06-20-19 Columns

Smart financial moves for every stage of life Regardless of what stage of life you’re in, you must make financial and investment decisions that will be with you for the remainder of your years. But the moves you make when you’re just starting out in your career may be quite different from when you’re retired. So, let’s look at some of these moves, stretched out across your lifetime. In your 20s and 30s: During this period, you should strive to place yourself on a sound financial footing by taking steps such as reducing, and hopefully eliminating, your student loans and embarking on saving for retirement through investments such as a 401(k) and IRA. You also might buy a home, which offers some financial benefits, but be careful not to become “house poor” by devoting too much of your monthly income to mortgage payments. If you have young children, you might also want to start saving for college, possibly through a 529 plan, which offers tax benefits, high contribution limits and the ability to switch beneficiaries, as needed. And if you do have a family, you’ll certainly need to maintain adequate life insurance. Also, since you’re at the early stages of your working life, you should chart a long-term financial and investment strategy with the help of a financial professional. Your strategy should encompass your important goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. And you’ll want to revisit your strategy regularly to accommodate changes in your life and financial situation. In your 40s and 50s: These are the years in which your career advances, leading to bigger salaries. The more you earn, the more you should be putting away in your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan, along with your IRA. During the middle-to-end of this particular period, you might finish helping pay for your child’s higher education – which should free up even more money to put away for retirement. You also may want to consider long-term care insurance, which can help protect you against the devastating costs of an extended stay in a nursing home. In your 60s, 70s… and beyond: Once you’re in this age range, chances are pretty good that you’ll either retire soon or are already retired. (Although, of course, you may well want to work part-time or do some consulting.) However, you certainly haven’t “retired” the need to make financial and investment decisions, because you’ll have plenty, including these: When should I take Social Security? Will my investment portfolio provide me with enough income to help keep me ahead of inflation? How much can I afford to withdraw each year from my retirement accounts without outliving my resources? Again, a financial professional can help you deal with these and other issues. Also, if you haven’t done so, now is the time to draw up your estate plans, so you can leave the type of legacy you desire – one that provides for the next generation (or two) and the charitable organizations you support. You’ll need to work with a legal professional to create estate planning documents and arrangements appropriate for your needs. You will spend a lifetime making financial and investment decisions – so put in the time and effort, and get the help you need, to make the best decisions you can. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

A responsible budget This week, I joined my colleagues in supporting a responsible budget that focuses on the priorities of Southwest Michigan residents. The budget we passed includes record funding for road repairs and schools, with additional resources for critical job preparation and research programs of great importance to Southwest Michigan. The House-approved budget plan invests in these high priority programs without tax increases. My goal as a state legislator is to make Southwest Michigan a place future generations wants to stay and raise their own families. This budget plan is definitely a step in the right direction. It supports schools, employment, and our region’s proud agriculture heritage – without asking for more taxpayer money. This budget includes another record level of funding for K-12 education in our state. For years, politicians have raided the school aid fund to pay for higher education. This budget stops that practice and directs all school aid fund money to where it belongs. One of the most common topics I heard while knocking on doors was the confusion amongst residents that not all of the money they pay at the pump went toward road repairs. I agree and was proud to help direct all of the money paid at the pump into road and bridge repair. This alone will contribute an additional $800 million to road repairs without asking Michiganders for more of their hard-earned money. This change will be made without sacrificing money for schools, local government revenue sharing, or other essential public services. The governor made a great analogy – we’re in the fourth inning. As this process moves forward, I will continue to be an advocate for Southwest Michigan residents. If you have any thoughts, concerns, or suggestions about our state budget, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office at 517-373-1403 or email me at PaulineWendzel@house.mi.gov.

Agreement with Mexico protects Southwest Michigan jobs

This past week, President Trump announced a deal with Mexico that avoids tariffs and improves border security, a win for the American people. The proposed tariffs would have placed a heavy burden on the state of Michigan, having the second most negative impact of all 50 states, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I met with a number of job creators from southwest Michigan who expressed their concern over these proposed tariffs. The consensus was that the tariffs with Mexico would have hurt our auto, manufacturing, and agriculture industries, threatening jobs and economic growth. And of course, American consumers at all levels would have ended up paying higher costs for goods. Fortunately, these tariffs were avoided with a deal that also saw Mexico agree to several border security initiatives that should help relieve the border crisis. Now that this agreement with Mexico has been reached, my colleagues and I will continue to work on bipartisan solutions for a number of other issues, including lowering drug prices, combating the opioid epidemic, protecting the Great Lakes, passing comprehensive immigration reform, and creating jobs here at home and around the nation. To learn more about other important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or visit my website: upton.house.gov. You can also call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Benton Harbor Farmers Market The Benton Harbor Farmers Market will open for another season on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. The market will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Wednesday in the Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park in downtown Benton Harbor. Each week from opening day through September 18, the Benton Harbor Farmers Market will offer a wide variety of locally-grown and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. This year, the market will also feature several newer vendors selling homemade and locally sourced foods, ready-to-eat lunch options, and other artisan items. In addition to cash, the market gladly welcomes Bridge Cards (EBT), Senior Project FRESH, and WIC Project FRESH coupons that can be used to purchase qualifying items. The market will also offer people with Bridge Cards an opportunity to double their spending power with the Double Up Food Bucks program. Community members shopping at the market this summer will enjoy a variety of activities, including cooking demonstrations from a registered dietitian at Spectrum Lakeland Health, taste tests of the fresh produce available, physical activity opportunities and games for children. “There’s no better way to strengthen our local community than to shop and eat locally,” said Jessica Schaeffer, market coordinator at the Berrien County Health Department. “By visiting the Benton Harbor Farmers Market, residents are supporting our local farmers, our economy, and our community as well as getting healthy and fresh food for themselves and their families.” The Benton Harbor Farmers Market is operated by the Berrien County Health Department and supported by grant funding from Be Healthy Berrien through the United Way of Southwest Michigan. New vendors are welcome and encouraged to contact the Berrien County Health Department for more information. Find additional information about the market and how to become a vendor at www.bchdmi.org.

Giving hope, fostering futures There are about 13,000 youth currently living in foster care in Michigan. As one can imagine, being in foster care during those formative years can be a difficult experience. Thankfully, our state is blessed with many caring families who take these youngsters in to provide them a better life. However, when the time comes for foster youth to graduate from high school and look to their future, college just might not be in the picture, not for lack of want or ability, but mostly because of financial concerns. In my view, that shouldn’t be a roadblock to a student’s career path. That is why I have long supported the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund. The fund raises money through individual and group donations, sponsorships, ticket sales, auctions and many volunteer-based fundraising events. Last year, the Legislature expanded opportunities to contribute to the fund by adding a tax checkoff on our annual state income tax forms. While this has been a successful program — the state Department of Treasury, which oversees the fund, reported it has received over a million dollars since 2012 — many of us think we could do more. Current legislation, sponsored by my colleague Sen. Peter MacGregor, would further expand the scholarship to also include trade and technical schools for those students not wishing to attend traditional four-year colleges and universities. Pursuing a career in the trades is a great option for many, and there are plenty of well-paying jobs waiting to be filled. This addition to an already great program would make it that much better, and I intend to vote for the bill when the time comes. Some of the world’s most successful business leaders, musicians, entertainers and athletes were once foster youth. Like any child, those in foster care have potential to achieve great things and Fostering Futures is a wonderful program that helps a great group of kids to fulfill their dreams. If you are interested in learning more about the Fostering Futures Scholarship, go to www.fosteringfutures-mi.com.