image IMG_9207 IMG_9238 IMG_9248 IMG_9360 IMG_9363 IMG_9372 Stuart Milk ]]> 0 Art and Facebook Thu, 27 Mar 2014 21:38:52 +0000

Young Nonprofit Professionals Network: Storytelling for Nonprofit Professionals

I don’t know about you but Facebook has morphed from a forum where I can read about the mundane and idiosyncratic activities of my friends around the world to a kind of event invite clearing house. Every day I receive invitations to do, or see, or join one thing or another, and these are from Facebook friends, not the social network mecca’s advertisers who, incidentally, seem to think I need a middle age woman in my life.

I have so many invites delivered to me each morning that each one only gets a moment of acknowledgement. I can spare only a sleepy second to distinguish the generic from the particular. And, unfortunately, some of those particular events are pretty worthy, they really do warrant more focus. Perhaps you are in the same boat. I mean if I received an invitation to something arty and/or gay then chances are you did too because after all Facebook is all about connecting every single one of us to everything out there.

So, for your sake and mine, here’s a breathless itinerary of what’s going on in the arts(ish) community in the coming days:

March 27 the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network is hosting a workshop at the Jewish Family Service of San Diego. Facilitated by the hunky (and bearded before everyone else was bearded) Nathan Young it’s designed to encourage nonprofits to use storytelling as a way to communicate their mission. The LGBT community has plenty of nonprofits so this sounds like a must do. Come prepared with pen, paper and thoughts on what ideas and scenarios you want to showcase. Participants can expect to leave with 1-2 stories written out that they can use right away in their work life.

If that doesn’t inspire you then Art of Élan’s popular downtown series returns, with a special show at The Glashaus, an artist collective studio and gallery in Barrio Logan, San Diego’s emerging urban art neighborhood. Enjoy the sculptural creations of Matt Devine and other artists. There will be house music thanks to DJ Jose Marquez, and an all-new “beat suite” composition by violist AJ Nilles.

There’s more art on Saturday at Helmuth Projects in the Bankers Hill area. The event is an artist talk/Q&A closing reception of a show by Matthew Bradley titled Sacred Geometry for a Profane Existence. Its subtitle is everything you know is wrong and it spoke to me in an uncanny kind of way.

I scrolled past some happenings in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Slovakia, (because that’s a bit far for me to send you).

Then I reached Coronado Playhouse’s annual event to celebrate the actors, techs, designers and production teams who contributed to their 2013 season. This is happening Sunday March 30. The program is designed to support your favorite shows, reunite and cheer on cast mates and be a part of the celebration! I received my invitation from local LGBT choreographer Michael Mizeraney who is responsible for a lot of incredible entertainment for and about our community.

Diversionary Theatre’s second Open Monday’s event is Bleed Like Me (funnily enough this title spoke to me in an uncanny way as well). Then, finally (for now) Men @ the Center presents Guys, Games and Grub. That regular occasion is Wednesday, April 2 and it looks like 68 of you are going while 99 of you have said “maybe”. See, we are all connected!

I can’t make it myself because I’ll be at a pre-existing event, somewhere south of Tallahassee.

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Make your savings grow with a brokerage account Thu, 27 Mar 2014 21:38:12 +0000

It’s great when people ask me finance questions. Many are embarrassed or afraid to ask financial questions, but that should not be the case. Remember, none of us have been taught about personal finance or investments. It’s just not something we learn in high school or college. There is no reason why you should know much about this stuff. It’s important but just not that exciting to learn on our own.

One question I’ve heard several times this month is, “What is a brokerage account?” That is a great question! A brokerage account is just like a savings account at your bank. The difference is money in a brokerage account can be used to buy stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Instead of earning a very small interest rate in a savings account, money in a brokerage account is invested and over the long-term has a much higher upside for making your money grow.

It’s easy to open a brokerage account. You can do this online at Schwab, Fidelity, E-Trade, TD Ameritrade or any similar type of brokerage company. The only requirement to open a brokerage account is a minimum amount of either $500 or $1,000 depending on the company. Once the account is open, you can buy stocks like Apple or Disney and thousands of different mutual funds.

The great thing about putting money in a brokerage account is that you can take out the money at any time. You may know that 401(k)s, IRAs, and Roth IRAs don’t allow money to be withdrawn unless you are 59 ½ years old. If you do, then there is a 10 percent penalty plus taxes. Brokerage accounts allow for more freedom to invest and then take the money out later for buying a home, car or starting a business.

Watch out for taxes though. Be sure to hold investments for at least a year in order to qualify for the 15 percent federal capital gains tax rate. If you sell an investment before 12 months, the gains on that investment are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. This may be 15 percent for you, or it may be the higher 25, 28 or 33 percent tax rate. It just depends on how much money you make in your job. Keep things easy by holding stocks and mutual funds for at least a year.

If you have never invested in stocks before, try opening a brokerage account. Buy one or two shares of a company you know and use their products or services. This is the perfect way to learn about investing and it’s fun to watch a stock price grow (and scary to watch it go down). Follow your stock in the news to understand what makes the price go up and down. Over time, you will become a knowledgeable investor.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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‘Queerography’ Thu, 13 Mar 2014 20:08:29 +0000

Photo: Sway

Sara Way or Sway as she is known is a queer femme photographer whose work explores sexuality, gender and desire across cultural and international boundaries.

I have written about Sway before, in the context of a group show. Now, however she is showing solo, touring the West Coast with a fab sounding book of new images. The book is titled QUEEROGRAPHY: Intimate Expressions of Queer Culture Tokyo, Bangkok and Hong Kong. A short exhibition, complete with reception, book signing and an artist’s talk will be held at Bamboo Lounge in Hillcrest this coming weekend.

Sway’s brand of queer photography is broad, it includes LGBT, drag, fetish, performance, sexwork, genderqueer and anyone else who feels limited by society’s binary norms – whether they know they are or not. QUEEROGRAPHY, (her book) however, takes us pretty far; from your pedestrian Kansas-style of genderqueer. The book explores and depicts an assortment of scenes from fetish culture and kinky love hotels in Tokyo to the glittery drag clubs and pride parades of Hong Kong.

Sway’s book aims to reflect what sounds like a mesmerizing journey through queer culture in Asia. Here’s the backstory: In 2012, Sway set off to Tokyo to capture the unique and vibrant faces of the global LGBTQ community. She spent six months exploring, photographing, sharing stories and connecting with her subjects, first in Tokyo, then Bangkok, and finally Hong Kong.

Sway loves to connect and collaborate with her subjects, embracing their individuality and empowering them to expose their authentic selves. Her intention is to create images that allow the viewer to connect and interact with the subject’s vulnerability. She hopes that by doing this she will free any one of the rest of us to explore and embrace our own unique identity.

Photo: Sway

Check out her show and ask a few questions. You may begin to unearth a queerer hidden you.

Photo: Sway

Reception and artist talk at Bamboo Lounge Saturday, March 15, 6-7p.m.

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Little known strategy to reduce mortgage payments Thu, 13 Mar 2014 20:07:46 +0000

Many California homeowners financially stretch themselves to buy a home. It’s almost inevitable when even a starter home is selling for $400,000 or more. That means big monthly mortgage payments eat up a large chunk of income. It sure would be nice to lower that payment. Maybe even go out to dinner every once in a while.

Well, there is a way to do it. Lenders don’t advertise this, but they can “recast” your loan and lower the monthly payment. Here’s how it works. You make a large one-time payment on the loan balance. The lender recasts the loan by calculating the new monthly payment on the lower loan amount and the remaining loan term. The interest rate stays the same.

Typically, lenders want at least $5,000 to $10,000 toward your loan principal before they will recast a mortgage. And they are not required to do this. It’s purely optional for the lender to recast or not. If your loan has been sold, then approval will be needed from both the loan servicer and whoever owns the loan.

