10-18-2018 Columns

Retirement Security Week — take steps to boost your retirement security To raise awareness about the importance of saving for retirement, Congress has dedicated Oct. 21-27 as National Retirement Security Week. And the evidence shows that increasing this awareness is indeed important. Consider this: Some 50 percent of households are considered at risk of not having enough money to maintain their living standards in retirement, according to the National Retirement Risk Index, produced by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. What can you do to help yourself stay out of the “at risk” category? Here are a few suggestions: Define what retirement security means to you. Everyone has different ideas about what a secure retirement looks like. You might feel that true security means being able to remain in your current home and live independently throughout your life. Or you might only feel secure if you know you can afford to travel or help your grown children or grandchildren financially. Once you’ve identified your own vision of retirement security, you should be able to determine the financial resources you’ll need to reach your desired outcome. Create an appropriate financial strategy. To achieve your idea of a secure retirement, you can’t just hope for the best – you need to create a comprehensive financial strategy, accounting for your various sources of retirement income: Social Security, pensions, employer-sponsored retirement plans, your investment portfolio and so on. You need to know how much you can expect from these sources, and how you can strengthen them. Be diligent in your retirement savings. You could spend two or three decades as a retiree, so you’ll want to accumulate as many resources as you possibly can – and that means you’ll need to save and invest diligently during your working years. Put in as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan – and every time your salary goes up, try to increase your annual contributions. But you can also go beyond your employer-backed plan and contribute to an IRA. In all your retirement accounts, you’ll want to include a reasonable percentage of growth-oriented investments, within the limits of your personal risk tolerance. Establish an appropriate withdrawal strategy. Your retirement security isn’t just based on how much you’ve built up before you retire – it also depends on how you manage your assets and investment income during retirement. As you begin to take out money from your 401(k), IRA and other investment accounts, you need to establish a withdrawal rate appropriate for your age, retirement lifestyle and asset level. If you take out too much each year, you risk outliving your resources, but if you withdraw too little, you might be shortchanging yourself on your quality of life. You may want to work with a financial professional, who can review your entire situation – income, expenses and so on – and recommend an appropriate annual withdrawal figure. These aren’t the only keys to attaining retirement security – but they can still help you move toward that goal. Keep them in mind as the years go by. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Is your personal information secure? October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month — a time to remind us of the steps we can take to protect our critical information. While the internet has increased convenience for consumers and enhanced our ability to communicate with friends, it has also expanded the reach of criminals looking to take your money or steal your identity. According to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, Michigan residents and businesses have lost more than $36 million to cybercriminal activities so far this year, with an average victim loss of over $6,000. To help people protect themselves, I sponsored legislation that was signed in 2013 to require all three major credit reporting agencies to allow Michigan residents to place a security freeze on their credit information. Attorney General Bill Schuette has a consumer alert, “Credit Freeze; Fraud Alert; & Credit Monitoring,” available online to help residents understand the different protection measures they can take. It is one of many useful alerts available at www.michigan.gov/ag under the Resources tab. The National Cyber Security Alliance offers easy-to-use resources at StaySafeOnline.org. The site is a one-stop shop for online safety awareness and education. At www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect, the Department of Homeland Security offers useful advice and toolkits for everyone from families to businesses. I encourage all Southwest Michigan families to take steps to protect their personal information online. 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.

Lowest unemployment rate since 1969 September’s job report showed sustained economic growth and a strong labor market fueled by pro-growth tax cuts and regulatory reform. This past month, 134,000 jobs were created and the unemployment rate fell to 3.7% the lowest rate since 1969.

Recently, the House passed the Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act