06-21-2018 Columns

Don’t let your investments go on “vacation” Summer is here – and so is vacation season. Americans spend a lot on their summer getaways – more than $100 billion in 2017 alone, as reported in Travel and Leisure magazine. When you hit the road, you will enjoy getting away from your regular tasks, but there’s one part of your life that should never take a break – your investments. To keep your investments working consistently and efficiently for you, consider these suggestions: Match the right investment with the right “job.” You hire an electrician to install a light fixture, you employ a plumber to clear a clogged drain, and you would not expect either one to work on the other’s project. In a way, this view of a division of labor is similar to how you might look at different investments. In general, you purchase stocks with the hope of achieving the growth necessary to help you meet long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement. On the other hand, when you purchase certain fixed-rate investments such as certificates of deposit (CDs) or money market accounts, you know they won’t provide as much growth potential, but are available to fund a short-term goal – such as a dream vacation. Evaluate investments’ performance relative to your goals. Some people think the only way to evaluate their investments’ performance is to track them against a well-known market index, such as the S&P 500. However, using an index as a measuring stick has some drawbacks, one of which is the lack of a personal connection to your situation. Look at it this way: In many types of organizations, you typically go through performance reviews, where your work is assessed in terms of how well it helped you move toward your goals – and you can follow the same process with your investments. Specifically, you can measure their performance by how effective they are in helping you move toward your financial objectives. For example, if you need your portfolio to provide you with a certain rate of return to meet specific retirement goals at a designated age, but you find that you are not currently on track toward meeting these goals, you may need to adjust your investment mix to potentially provide you with a higher return. Be aware, though, that seeking higher return potential will likely mean taking on more risk. You may want to consult with a financial professional to make sure you find a risk/reward ratio suitable for your goals and risk tolerance. Look for hard-working investments. Some investments work especially hard. Some stocks, or investments containing stocks, pay dividends. Instead of taking the dividends, you can choose to reinvest them, purchasing even more shares – and increased share ownership is one key to helping build financial resources for the long term. Dividend reinvestment is typically automatic, so once you have chosen this option, there’s really no extra work on your part. (Keep in mind, though, that companies are not obligated to pay dividends, and they can be reduced or eliminated at any time.) In the investing arena, as in many endeavors, hard work can be rewarding. So look for opportunities to keep your investments gainfully employed throughout your life. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

School Aid budget Last week the House approved a state-record School Aid budget focused on students and families and I wanted to share a few highlights that made me proud to have been a part of its formation and passage. This year’s K-12 education budget allocates between $120-240 more per child in Michigan’s schools and I’m pleased that the majority of our schools in the communities I serve will be getting the maximum $240 per student. More than a quarter of the overall budget proposal goes to K-12 schools with this year’s funding representing the largest per-student increase in 15 years. Record-high resources will help benefit struggling schools and allow already successful schools to continue to flourish. Coloma Community Schools, Benton Harbor Charter School, Benton Harbor Area Schools, St. Joseph Public Schools and Watervliet School District will all get the maximum per-pupil increases, helping students and teachers during the upcoming school year. The budget also included investments in school safety for reviewing and upgrading security equipment in every school building across Michigan, allocating more money for at-risk student programs to help financially and academically challenged students improve their abilities in reading and math, more money for early literacy education including added instructional time and teacher coaching to help improve K-3 students’ reading proficiency, and increasing opportunities to train students for 21st century jobs and higher wages through a $100 million program Gov. Rick Snyder has named the Marshall Plan for Talent, a Skilled Trades Training Fund, and the Jobs for Michigan Graduates Program. I am pleased that we’re improving early literacy, investing in skilled trades, and helping all of our K-12 students and teachers in the classroom. This budget will go a long way in helping make Michigan a top-10 state. Email KimLaSata@house.mi.gov. It is an honor to serve you!

Time for immigration reform is now I’ve long supported comprehensive immigration reform. And, in light of the news about heartbreaking family separations at the United States/Mexico border, reforms couldn’t come sooner. Let me be clear: As it relates to separating innocent children from their parents at our border, it’s time for this ugly and inhumane practice to end… now. For some time I’ve said that separating kids from their parents is the wrong approach. The right approach is legislation to address the root issues.

This week, I’m hopeful that the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on legislation that would keep families together, give long-term stability to Dreamers, and improve our border security.

This is why I previously signed onto a “discharge petition” that would have allowed for fair and full debate on different immigration proposals to address these issues. It’s past time to start the process of fixing this broken system. It’s time for Congress to do its job. The American people deserve a functioning immigration system that supports American jobs, families, and security.

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).

Beach and water safety As summer is in full swing, families will be enjoying outdoor recreation activities, which often include swimming in pools, inland lakes, and Lake Michigan. While swimming is a fun activity for all ages (and good exercise!), it is important to know about water safety before getting wet. BCHD staff inspects beaches and samples bathing water each week from Memorial Day to Labor Day at several public beaches along Lake Michigan in Berrien County to make sure that the water is safe to enjoy. Residents and visitors can find the publically available beach water results at www.bchdmi.org. Thousands of people in the United States die each year from drowning. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of accidental death for children under five. These tragedies can be prevented by using safe practices around the water. General water safety tips: Set depth restrictions for all family members based on swimming abilities. Inexperienced swimmers should stay in shallower water. Never dive headfirst unless an area is clearly marked as safe for diving, and there are no obstructions. Always wear a life jacket when on any boat. Children should wear coast-guard approved life jackets called Personal Floatation Devices when around deep water. “Swim wings,” “water noodles” and other inflatable toys are NOT to be used as life-saving floatation devices. Use the “buddy system.” Never swim alone or allow your child to. Don’t drink alcohol while swimming or boating. It will slow your reaction time and diminish your swimming ability. Pay attention to local weather forecasts, and leave the water at the first sign of bad weather. For more information call the Health Department at (269) 926-7121 or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bchdmi.