I like examples to explain things. Let’s do that here. We have our homeowner Diane who has $365,000 remaining on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 4.5 percent. She bought her home five years ago with a $400,000 loan that has monthly payments of $2,027. Diane gets a $20,000 bonus from work. She decides to use the money to pay down her mortgage.

But hold on. If she does pay down the principal, then the monthly payment stays the same. The loan will be paid off sooner than the full 30-years. However, it could still be another 20 years before that happens.

Diane decides instead to recast her existing loan. She works with her lender to take her $20,000 and recast her loan. The new mortgage payment is calculated using the remaining 25-years of the loan (remember she bought her home five years ago), the same 4.5 percent interest rate, and a loan balance of $345,000. That amount is her current loan balance minus the $20,000 payment. Her mortgage payment is now $1,918 per month instead of $2,027. That’s more than $100 per month less than what she pays now.

With interest rates on the rise, recasting can be a great strategy to hold on to that super low interest rate. Recasting is also a whole lot cheaper than refinancing. Lenders typically only charge about $150 to $250. There is no appraisal, credit check or closing costs. This is not a new loan. It makes sense a lender doesn’t repeat the underwriting process.

Before recasting your mortgage, be sure to take into account your entire financial plan. A large payment on a 4.5 percent mortgage is the same as saying you are earning a 4.5 percent return on that lump-sum of cash. A larger return might be achieved by paying off higher interest rate debt (like credit cards) or investing that money in a mix of stocks and bonds.

However, recasting your mortgage could be the right option for you if lowering your monthly payment is high on your priority list and will bring you peace of mind.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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Parting Shots: Hillcrest Fat Tuesday, March 4, 2014 Thu, 13 Mar 2014 20:05:14 +0000 IMG_7469 IMG_7491 IMG_7493 IMG_7494 IMG_7504 IMG_7525 IMG_7530 IMG_7552 IMG_7588 IMG_7596 IMG_7599 IMG_7609 IMG_7612 ]]> 0 Lyrical things Thu, 27 Feb 2014 17:38:12 +0000

Spring is in the air (here in San Diego of course, spring looks a lot like summer and winter), March is nearly upon us and I am feeling just a little lyrical. Or maybe there are a slew of lyrical-like activities happening in town these next few weeks.

What could be more poetic in nature than an event that is all about Ireland? After all, the isle of Eire is home to Beckett, Yeats and Bono, not to mention the Blarney Stone and the limerick. So, with St. Patrick’s Day round the corner those of you with (or without) Irish heritage might like to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Ireland with the San Diego Museum of Man at Tower After Hours: Ireland! Share in the festive atmosphere and immerse yourself in Irish culture with San Diego’s own Irish community. Enjoy live performances of traditional music and dance, sample classic pub fare provided by local eateries, and, of course, delight in a glass of Guinness!

Purchase of a ticket includes entrance to the museum, food tastings, beverages and cultural entertainment. The event is Thursday, Feb. 27 from 6-8 p.m.

The following night (Feb 28, 7 p.m.), Perry Vasquez performs at the relatively new Canvas Gallery. Local artist and educator Perry Vasquez will present The Gates of Heck, a musical performance (lyrical!), at the Canvas Gallery at 1150 Seventh Ave. The Gates of Heck will also feature video projection and animation by Aaron McFarland and Farrah Emami. Canvas is a new gallery space downtown focused on experimental installation.

Finally, Allen Clark has been scheduling a night of poetry at Twiggs Coffee House in University Heights for some time now. The occasional event is nicely titled A Turn for the Verse: An Evening of Poetry. Enjoy one of San Diego’s most relaxing neighborhoods and then support some of the city’s quieter writers at their next showcase March 7, from 7-9 p.m. Featured readers this month are Garrett Bryant, Sylvia Levinson, Gina Vaynshteyn and Felicia Williams.

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Taxes for married same-sex couples Thu, 27 Feb 2014 17:37:26 +0000

Last year was big for same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was unconstitutional and Proposition 8 was overturned. As we all know, same-sex couples can now legally marry in California. What you may not know is how this impacts your taxes.

The first difference for 2013 is that married same-sex couples now must file a joint federal tax return or as married filing separately. They cannot file as single. This is true even for married couples that live in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.

This simplifies tax filing for California couples that previously had to file separate individual federal tax returns and go through that horrendous “income-splitting” exercise. Unfortunately, Registered Domestic Partners still need to file individual returns since they are not legally married.

The other change that most couples will notice is that they won’t pay taxes for having their spouse on the company health plan. Previously, it was considered taxable income to do this. That’s no longer true and will lower the tax bill for most couples.

I say “most” because some married couples may actually see their taxes increase. The marriage penalty will hit couples where both spouses have high incomes. What exactly is the marriage penalty? I’ll try to explain without putting you to sleep.

Different tax rates are paid on higher amounts of income. Think of each tax rate as being a different bucket that fills up with cash. For a single person, they have a bucket of money that gets taxed at a 15 percent tax rate. This 15 percent bucket goes up to $36,900 of taxable income. If a single person has taxable income higher than $36,900, then the excess income starts filling up the next tax bucket, which gets charged a 25 percent tax rate. The 25 percent bucket goes up to $89,350 of income. If a single person makes even more than $89,350, then that excess income starts filling up the 28 percent bucket.

Saying it a different way, a single person’s 15 percent tax bucket goes up to $36,900 of taxable income and their 25 percent bucket goes up to $89,350.

For married couples, their 15 percent tax bucket goes up to $73,900. That makes sense because that is twice the amount of what a single person pays on income up to $36,900. So the 15 percent tax bucket for a married couple is twice the amount of a single person.

Here is your SAT question: How much income goes into the married couple’s 25 percent bucket knowing that a single persons 25 percent tax bucket goes up to $89,350 of income?

Did you calculate $178,700? That is twice the amount a single person pays, so that would be the sensible answer. However, you would be completely wrong! Married couples get a 25 percent bucket that only goes up to $148,850 of income. Any income earned above this amount starts filling up the 28 percent tax bucket. This, my friends, is the marriage penalty.

A non-married couple could each have taxable income up to $89,350 and stay in the 25 percent tax bracket. But if they got married, they would file a joint return with $178,700 of taxable income putting a big chunk of their income into the 28 percent tax bucket.

Hopefully that makes sense. I warned you it was a sleeper. The big takeaway is that two high earning spouses will probably get hit with the marriage penalty. But don’t let the tax tail wag the dog. If you want to get married, then go do it. Don’t let taxes stop you.

The final topic to cover for married same-sex spouses has to do with filing amended returns. A taxpayer may file a claim for refund for three years from the date the return was filed. California couples married in 2008 may want to look into amending their returns for the past three years.

Maybe one spouse was paying taxes on having their husband or wife on their employer health plan. You might end up with a refund by amending the last three years tax returns by filing as married instead of two people filing as single.

Turbo Tax has calculators for 2010, 2011, and 2012 to determine if you can get money back. All you need are the individual returns you and your spouse filed for those years. Then go to the Turbo Tax Web site and follow the instructions for these free calculators. The Web site is

You can file amended returns if the calculators show you can get a refund. If you’d pay more, then don’t file amended returns. It’s completely optional to file amended returns for couples married in 2008.

Congratulations if you made it to the very end of a tax article. Now go hire an accountant.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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Two types of financial advisors Thu, 13 Feb 2014 22:06:48 +0000

Imagine having a friend or neighbor that you could turn to whenever you had a financial question. Think about how amazing that would be. Not sure how much of a house you can afford? Call your financial friend to walk you through the numbers. Don’t know which mutual funds to choose in your 401(k)? No problem, you have someone to answer that question.

All of us make financial decisions every week. Most often, we do it alone without help. How comforting it would be to pick up the phone, ask that question, and get an answer that is not only correct, but in your best interest.

Unfortunately, we don’t have this in the United States. The current regulation structure allows financial advisors to fall into two different categories. They can follow a “fiduciary standard” or a “suitability standard”.

The fiduciary standard simply means that an advisor must provide recommendations that are in the clients’ best interest. Even though the TV commercials paint a different picture of trust, a majority of financial advisors are not required to put their clients’ best interests first. They operate under the suitability standard.

