10-04-2018 Columns

Can you count on a bountiful investment “harvest”? We’re officially in autumn – the season when we bring in what we planted in the spring. But the concept of planting and gathering isn’t confined to agriculture. In fact, it can be used in many walks of life, including investing. So what can you do to help work toward a successful investment “harvest”? Here is (not quite) a bushel of ideas: Plant the right “seeds.” When farmers plant specific crops, they know about what to expect – how long it will take for them to grow, how much yield they’ll produce, and so on. When you invest, you too need to plant “seeds” by choosing investments that are designed to help meet your goals. For example, to accumulate enough money for a comfortable retirement, you will probably need to own a reasonable percentage of growth-oriented vehicles, such as stocks – you generally can’t expect the type of growth you need by investing solely in fixed-income investments, such as bonds and certificates of deposit. Nurture your “crops.” Agricultural workers are diligent about cultivating their crops through proper irrigation, fertilization and weed control. And if you want to keep your investment portfolio healthy, you also must find ways to nurture it. First of all, you will need to keep adding new dollars regularly, because the larger your overall investment base, the more you can expand its growth potential. But you might also need to do some “weeding” of your own, because over the years, you may have purchased some investments that, for one reason or another, are now no longer suitable for your needs. If that’s the case, you might be better off by selling these investments and using the proceeds for new ones that could fill gaps in your portfolio. Diversify. Farmers may plant a mix of crops: corn, soybeans, flax, legumes, fruits, and so on. Consequently, if one crop fails, it won’t sink the farmer’s entire business. As an investor, you, too, need to diversify, because if you only own one type of asset class, and a financial downturn hits that asset, your portfolio can take a big hit. But spreading your dollars among stocks, bonds, cash and other investments can help reduce the impact of market volatility on your holdings. (However, diversification can’t guarantee profits or protect against all losses.) Thus far, we’ve looked at ideas on how you can create a healthy investment crop. But once it’s time to actually start harvesting your portfolio – that is, once you begin liquidating parts of it to support yourself during your retirement years – you also need to act carefully. Specifically, you need to establish a withdrawal rate that’s appropriate for your situation, based on your age, lifestyle, income sources and other factors. You could be retired for two or three decades, so it’s essential you don’t withdraw so much during your early years of retirement that you risk outliving your money. A financial professional can help you determine the rate that’s right for you. The agricultural harvest season only lasts a few weeks. But doing a good job of growing and managing your investment crop can help you reap the rewards far into the future. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Modernizing Michigan’s voter registration system Last week, my colleagues and I in the House approved a plan designed to modernize Michigan’s voter registration system by giving qualified voters the option to register to vote online. This legislation passed the House with unanimous bipartisan support. This legislation would make it more convenient for Michigan residents to register to vote while maintaining the integrity and security of Michigan’s elections. At this time, thirty-eight other states and the District of Columbia have already upgraded to online voter registration systems. It is about time for Michigan to follow suit. Registering online would make it easier for people to exercise their right to participate in our democratic process. Online voter registration systems in other states have resulted in increased government efficiency, improved accuracy, and greater security. The plan laid out in House Bills 5548 and 5549 allows people who are qualified to vote in Michigan to register to vote online if they already have a valid Michigan driver’s license or state identification card. People who register online would still be required to cast their first vote in person and present identification at that time, which is the same process for people who currently register to vote via traditional mail. The bills include several measures to ensure system security and prevent unauthorized users from accessing the online system. The Secretary of State’s online system already allows for changes in address for both driver’s license and voter registration. This website has proven to be successful and secure, and it will be simple to add the new service because information from driver’s licenses and state identification cards already exists in the system. This legislation now moves to the State Senate for further consideration. As always, I can be reached at 1-800-577-6212 or by email at BethGriffin@house.mi.gov.

Groundbreaking opioids package advances Last Friday, H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is well on its way to the President for his signature. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will help the overall efforts to advance treatment and recovery initiatives, improve prevention, protect our communities, and bolster efforts to fight deadly illicit synthetic drugs like fentanyl. I was pleased to see that H.R. 6 includes two of my provisions, H.R. 5002, the ACE Research Act, co-authored alongside Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and H.R. 5800, the Medicaid IMD ADDITIONAL INFO Act. This is a major response to a major problem. The opioid epidemic knows no bounds and we must continue working together to help those suffering. To learn more about my work to combat the opioid crisis, please visit: upton.house.gov/opioids or call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Help support local businesses by buying nearby Our efforts to create a positive environment in Michigan for business investment and job creation have resulted in the state’s lowest unemployment rate in nearly 18 years. As we work to continue that comeback, we must support our home team employers and workers. Locally owned small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities, the fuel of our economic engine and the enshrinement of the American dream. To highlight the important role small businesses play in both improving and sustaining our growing economy, the Michigan Senate adopted Senate Resolution 186 to name Oct. 5-7 as Buy Nearby Weekend. It is about encouraging residents to support local business by shopping at area businesses and keeping more dollars in our communities. Michigan retailers are responsible for 877,000 jobs across the state. If we continue the successful reforms that help make Michigan a great place to start a small business and support our local businesses, we can continue to grow that number. By shopping nearby, consumers can have an enormous impact on the ability of family-owned businesses to compete and create new opportunities. If Michigan shoppers switched just 10 percent of their out-of-state purchases to a Michigan retailer, it would create a $1.2 billion boost in economic activity and over 10,000 new jobs. Each purchase made at Michigan stores means more money for local families, more job opportunities, and a better quality of life. I encourage the people of Southwest Michigan to join me and my family in buying nearby this weekend and throughout the year. As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback on the important issues facing Michigan. You can contact me at 517-373-6960.

October is 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 a 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’s 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.