01-04-2017 Columns

Smart investing can help you keep moving toward your goals

 It’s Kentucky Derby time again. Even if you’re not much of a horse racing fan, you might appreciate all of the Derby’s pageantry – the mint juleps, the women’s beautiful hats, the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home,” and so on. But if you look beyond the hoopla, you’ll realize just how much work it takes to put on such an event. And the efforts of one group in particular – the jockeys – may be able to provide you with some lessons in life – and in investing.

For starters, consider the stamina the jockeys show as they steer 1,000-pound thoroughbreds around the track at Churchill Downs. Riding a racehorse is difficult, demanding and dangerous, requiring enormous endurance on the part of the jockey. And in many areas of life, you too will need to show some staying power. That’s certainly true when you invest. You need the fortitude to keep on investing, in good markets and bad ones, and during all the phases of your life – even after you’ve retired. It might not always be easy – during turbulent markets, you may be tempted to take a “time out” – but the most successful investors are usually the most persistent ones.

Here’s another trait shown by Kentucky Derby jockeys: vision. Jockeys must be able to spot the spaces they need to go through to gain the position they want. In other words, they see where they want to go. As an investor, you need this same ability. To illustrate: What do you want your retirement to look like? Will you stay close to home and volunteer? Will you travel the world? Will you even open a small business? You need to envision your goals if you’re going to achieve them.

Strategy is also important to jockeys. They all want to win the race, but they employ different methods. For example, three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel’s strategy usually involves riding his horse on the rail at the inside of the track – so much so that his nickname is “Bo’rail.” As an investor, you need a strategy that’s appropriate for your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. Such a strategy will involve choosing a suitable mix of investments, reviewing your portfolio’s progress at regular intervals, and making changes as necessary.

Finally, jockeys need knowledge. Is the track in good shape? How has the horse been behaving lately? What’s the weather going to be at post time? To be a good investor, you also need plenty of knowledge. You’ll need to pose some questions about individual investments you’re considering: How will this investment perform under different market environments? Will this investment fit well into my portfolio, or do I already have others similar to it? Is this an investment I can hold for the long term? And you’ll also need to learn about yourself as an investor: What is my tolerance for risk? Am I fully considering all my goals, such as college for my kids, my own retirement and the type of legacy I’d like to leave? There’s no shortage of questions for active investors to ask – and the best investors never stop learning.

You can learn a lot from Kentucky Derby jockeys. By applying some of their skills and habits to your investment activities, you can keep moving toward your goals – and you won’t even have to run in circles.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Improving charitable gaming regulations

 Across Southwest Michigan, we are very fortunate to have many wonderful charitable organizations doing great work in our communities. One avenue for these organizations to raise money for their good works is through charitable gaming, such as charity poker or other casino-style games. Unfortunately, charities have been struggling to raise money through gaming over the past several years because state bureaucrats have saddled them with unnecessarily burdensome rules. Under these rules, the amount of money raised through charitable gaming has dropped dramatically, affecting these groups’ ability to make a difference in communities across our great state.

To address this bureaucratic overreach, the State House recently passed legislation, with strong bipartisan support, designed to make the rules reasonable and fair. Certain licensing requirements will remain in place to make sure the system is safe and fair for charities and that games have reasonable limits on the amounts wagered and hours of operation. This new system of charitable gaming rules will protect against bad actors while allowing charitable organizations to raise the money they need to serve members of our community. I was proud to vote in favor of this legislation because state government should pursue policies that support our charitable organizations, not burden them.

As a reminder, the annual Senior and Veteran Expo hosted by state senators Tonya Schuitmaker and Margaret O’Brien and I will take place on Monday, May 8. The expo is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Antwerp Township Activity Center located at 24821 Front Avenue in Mattawan. This is a completely free event. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact my office toll-free at 1-800-577-6212.

