09-12-2019 Columns


What can a financial advisor do for you?

What does investing mean to you? If the word makes you think of transactions – buying or selling stocks and bonds – you’re looking at just part of the picture. To work toward all your goals, such as a comfortable retirement, you need a comprehensive financial strategy. And for that, you might need to work with a personal financial advisor. But what, specifically, can this type of professional do for you? Here are some of the key services a financial advisor can provide: Help you invest for your retirement – An experienced financial advisor can look at all the relevant factors – your current and projected income, age at which you’d like to retire, desired retirement lifestyle – to help you determine how much you need to invest, and in which investment vehicles, to help you reach your retirement goals. To cite just one example, a financial advisor can review your employer-sponsored retirement plan and help you determine how to use it to your greatest advantage. Help you save for college – Higher education is expensive, and costs are rising every year. If you’d like to help your children – or grandchildren – go to college someday, you need to save and invest early and often. A financial advisor can suggest appropriate college savings vehicles and strategies. Help make sure you’re well-protected – If something were to happen to you, could your family maintain its standard of living? Or if you someday needed some type of long-term care, such as an extended stay in a nursing home, would you be able to maintain your financial independence, or would you be forced to rely on your adult children for help? A financial advisor can recommend and possibly provide suitable protection products and services for your needs. Help you adjust your financial strategy – Not much will stay constant in your life – and that includes your financial strategy. Any number of events – a new child, a new job, a new retirement destination – can cause you to adjust your investment moves, as will some of the factors influencing the financial markets – economic downturns, changing interest rates, new tax laws, and more. A financial advisor can help you change course as needed – and sometimes encourage you not to change course, when, in his or her professional opinion, you might be tempted to overreact to some event or other. While a financial advisor can help you in many ways, you’ll need, above all else, to feel comfortable with whomever you choose. Ultimately, you’ll want to pick someone who understands what’s important to you, and who will follow an established process to create personalized strategies and recommend specific actions needed to help achieve your goals. And you’ll want someone who will be with you in the long run – someone who will revisit your objectives and risk tolerance and who can adjust your strategies in response to changes in your life. A financial advisor can make a big difference in your life. So, work diligently to find the right one – and take full advantage of the help you’ll receive as you move toward your important goals. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Leading the Nation

Earlier this week, I introduced legislation with a bipartisan group of colleagues to continue reforming our broken criminal justice system and make Michigan a national leader in expungement policy. This year alone, we’ve taken several steps forward with bipartisan changes to Michigan’s civil asset forfeiture laws, and passing ‘Raise the Age’ legislation to end the policy of trying all 17-year-olds as adults in court. Before these bills passed, law enforcement agencies throughout Michigan could take and keep property from individuals without ever charging them with a crime, and Michigan was one of four states that tried all 17-year-old children as adults in court. That wasn’t right, and I made sure that it is no longer the case. Reforming law enforcement practices isn’t enough to ensure that Michigan becomes a leader in terms of criminal justice reform. We had to address the root cause of recidivism in our communities. We all know that a steady, good-paying job is the best way to ensure that people live crime-free and productive lives. The bill package my colleagues and I introduced this week will help remove barriers to employment and give more people a fresh start and access to new and better career opportunities. Specifically, my part of the package allows for the expungement of traffic offenses through a petition system which is currently prohibited under state law. Of course, DUIs, OWIs, and offenses that cause severe injury or death are not eligible for expungement under my bill. Working together in a bipartisan way, we’re reforming our criminal justice system the right way, right here in Michigan. As always, I’m available if you would like to discuss this or any other topic further. Feel free to contact me at (517) 373-1403 or by email at PaulineWendzel@house.mi.gov.

Library cards are a ticket to knowledge and discovery

September is Library Card Sign-up Month — a good reminder for parents and students that a library card is a great tool that can help develop a love of learning and academic achievement. For parents, today’s libraries are probably much more than you remember; they’re no longer just places to check out books. Beyond being a place to read, libraries today offer free or low-cost movies and music rentals and they allow residents to download audio and e-books with their library card. Many libraries also offer benefits like museum passes, access to advanced (and expensive) research resources like LexisNexis and computer software like the Adobe Creative Suite.

Michigan is home to hundreds of local district libraries that offer these and more resources for families to enjoy. An easy way to find your local public library is by visiting the Michigan eLibrary website at mel.org/contact and clicking “Find Your Library” for an interactive map. In addition to finding local libraries, the Michigan eLibrary serves as another convenient resource for residents. The eLibrary provides free online access to full-text articles, books and other research materials at any time. It also has an easy-to-use interlibrary loan system.

A library card unlocks a world of knowledge and discovery, and national Library Card Sign-up Month is a great time — with school having just started back up — to make sure your family has a library card. As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517) 373-6960 or emailing senklasata@senate.michigan.gov.

Infant Safe Sleep

The month of September is Infant Safe Sleep Month and a good time to recognize that infant deaths due to unsafe sleep are a leading cause of death among babies less than one year old in Michigan. More than 140 infants die every year in Michigan due to unsafe sleeping situations. Sadly, Berrien County has a sleep-related infant death rate of 2.3 deaths per 1,000 live births – far greater than the overall rate in Michigan. Sleep-related infant deaths are those where the sleep environment was likely to have contributed to the death, including deaths due to SIDS, SUIDS, and suffocation. Babies can easily suffocate while sleeping in adult beds, sharing a bed with an adult or child, sleeping on furniture, and sleeping with pillows, cushions, and blankets. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants: sleep in a safety-approved crib, bassinet, or portable crib with a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheet; sleep on surfaces separate from adults or other children free of blankets, pillows, or toys; be placed on his or her back for sleep every time. Besides safe sleep practices, other factors that may decrease the risk of sleep-related infant death include: breastfeeding, pacifier use at sleep time, and caregiver avoidance of smoking, alcohol, and illicit drug use while caring for an infant. Other recommendations include encouraging supervised “tummy time” to help your baby build strong neck and shoulder muscles. Also, make sure everyone caring for your baby knows these guidelines, including babysitters, friends, and family members. There are many resources available to the general public, parents, families, professionals, and caregivers of infants. Parents, professionals, and more can visit www.michigan.gov/ safesleep for more information.

Remembering September 11 attacks

Eighteen years ago, this week, our nation was struck with terror unlike anything we have ever witnessed.

I still remember seeing the smoke coming out of the Pentagon on my drive to work that next day and the horrors that we all felt on Capitol Hill, in Michigan, and around the nation. Thousands were killed, including one individual from our district. The victims and their families will forever be in our hearts.

Each day following as I would drive to our nation’s Capitol Building, every single overpass proudly hosted an American flag and then, the Pentagon would emerge on the horizon; still wounded from the attack. Over its large gash, an American flag was placed that served as a Band-Aid – letting us know that with time, as a nation, we shall overcome.

Earlier this year, I worked with nearly every member of Congress to pass the bipartisan September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act. This legislation extends the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and restores full benefits to the victims. We will always remember the victims and their families, the first responders, and everyone impacted by those attacks.

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).