10-03-2019 Columns

How to become a long-term investor

It’s a fairly predictable pattern: When the stock market rises, more people invest, but after a large-scale drop, many of these same people head for the exits. But by staying out of the financial markets, and only putting their money in “safe” vehicles that offer few or no growth prospects, are they really helping themselves? Here’s the bottom line: If you’re going to make progress toward your long-term goals, you have to become a long-term investor. But how? To begin with, you need to understand that long-term investing involves accepting inevitable short-term price swings. You may not like seeing those sharp price drops, but it will help your outlook greatly if you can keep them in perspective. Studies have shown that the longer you hold your investments, the less impact market volatility can have on them. So, to reach that point where the market’s ups and downs have less of a cumulative impact on your holdings, consider the following actions: Only invest money you won’t need for a long time. If you can tell yourself that the money you are investing today is money you won’t really need for 20 or 30 years, you’ll be better prepared, psychologically, to get through the down periods of the financial markets. And as long as you aren’t overextending yourself financially in other parts of your life, you really shouldn’t need those investment dollars for a very long time. They should be earmarked for goals you hope to achieve far into the future, such as a comfortable retirement. Keep your focus on what is most important to you. If you can visualize your long-term goals, you’ll find it easier to keep working toward them. For example, if you are hoping to travel extensively when you retire, keep thinking about what that might look like. You might even research the countries you plan to visit, even if these trips are far in the future. Ultimately, if you know where you’re going and you’re determined to get there, you’ll get past the bumps in the road. Don’t spend excessive time reviewing your investment statements. A bad month or two can cause some noticeably negative numbers on your investment statements. But if you can discipline yourself to avoid spending too much time dwelling on these figures, you may feel less stress about investing – and you may even be less tempted to make short-term moves that could have unfortunate long-term results. However, if you do want to study your investment statements, don’t just stop at the most recent results. Instead, look for trends that might tell a different story. Has the number of shares you own in various investments increased significantly over time? And over the past five or 10 years, has your portfolio’s overall performance been positive? By digging a little deeper into your statements, you might gain more confidence in the course you’re following. Short-term price drops are not pleasant to experience. However, you can help yourself become a better long-term investor by following the above suggestions, so put them to work soon – and stick with them. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Respecting taxpayers, reflecting priorities

Every day, Van Buren County families have to spend within their means and budget responsibly. With the state budget approved by the Michigan Legislature, all we’re asking is for state government to do same. By eliminating wasteful spending, we can focus more resources on areas most essential to our quality of life. The Legislature-approved budget includes record funding for K-12 schools, mental health services, roads, and safe drinking water – all without a nation-high, 45-cent gas tax hike on Michigan families. The schools budget that was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support includes a record $15.2 billion for Michigan students, and further closes the gap between highest and lowest funded schools. Additional support is also provided for special education, early literacy, school safety, and several other programs. The Legislature’s budget prioritizes substance abuse prevention and treatment by increasing funding in those areas by $30 million. The budget also includes $2 million for a statewide mental health hotline and more support to rural hospitals to help patients in every corner of Michigan receive dependable health services. The budget also continues the Legislature’s commitment to improving our roads and bridges by investing an additional $400 million without tax increases or cuts to essential services. Michigan’s Department of Transportation budget will top $5 billion and provide more money for road repairs than ever before. To ensure communities statewide have safe, clean drinking water, the budget also dedicates an additional $120 million to protect drinking water against PFAS, lead, and other contaminants. This balanced budget is about respecting hard-working taxpayers. The Legislature did its part by sending the governor a responsible budget on time. I am counting on the governor to do the right thing and sign this budget into law.

National Fire Prevention Week

October 6 – 12, 2019 is National Fire Prevention Week. The theme of this year’s campaign is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” — underscoring the importance that fire prevention starts at home and that there are small but important actions everyone can take to keep themselves and those around them safe. Despite the simple steps that we should be taking to protect our homes and families, accidents do still happen. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) indicated that in 2017, U.S. fire departments responded to 357,000 home structure fires. These fires caused 2,630 fire deaths and 10,600 fire injuries. On average, seven people died in a fire in a home per day between 2012 and 2016.

These alarming figures are nothing to ignore. National Fire Prevention Week is an excellent time for your family to develop and practice your fire escape plan, as well as to ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are functional. The NFPA reports you may have as little as one to two minutes to safely escape a home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Therefore, having and practicing an escape plan is essential to helping ensure everyone gets out in time.

To find out more about Fire Prevention Week programs and activities in your neighborhood, please contact your local fire department. For more general information about Fire Prevention Week and home escape planning, visit www.fpw.org. As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517) 373-6960 or emailing senklasata@senate.michigan.gov.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Each year, over 100 women in Berrien County are diagnosed with breast cancer. While cancer can be deadly, early detection is the key to survival. The five-year survival rate among women whose breast cancer has not spread beyond the breast at the time of diagnosis is 97%. However, that rate drops to below 50% if the cancer has already spread. There are many types of treatments available depending on how soon the cancer is discovered, so the important thing to remember is that the sooner the cancer is detected, the better the outcome. To assure early detection, all women over 20 should perform monthly self breast exams and get yearly clinical breast exams, and women over 40 should have yearly mammograms. All women are at risk of breast cancer, but some women are at a higher risk, including women after menopause, those with a family history of breast cancer, and those who have never given birth. Fortunately, the Berrien County Health Department Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP) provides clinical breast exams, mammograms, pelvic exams and pap smears to eligible women 50-64 years of age. You may be eligible for the program if you are a woman age 50 or over, do not have Medicare, HMO, or PPO insurance, and meet certain income limits. You can lower your risk of breast cancer by taking care of your health in the following ways: Keep a healthy weight; exercise regularly (at least four hours a week); limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one per day; breastfeed any children you may have, if possible. Staying healthy throughout your life will lower your risk of developing cancer, and improve your chances of surviving cancer if it occurs. For more information on breast cancer prevention, call the Health Department at (269) 926-7121 or visit www.bchdmi.org.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Every October, the country works together on a common cause: breast cancer awareness. We have lost too many wives, mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers and other strong women in our lives to this horrible disease. One in eight women in this country will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. We dedicate each October to continuing our efforts to raise awareness and find a cure. We should remember that this fight does not simply stop at the end of October. We must continue to invest in research so we can find a cure not just for breast cancer – but for all diseases.

That’s why I worked hard to pass my bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act, and we’re already seeing results. This legislation invests billions of dollars to help research and develop cures for some of the world’s worst diseases. Thanks to 21st Century Cures, we’re able to better prevent and screen cancer. And moving forward, we need to continue dedicating our time, energy and resources into this important work.

This October, I encourage all of us to do our part to help spread awareness. While creating awareness, it is also important to take charge of your health and empower others. For more information about breast cancer and steps you can take to help prevent cancer, please visit www.preventcancer.org. 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).