04-13-17 Columns

Don’t get swayed by these investment “myths”

Over time, you will run into various suggestions for investing successfully. Yet upon closer inspection, many of these ideas turn out to be “myths” – which could cause you trouble if you treat them as solid advice. Here are five of these myths, along with some reasons for ignoring them:

You can find the next “big thing.” All of us probably wish we could have “gotten in on the ground floor” of Apple or Microsoft or some other tremendously profitable company. And who knows? There may indeed be a similar other business out there, waiting to take off. But it’s almost impossible for anyone to identify these potential “blockbusters.” There’s really no shortcut to investment success – you need the patience and discipline to invest for the long term, and you need to build a portfolio that’s appropriate for your goals and risk tolerance.

Investors should always seek to “buy low and sell high.” This is actually good advice – or it would be, if it were possible to consistently follow it. But how can you know when the market is “high enough” to sell or “low enough” to buy? You can’t – and neither can anyone else. Trying to time the market rarely works. A more appropriate strategy is to invest regularly and to diversify your holdings among stocks, bonds, government securities and other vehicles, based on your goals and risk tolerance. Diversification can help protect you against market downturns that primarily affect just one asset class. Keep in mind, though, that diversification can’t guarantee profits or protect against all losses.

It’s always smart to buy investments that have performed well recently. You may have read, in investment prospectuses, that “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” These words are certainly true; just because an investment has had a good run recently, it doesn’t mean its success will continue indefinitely. You need to evaluate each investment on its own merits and on how well it fits into your overall portfolio.

International investing is too risky. In today’s global economy, it may be more risky not to invest some of your portfolio internationally. U.S. stocks represent less than half of global stock market capitalization – so by stopping at our borders, you are depriving yourself of a world of opportunities. It’s true that foreign investments carry some special risks relating to currency fluctuations and political and economic events, but you can help contain this risk by confining your international holdings to a relatively small percentage of your portfolio. A financial professional can suggest the best ways for you to add a global element to your investments.

You need a lot of money to make a lot of money. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a sizable amount of money to invest right away. But the world is full of people who started investing with small sums and ended up having enough money to enjoy the retirement lifestyle they had envisioned. If you’re just beginning to invest, put in as much as you can afford each month; as your income goes up, increase your investments. As an investor, time is your greatest ally.

Sticking to a consistent investment strategy can help you write your own investment tale – and you can leave the myths to the storybooks.

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

Syphilis on the rise in U.S.

You may have thought that syphilis was a problem solved long ago, but that is not the case. While almost eliminated at one point, this persistent sexually transmitted disease (STD) is now on the rise again and it has reached a critical high: the current number and rate of cases is higher than it’s been in more than 20 years. In 2015, there were close to 24,000 cases of syphilis reported in the U.S.—that was almost a 20% overall increase since 2014 alone. This rise in infections makes syphilis a renewed health threat for many.

If left untreated, syphilis can cause severe health problems affecting the brain, eyes, heart, and other organs. Having syphilis also makes it easier to get HIV. The good news is that syphilis is simple to cure with the right treatment.

The bottom line is this: if you’re having sex, you can get syphilis. This resurgence highlights its ability to affect many communities at anytime and anywhere. Infection rates have spiked in all regions of the country, and across almost every race/ethnicity, and varying age groups from the oldest Gen Z’ers to younger baby boomers—and most troubling of all—babies. Some populations, such as gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM), and women are seeing higher increases than other groups of people.

Syphilis rates have risen among women 27% from 2014-2015, which has led to a surge in the number and rate of babies born with syphilis (congenital syphilis). Men, and especially gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) remain hardest-hit by syphilis, with data suggesting an average of half of MSM with syphilis are also living with HIV.

While syphilis may affect some populations more than others, the increase across all demographics is a development that needs attention. It means people from all walks of life—including those who think they have slim-to-zero chances of becoming infected—may be at risk, so protecting yourself is a must. Even if you do not think you have anything to worry about, it is better to be safe than sorry—and it’s easy to get informed. So arm yourself with the facts about syphilis.

