10-31-2019 Columns

Millennials may need to boost life insurance

If you’re a millennial – born between 1981 and 1996 – you’re either in the very early or relatively early stages of your career, and as the old song goes, you’ve got a lot of living to do. Still, it’s not too soon to think about a financial issue you may have overlooked: the need for life insurance. Regarding this topic, millennials need to ask three key questions: When should I purchase insurance? The answer to this question depends somewhat on your stage of millennial-ism. If you’re a young millennial, perhaps just out of college, single, and living in an apartment, your need for life insurance may not be that great. After all, you may well have other, more pressing financial needs, such as paying off your student loans. But if you’re an older millennial, and you’ve got a mortgage, a spouse and – especially – children, then you unquestionably need insurance, because you’ve got a lot to protect. How much do I need? Millennials who own life insurance have, on average, $100,000 in coverage, according to New York Life’s 2018 Life Insurance Gap Survey. But that same survey found that millennials themselves reported they need coverage worth about $450,000, leaving an insurance deficit of approximately $350,000. That’s a pretty big gap, but of course, these figures are averages and may not apply to your situation. Still, you should know how much insurance you require. You might have heard that you need life insurance worth about seven or eight times your annual salary. And while this isn’t a terrible estimate, it doesn’t apply to everyone, because everyone’s situation is different. A financial professional can look at various factors – your age, your marital status, number of children, size of mortgage, etc. – to help you arrive at an appropriate level of coverage. Keep in mind, also, that your employer may offer life insurance as an employee benefit. However, it might be insufficient for your needs, especially if you have a family, and it will probably end if you leave your job. What type of life insurance should I get? Many people initially find life insurance to be confusing, but there are basically two types: term and permanent. As its name suggests, term insurance covers a given time period, such as 10 or 15 years, and provides only a death benefit. It’s generally quite affordable, especially when you’re young and healthy. Permanent insurance, on the other hand, offers a death benefit and a savings component that allows you to build cash value. Consequently, the premiums are higher than those of term insurance. Again, a financial professional can help you determine which type of insurance is most appropriate for your needs. Thus far, we’ve only been talking about life insurance. But you may also need other types of protection, such as disability insurance, which can replace part of your income should you become ill or incapacitated. And you may eventually want to explore long-term care insurance, which can help cover you for the enormous costs of an extended nursing home stay. You should at least consider all forms of insurance as part of your overall financial strategy. The future is unknowable – and as a millennial, you’ve got plenty of future ahead of you. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Defending school safety

On Sept. 30, Gov. Whitmer slashed millions of dollars from critical government services in an attempt to chastise the Legislature for refusing to include her unrealistic 45-cent gas tax increase in the budget. Instead, she’s hurt some of our most vulnerable citizens with her vindictive actions. One of her cuts targeted school safety grants intended to help keep our students and teachers safe. I’m truly surprised that our governor didn’t see the magnitude of the need for these grants. As a parent and a teacher, I understand just how important it is that every child feel safe going to school each day and that every parent have peace of mind sending them there. This funding could have been used for much needed panic alert systems, intercom systems, secure locks and doorways, security cameras, shatter-resistant windows, and two-way radios, among other security upgrades. Schools would also have had the option to utilize a statewide panic button app. This cut was a significant misstep by the governor and I’ve introduced a plan to fully restore the funding that she eliminated. The legislation is currently under consideration by the House Appropriations Committee as we try to work with the governor to ensure she will not funnel this and other important funding into her own personal priorities, which she did with over $600 million originally intended to go towards programs such as Jobs for Michigan Graduates and local bridge repairs. I urge the governor to reconsider her decision to cut this program and support school safety when the legislation crosses her desk. Other essential programs and services she cut include: PFAS remediation, county veteran services, sheriff road patrols, career technical education equipment, resources for children with autism, critical access hospitals, rural access hospitals, newborn health care, summer school reading programs, and Michigan tuition grants. She calls these funding measures “pork projects,” implying they are unnecessary and frivolous. I couldn’t disagree more. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns. You can reach me at 1-800-577-6212, via email at BethGriffin@house.mi.gov and on facebook.com/RepBethGriffin.