Right now, there is a looming financial crisis of Americans not saving enough for retirement. People have been taught very little about personal finance. If they reach out to a financial advisor that falls under the suitability standard, they are likely to be sold expensive products not in their best interest.

Let’s say an advisor can recommend one of two mutual funds. The first fund has low costs and good performance. The second fund has high costs and poor performance, but pays a commission. The advisor under the suitability standard recommends the expensive, poor performing fund because that is how he will get paid. It’s not in the client’s best interest, but it is “suitable”.

The large financial firms argue that a fiduciary standard would hurt low-income and middle-income investors. Advisors wouldn’t be able to sell them products. And these folks wouldn’t be able to afford fiduciary financial advice. In short, they would lose access.

This is a ridiculous argument. One of the products financial advisors sell is variable annuities. These expensive financial products have commissions of 7 to 10 percent. Last year, more than $200 billion of variable annuities were sold in the U.S. That means investors paid somewhere in the range of $14 billion to $20 billion dollars in commissions to financial firms and their advisors. With those high costs, it’s not fiduciary advice Americans can’t afford.

Four years ago, Congress ordered the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to study the impact of applying the fiduciary standard for all financial advisors. The SEC finally announced this year that the fiduciary standard is on its agenda as a “long-term action”. That means it could take another three to four years before the SEC makes any recommendations.

Until the SEC acts, it’s important to know there are two types of financial advisors. Be sure to ask if your financial advisor operates under the fiduciary standard or the suitability standard. It’s in your best interest.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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Parting Shots: Alliance San Diego Thu, 30 Jan 2014 22:06:24 +0000 AllianceSanDiego1_anapines AllianceSanDiego2_anapines AllianceSanDiego3_anapines AllianceSanDiego4_anapines AllianceSanDiego5_anapines AllianceSanDiego6_anapines AllianceSanDiego7_anapines AllianceSanDiego8_anapines AllianceSanDiego9_anapines AllianceSanDiego10_anapines AllianceSanDiego11_anapines AllianceSanDiego12_anapines ]]> 0 Parting Shots: Big Mike’s Birthday Bash Thu, 30 Jan 2014 22:04:06 +0000 IMG_5213 IMG_5214 IMG_5242 IMG_5249 IMG_5287 IMG_5307 IMG_5484 ]]> 0 Museum roundup Thu, 30 Jan 2014 21:34:30 +0000

Women, War and Industry: Hun or Home? Buy More Liberty Bonds. Lithograph poster, ca. 1918 by Henry Patrick Raleigh

It’s been a while since I have provided you with a survey of the many diverse exhibitions on show around town. Since it is exhibition turnaround season I thought I would take this opportunity to let you know about what is coming and what is going.

Women, War and Industry will be wrapping up its run Feb. 18. The well-regarded exhibition examines the myriad ways in which women have been represented in relation to war and industry in modern and contemporary art created in the United States. During the twentieth century, both the advent of war and increased industrialization led to major changes in the lives of women: their roles in their families, the way in which they dress, and the manner in which they are perceived in the public sphere. Bringing together work created in diverse media, this exhibition examines the iconic, historical and fictional ways in which women have been represented in relation to the complicated and related factors of war and industry.

On the Beach opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jan. 31. Given San Diego’s Pacific location and the museum’s prime real estate overlooking La Jolla Cove the exhibition seems a no brainer for our city. The works in this show portray beaches as sites of social and cultural interaction. They also explore the presence of conflict in paradise. The innocent sounding term On the Beach is the title of a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by Nevil Shute and the name of one of Neil Young’s bleakest albums. In military parlance, the phrase means “retired from active duty.” In San Diego, our paradise, beachgoers must contend with jet planes, nuclear power plants, military bases and an intimidating border fence. These images complicate the utopian nature of the beach, and suggest that this is a public space that consists of much more than sand, sun and surf.

Finally, Prix Pictet opens at the Museum of Photographic Arts Feb. 1. The annual juried prize uses photography as an instrument to shed light on important social and environmental issues. Each year it selects one theme on which to focus. The first three themes were Water, Earth and Growth. Now in its 4th installment, Prix Pictet has selected Power as the subject of this year’s exhibition. MOPA will have 56 images on display from the final short-listed 12 artists.

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Save money on your cell phone plan Thu, 30 Jan 2014 21:33:50 +0000

Cell phone service is turning into a big monthly expense. People are using their smartphones for more things like watching movies, using thousands of apps and playing video games. Data usage is on the rise and so are cell phone bills. A monthly cell phone bill of $100 or more is pretty common. Luckily, I found a cool calculator that helps you compare pricing plans based on your own usage.

Recurring monthly bills for things like cell phones, Internet, cable and insurance eat up your income like a ravenous dog. For most people, there is nothing leftover to save for retirement. That is why it’s so important for everyone to be diligent about keeping these recurring monthly charges to a minimum.

A few months ago, it was time for me to renew my cell phone plan. A $20 monthly increase to a bill that in my opinion was already too high prompted me to do some research. What I discovered is the monthly price is primarily based on how much data is used. The days of pricing plans based on voice minutes and number of text messages is long gone.

The big gem found during this foray into the wireless carrier morass was a simple-to-use calculator created by The Wall Street Journal. It compares the monthly costs of the four major carriers (T Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint) based on your input. You can find the calculator at this Web site:

You input into the calculator how many phones and how much data you want. Here’s an example for one person that doesn’t use much data (i.e. like me). One phone and 500MB of data results in monthly costs of $50 for T Mobile, $70 for Sprint, $80 for Verizon and $85 for AT&T. Another example for a couple that uses lots of data. Two phones and unlimited data results in monthly costs of $120 for T Mobile, $150 for Sprint, $455 for Verizon and $560 for AT&T.

The price differences at the higher data usage levels are a bit shocking. It is important to point out though that the T Mobile prices don’t include a phone. You pay for that separately or bring your own. Verizon and AT&T spread out the cost of their phones over the two year contract. That is why T Mobile doesn’t require a two year contract.

It sure looks obvious for high data users to look at T Mobile and Sprint. However, the other factor to consider in this decision is signal quality in your area. Check out the Web site to compare the strength of call and data signals in your area.

In San Diego, RootMetrics reports that AT&T, Verizon and T Mobile all score equally well for voice and text signals. AT&T and Verizon have a slight edge over T Mobile for data signal strength. Does that slightly higher rating justify the higher pricing? That is your decision as a consumer.

The primary lesson is to be a smart shopper. Even for technology that is difficult to understand. Research what you get for the price you are paying. Do this for cell phone service. Then move onto Internet service, cable and all your insurance coverage. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much money is saved.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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Parting Shots: She She Dance Grand Opening Fri, 17 Jan 2014 22:37:14 +0000 She She Dance Grand Opening1_anapines She She Dance Grand Opening2_anapines She She Dance Grand Opening3_anapines She She Dance Grand Opening4_anapines She She Dance Grand Opening5_anapines She She Dance Grand Opening6_anapines She She Dance Grand Opening7_anapines She She Dance Grand Opening8_anapines She She Dance Grand Opening9_anapines She She Dance Grand Opening10_anapines She She Dance Grand Opening11_anapines She She Dance Grand Opening12_anapines ]]> 0 Parting Shots: Rally to Defend Trans Rights Fri, 17 Jan 2014 22:36:43 +0000 Rally to Defend Trans rights_anapines1 Rally to Defend Trans rights_anapines2 Rally to Defend Trans rights_anapines3 Rally to Defend Trans rights_anapines4 Rally to Defend Trans rights_anapines5 Rally to Defend Trans rights_anapines6 Rally to Defend Trans rights_anapines7 Rally to Defend Trans rights_anapines8 Rally to Defend Trans rights_anapines9 Rally to Defend Trans rights_anapines10 Rally to Defend Trans rights_anapines11 Rally to Defend Trans rights_anapines12 Rally to Defend Trans rights_anapines13 ]]> 0 Writing, reading, sharing our stories Thu, 16 Jan 2014 20:59:15 +0000

Brian Joyner

I am reluctant to play the age card because change is inevitable and progress is … well, progress. But in this case I will.

