10-11-2018 Columns

When should you see a financial professional? It can be challenging to achieve your financial objectives. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone – but when should you seek help? Here is some of the key life events in which you might be able to benefit from the services of a financial professional: First professional job – Eventually, you will land that first job, which will offer benefits and a 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. Since you may not have any experience with a 401(k), you may have several questions: How much should I contribute? What sorts of investments should I choose? When should I change my investment selections? A financial professional can help you review your plan and explain the aspects that may affect your investment choices. Marriage – When you get married, you and your spouse may decide to merge your finances, including your investments. But if each of you brings similar investments to the table, you might create some redundancies. A financial professional can look at your respective portfolios and recommend ways to diversify. Generally, the more diversified you are, the greater your protection against market downturns that primarily hit one type of asset class. (However, while diversification can help reduce the impact of market volatility, it can’t guarantee profits or protect against all losses.) Children – Once you have children, you’ll have new responsibilities – and you’ll have some new financial issues that should be addressed. If something happened to you, could your children still have the same lifestyle and educational opportunities? Would they even be able to stay in the same home? To help ensure your children’s security, you may need to add more life and disability insurance. While life insurance could help pay for your children’s education, you also should prepare for education costs as if you will be around. So you may want to consider an education savings investment such as a 529 plan. A financial professional can help you with your insurance and education-funding needs. Retirement – Once you retire, you will face a variety of financial decisions, but here’s one of the most important ones: How much money should you withdraw each year from your retirement accounts? To choose an annual withdrawal rate that’s appropriate for your needs, you should consider several factors: How much you have in your retirement accounts, how much Social Security you’ll receive, what other sources of income (such as part-time work or consulting) you might have, your age at retirement, your spouse’s projected retirement assets, your retirement lifestyle, and so on. It might not be easy for you to consider all these elements and then arrive at a suitable withdrawal rate, but a financial professional has the experience, training and technology to help determine a figure that could work for you. These aren’t all the life events that may lead you to contact a financial professional, but they should give you a pretty good idea of the type of assistance you could expect over time. So, consider reaching out for the help you need, when you need it. Doing so could help make your life easier as you move toward your financial goals. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Combating the opioid crisis The statistics of opioid abuse and overdoses are truly shocking. Even here in our community, prescriptions meant to help with pain relief have ended up causing families more grief than one can imagine. I am proud to say that the Legislature has taken preventative steps to help combat this crisis, such as enacting House Bills 4323, 4403-4408, and Senate Bills 47, 166-167, 270, and 273-274. The Michigan House included $700,000 in the 2018 budget going to support statewide programs that target opioid addiction and abuse. We have also enacted measures to allow pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription under certain circumstances, to create new student curricula regarding the risks of prescription drug abuse, and to require providers to counsel minors on the risks of opioid drugs when prescribed. The Michigan Senate also included new reporting measures to the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS), establishing stricter bona fide prescriber-patient relationships, and having more information provided for treatment upon treating an opioid-related overdose. This legislation also allows a pharmacist to partially fill a prescription under certain circumstances, and limits opioid prescriptions to only a seven-day supply for acute pain to hopefully decrease addictions. Creating new laws to combat this is only one piece of the puzzle. To solve this crisis we must also spread awareness and share information on the services our state provides. To that end, I hope you will join me Thursday, October 25 for my Opioid Awareness town hall at Kinexus (449 W Main St., Benton Harbor) from 5:30-7 p.m. to learn more about the services Berrien County has for its residents. I hope to see you on the 25th and as always, it is an honor to serve you! If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at either 517-373-1403 or KimLaSata@house.mi.gov.

Flu vaccinations Berrien County health officials are urging residents to get vaccinated against the flu. Every person six months and older should get the flu vaccine every year, especially certain groups who are considered at highest risk, like young children, pregnant women, and adults who have chronic health conditions or are over the age of sixty-five. Anyone can get the flu, including healthy children and adults. Receiving a flu vaccine is the most effective method of preventing the flu. If you receive a vaccination and still get the flu, the vaccine may make flu symptoms milder and the length of illness shorter. The vaccine will also prevent you from spreading the flu to others, including those at risk of more serious illness. According to the CDC, during the 2017-2018 flu season the flu caused over 80,000 deaths nationwide, including 180 influenza-related pediatric deaths, and over 900,000 hospitalizations resulting in one of the worst years for flu activity in decades in the United States. Because it takes approximately two weeks for the flu shot to provide full protection against the influenza virus, it is recommended that residents receive their vaccine before the end of October. There are many locations where residents can receive a flu vaccine, including the Berrien County Health Department, area pharmacies, and through their family doctor’s office. Most insurance plans fully cover the cost of the annual flu vaccine. In addition to vaccination, everyone can help prevent flu with frequent hand washing and by covering coughs and sneezes. If you do get sick, it is recommended that you stay home from work, school, or other public gatherings to help reduce the spread of illness. The Berrien County Health Department will offer walk-in flu vaccinations at their office in Benton Harbor every Friday starting on October 12 through December. 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.

PFAS roundtable in Kalamazoo County Last Friday, I joined other local, state, and federal officials in Kalamazoo County for a PFAS roundtable with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to get answers and find solutions to ensure safe drinking water for Southwest Michigan. Through the roundtable, the EPA was able to see first-hand the extent of the PFAS contamination problem in Michigan. Safe drinking water is not a partisan issue and I remain committed to holding the EPA accountable and finding solutions.

I recently introduced the PFAS Federal Facility Accountability Act alongside Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Tim Walberg (MI-7), and Dan Kildee (MI-5) to urge federal agencies to cooperate with States as PFAS contamination is detected in communities near federal installations. This bipartisan bill would facilitate testing, monitoring, removal, and remediation when these chemicals are detected in the water and soil. To learn more about my work on this PFAS issue, please visit: upton.house.gov/PFAS or call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Raising awareness of breast cancer 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. 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 25 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 on the program, residents can 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.