10-05-2017 Columns

Consider multiple factors when creating retirement plans

When you create your financial and investment strategies for retirement, what will you need to know? In other words, what factors should you consider, and how will these factors affect your investment-related decisions, before and during your retirement?

Consider the following:

Age at retirement – Not surprisingly, your retirement date likely will be heavily influenced by your financial situation – so, if you have to keep working, that’s what you’ll do. But if you have a choice in the matter, your decision could have a big impact on your investment strategy. For example, if you want to retire early, you may need to save and invest more aggressively than you would if you plan to work well past typical retirement age. Also, your retirement date may well affect when you start accepting Social Security payments; if you retire early, you might have to start taking your benefits at age 62, even though your monthly checks will be considerably smaller than if you waited until your “full” retirement age, which is likely to be 66 or 67.

Retirement lifestyle – Some people want to spend their retirement years traveling from Athens to Zanzibar, while others simply want to stay close to home and family, pursuing quiet, inexpensive hobbies. Clearly, the lifestyle you choose will affect how much you need to accumulate before you retire and how much you will need to withdraw from your various investment accounts once you do.

Second career – Some people retire from one career only to begin another. If you think you’d like to have a “second act” in your working life, you might need some additional training, or you might just put your existing expertise to work as a consultant. If you do launch a new career, it could clearly affect your financial picture. For one thing, if you add a new source of earned income, you might be able to withdraw less from your retirement accounts each year. (Keep in mind, though, that once you reach 70-1/2, you will have to take at least some withdrawals from your traditional IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan.) On the other hand, if you keep earning income, you can continue putting money into a traditional IRA (until you’re 70-1/2) or a Roth IRA (indefinitely) and possibly contribute to a retirement plan for the self-employed, such as a SEP-IRA or an “owner-only” 401(k).

Philanthropy – During your working years, you may have consistently donated money to charitable organizations. And once you retire, you may want to do even more. For one thing, of course, you can volunteer more of your time. But you also might want to set up some more permanent method of financial support. Consequently, you might want to work with your legal advisor and financial professional to incorporate elements of your investment portfolio into your estate plans to provide more support for charitable groups.

As you can see, your retirement goals can affect your investment strategy – and vice versa. So, think carefully about what you want to accomplish, plan ahead and get the help you need. It takes time and effort to achieve a successful retirement, but it’s worth it.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Flu vaccination

Berrien County Health Department officials want to remind everyone in Berrien County to get their annual flu shot. It is recommended that every person six months and older get the flu vaccination every year, especially certain groups who are considered at highest risk, like young children, pregnant women, and adults over the age of sixty-five.

Residents are reminded that they can receive flu vaccinations at a variety of locations throughout the community, including at the Berrien County Health Department, pharmacies, and at their family doctor’s office. With flu season right around the corner, Dr. Rick Johansen, Berrien County Medical Director stresses that “getting vaccinated soon has advantages since it takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop and provide protection that will last throughout the flu season.” The flu vaccine is still the single best protection against the flu and it is also helpful in reducing the length and severity of illness if someone does get the flu. Johansen reminds parents that, “while kids may not like it, getting stuck with a needle is a small price to pay to avoid having a fever, cough, sore throat and body aches for days, or even weeks.”

The Berrien County Health Department will offer flu vaccinations at their offices in Benton Harbor and Niles every Friday October 6 through December 22. Both locations will accept walk-ins, but residents are encouraged to make an appointment for their flu vaccination. High-dose flu vaccinations and pneumonia vaccinations are also offered for those over age sixty-five. Most insurance plans will cover the cost for these vaccines, but no one will be turned away for an inability to pay.

For more information, visit the Berrien County Health Department website at www.bchdmi.org or call (269) 926-7121.

Palisades to remain open until 2022

Last week’s announcement that the Palisades Nuclear Plant will continue to operate until 2022 was a big win for our community. The continued operation of Palisades will protect 600 local jobs and ensure that local governments continue to receive important revenue. As a member of the House Energy Policy Committee, this has been a very important issue for me since I took office in January.

I want to thank the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) staff and Commissioners for their thorough and detailed work throughout this process. The MPSC continues to demonstrate a commitment to diligent and transparent proceedings and their work is critical in making our state’s electric system work.

I also want to acknowledge Entergy and Consumers Energy for being good partners in our community during a difficult discussion for local leaders in Van Buren County. Entergy has a proven record of safe and reliable operation of Palisades, and I am confident they will continue to be good partners moving forward. The Palisades plant is also an important contributor to our state’s electric supply and reliability. The plant produces over 800 megawatts of virtually carbon free electricity, enough to power hundreds of thousands of homes.

While this is great news for the short-term future of our community, I will be continuing my work with local leaders to prepare for the time when the Palisades plant does indeed close. Continuing that process now will ensure that all levels of government can prepare to serve our communities well into the future. I also remain committed to developing policies that ensure Michigan has affordable, reliable, and adaptable energy supplies for generations of Michiganders to come.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns. You can reach me toll free at 1-800-577-6212, via email at BethGriffin@house.mi.gov and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RepBethGriffin.

Middle-class tax relief

Last week, leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate released historic framework for pro-growth tax reform.

Americans need tax relief and reform now more than ever. Anyone who has ever filed a tax return knows the mountains of paperwork that come with it. This is only worse for businesses, large and small. I’ve spoken with countless of folks here in Southwest Michigan who all agree that our tax code is too unwieldy, too costly, and too complicated. It’s time to change that so we can unleash American competitiveness and ingenuity, which will create more good-paying jobs and economic benefits right here. The proposed tax plan could mean 50,000 new jobs for Michigan and a $4,000 increase in income for medium-income households, according to the Tax Foundation.

This framework will deliver tax relief for middle-class families, allow workers to take home more money, and put American businesses in a better competitive position – keeping jobs here at home. I’m confident we can deliver this year. I look forward to working with my colleagues here in the House and Senate and with the administration to deliver results for families and businesses in Michigan and across the country.

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).

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among Michigan women and the second leading cause of cancer deaths.

Nearly every family, including my own, has been impacted by cancer.

My mother and sister both had breast cancer and are survivors today due to the amazing research and advances in treatment that make early detection the best chance for survival.

My sister also chose to establish a foundation, Meg’s Mission for Mammograms, to increase awareness of early detection and to offset the costs associated with screenings that some may not be able to afford.

I could not be more proud of her and her fight to make a difference.

Early detection of breast cancer is critical to improving the chance of survival, yet few women age 40 and older get annual mammograms.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I encourage all at-risk women to take the lifesaving step of getting a breast screening.

The Southwest Michigan Breast & Cervical Cancer Control Navigation Program (BCCCNP) provides cancer screening and diagnostic services, as it has for 24 years.

To be eligible for a free screening, a woman must be age 40 to 64, meet certain income guidelines, and be uninsured or have a high deductible.

For more information about the program, call BCCCNP at 269-373-5213 or toll-free at 1-888-243-4087. Details are also available at www.kalcounty.com/hcs/bcccnp.

As we recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let us celebrate those who have won their fight with breast cancer, stand in full support of those currently battling this serious disease and remember the friends and loved ones we have lost.

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.