Back in the dark ages of the 1970s and 1980s when I was plump, young and oh-so serious I used to journal a lot, put onto paper all the dark and exhilarating things I was feeling. I used to read a lot too, relishing new literary discoveries by the likes of Christopher Isherwood, Paul Monette and Dorothy Allison. No matter where I lived, paperback books and spiral-bound notebooks were stacked everywhere. I still have them all.

Now, however, in our wonderful new world of Tweets and online posts, text messages and the comparatively epic email I wonder whether the once literate human race is becoming, ironically, less literate, devoting less time to fewer, less meaningful words. I wonder whether many of us even have the attention span to read a good, long book or journal on a regular basis. Life moves at a fair old clip and there’s always a chirping, ringing, vibrating device nearby demanding our attention.

I am not the first to suggest this, but despite the opportunity for constant connectedness perhaps we are farther away from one another than ever before, especially the distant factions within our already disconnected L – G – B – T community.

Enter So Say We All, a local nonprofit narrative arts organization whose mission is to provide arts education and opportunities for expression to communities without access. Like other similar endeavors such as The Moth and This American Life, So Say We All is devoted to words and books and storytelling.

So Say We All’s motto is this: “You are Your Story.” Every program they launch is motivated by a belief that we all have stories to tell and that the more disenfranchised the community the more vital it is to create a forum for that community to write its truth. To that end So Say We All has worked with the Braille Institute, veterans and the Native American community. It has anthologized stories about life in the often disparaged and not so faraway East County. And, lest we forget, it has provided a stage and an increasingly enthusiastic audience for tormented hipsters everywhere thanks to the ever-popular monthly VAMP reading events at the Whistlestop Bar in South Park.

Now it’s our turn!

Beginning Jan. 29 So Say We All will offer a brand new LGBT Writing Workshop (aka the infamous So Say We All “Green Room”) at ArtLab Studios on Adams Avenue in North Park.

Green Rooms are free, no obligation drop-in spaces that have served as tributaries to So Say We All’s main stage events (like VAMP, published anthologies and more). It’s an incubator of sorts, a safe space for anyone who enjoys writing to stop by, find motivation, absorb collective support and even, ultimately find an audience when you are ready.

Each Green Room is facilitated by a volunteer writer affiliated with So Say We All, someone with experience with the written and spoken word. One of the LGBT Green Room’s facilitators is Brian Joyner, a corporate professional by day but an avid writer during his free time. I’ve crossed paths with Brian many times at local writing events and workshops. I asked him about this new endeavor:

San Diego LGBT Weekly: What motivated you to help spearhead So Say We All’s first LGBT Green Room?

Brian Joyner: An LGBT oriented Green Room fit So Say We All’s mission perfectly. The organization has always been supportive of queer voices, especially around Pride month and I know it was something on their radar to do. Meanwhile, I had been pursuing my own writing as a hobby and in conjunction with various workshops happening around town; but I was looking for something more. It was only a matter of timing for this to come together.

Tell me about your background writing?

I’ve been writing a lot lately.

Whether we recognize it or not I think most of us in the LGBT community have lived our lives as writers. From puberty or earlier, we created stories to hide our true selves from our family, our friends and even ourselves. For some of us, myself included, we didn’t stop writing fiction after we came out of the closet. We put up a new front, something to show the world that our lives were more fabulous, exciting and wonderful than those in the straight world.

I grew up with no gay role model to follow. I had no idea about what it meant to be a gay man in his 20s or 30s. Even now, I have no idea what it’s like to be a gay man in his 50s or 60s. I hope to be able to share my story and learn from others. I don’t think I am alone. That is why I am so excited about this new ongoing workshop.

In addition to individual writing aspirations, is there something community-wide that this kind of workshop can contribute to?

An important part of the group is to bridge the gap that seems to divide our community. Rarely do gays and lesbians hang out together. We have different bars and social circles. Many of us don’t understand bisexuality and have little experience with the transgender community. We need to share our common experiences to come together and support each other, to understand our differences and appreciate our similarities. I think a writing space can do this.

What should people attending the workshop expect?

Unlike other Green Rooms the LGBT workshop will be 90 minutes long and ideally it will happen twice a month. We believe there are so many people in our community with stories to tell that we need time and opportunity for everyone to commit to the process. Each meeting will consist of a guided discussion and a generative free-write directed specifically for members of the LGBT community. All are welcome; a teenager who has just left home under difficult circumstances; a middle-aged man who has lived with HIV/AIDS for his entire adult life; a club-going twenty-something or a lesbian parent. Over the course of 90 minutes writers will be guided through a topic discussion, a period of in-class writing, and an opportunity to share their work (but only if they want to) at the end. It’s an opportunity to come out all over again, make friends, and feed your creative streak!

What will your role be at the workshops?

As a writer today, my goal is to find and examine my authentic self so I will be writing too. But, as with the other So Say We All Green Rooms that happen around town my goal as a facilitator of this LGBT group is to create a safe place for our community to share our common stories, to learn from each other and to eradicate the shame that has been so much a part of the LGBT experience. Mine, is a pretty minimal role. I’ll simply show up every two weeks with a hello and some writing prompts.

Most Green Rooms have traditionally lasted for an hour and been scheduled once a month Why is this one different?

Writing with a group of people is fun. I’ve always walked away from a writing group with joy in my soul and I want to ensure that this happens each and every time our community comes together in this exciting new forum. But 60 minutes can fly by and the writing can sometimes be forced to end just when the juices start flowing. We felt that 90 minutes would be ideal. I also have a hunch that there are many people out there in the LGBT community eager to engage with a space like this. So we thought we’d begin by offering it twice a month and then see where it goes.

Any other details?

The Green Room is totally free, no sign up necessary (but you can join our Facebook page if you like).

Inaugural meeting: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 6:30-8 p.m.

Artlab Studios

3536 Adams Ave. in San Diego


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How to fire your financial adviser Thu, 16 Jan 2014 20:54:31 +0000

“We’ve been thinking of leaving our financial adviser for a few years. But if we left, we didn’t know what to do with our accounts?” That is a comment I commonly hear from new clients. There is no need to stay with a financial adviser you are not happy with just because you don’t know what to do next. You can fire your financial adviser and take the next steps to transfer your accounts.

The most important thing to know is to start the process with your new brokerage firm. Let’s say you are currently working with a full service brokerage firm like JPMorgan, Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo Advisors or Morgan Stanley. You have decided to leave them and want to transfer your accounts to a discount brokerage firm. All you need to do to leave your current adviser is to go to the discount brokerage firm of your choice and complete the paperwork.

Once you send in your completed transfer forms to your new brokerage firm, they will contact your current brokerage firm to initiate the transfer of your accounts. Your current adviser will be notified during this process that you are leaving.

That may not be the best way to notify your current adviser. I would suggest an email or phone call to let them know. It really is a personal choice and what feels right for you. Just don’t let this uncomfortable task keep you from making decisions about your investments and retirement. Remember, it is your money!

Before filling out that transfer paperwork, you need to decide on a new brokerage firm. There are many discount brokerages that desperately want your business. A few suggestions for you to research include Vanguard, Schwab, TD Ameritrade, E-Trade and Fidelity. Any of these firms will bend over backwards to help you transfer your accounts, so don’t worry about not understanding everything right now.

Once you decide on where your accounts will go, download the appropriate form from the discount brokerage Web site. For instance, an IRA will use an IRA rollover form. A brokerage account will use a brokerage transfer form. Call the customer service line if you have questions on which form you need.

These forms will ask if you want to transfer your investments “in-kind” or to liquidate and invest in new investments. Find out if your current brokerage firm will charge transaction fees if you liquidate your current investments. If they are going to charge you, it will be better to transfer them “in-kind”. Once everything is transferred to your new brokerage, you can sell your current investments and buy something new.

