11-8-18 Columns

The key to consistent investing? Paying yourself first Consistency is a key ingredient of success in many activities – including investing. And one technique that can help you become a more consistent investor is paying yourself first. Many people have the best of intentions when it comes to investing. They know how important is it to put money away for long-term goals, especially the goal of a comfortable retirement. Yet they may only invest sporadically. Why? Because they wait until they’ve taken care of all the bills – mortgage, utilities, car payments and so on – before they feel comfortable enough to write a check for their investments. And by the time they reach that point, they might even decide there’s something more fun to do with what’s left of their money. How can you avoid falling into this habit of intermittent investing? By paying yourself first. Each month, have your bank move money from your checking or savings account into the investments of your choice. By taking this hassle-free approach, rather than counting on your ability to send a check, you can help ensure you actually do contribute to your investments, month after month. By moving the money automatically, you probably won’t miss it, and, like most people who follow this technique, you will find ways to economize, as needed, to make up for whatever you’re investing. You already may be doing something quite similar if you have a 401(k) or other retirement plan at work. You choose a percentage of your earnings to go into your plan, and the money is taken out of your paycheck. (And if you’re fortunate, your employer will match some of your contributions, too.) But even if you do have a 401(k), you’re probably also eligible to contribute to an IRA – which is a great vehicle for your pay-yourself-first strategy. You can put in up to $5,500 per year to a traditional or Roth IRA (or $6,500 if you’re 50 or older), so, if you are able to “max out” for the year, you could simply divide $5,500 or $6,500 by 12 and have either $458 or $541 moved from your savings or checking account each month into your IRA. Of course, you don’t have to put in the full $5,500 or $6,500 each year, although some IRAs do require minimum amounts to at least open the account. You might think such modest amounts won’t add up to a lot, but after a few years, you could be surprised at how much you’ve accumulated. Plus, you may not always be limited to contributing relatively small sums, because as your career advances, your earnings may increase significantly, allowing you to boost your IRA contributions continually. In any case, here’s the key point: When you invest, it’s all right to start small – as long as you keep at it. And the best way to ensure you continue investing regularly is to pay yourself first. If you do it long enough, it will become routine – and it will be one habit you won’t want to break. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Open enrollment for state services Its heating season and this week I wanted to make sure my constituents are aware of programs offered by the Michigan Agency for Energy and utility providers to help them stay warm this winter. Heating season, also known as crisis season, is from November 1 through May 31. This is the timeframe that you may be eligible for assistance with your energy bills through the Department of Health and Human Services State Emergency Relief and the Michigan Energy Assistance Program. For more information you can go to www.mibenefitsaccess.org, call 2-1-1, or contact your utility provider to see what programs they have available. We also have Programs and Protection for Senior Citizens. If an individual in the household is of the age of 65, they are eligible for the Senior Shutoff Protection Program, which would forestall future shutoffs during the heating season. Furthermore, this program ensures that if a shutoff occurred outside the heating season, service would be restored by November 1. To enroll, please contact your utility provider. Additionally, this is an important enrollment period for health care coverage. The marketplace is open from November 1 through December 15. If you need to apply for health care insurance through the state or would like to switch your plan, please go to www.healthcare.gov. Michigan residents with health insurance questions can also visit www.michigan/gov /hicap. If you have any questions about these programs or need help applying for them, please use my office as a resource. I understand navigating bureaucracy can be challenging at times and I am always available to help you. 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.