Speaker Pelosi’s partisan drug pricing bill is not the right solution

One of the many concerns I have heard from folks at home is the high cost of prescription drugs. Legislation was passed earlier this year to help address the major causes of the high prices, including increased transparency and ending practices that delayed generics from getting to the market. These bills – along with a complete redesign of the Part D program – provide a good start to addressing this concern that both parties agree needs a solution. Unfortunately, all collaboration stopped when Speaker Pelosi tried to advance her partisan drug pricing bill. Instead of working together on solutions that both parties could actually support that would reduce the price of drugs, the Democrats left Republicans out of the policy-making process. Plus, the Speaker’s plan would stifle innovation during a critical time when new and revolutionary cures and treatments are being developed. The reality is we have divided government. We need bipartisan solutions. Moving forward, I hope we can come together with ideas from both sides of the aisle that can actually help our constituents right away without taking away the promise of new cures for the people that we love. 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).

Hunting heritage a tradition worth keeping

Michigan has a strong hunting heritage. From bear, deer, elk and small game to upland birds, turkey, waterfowl and many more, our state is cherished by outdoorsmen and women for its abundant natural resources, both in terms of wildlife and hunting locales. Hunting is a respected tradition, passed down from generation to generation — a wonderful pastime for family and friends alike. In addition to the fellowship aspect of hunting, it is also an economical way to put healthy and affordable food on our tables, while helping to responsibly manage wildlife populations. Beyond these traditional aspects of hunting, however, is the effect it has on our modern economy. Hunting has an immense, positive impact that contributes more than $2 billion to the state’s economy and helps support about 35,000 jobs. Unfortunately, hunter participation has experienced a decline for many years and, in the case of whitetail deer, this has far-reaching implications — overpopulation and the spread of illnesses, like chronic wasting disease, continue to be a problem throughout the state. While the state Department of Natural Resources has made strides to increase hunter participation, ultimately the future of hunting as a Michigan tradition is up to hunters themselves. Traditions only exist if they are passed on, and so, if you are a hunter, I’d encourage you to introduce a relative or friend to the sport. Or if you grew up hunting and haven’t gone in years, perhaps think about getting out there again. Doing so may just help preserve this storied part of our state’s heritage. For more information on hunting in Michigan, download the 2019 Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest found at Michigan.gov/DNR. Hunting licenses may be purchased throughout the state at local licensing retailers or online at www.mdnr-elicense.com.

Diabetes awareness

November is National Diabetes Month. Make it your time to take charge of your type 1 or type 2 diabetes for a longer, healthier life. Preventive care for people with diabetes – and for the risk factors that cause related health problems – has improved significantly over the past 20 years, and people are living longer and better with the disease. But living longer can mean having other health problems longer, too. Good management over a lifetime is key, starting with the day you’re told you have diabetes. More than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, but 1 out of 4 don’t know they have it. Most people with diabetes – 9 out of 10 – have type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well and is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels. If you have any of these risk factors, ask your doctor if you should be tested for diabetes. The sooner you find out, the sooner you can start making healthy changes that will benefit you now and in the future. Risk factors include: Being overweight; being 45 years or older; having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes; being physically active less than 3 times a week. Race and ethnicity also affect your risk. African Americans, Hispanic/ Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes. Managing diabetes from the beginning can mean fewer health problems later on. It’s a balancing act – food, activity, medicine, and blood sugar levels – but one you can master. Manage your diabetes throughout the day by: Following a healthy eating plan, including eating more fruits and vegetables and less sugar and salt; getting physically active – 10 to 20 minutes a day is better than only an hour once a week; taking diabetes medicine as prescribed by your doctor; testing your blood sugar regularly to understand and track how food, activity, and medicine affect your blood sugar levels. Living with diabetes is challenging, but it’s important to remember that making healthy choices can have a big effect on the course of the disease – and your quality of life.