One thing to watch out for is possible fees and taxes when leaving your current adviser. You may have investments in private REITs or variable annuities that won’t transfer to your new brokerage firm. Private mutual funds that are linked to your current firm may not transfer as well. You’ll need some help with these situations. There is a way out of these expensive products, but it is a little more complex than transferring a mutual fund or stock.

There is help if you need it to choose new investments or understand any exit fees or taxes that may be due. You can find fee-only advisers you can hire by the hour at and Full disclosure – I am a member of both these organizations.

There are many reasons why someone may want to fire their financial advisor. Maybe you are upset about high fees, bad customer service or you just want to take control and do-it-yourself. Whatever your reasons, just know that it is not that difficult to end the relationship and move your accounts.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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Hot guys dancing Thu, 02 Jan 2014 22:16:08 +0000

Nicholas Strasburg in Bump In The Road | PHOTO: LUKE OLSON

Three of the Southland’s most dynamic and daring choreographers will be showcased in Hot Guys Dancing Diversionary Cabaret’s visually stunning and viscerally potent dance series, scheduled for Jan. 9-12. Yes, there are guys, and yes, they are hot and yes, they will be dancing up a storm. ,

Conceived and directed by Michael Mizerany (Miss Kitty’s Wild West Revue), Hot Guys Dancing will feature work by Michael, Blythe Barton and Khamla Somphanh.

The second installment of the hit dance series will include a restaging of the Lester Horton Award winning dance solo Bump in the Road, Michael’s brazenly audacious and comic dance work about male self-indulgence and gratification. Originally choreographed and performed by Michael in 1996, this time around it will be performed by Nicholas Strasburg who steps into the role of the gyrating exhibitionist.

Michael will also premiere a new work, Rush, featuring Craig Noel Award-winner Dylan Hoffinger. Rush is a high velocity work that is bold, daring and edgy.

Nicholas Strasburg in Bump In The Road | PHOTO: LUKE OLSON

Blythe Barton will premiere a new work that examines the complexity of relationships. Barton’s choreography exposes the tension in these relationships, illustrating how power shifts of desire, lust and jealousy develop among these men.

Lastly, audience favorite Khamla Somphanh will debut a dance work that delves into the five senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and sound, however, each dancer lacks one of those vital senses. How will these men communicate, both emotionally and physically?

As if you didn’t need reminding, Hot Guys Dancing contains mature themes and male nudity.

Tickets are available now at

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My experience with Obamacare Thu, 02 Jan 2014 22:15:33 +0000

With the rough rollout of, I was a bit tentative to begin looking at my health care options for Obamacare. You see, I am one of those people that had my policy canceled because it didn’t meet the requirements of Obamacare.

I’m going to tell you about my experience with Obamacare. If you have been delaying like me, then hopefully this article will alleviate some of your fears and encourage you to go take a look at your health care options.

We are lucky in California. Our Obamacare Web site is not the infamous that has all the technical glitches. We get to use the Web site to buy our health insurance. This Web site has received great reviews and is user-friendly.

Once on the Web site, I clicked on the Resources tab and selected the Shop & Compare tool. They ask four questions: number of people in household, age, income and zip code. That’s all the information needed to get premium information and an explanation of benefit levels. Take note that gender is not a question. Men and women have the same pricing structure.

For me, a 44-year-old living in San Diego County, premiums ranged from $247 per month for a basic Bronze plan up to $368 per month for the high-end Platinum plan. I never go to the doctor, so the Bronze plan is what works best for me. It’s also the plan that most resembles my current high-deductible plan.

At first, I was a bit disappointed to find out my premiums will be going up from $218 to $247. That’s a 13 percent increase. But then I recall my premiums have gone up an average of 21 percent per year over the last three years. A premium increase several times higher than the rate of inflation is not right, but at least 13 percent is less than 21 percent.

A big plus I discovered with the Obamacare plans is the annual preventative care visit that is included with the premiums. There is too much to list what is covered in this preventative care visit. Some of the highlights are testing for HIV and STDs, vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B, flu shots and cholesterol screening.

This preventative care visit is pretty exciting to me. My old plan was impossible to figure out how much an annual visit would cost. Believe me, I tried figuring it out by reading the policy and calling the insurance company. It was crazy and frustrating that no one could answer such a simple question of how much an annual physical would cost.

With Obamacare, I will now be able to get all these tests done during my annual physical and it won’t cost me anything more than my monthly premium. That was a huge positive discovery for me. The news outlets should highlight this great benefit!

On the downside of the Obamacare plan, my deductible is increasing $400 and maximum out-of-pocket limit is increasing by $500. That’s in the acceptable range and wouldn’t send me into bankruptcy if something serious happens. However, it is still not as good as my current plan.

Overall, shopping the new Obamacare plans was a positive experience. It’s simple to compare plans and premiums between the different insurance companies. The Web site never crashed on me. There is no past medical history, no exclusions for pre-existing conditions and no long forms to complete. And I finally know what I am getting from my health insurance when I pay that monthly premium. Go check out to find out more about your health care options.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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Parting Shots: Pink BoomBox Revue Thu, 02 Jan 2014 22:12:52 +0000 Pink BoomBox Revue!1_anapines Pink BoomBox Revue!2_anapines Pink BoomBox Revue!3_anapines Pink BoomBox Revue!4_anapines Pink BoomBox Revue!5_anapines Pink BoomBox Revue!6_anapines Pink BoomBox Revue!7_anapines Pink BoomBox Revue!8_anapines Pink BoomBox Revue!9_anapines Pink BoomBox Revue!10_anapines ]]> 0 Parting Shots: Realtor Drew Fields’ Annual Christmas Party Fri, 20 Dec 2013 18:30:25 +0000 _MG_4014 _MG_4018 IMG_3768 IMG_3778 IMG_3811 IMG_3842 IMG_3846 IMG_3856 IMG_3942 IMG_3945 IMG_3966 IMG_3974 IMG_3980 IMG_4066 IMG_4087 IMG_4102 ]]> 0 LGBT investors more optimistic than straight investors Thu, 19 Dec 2013 20:16:50 +0000

Positive attitudes are great! And a recent study by UBS finds that LGBT investors are an optimistic bunch when compared to straight investors. The LGBT community has a significantly higher belief that the long-term outlook for the U.S. economy is improving; that the worst of the economic downturn is over; and that the U.S. will make progress toward debt reduction.

These positive attitudes are not limited to the U.S. economy, and are also found in views about their personal finances as well. A majority of the LGBT investors surveyed said they expect their financial situation to improve in the next year and are very confident they will be able to achieve their future financial goals. This is not the case with the straight investors that responded with less optimism for their own financial futures.

What’s the reason for all this positivity? One likely cause is the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) during the summer of 2013. From the LGBT survey respondents, 90 percent viewed this Supreme Court ruling a landmark decision or at least a step in the right direction. (The other 10 percent say the ruling is meaningless until all states recognize same-sex marriage.)

However, not all is rosy in LGBT households. We are human after all and do have some stress around finances just like everyone else. The top five concerns of LGBT investors are, in order of importance:

• Affording care in old age.

• Finding LGBT-friendly long-term care facilities.

• Marriage equality.

• Having the rights to make health care decisions for partner/spouse.

• Ensuring assets pass to partner/spouse.

The first two concerns relate to long-term care. The best way to reduce a concern, in my opinion, is to educate yourself on the matter. A great place to start your long-term care education is This Web site walks through the costs and options available for long-term care and provides links to more resources and information. The other three concerns relate to marriage equality. These issues are resolved for married couples in California. But there is still work to be done in the states not recognizing same-sex marriage.

After reading this study, I was curious to learn a little more about it and reached out to UBS for more insight. Jeffrey Hackett and Bryce Herman, both first vice presidents at UBS Wealth Management, were kind enough to answer a few questions. Jeffrey and Bryce run their own UBS group here in San Diego. It is also worth noting that UBS has earned a perfect 100 percent score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index the past several years.

