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01-03-2018 Columns

Financial tips for snowbirds… present and future Winter is here again – which may make you wish you were somewhere else. You might be thinking how pleasant it would be to become a snowbird and move to a warmer climate for the season. Of course, your stage of life will help determine if you are prepared to be a snowbird now or if you’re just hoping to be one in the future. But in either case, you’ll need to be financially prepared. So, let’s look at what it would take to be a snowbird – tomorrow and today: Snowbird tomorrow – The further ahead you plan, the more options you’re likely to have when you embark on the snowbird life. If you’re going to be retired, you’ll need to review all your sources of retirement income – Social Security, your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan, your IRA, and so on – to determine if you’ll have enough money available for your yearly snowbird trips without jeopardizing your retirement lifestyle. Your calculations will depend on what sort of snowbird existence you have in mind. Do you want to buy a second home or just rent? Will you be gone just a few weeks each year or several months? Clearly, to ensure a successful snowbird experience, you’ll need to identify your goals and create a strategy for achieving them. Snowbird today – If you’ve reached a point where you can indeed make your snowbird dream a reality, and you’re ready to pack your bags, you’ll need to take action on some practical matters, such as these: Secure your home. If you have a security system, make sure it’s armed and working properly. Stop your newspapers and magazines, forward your mail, ask your neighbors to remove any stray papers, flyers and advertisements from your porch or entryway, and arrange to have your snow shoveled. Notify your bank. To fight theft, the fraud departments of many banks are getting more aggressive in spotting and denying unusual charges. That’s why it’s important to give your bank your temporary address and contact information before you leave. By doing so, you can reduce the risk of your account being frozen temporarily if your financial institution can’t reach you with questions about charges from an unexpected location. You also might find it useful to open a bank account at your snowbird site. Pay your bills. If you already pay all your bills automatically through bank authorizations, you may not have to do anything when you leave. But if you still pay some bills the old-fashioned way, with checks and envelopes, look for these bills in your forwarded mail. Track your investments. You can probably track the progress of your investments online, and it’s a good idea to do so, just as you would at your permanent address. Even if you’re only gone a couple of months, you may need to make some investment moves, so stay on top of your accounts and contact your investment professional, as needed. As always, though, don’t overreact to sudden market swings – ideally, you’ve got long-term strategies in place that can serve your needs in most investment environments. The life of a snowbird can be a pleasant one. So take the necessary steps before you leave – and enjoy your days in the sun. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Honored to serve as your State Senator I hope you and your family enjoyed a restful holiday break and has had a happy start to the New Year. I am deeply humbled to have the opportunity to serve you for the next four years as the State Senator of the 21st District. I would like to give a special thank you to State Senator John Proos for his outstanding service to our community and assistance in facilitating a smooth transition. As a member of the 100th Legislature, I am excited to represent our district and its emphasis on hard work, self-reliance and family values in Lansing. As many important policy issues come before me I will always take your viewpoints into account when making tough decisions. My staff and I are available anytime to help if you have questions or opinions about legislation in Lansing, difficulty with contacting or working with state departments or have any other concerns. There are many ways to get in touch with me. My new office address is S-309 Capitol Building and mailing address is State Senator Kim LaSata, P.O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909-7536. My Lansing office phone number is (517) 373-6960 and fax number is (517) 373-0897. My email address is I will also have an updated website with more information about my office, legislative priorities and other ways to have your voice be heard that will be available in the next few days. Finally, I will be announcing my district office location soon so residents of the 21st District are able to stop by for a conversation, receive publications or other state resources and to share your thoughts on our great state. It is a tremendous privilege to serve our community and I am grateful for the trust you have placed in me. I take my responsibilities very seriously and will work hard to advocate for our district and make decisions that continue to move Michigan forward. I am excited for a productive year and getting to know you in my new role as your State Senator.

Quick look back on the year The year 2018 was a busy and productive year to be sure. My focus never wavered from what’s really important: helping you with problems big and small and advancing bipartisan legislation that improves the quality of life for everyone here in Southwest Michigan.

Whether it was delivering results for Southwest Michigan, fostering an environment of job creation and economic growth, improving our national security, delivering on the promise of 21st Century Cures, standing up for the health of our Great Lakes, energy solutions and more, it was a great year. I was also proud to take part in 423 in-person meetings and events with constituents here at home so that we could discuss the issues at hand in a productive manner.

Looking ahead to 2019, we must continue our work on advancing an agenda that helps folks here in Southwest Michigan. We certainly have our work cut out of us. As a newly elected Vice-Chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, I know we will be working hard to “Break the Gridlock”. I truly believe that by working together – Republicans and Democrats – we can and we will solve many of the pressing issues before us.

And rest assured, I’ll keep listening and learning from you because we can only do this together. Let’s get back to work!

As always, please know that staff in my constituent offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039) and Benton Harbor/ St. Joseph, (269-982-1986) as well as my office in Washington, D.C., (202-225-3761), are happy to help assist with any issues or concerns as we move forward through 2018.

Winter safety With the potential for cold temperatures, heavy snows, and below-freezing wind chills, it’s important to protect yourself and your family from the hazards of winter weather. Hypothermia Hypothermia occurs when a person’s body temperature falls below normal due to cold exposure. It can start with shivering and the person can become very lethargic and clumsy. If you suspect hypothermia, call 911. Remove wet clothing and wrap the person in warm blankets and clothes. Frostbite In the cold without proper clothing protection, people can develop frostbite. Frostbite occurs when the skin and outer tissue becomes frozen. Fingers, toes, ears, and noses are often where frostbite occurs. They may look pale, gray, and blistered. Numbness or a burning sensation is a common complaint. If you suspect frostbite you can put the body part in warm (not hot) water, but do not rub frozen areas. If numbness continues, call a doctor. Driving safety Always properly defrost your car before heading on the road. Your windows and mirrors should allow full visibility. Keep a winter package in your car. It may include blankets, flashlights, road flares, and non-perishable snacks. Also have a couple of bottles of water. Carry a snow shovel in your trunk and a bag of salt in case you get stuck. Never leave your child in the car whether it’s running or not! For more information, call the Berrien County Health Department at (269) 926-7121 or visit us online at or on Facebook at

Rep. Wendzel opens Lansing office State Representative Pauline Wendzel opened her Lansing office this week to serve the people of the 79th House District and announced contact information for community members to easily reach her. Rep. Wendzel may be contacted at (517) 373-1403; mail correspondence to N-1098 House Office Building, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909-7514; or by email at “I am eager to start working on the issues that the people of my community elected me to do, and to continue to hear the concerns and suggestions of residents throughout our community,” Wendzel said. “I am honored to represent the hard-working families of Berrien County and encourage anyone with questions to contact my office so that I may be of assistance. “My top priority in Lansing will be achieving results that help Southwest Michigan families. Bringing good paying jobs to our community, fixing our roads, and properly investing in our children’s education are important issues that I repeatedly hear from constituents.” Rep. Wendzel is in the process of planning office hours in the district so that she can meet with residents and share legislative updates.

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