The only way to avoid syphilis and other STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. However, if you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting syphilis: Be in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a partner who’s tested negative for syphilis and other STDs; use latex condoms the right way every time you have sex; talk openly and honestly with your healthcare provider and ask what tests may be right for you; and if you test positive for syphilis, get treated right away and be sure your sexual partner is treated as well to reduce the risk of re-infection.

Know the facts about syphilis and what you can do to protect yourself. Visit the Berrien County Health Department website at www.bchdmi.org to learn more and find a testing location near you.

My higher education recommendation

Over the last three months, my appropriations subcommittee on higher education heard testimony from all 15 universities. The results these institutions have produced for Michigan students and for our economy are quite impressive.

Our state is blessed to have such great universities at our disposal and that is exactly why I was discouraged by the initial chatter in Lansing that focused on my budget as a place for cuts.

Michigan has already seen a sizable state disinvestment in its funding of universities. In fact, past legislatures have actually used higher education as the balancing wheel of the state budget. In 2011 for example, to make up for the financial crisis, the legislature cut funding to higher education by 15 percent across the board. Five universities are still not back to their pre-2011 levels.

While crafting my budget, I worked to also demonstrate the value of higher education to my fellow legislators. Ultimately, I was able to propose a responsible spending plan that increases funding to universities while also tightening tuition restraint language.

Overall, my recommendation increases funding for higher education by 2.3 percent, including a 1.9 percent increase to university operations. I also increased funding to three competitive scholarships available for low-income students to help lessen their financial burden. Additionally, I took steps to protect Michigan families by lowering the percentage that state universities can increase tuition for Michigan students, and added new reporting requirements for sexual assault incidents that occur on campus.

The increases I proposed are an investment in Michigan’s students, and will ultimately lead our state on a path toward more jobs, higher personal incomes and a healthier economy.

My budget recommendation was approved by the subcommittee by a 5-0 vote, and now moves to the next stage of the budget process.

As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517)373-1403, emailing KimLaSata@House.mi.gov or visiting my website at www.RepLaSata.com.

It is an honor to serve you.

Easter is a time for spiritual rebirth and renewal

This Sunday, families will gather together for church services and an Easter meal, open Easter baskets filled with sweets and participate in Easter egg hunts.

While these traditions are wonderful, Easter is about much more. Easter is a celebration of the most important event in the Christian faith: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Remembering and praising the sacrifice of Jesus’ life on Good Friday and his resurrection three days later is at the heart of Christianity. You could even say that defines the faith.

While Easter is a Christian holiday, it offers everyone an opportunity to examine our principles and morals that we endeavor to instill in our children. Among these is kindness to our neighbors, charity toward the less fortunate, respect for people of all backgrounds and being part of something greater than us.

As a Christian, I believe that Jesus died to save us from sin and that we must strive to walk in his footsteps. At the core of that belief — and of my position as your state senator — is helping and serving others.

I will continue to aim to fulfill my duties as a Christian, husband, father and public servant as best I can for my family, my state and the people of Southwest Michigan. I am dedicated to being a good public servant, which includes helping area residents with a wide range of issues and listening to their viewpoints and concerns.

I encourage all of us to mark this holiday by striving to improve ourselves and to grow in our own unique ways.

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.

On April 4, the Syrian government used chemical weapons to attack Syrian civilians in southern Idlib Province. The attack killed at least 85 civilians, including women and children. It also injured more than 550 others, making it the worst chemical attack in Syria since 2013.

In response, on April 6, U.S. Navy Destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, striking the Shayrat Air Base in Homs Province, the origin of the Assad regime airstrikes that dropped the chemical weapons on April 4. These missiles hit their intended targets, including several aircraft storage facilities, munitions depots, air defense systems, radars, and fueling infrastructure.

The strikes were intended to send a strong signal to the Syrian regime that it cannot use such weapons with impunity. I believe that after Assad delivered a heinous chemical attack on his own citizens, an unmistakable message had to be delivered. These targeted, measured airstrikes were an appropriate response to the earlier atrocities.

Chemical and biological weapons have been banned by the international community. It is critical that the United States stand up against the use of vile and illegal weapons. The attack against the Shayrat airfield accomplished that objective.

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).