I followed your first recommendation and set the global setting to only show 1 footer widget. This worked and made the footer widget placeholder disappear.
Unfortunately, I am not using a static page for my home page so recommendation #2 won’t apply.
I was able to make a temporary workaround by adding the second widget on Footer Widget 1. Coupled with the Dynamic Widgets plugin, the second widget only shows on the home page. Still needs formatting to show the posts on multiple columns but it will have to do for now.
Thanks for the tip and I look forward to your next update so I can really make my site look the way I want it to!