11-15-2018 Columns

Time to think about year-end investment moves We’ve still got a couple of months left in 2018, but it’s not too soon to start thinking about some year-end investment moves that might benefit you. Here are a few possibilities (although not all will apply to your situation): Add to your IRA. For the 2018 tax year, you can put up to $5,500 into your traditional or Roth IRA (assuming you are eligible), or $6,500 if you’re 50 or older. If you haven’t reached this limit, consider adding some money. You have until April 15, 2019, to contribute to your IRA for 2018, but why wait until the last minute? Increase your 401(k) contributions. You already may be investing in your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan, but you might be able to bump up your contributions for the rest of the year, if it’s allowed. Of course, you should always put in enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered. Take your RMDs. If you are 70-1/2 or older, you must start taking withdrawals – called required minimum distributions, or RMDs – from your traditional IRA and your 401(k) or similar retirement plan. Generally, you must take these RMDs by December 31 every year. But if you turned 70-1/2 in 2018, you can wait until April 1, 2019, until you take your first RMD. However, you will then have to take a second RMD (the one for age 71) by December 31, 2019. Taking two RMDs in one year could give you an unexpectedly large taxable income for the year, possibly bumping you into a higher tax bracket and affecting the amount of your Social Security benefits subject to taxes. So, if you are considering delaying your first RMD, consult with your tax advisor. Make changes in response to life events. In 2018, did you experience a major life event, such as a marriage, divorce or addition of a child? Or did you change jobs or retire? Any of these events could lead you to adjust your investment plans, so now may be the time to do so, possibly with the help of a financial professional. Review your investment mix. At least once a year, it’s a good idea to review your investment mix to ensure it’s still suitable for your goals and risk tolerance. Sometimes, even without your taking any action, your portfolio might change in ways you hadn’t expected. For example, suppose you wanted your portfolio to contain 60% stocks and 40% bonds and other investments. After a period of rising prices, though, the value of your stocks may have increased so much that they now occupy 65% of your portfolio – which means you may be taking on more risk than you had originally intended. Consequently, you may need to rebalance your portfolio to get back to your original 60% to 40% ratios. (Keep in mind that these figures are just for illustration; everyone’s ideal portfolio mix will depend on their individual situations.) These aren’t the only year-end moves you may want to consider, but they can help you close out 2018 on a positive note. Plus, they can serve as a reminder that you need to be vigilant as you keep working toward your financial goals. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Honoring our veterans This Veterans Day, we marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. So much in our world has changed over the course of the last one hundred years. One thing, however, that has remained constant is the dedication and sacrifice of the men and women who have answered the call to serve our great nation in the United State Military. We owe all of them a tremendous debt of gratitude. We enjoy the blessings of freedom because of our veterans and the men and women who continue to serve today.

As a citizen and elected official, I take very seriously my obligation to work to provide veterans and their families with the resources and services they have rightly earned. As a state, we have made strides in improving veterans’ services, but I know that work is never done. The Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center operated by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) is a great resource for veterans and their families and one that I wanted to make sure all of the readers of this paper know about. Veterans and their families can reach the Veterans Resource Service Center by phone at 1-800-MICH-VET or 1-800-642-4838. The MVAA website at www.michiganveterans.com is also a great resource.

It continues to be my great honor and privilege to work on behalf of the hardworking people of Southwest Michigan, especially our active military members and veterans. If you ever have any questions about veteran services or benefits, or other state government questions or concerns, I encourage you to contact me via phone toll free at 800-577-6212 or via email at BethGriffin@house.mi.gov.

Have a safe, successful deer hunting season Hunting has always been a favorite tradition and pastime of many Southwest Michigan families. While the regular firearm season from Nov. 15-30 is the most popular deer hunting season, it’s not the only one. Archery season continues Dec. 1 to Jan. 1; muzzle-loading season in southern Michigan is Dec. 7-23; and late antlerless firearm season runs from Dec. 17 to Jan. 1. This information and more is included in my 2018 Hunting Guide, available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com under “Publications.” Additional hunting guides, with current rules and regulations, can be found at www.michigan.gov/hunting. On the site, visitors can also buy hunting licenses 24 hours a day. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a deadly neurological disease found in deer and elk. It poses a serious threat to our deer population and a hunting industry that contributes $2.3 billion to our economy. To date, over 35,000 deer in Michigan have been tested for CWD, which has been confirmed in 64 deer. The state has taken constructive steps aimed at stopping the spread of CWD, including a new state law prohibiting hunters from bringing certain parts of an animal carcass here from out of state. It exempts certain parts that do not pose a risk, such as hides, deboned meat, finished taxidermy products and antlers. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/cwd. I urge hunters to keep safety in mind. Most hunting-associated injuries and casualties are preventable. By hunting safely, we all can help ensure an enjoyable time for the entire family and help protect our hunting heritage for generations to come. Happy hunting! I hope everyone has a safe and successful season. 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.

Great American Smokeout The Great American Smokeout is a nationwide event sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Held on the third Thursday of each November, it is a day where smokers are asked to put down their cigarettes, cigars, spit tobacco or any tobacco product and prove to themselves that they really can live without them for one day. More Americans try to quit smoking on this day than any other day of the year, including New Year’s! While smoking rates have gone down considerably, there are still 27% of Berrien County residents who smoke every day, and another 11% smoke on some days. Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for your health. In fact, smoking is responsible for the most cancer deaths in the U.S. The majority of people who do smoke have attempted to quit at least once, but sometimes it can take some extra support. Once you have decided to quit, it is important to have a plan, and make sure others are supporting you. The first thing to do is set a date to quit (the Great American Smokeout is a great one!). Then, you should decide on a method to help you quit (cold turkey, patches/gum, medication, counseling, classes). The Berrien County Health Department has a variety of cessation resources available for you to get started or even to help someone you love get started on the journey of living tobacco free. Smoking Cessation classes are also available through Lakeland Health Community Health & Wellness. For more information, visit the Berrien County Health Department website at www.bchdmi.org or call 269-926-7121.

Celebrating Veterans Day This week our nation celebrated Veterans Day. Veterans Day is a particularly special day where we take time to honor, express gratitude, and reflect on the sacrifices of those who have worn our country’s uniform. One of my top priorities since coming to Congress is helping veterans and their families receive the care and benefits they have earned. This Congress, the House of Representatives has been working diligently to pass legislation that would improve programs and treatments available to veterans, increase career and educational opportunities, and reform and hold the VA accountable.

One of our most important achievements was enacting the VA Mission Act, which modernizes our VA healthcare system by streamlining the VA’s Community Care programs into one cohesive program, creates a non-partisan process for reviewing the VA’s assets, and expands access to the Family Caregiver Program. To learn more about my work for veterans 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).

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