01-18-2018 Columns

When do you need a financial advisor?

If you could accomplish all your financial goals just by putting your paycheck into the bank every couple of weeks, you wouldn’t need the services of a financial advisor. But life isn’t that simple – and so, at some point, you may realize you need some professional assistance. But when? Actually, you might benefit from the services of a financial advisor during many life events, including the following: Starting your career – When you’re starting out in your career, you may encounter several questions related to your benefits package. Should you contribute to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan? If so, how much, and where should you invest your money? Are the life and disability insurance policies offered by your employer sufficient for your needs? A financial advisor can help you answer these and other questions you may have. Getting married – When you get married, you’ll have to decide if, and how, you want to combine your finances. Also, you and your spouse may have different attitudes about investing and different tolerances for risk. A financial professional can help you find common ground. Changing jobs – When you switch jobs, what should you do with your old employer’s retirement plan? And how should you invest in the plan offered by your new employer? As was the case when you first began your career, you may find that a financial professional can help you make the right choices. Facing a layoff or buyout – You may never go through a layoff, or take a buyout offer from an employer – but if either of these events should happen, you will face some financial decisions. And during such a potentially stressful period, you may be tempted to make some financial moves that won’t be beneficial. A financial advisor can suggest some strategies that may help you keep your investment situation relatively intact until you land your next job. Saving for college – If you have children whom you’d like to send to college someday, you’ll probably want to start putting money away as early as possible. A financial professional can show you the various college-savings vehicles, and help you choose the ones that are most appropriate for your needs. Getting divorced – If you are fortunate, you won’t ever experience a divorce, but, if it does happen, you’ll want to get the professional assistance necessary to ensure fair outcomes for everyone. You’ll obviously need to work with an attorney, but you may find that, in the area of investments, a financial advisor also can be useful. Entering retirement – As you near retirement, your key questions will switch – but not entirely – from putting money in to taking money out. How much can you withdraw each year from your 401(k) and IRA without running the risk of outliving your resources? When should you start taking Social Security? If you were to work a couple of years longer than you had originally intended, how would it affect your withdrawal strategies? Again, a financial advisor can help you with these issues. As you can see, most important life events will carry some financial concerns. But you don’t have to face these challenges alone – and by getting the help you need, when you need it, you can ease the transition from one stage of life to another. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Ending Michigan’s work waiver

I have recently introduced House Bill 5386 which would restore the work requirements for childless, able-bodied adults (ABAWDs) receiving food assistance (“SNAP”). Michigan has not had a statewide work requirement for ABAWDs in over fifteen years, making us one of only eight states still without such a stipulation. Despite a recovering economy, the Department of Health and Human Services has continually reapplied for a voluntary waiver of the work requirements in a majority of Michigan counties. Fifteen years is enough. Michigan’s ABAWD work waiver traps people in dependency and costs Michigan over $500 million annually. My legislation would restore the statewide 20-hr per week work requirement for ABAWDs on SNAP. The rules would affect only childless, able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 and require ongoing asset and eligibility verification. There are three avenues through which these individuals can meet the reinstated work requirements: working an average of 20 hours per week each month in unsubsidized employment, participating for an average of 20 hours per week each month in an approved employment and training program, or participating in community service by volunteering at a nonprofit organization. Individuals who are physically or mentally unable to work for 20 hours, are pregnant, care for a child under the age of 6, or care for someone who is incapacitated are specifically exempt from these requirements. It is my hope that the reinstatement of this work requirement will create a springboard to employment for those affected, and free up limited taxpayer resources for the truly vulnerable in our society. As always, if you have questions about my legislation, or anything else related to state government, do not hesitate to reach out by emailing KimLaSata@House.mi.gov or calling my office at 517-373-1403.

Supporting tax relief as state revenues increase

As our economy continues to grow, create jobs and generate state revenue, we owe it to our hardworking residents and small businesses to provide them with well-earned tax relief. I am a strong supporter of a new bill that would ensure that Southwest Michigan taxpayers can continue claiming the personal exemption on their state taxes while also giving them an additional tax break that is responsible and affordable. The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by President Trump simplifies the code, lowers tax rates, doubles the standard deduction and increases family tax credits.

However, in streamlining the process, it effectively ends the federal personal exemption. Since the state personal exemption is based on the federal return, without a revision to state law, Michigan taxpayers would no longer be able to claim it on their state taxes. Senate Bill 748 makes necessary changes to maintain the state personal exemption and also boost it by an additional $500 to $4,800 by 2021. The bill was introduced as fiscal leaders and economists from across the state met for the annual January Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. They forecasted that Michigan will have $571.7 million more in total revenue for the current 2018 fiscal year than we budgeted for last summer. This significant projected surplus offers us a chance to invest in key priorities and reduce the burden on all Michigan taxpayers. As a member of the Senate finance and appropriations committees, I look forward to helping enact this important tax relief as we begin the new state budget process. 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.

t’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 6 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 269-926-8121 or visit www.bchdmi.org.

Dr. King’s words and actions ring true still today

Every year on the third Monday in January, we come together as a nation to celebrate the extraordinary life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

While one man violently and tragically took Dr. King from us nearly 50 years ago, he could not silence Dr. King’s teachings nor his spirit. Both of these continue to shape our lives and our nation in great ways. Dr. King’s words bring us both comfort and hope, particularly as injustice, violence, and despair seem to be staring us in the face whenever we turn on the television, open the newspaper, or click on Twitter.

While we have made great strides as a nation – overcoming many setbacks and bridging many divides – we still have many more to make. The legacy of Dr. King is a chance to reflect upon these changes and strive to be better.

There’s an old Upton family quote my grandfather would always say… “Was you always perfect?” None of us are. None of us will ever be. Dr. King wasn’t. I’m not. I implore you, in honor of Dr. King, not to be perfect, but to be engaged, to be kind to your neighbors to be active in our community. On Dr. King’s birthday – and always – we should endeavor to keep his words, and actions, close to our hearts and look at what unites us, and not what divides us, in order to create a better future for all.

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).