Steve Doster: Why did UBS put this study together? What did you hope to learn from this?

Bryce Herman and Jeffrey Hackett: UBS conducted this study to better understand the wealth management needs of the LGBT community so we are clear on what is important to them. Through this understanding we can deliver an enhanced and personalized client experience and better collaborate with individuals to help them achieve their wealth management goals.

Tell us a bit about the participants. Who are they? In what part of the country do they live? Do they fall into any specific age ranges or income brackets?

For this study UBS surveyed about 500 LGBT investors along with a control group of around 2,200 to see how their views of the economy, the investment landscape and their own financial futures compared to other investors.

Were there any big surprises that you found in the survey results?

What we found through this survey is that LGBT investors are more optimistic overall than the average investor about the U.S. economy, particularly over the long-term and they’re also more optimistic about achieving their financial objectives over the next year and the long-term. One surprising and interesting takeaway is that LGBT investors consider themselves significantly more aggressive than other investors, yet they hold more conservative portfolios, on average. From a planning perspective we identified that LGBT investors are more worried about long-term health care and estate issues.

I found it surprising as well that LGBT investors consider themselves to have a higher risk tolerance than straight investors, but LGBT investors hold more of their portfolio in cash and bonds. More cash and bonds typically mean a lower risk tolerance. What could be a few of the reasons for this interesting twist?

While we can’t identify the exact reasons for this finding, this point is one to be explored and addressed between an LGBT investor and their financial advisor. We do know that most LGBT investors are satisfied overall with their financial advisors. Conversations to do with matching risk tolerance to wealth management strategy and portfolio construction are a vital and necessary discussion in helping understand investors and creating collaborative plans to help them meet their wealth management goals.

Why do you think the LGBT community is more optimistic than the straight community when looking at the economy and achieving personal financial goals?

The reasons can be varied, however, these points are worthy of a thoughtful conversation between a financial advisor and an LGBT client. It’s discussions such as these that can help deepen a relationship between a client and their financial advisor through sharing of world views and perspectives.

Thanks to Jeffrey and Bryce for taking the time to answer my questions. And kudos to UBS for putting this study together and sharing it with the public. Anyone can download the full report at Keep up the positive attitude and continue to fight for marriage equality in all 50 states.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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A few of my favorite things Thu, 05 Dec 2013 16:23:54 +0000


They’re here. There is no denying it. The holidays that is, and I know we are all going to be jam-packed busy with shopping and traveling and all kinds of other holiday obligations between now and 2014. But hopefully, there will be time in our hectic schedules for fun and relaxation with family and friends. But, what to do? Well, this is how a few of my favorite local arts organizations and performers will be wrapping up their 2013. Why don’t you join them!

I’ve written about Mario Marchiaro and his unique multimedia one-woman shows before. I am a big fan and I am sure you will be too as he is becoming better known. Marchiaro’s theatrical illusionist alter-ego Chandalier usually has a sold out audience at his home/stage in La Mesa but he has a new gig now at Martini’s Above Fourth beginning with Unplugged Christmas, a roller-coaster show that will no doubt be full of hysterical videos, breathless choreography, amazing costumes and Chandalier’s typically creative execution.

Unplugged Christmas is scheduled for 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17 and reservations are definitely necessary!

Before this however, the Art of Pride gallery in North Park will be showcasing the work of fourteen local artists in a group exhibition appropriately united by the theme of Light. There will be two receptions, both from 6-9 p.m. The first will be held Saturday, Dec. 14 with a closing reception Saturday, Jan 11 2014. Both events will coincide with the ever popular Ray at Night. Popular local artists Rd Riccoboni, Richard Chau Davis, Lena Gardelli and John Thurston are among those lighting up the night with their work.

If your preference is more literary than visual I urge you to throw on your galoshes and head over to Bread & Salt in Logan Heights that same night for Home for the Holidays Vol.4, So Say We All’s seasonal wrap up. Join fan favorites Holland Holzer, Marion Wilson, Nathan Young, Amy Wallen and others as they cut the ceremonial meat, over-indulge in eggnog concoctions and serve up true stories of what it means to be surrounded by family and loved ones during the holidays.

Whether you want an extra helping of comfort food or to put a dinner fork through your annoying uncle’s eye Home for the Holidays Vol.4 will have a place for you at the fire. Doors open at 7 p.m. And the show starts at 8 p.m.

I hope these are some welcome stocking stuffers. Have a safe and happy holiday season and I will see you in the New Year!

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The Grand Dukes of Reign 41 Casino Tour Thu, 21 Nov 2013 16:00:56 +0000 ICSD1_The Grand Dukes of Reign 41_Casino Tour_KimRescate ICSD2_The Grand Dukes of Reign 41_Casino Tour_KimRescate ICSD3_The Grand Dukes of Reign 41_Casino Tour_KimRescate ICSD4_The Grand Dukes of Reign 41_Casino Tour_KimRescate ICSD5_The Grand Dukes of Reign 41_Casino Tour_anapines ICSD6_The Grand Dukes of Reign 41_Casino Tour_KimRescate ICSD7_The Grand Dukes of Reign 41_Casino Tour_KimRescate ICSD8_The Grand Dukes of Reign 41_Casino Tour_KimRescate ICSD9_The Grand Dukes of Reign 41_Casino Tour_KimRescate ]]> 0 Comikaze Thu, 21 Nov 2013 16:00:35 +0000 Comikaze1_anapines Comikaze2_anapines Comikaze3_anapines Comikaze4_anapines Comikaze5_anapines Comikaze6_anapines Comikaze7_anapines Comikaze8_anapines Comikaze9_anapines Comikaze10_anapines Comikaze11_anapines ]]> 0 Retire rich with only 1 percent more savings Thu, 21 Nov 2013 03:33:23 +0000

Imagine you are a 27-year-old person not saving for retirement. You have a nice job paying $40,000 per year. The employer 401(k) plan offers a matching contribution of 50 percent up to 6 percent of your salary. Since you’ve never saved before, your portfolio is starting out at $0. How can you possibly retire rich? It’s surprisingly simple and easy.

All that’s needed is to start saving 1 percent of your salary right now. Then each year, increase your savings rate by 1 percent. So in the second year you save 2 percent of your salary, the third year you save 3 percent, etc. Do this until you are saving 15 percent of your salary in the 15th year. Once you hit the 15 percent savings rate, maintain it until retirement at 67-years-old.

That’s all you need to do. Assuming you get a 3 percent raise each year and earn 5 percent per year on your savings, you will have a retirement nest egg of $1,158,000! That’s a whole bunch of money for a fun, stress-free retirement.

Many 401(k) plans offer an automatic increase option. Sign up for it. Each year, your savings contribution automatically goes up 1 percent. You’ll never have to think about it again with this auto-increase option.

There are many reasons people aren’t saving for retirement. It’s so far away that saving isn’t a priority for most. However, please don’t think this way. The earlier savings begin, the more years of compounding investment returns. This is an opportunity you’ll never make up for with increased savings later on in your career.

Another common reason for not saving is monthly cash flow. You may think you can’t afford to save now. Paying the bills is tough enough. However, just saving 1 percent of a $40,000 salary is only $400 per year. That’s $15 a paycheck if you get paid every two weeks. And that $15 per paycheck is tax-deferred so it really only decreases take home pay by less than $10 per paycheck. Everyone can find a way to cut back on $10 every two weeks in order to save for something as important as retirement.

For those that don’t have a 401(k) at work, you can still save for retirement. Open a Roth IRA at any discount brokerage like Vanguard, Schwab, E-trade, or TD Ameritrade. Contribute 1 percent of your pay up to $5,500 per year.

This is a short article for a reason. The message is that saving for retirement is easy. Just start slowly with 1 percent and increase by 1 percent every year. That’s how you can retire rich!