Bipartisan legislation champions STEM education initiative

 This week I re-introduced bipartisan legislation with U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, in the U.S. House of Representatives that will champion the STEM education program FIRST Robotics. H.R. 5168, the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2017, would mint a $1 coin in honor of Christa McAuliffe, the teacher and astronaut who perished in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, and recognize and support FIRST Robotics. We are joined by original co-sponsors U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Illinois, and U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon.

FIRST Robotics is the nation’s leading not-for-profit Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education program established by inventor Dean Kamen. Once the money is recouped by the U.S. Treasury for the cost of minting the commemorative coin, all of the profits would go to FIRST Robotics. There would be no cost to the taxpayer.

Michigan has the most FIRST Robotics teams in the country. Students on these teams grow up to become inventors, engineers, small business owners, and community leaders. A few might even end up as the astronauts whose vision extends beyond our world, to new planets and galaxies – just like Christa McAuliffe. It is vitally important that we continue to encourage this type of inventive learning and team building.

I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this legislation passed.

To learn more about this and other important legislative issues, please visit my website: upton.house.gov or call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Congratulations to 2017 spirit tournament champions!

 I want to extend my congratulations to the Watervliet Panthers for winning this year’s Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament championship.

In the final round, Watervliet defeated last year’s champions, the Marcellus Wildcats. To earn the title, the Panthers scored a total of more than 100,000 points and submitted more than 2,700 photos, which received more than 86,000 likes on Facebook.

I proudly sponsor this competition throughout Southwest Michigan every year because it gives students an opportunity to showcase what makes our region so awesome and the pride we have in our communities.

The social networking contest spanned five weeks and featured 31 area high schools, which were divided into four brackets named for features that characterize Southwest Michigan.

Fans and students scored points for their team in a variety of ways, such as voting in polls and posting positive photos on my Facebook page, Twitter and my website.

I was thrilled at the tremendous amount of participation this year. Although we have seen increases each year in the numbers of students participating and volume of photos uploaded, this year was off the chart.

As the champion, Watervliet High School will receive a traveling trophy and a special tribute commending the school for the spirit of its students and community. The tribute will be signed by me; Rep. Kim LaSata; U.S. Rep. Fred Upton; Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Gov. Rick Snyder.

I want to say thank you to everyone who participated in making yet another spirit contest a tremendous success. The phenomenal response illustrated that no one has more school spirit than Southwest Michigan.

As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback on the important issues facing Michigan. You can contact me at 517-373-6960.

2017 Friend of Public Health Award

 The Berrien County Health Department announced the 2017 Friend of Public Health Award winner at a ceremony this week. Former State of Michigan Representative, Al Pscholka, was honored by the Berrien County Board of Health, the Berrien County Health Department, and community members for his contributions to supporting the public health agenda.

The Berrien County Health Department has awarded the Friend of Public Health Award annually since 2000. This award gives recognition to outstanding, significant and innovative activities and accomplishments by an individual, agency or other entity in furthering the principles of public health and the mission of the Berrien County Health Department.

As a member of the Michigan House of Representatives first elected in November 2010, Al Pscholka made significant contributions to improving the state of public health in Michigan, and locally in the 79th District, located in Berrien County. Throughout his tenure as State Representative, Mr. Pscholka remained a stalwart champion for his constituents, committed to serving the communities he represented in Berrien County rather than giving in to the pressures from his party or outside opinions.

Arguably the most notable contribution that Mr. Pscholka made to the improvement of public health was his advocacy efforts to expand Medicaid coverage for more than 600,000 residents in Michigan through the Healthy Michigan Plan. The expanded Medicaid coverage allowed thousands of low-income residents in Berrien County to gain access to much-needed health care services, especially life-saving preventative services, like cancer screenings, wellness checks, immunizations, and more.

Mr. Pscholka is the very definition of a health champion and effective lawmaker. He demonstrated time and time again his passion for helping the people of Michigan, and his ability to make meaningful change to improve the lives and well-being of residents through legislation that will have positive impacts on public health for years to come.