06-27-2019 Columns

Investment strategy can be your ‘GPS’ as you travel toward goals Summer is here at last. For many people, it’s time to get the car ready for a long road trip. And with GPS-enabled smartphones, it’s now a lot easier to navigate these drives without getting lost. During your life, you may take many journeys – one of which is the long road you’ll travel toward your financial goals. But even on this path you can benefit from a “GPS” in the form of your goal-oriented, personalized strategy. Your investment strategy can function this way by helping answer these questions: How far do I have to go? Your smartphone’s GPS can quickly tell you how many miles you need to travel to arrive at your destination. And a well-constructed investment strategy can inform you of when you might reach a goal, such as having a desired amount of money when you retire, given your current age, earnings, sources of retirement income, and so on. What route should I follow? Your GPS will plot out your route, showing what turns you should take along the way. Similarly, to reach your desired financial outcome, your investment strategy helps guide the investment decisions you make, such as investing adequate amounts in the appropriate vehicles, including your 401(k) and IRA. What problems await me? When your smartphone’s GPS shows red on the route you’re following, you know that heavy traffic lies ahead. And your investment strategy can also help you manage bumps in the road. Particularly if it’s a strategy you’ve designed with a financial professional, who has the knowledge and technology to create various scenarios and hypothetical illustrations to account for potential difficulties – i.e., a rate of return that’s less than expected, a lower income base than you had anticipated, greater college costs than you bargained for, and so on. When should I take an alternate route? For whatever reason, you may deviate from the course plotted by your GPS – which will then helpfully re-route you. While following your investment strategy, if you make a wrong turn, so to speak – perhaps by putting insufficient funds in a retirement account or by assembling an investment mix that has become unsuitable for your risk tolerance – you may need to get back on track. As we’ve seen, some analogies exist between your smartphone’s GPS and your investment strategy. And yet, there’s also a big difference in terms of complexity. It’s simple to program your smartphone to give you the directions you need. But crafting a personalized investment strategy takes time and effort. You need to consider all your goals – college for your children, a comfortable retirement, the ability to leave the legacy you want – along with your time horizon, risk tolerance and other factors. And your investment strategy may well need to change over the years, in response to changes in your family situation, employment and even your objectives – for example, you may decide you want to retire earlier (or later) than you had originally planned. In any case, like your GPS, your investment strategy can help guide you – so make good use of it. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Roads & schools My job representing you in the Michigan House is about listening and leading. I’ve heard countless concerns about the poor condition of our roads. I’ve also heard your concerns about the governor’s idea to pay for improving them, and the vast majority of Van Buren and Kalamazoo county residents I’ve talked with say her proposed 45-cent per gallon tax increase is simply unaffordable. That’s why I joined my Republican colleagues in the House to lead the way toward a different approach in the state budget. Once fully phased in, we would have more than $800 million in additional resources each year to fix our roads – without raising taxes. As a former teacher, it’s extremely important to me that our changes do not hurt students in any way. I’m happy to say that the budget plan recently approved by the House would increase the schools budget by $200 million, including a $180 increase in the minimum pupil foundation allowance. We must also ensure support for our local communities does not fall off. Our plan includes a 2.3 percent increase in revenue sharing to help local communities provide essential public services. A key piece of the House plan is ensuring all taxes paid at the pump go to fixing our roads. We’d accomplish this by dedicating funds from a 6 percent sales tax motorists already pay on fuel purchases to fixing our roads, instead of allowing that money to be rerouted elsewhere. The House budget provides an increase in school funding and revenue sharing by focusing available tax revenue on what matters most. The House pushed for savings and efficiencies within state government – freeing up more resources for roads, schools, and other priorities. This approach works far better for Southwest Michigan families than a 45-cent tax increase. I will continue fighting for this responsible reform as the budget process continues in conjunction with the Senate and the governor.

4th of July & fireworks safety “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These are the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, read aloud to the public on July 4, 1776. We are blessed to live in the United States — a country former President Ronald Reagan called, in referring to Scripture, a shining City on a Hill and the last, best hope for man on Earth. As your state senator, I am honored to serve you and our country, and I am eager to join in celebrating America’s birthday. And as Southwest Michigan residents join with their families, friends and communities to honor and celebrate America and her independence, I encourage everyone to take a moment during their celebrations to reflect on why we do so. For many families, fireworks and the Fourth of July go hand in hand. But this year, people should be aware of new laws that may impact your use of fireworks. Local governments may reduce the number of days and limit the hours fireworks can be set off. Be sure to check with your local authorities to see when it’s legal to set off fireworks in your community. And when you are setting off fireworks, please be sure to take care and follow the proper precautions to ensure your safety and that of your loved ones as well. Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit organization that works to help families and communities keep kids safe from injuries, offers a handy list of fireworks safety tips. It can be read on the group’s website at www.safekids.org/tip/fireworks-safety-tips. Also, if you prefer a fireworks-free fourth, several Michigan state parks and recreation areas offer quieter options. Visit www.michigan.gov/dnr or call 800-MICH-VET or 800-44PARKS for more information. Whichever way you choose to celebrate, I hope you have a fun and safe Fourth of July!

Hearing and vision screenings School may be out for the summer in Berrien County, but it’s never too early to start thinking about making sure children are ready to learn next school year. Recent studies have found that undiagnosed and untreated vision and hearing issues in children are associated with significantly worse early literacy scores and other learning challenges. Children with undiagnosed hearing or vision problems will often have trouble learning to read, write, or even struggle to follow instructions. To avoid any potential learning problems, parents of children ages 3-1/2 or older with children entering preschool or kindergarten this coming fall are encouraged to attend free hearing and vision screenings throughout this summer so that there will be enough time to receive treatment, if necessary, before school starts. Not only will the screening identify issues with a child’s hearing and vision, but Michigan State Law also requires that all children entering kindergarten must have their hearing and vision tested before the first day of school. “Because children have nothing to compare their hearing and vision to, they may have problems with their eyes or ears and never even know it,” says Dawn Mitchell, Hearing and Vision Coordinator for the Berrien County Health Department. “This makes early detection of these problems so important.” No appointments are necessary to attend the free hearing and vision screenings. Additional information regarding the Michigan hearing and vision screening requirements and a full schedule of preschool/kindergarten screening dates, are available at the Berrien County Health Department website at www.bchdmi.org and Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bchdmi.

Helping Michigan farmers Historic weather conditions have caused incredible challenges for Michigan farmers. I have spoken with them, and I have listened to their concerns. The weather is beyond their control and now they are facing record production loss. Michigan is in the midst of the third wettest year in our history. Over the past year, the state has also faced heavy snowfall, extreme temperatures, flash flooding, and tornadoes – making a difficult situation even worse. The severe weather conditions have significantly delayed – or in some cases prevented – planting crops as well as endangered conditions of planted crops. In fact, according to the USDA, only 63 percent of Michigan’s corn was planted as of June 9 and only 43 percent of soybeans had been planted. Furthermore, with disruptions in harvesting and planting, livestock and dairy farmers are facing higher feed costs and shortages later in the year. So, to help our farmers, we’re taking action. Last Friday, I was able to get 13 members of the Michigan Congressional delegation to send a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him to approve a USDA Secretarial Disaster Designation. If approved, the Disaster Designation would immediately make additional assistance available to farmers in southwest Michigan and across the state. Our farmers need this help. 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).

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