Steve Doster is a certified financial planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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Hey seniors, save some money! Thu, 07 Nov 2013 23:27:14 +0000

We are right in the middle of the open enrollment period for Medicare coverage. This means those 65 and older can change their Medicare Part D plan anytime between now and Dec. 7. Why should seniors care? Because you can save some serious money!

Retirees live on a fixed income, so it is extremely important to get the biggest bang for those bucks. One way to do that is to confirm you have the best Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Retirees can boost their spendable income by reducing their Medicare costs with the right drug plan matching their medicines.

There are so many insurance companies that offer Part D plans it can be overwhelming to research them all. Part D plans are very different, and the costs vary greatly depending on the plan you choose. Even for the same drugs, there can be differences in costs for each plan within the same city. Comparing Part D plans is crucial, and choosing the right one for you should be considered an important financial decision.

There are many reasons someone may want to switch their Medicare Part D plan. Your medications may have changed from when you originally picked a plan. Your current Part D plan changed the drugs it covers. Or maybe the costs of your plan increased quite a bit in the last few years.

All of these are good reasons to go shopping for a new Part D plan. Luckily, Medicare created a user-friendly tool to sift through all of the options so seniors can shop for the best plan. Go to to begin the process of finding the right plan for you. (Note that this Web site operates flawlessly and does not have any of the problems that is having.)

Once you are on the Web site, click on the Find Health & Drug Plans button. Enter your zip code and start the search. There are several questions to answer. For instance, this tool needs to know your current medications and dosages. It will also let you know if there is a generic alternative to any of your prescriptions.

The end result is a list of Part D plans available in your area showing monthly premiums, deductibles, and overall costs based specifically on your medicines. Having this information in one place makes it easy to compare plans.

Be sure to focus on the Estimated Annual Drug Costs column of the search results. What you will discover is that the insurance plans with the lowest monthly premium will end up being the more expensive plans. This is because deductibles and copays are typically higher in these plans. Don’t fall into the trap of just focusing on the plan with the lowest monthly premium. It’s the total cost of premiums, deductibles, and copays that matters to your budget.

You can make a knowledgeable decision by using the tool to shop for a Part D drug plan that best meets your needs. And hopefully save a bunch of money in the process!

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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Focusing on photographic arts Thu, 07 Nov 2013 21:27:19 +0000
One Dollar’s Worth of Double Cheeseburger From McDonalds

November welcomes the return of the Medium Festival of Photography, a 4-day photography event complete with portfolio reviews and artist lectures on photography. This year’s festival will take place from Thursday through Sunday at the Lafayette Hotel, with additional activities happening all over town.

For aspiring photographers portfolio reviews have become a popular one stop shop to have your work seen by a number of influential photo industry gate-keepers in one place. It can be an investment so you should pick and choose which portfolio reviews to attend based on who is reviewing;

Medium is considered one of the better ones in the U.S. But there are similar and vast reviews all over the world. You should definitely do your research on where to invest your sizeable registration fees beforehand and only attend when you and your mentors believe your work is ready to be seen. I have attended two in my time and it is like speed-dating with career makers. It is a fun experience and you do get the chance to network. All kinds of unexpected opportunities arise.

Camera Obscura: The Philadelphia Museum of Art East Entrance in Gallery #171 with a DeChirico Painting © Abelardo Morell, 2005

Unfortunately, registration for the Medium portfolio reviews has closed for this year but there will be a portfolio walk at 3rdSpace in University Heights. This event allows participating portfolio review photographers to share their work with the public as well as participating reviewers who they did not meet with during the daily sessions. I’d encourage you to attend just to see what type of work gets shown.

What is still open for registration is the Present Tense lecture series that will be happening all through the weekend. It kicks off with a keynote lecture by Abelardo Morell followed by two days of presentations by influential figures in photography, from artists pushing the boundaries of their materials to industry professionals examining the current state of photography.

I encourage you to check out Medium’s

Web site for a complete list of speakers.

Obscura Object 31 © Stephen Berkman, 2006

And while you are focused on the photographic arts check out these shows happening around town:

The Museum of Photographic Arts is showing 30x: Three Decades Staking Claim: A California Invitational which presents cutting edge contemporary California photographers, and jdc Fine Art in Little Italy which is showing Anónimo,Heroes and Performers the work of Luis González Palma.

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Scary and fishy art happenings around town Thu, 24 Oct 2013 16:46:42 +0000

City of Darkness by Spencer Epps

There are a few things happening this weekend that are worth checking out. The first, on Saturday night, is a Halloween themed gala with costume contests, music, photo booths, gourmet food trucks, opportunity drawings and yours truly performing in the premiere storytelling performance, A Haunting in San Diego.

What could this be, you ask? Well, it is MORP (prom backwards if you are scratching your head) the annual fundraising event for Circle Circle dot dot, an innovative theater company that presented Deconstruction of a Drag Queen with the fabulous Grace Towers a couple of seasons ago.

The event is happening at the Centro Cultural de la Raza on Park Boulevard and it looks like it will be a raucous night. All proceeds will help provide funding for Circle Circle dot dot’s 2013/2014 season! Find out more at

Up for Air by William Sager

Alas, the opening has come and gone but Art Mentis sounds like a very interesting exhibition of images on display at the Rich Life Gallery in Hillcrest, 506 University Ave. The set of paintings by local pediatrician, Dr Spencer Epps is informed by the remarkable (to me) fact that one out of five children suffers from mental illness, yet 70 percent go without treatment.

Epps’ work investigates the depth and lived reality of mental illness. Images in this series titled The Voice, Black Tower and City of Darkness depict “mind cancers” and “psychic pathology” as terrifying and disturbing demons and monsters. Art Mentis will be up until Thanksgiving.

Finally, I was so taken by the image promoting Subtext Gallery’s new exhibition that I feel compelled to share it with you. The show, Catch & Release marks the first solo exhibition by Southern California artist William Sager.

Sager’s fine art background, graphic design career and passion for the ocean is demonstrated via the combination of multiple mediums, including painting, illustration and vintage photography. There will be an opening reception with the artist present Friday from 6-10 p.m.

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A simple and easy spending plan Thu, 24 Oct 2013 16:46:37 +0000

Budgeting is boring! There is no other way to describe it. Tracking all your expenses and inputting them into categories created in one of those financial programs can be tedious. Even the online services that connect to your banking account require monitoring and correcting. It is no wonder that most people never even attempt to track their spending.

However, it is still crucial not to spend more than you make. That’ll lead to racking up credit card debt. The way to avoid this situation is to have some type of spending plan. I have the solution for a simple and easy spending plan that anyone can follow. Just follow these simple steps:

1) Start with your monthly take-home pay. This is the amount actually deposited into your checking account. Federal and state taxes, 401(k) savings, health insurance premiums and other payroll deductions have all been paid.

2) Subtract all of the bills that must be paid every month from your take-home pay. This includes things like rent or mortgage, cell phone, cable, Internet, car insurance, electricity, gym dues, student loan payment, credit card payment and any other recurring fixed expense.

3) The amount leftover is how much you can spend on everything else: groceries, gas, dining out, entertainment, home supplies, haircuts and whatever else you buy during the month.

4) The final step is to track your “everything else” amount during the month so you don’t overspend. You’ll know when to start cutting back at the end of the month when you’re about to run out of money.

This method will get you focused on how much you spend and gives you a set amount to spend on whatever you want. If you find yourself coming up short each month, then you can break down your everything else amount into smaller categories like food, entertainment, gas, home supplies and other variable expenses. Do this for a month or two to discover the areas that are causing the budget busting.

If even this sounds like too much work, then I have an easier solution. Only track how much you spend on food. That’s it! Food spending is the most common expense that breaks the budget. Focus on this one area and most of those money worries will disappear.

The average amount spent on food is 15 percent of gross income. For one month, keep all the receipts for every trip to the grocery store, lunches during the work week, dining out and trips to the farmers market. Add up all those receipts at the end of the month. Divide the total food amount by your monthly income. If it’s more than 15 percent, then you found your spending problem.

