It’s not too late to get a flu shot!
If you haven’t had your flu vaccine yet, it’s not too late! Flu – more formally known as influenza – is a serious viral disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. Although every flu season is different, flu has resulted in anywhere from 9.2 million to 35.6 million illnesses; 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations; and 12,000 to 56,000 deaths every year since 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Flu viruses are spread through tiny droplets by people infected with flu who cough, sneeze, or talk. Flu also is spread by touching a surface or object that has flu viruses on it. Although influenza viruses circulate year-round, flu activity peaks between December and February most years, but activity can last as late as May in the U.S. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of getting sick and spreading it to others. The vaccine typically is redesigned each year to contain flu virus strains expected to be prevalent during the upcoming flu season. The strains have been inactivated so that they don’t cause you to get sick with flu, but will trigger your immune system to produce antibodies that can protect against influenza disease. When more people get vaccinated, less flu can spread through a community. It can take about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body. Typically, children and older people are most at risk for influenza. Annual vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza among people ages six months and older. You also can reduce the spread of the flu and reduce its effects by taking such practical measures as washing your hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when you’re sick. And, although antiviral drugs are not a substitute for vaccines, they can help to treat influenza. For more information about influenza or the flu vaccine, talk to your doctor or call the Berrien County Health Department at 269-926-7121 or visit www.bchdmi.org.
Small businesses and Social Security
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the 28.8 million small businesses in the United States represent 99.7% of all U.S. businesses, and employ 56.8 million people. Running a small business can be a 24-7 endeavor. Managing employees, inventory, scheduling, services, and marketing can be challenging. If you are a small business owner or you work for one, we can help make your life easier with our suite of services. Our services allow you to file W-2/W-2Cs online and verify your employees’ names and Social Security numbers against our records. If you run a business, make us your first stop at www.socialsecurity.gov/ employer. It will save you valuable time when you need information on W-2s, electronic filing, and verifying Social Security numbers. Small business owners can also take advantage of our Business Services Online at www.socialsecurity.gov/bso/bsowelcome.htm. You must register to use this free service, which also offers fast, free, and secure online W-2 filing options to CPAs, enrolled agents, and individuals who process W-2s and W-2Cs. This publication provides more information about electronic wage reporting www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10034.pdf. Vonda Van Til is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Business owners: Plan for next phase of life
As a business owner, you’re always thinking of what you need to do now. But you can’t forget about the future – yours and that of your business. So it may be a good idea to consider your personal retirement plan and business succession strategy. Let’s start by looking at a few retirement plan possibilities: Solo 401(k) – This plan, which is also known as an Owner-only 401(k), is available to self-employed individuals and business owners with no full-time employees other than themselves or a spouse. A Solo 401(k) offers many of the same advantages of a traditional 401(k): a range of investment options, tax-deductible contributions and the opportunity for tax-deferred earnings growth. You may even be able to choose a Roth option, which allows you to make after-tax contributions that can grow tax-free. Your Solo 401(k) contributions consist of two parts: salary deferral and profit sharing. In 2020, you can defer up to $19,500 of income, or $26,000 if you’re 50 or older. Your profit-sharing contribution is based on your earnings. The sum of your salary deferral and profit sharing can’t exceed $57,000 (or $63,500 if you’re 50 or older). If your spouse is employed by your business, you each can contribute the maximum amount allowed. SEP IRA – If you have just a few employees or are self-employed with no employees, you may want to think about a SEP IRA. You’ll fund the plan with tax-deductible contributions, and you must cover all eligible employees. (Employees themselves cannot contribute.) You can generally contribute up to 25% of compensation, up to $57,000 annually. And you can fund your SEP IRA with virtually any type of investment. Solo defined benefit plan – Not many businesses still offer pension plans, also known as defined benefit plans, but you can set one up for yourself if you’re self-employed or own your own business. This plan has high contribution limits, which are determined by an actuarial calculation, and your contributions are typically tax-deductible. A financial professional can help you choose the appropriate retirement plan. But you’ll still need to think about succession planning. Of course, you can always sell your business outright at any time you like. Or you could leave your business to your children in your will, but if you give it to them gradually during your lifetime, you can become more confident they’ll be able to manage the business on their own. Another alternative might be to transfer the business with a buy-sell agreement, which allows you to determine when, to whom, and at what price you can sell it. Because you can establish the purchase price as your business’s taxable value, a buy-sell agreement is useful in estate planning. If you want to keep the business in your family, you might want to consider funding the buy-sell agreement with life insurance, so family members can use the death benefit proceeds to buy your ownership stake. In any case, given the complexities and tax issues involved with succession planning, you’ll need to consult with your legal and tax advisors when creating a strategy. But don’t wait too long. You can’t predict the future, but by planning ahead, you can help achieve the outcomes you desire. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.
Birds are the only animals with feathers, which are composed of the insoluble protein keratin. Keratin is the same thing that makes up our fingernails and the scales of a reptile. Feathers help a bird do many things such as regulate the birds’ temperature, help them fly, and use their color patterns for display and camouflage. The number of feathers on a bird varies. A small hummingbird may have around 1,000 feathers, while a swan may have up to 25,000! All of those feathers take daily maintenance and much of a birds time is spent preening (cleaning and water-proofing the feathers.) The Sarett staff enjoys observing our turkey vulture education ambassador Val preen when we bring her indoors and she is relaxed. She will spend hours using her beak and a special oil gland near her tailbone to apply a protective layer on her feathers. This oil helps waterproof, remove parasites, and moisturizes the feathers. Join a naturalist on Sat., Jan. 18 from 1-3 p.m. for a program on the science of snow! Learn about snow’s properties, examine snow crystals and explore snow’s integral role in winter. If there is no snow, learn about bubbles in nature and try some bubble experiments. Cost is $3/person. Cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals will be available as soon as there is enough snow! The cost for ski rental is $10/adult and $5/child plus admission. Snowshoe rental is $5/person plus admission.