The good news is cutting the food bill is easy. Make your lunch for work, use a list when grocery shopping, buy less expensive store brands, stay away from prepared foods and cut back on dining out to once a week. Also, never shop for food when you are hungry or tired.

No spreadsheets, no budget for every expense, and no time-consuming tracking system for every dollar spent. It’s simple and easy. Now that is a spending plan anyone can follow!

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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The San Diego LGBT Community Center’s 40th Anniversary Gala Thu, 24 Oct 2013 16:16:41 +0000 Center_Anniversary1_anapines Center_Anniversary2_anapines Center_Anniversary3_anapines Center_Anniversary4_anapines Center_Anniversary5_anapines Center_Anniversary6_anapines Center_Anniversary7_anapines Center_Anniversary8_anapines Center_Anniversary9_anapines Center_Anniversary10_anapines Center_Anniversary11_anapines Center_Anniversary12_anapines Center_Anniversary13_anapines Center_Anniversary14_anapines Center_Anniversary15_anapines Center_Anniversary16_anapines Center_Anniversary17_anapines Center_Anniversary18_anapines Center_Anniversary19_anapines Center_Anniversary20_anapines Center_Anniversary21_anapines Center_Anniversary22_anapines Center_Anniversary23_anapines Center_Anniversary24_anapines Center_Anniversary25_anapines Center_Anniversary26_anapines Center_Anniversary27_anapines Center_Anniversary28_kimrescate Center_Anniversary29_anapines Center_Anniversary30_anapines Center_Anniversary31_anapines Center_Anniversary32_anapines Center_Anniversary33_anapines Center_Anniversary34_anapines Center_Anniversary35_anapines Center_Anniversary36_anapines Center_Anniversary37_anapines Center_Anniversary38_anapines Center_Anniversary39_anapines Center_Anniversary40_anapines Center_Anniversary41_anapines Center_Anniversary43_anapines Center_Anniversary44_anapines Center_Anniversary45_anapines Center_Anniversary46_anapines ]]> 0 After Dark, October 10, 2013 Thu, 10 Oct 2013 22:27:01 +0000 Babycakes1_anapines Babycakes2_anapines Babycakes3_anapines Babycakes4_anapines Babycakes5_anapines Fifth1_anapines Fifth2_anapines Fifth3_anapines Fifth4_anapines Fifth5_anapines Flicks1_anapines Flicks2_anapines Flicks3_anapines Flicks4_anapines Loft1_anapines Loft2_anapines Loft3_anapines Loft4_anapines Loft5_anapines Mos1_anapines Mos2_anapines Mos3_anapines Mos4_anapines Mos5_anapines ]]> 0 Art all over town Thu, 10 Oct 2013 22:12:06 +0000

Time Came Around by Cindy Zimmerman

Sometimes there are so many small art openings happening around town that my column is best designed as a cheat sheet so that you can pick and choose what to see. This week is one of those times. So here goes!

Art Produce in North Park. Community artist Cindy Zimmerman presents Time Came Around, a creative installation without a clear endpoint, a series of riffs on time, play, attachment and change featuring altered patio furniture, paintings, assemblages and zines. You might have noticed the changes happening at this space on University Avenue famous for its massive window display. There’s a new café, but the art remains constant!

The Artisan Collection Gallery in North Park. Richard “Dick” Greene is exhibiting 15 images titled The Santa Fe Series. The work is part of a larger project called the Cracks Series whereby selected photos of sidewalk cracks enhanced with tiny fantasy architecture found by the viewer after a second glance. The Santa Fe Series presents famous historical structures in and around the New Mexico capital city. The cracks were all photographed in the city’s central plaza.

First Unitarian Universalist Bard Hall Art Guild features the work of Duke Winsor, Wade Harb and Stanley Pearce through the month of October. For future reference the Bard Hall Reception is always on the second Tuesday of each month from 6:30-9 p.m. The October reception is over but the work is still up. Artists are welcome though and they should bring up to three pieces of their work for the discussion period following the reception.

New Children’s Museum, downtown San Diego. Classes are up and running at the local colleges and UCSD continues to present interesting work at their on-campus galleries. What caught my attention this week, however is what is happening off campus. Visual Arts alumni will be participating in Feast: The Art of Playing with your Food with an opening reception Oct. 13 from 12 – 6 p.m. Alumni Ross Karre, Nina Waisman and Joe Yorty are featured in Feast. Karre presents the Sound Kitchen, an interactive studio where visitors can create their own musical creations. Waisman installed Orange we… a play structure that was inspired by oranges. Yorty co-presents Dinner T.V., the combination of a screening room and an iconic dinner table. Feast examines our relationship to food and eating in inventive and unexpected ways. To learn more about the participating artists in this exhibition please visit the New Children’s Museum Web site at

Have a great week and bon appétit!

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Life stage planning: in your 80s and 90s Thu, 10 Oct 2013 22:12:00 +0000

In the last of the life stage planning series we come to the Golden Years! This is the stage of life where you get away with everything. You can cut people in the grocery line and no one says anything. You can walk up to strangers and start a conversation without any hesitation. And you get senior discounts on pretty much everything you buy. I can’t wait to be able to do those things!

But this is also a time to be thinking about some critical things to prepare for the future. The three areas I’ll cover are personal care, legal protections and finances. Let me clearly state that I am not an expert in elder care. This is a high-level overview of a very complex area that requires more input from experts on your specific situation.

The most important consideration in this stage of life is deciding what your living arrangements will be. Do you want to stay in your home for as long as possible? Would you want to live in a retirement community? What type of living facility would you want to live in if you become unable to care for yourself?

To live at home, begin with making some modifications to the bathroom and kitchen. For example, an older senior may not be able to step over a tub to shower. This can be replaced with a walk-in shower that has handrails and a seat. Any changes to make daily living easier will allow you to independently live at home longer.

Other options include retirement communities, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. Some properties have residents that move in well before they ever need assistance. A resident then moves up a level of care as it’s needed throughout their lifetime.

The key is to research your options for your care and living arrangements. It can be overwhelming, but there are companies that can help. One local San Diego company that can help is Resources and information can also be found on Web sites like and Start planning for the day when you will need help from others. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

The second area to focus on is your legal documents. You should have a will, living trust, advanced health care directive and power of attorney for finances. These documents tell everyone what and how you want things to be handled. This includes who will handle your finances if you cannot, how and what medical treatment you wish to have, and who will receive your assets once you pass away.

Seniors in their 80s and 90s should also consider who will help with finances if you ever become unable to do so. This may be a family member or a trusted friend. They can help with paying bills and making investment decisions on your behalf. If you don’t have anyone in mind or don’t want to ask a family member or friend, a professional fiduciary can act on your behalf. Find a professional fiduciary at

These are the three main areas to focus on in your 80s and 90s. It requires some work on your part and involves many big decisions. Always reach out to family, friends and non-profits for help. Doing this work now will make these decades all the more enjoyable and pleasant.

Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email You can also follow Steve on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or blog to get more personal finance advice and tips.

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Spirits of Mexico Festival Fri, 27 Sep 2013 22:00:54 +0000 Spirits of Mexico1_anapines Spirits of Mexico2_anapines Spirits of Mexico3_anapines Spirits of Mexico4_anapines Spirits of Mexico5_anapines Spirits of Mexico6_anapines Spirits of Mexico7_anapines Spirits of Mexico8_anapines Spirits of Mexico9_anapines Spirits of Mexico10_anapines Spirits of Mexico11_anapines ]]> 0 South Bay Pride Fri, 27 Sep 2013 21:59:23 +0000 South Bay Pride5_anapines SouthBayPride 12_anapines SouthBayPride1_anapines SouthBayPride2_anapines SouthBayPride3_anapines SouthBayPride4_anapines SouthBayPride6_anapines SouthBayPride7_anapines SouthBayPride8_kimrescate SouthBayPride9_kimrescate SouthBayPride10_anapines SouthBayPride11_anapines SouthBayPride13_anapines ]]> 0