12-15-2016 Columns

Investing in Your Future


Here’s your retirement “To Do” list

 At this time of year, your life is probably more hectic than usual – so you may have assembled an impressive “to do” list. This can be a helpful tool for organizing your activities in the near future – but have you ever thought of developing a “to do” list for long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement? If not, you may want to think about it – and here are a few list-worthy items to consider:

Examine – and re-examine – your planned retirement age. You may have long counted on retiring at a certain age, but are you sure that this goal is the best one for your overall financial situation? Think about it: If you like your job, and you stayed at it for just a few more years, you could significantly boost the funds in your 401(k) or other retirement plan, and you might even be able to delay taking Social Security, which, in turn, would result in larger monthly payments.

Put a “price tag” on your retirement lifestyle. When you retire, do you want to travel the world or stay at home pursuing your hobbies? Will you truly retire from all types of work, or will you do some consulting or take up part-time employment? Once you know what your retirement lifestyle might look like, you can better estimate your costs and expenses – and this knowledge will help you determine how much you need to withdraw each year from your various retirement accounts, such as your IRA, 401(k) or other employer-based plan.

Be aware of retirement plan withdrawal rules. It is not enough just to recognize how much you need to withdraw from your retirement plans – you also must know how much you must withdraw. Once you turn 70-1/2, you generally have to start taking money out of your traditional IRA and 401(k). These required minimum distributions, or RMDs, are based on your account balance, age and other factors, but the key word to remember is “required” – if you do not withdraw the full amount of the RMD by the applicable deadline, the amount not withdrawn can be taxed at a 50% rate.

Review your health care situation. When you turn 65, you will likely be eligible for Medicare, but you will want to become familiar with what it does – and does not – cover, so you can establish an annual health care budget. And if you are planning to retire early, which might mean losing your employer-sponsored health insurance, you will need to be prepared for potentially large out-of-pocket costs.

Think about long-term care. One service that Medicare does not cover – or, at best, covers only minimally – is long-term care. If you faced an extended stay in a nursing home, the costs could be catastrophic. A financial professional may be able to help you find a way to reduce this risk.

Develop your estate plans. Estate planning can be complex, involving many different documents – such as a will, a living trust, power of attorney, etc. – so you will want to work with a legal professional to ensure you are making the right choices for yourself and your family.

By checking off these items, one by one, your retirement “to do” list will eventually get “done.” And when that happens, you may find yourself pretty well prepared to enjoy life as a retiree.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

 A couple of years ago as I was running for Speaker of the House, I asked my friend, former Senator Harry Gast, if he had any advice. As he took a drag off his cigarette he said, “Yeah, you would be a really good Appropriations Chair, why would you want the hassle of being the Speaker?” As usual, Harry was right. Being the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee has been the highlight of my career – inside and outside the Legislature.

Current Senator John Proos had similar advice when he said, “Get on Appropriations, that’s where the action is.” I want to thank Senator Proos for always listening as I was bouncing crazy ideas around and navigating the legislative process.

This is my last column, and I want to say thank you for allowing me to serve. Chances are we have not always agreed on every issue. That is a good thing. In the Constitution it says you are supposed to represent all of Michigan. I never imagined having to deal with the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy in Detroit; saving a pension system burdened with debt and unfunded liabilities; and finding the money to fix our crumbling infrastructure. I hope you sent me to Lansing to solve problems, not vote the party line and play politics. We had several major victories that impacted our community in a positive way; whether it as funding for research for our farmers, saving lives from drug overdoses, finding the dollars for our community colleges, clearing debris in the Paw Paw River, or arm wrestling with the landfill over odors. I took nearly 2,000 votes on your behalf and never missed a single one.

Finally, I want to thank the talented young people who worked for us. If you came to a town hall meeting, you met them. They dug in on the research, worked weird hours, and always told the truth. Harry would be proud. Thanks again.

 Many people think the HPV vaccine only protects girls, but this vaccine protects boys against certain HPV-related cancers, too! Girls are not the only ones affected by HPV, also known as human papillomavirus.  HPV is common in both males and females. Every year, over 9,000 males are affected by cancers caused by HPV infections that do not go away. HPV can cause cancers of the anus, mouth/throat (oropharynx), and penis in males.

Cases of anal cancer and cancers of the mouth/throat are on the rise. Many of the cancers caused by HPV infection could be prevented by HPV vaccination.

HPV vaccination is recommended by doctors and other health experts for boys at ages 11-12. HPV vaccination of boys is also likely to benefit girls by reducing the spread of HPV infection. HPV vaccine is recommended at ages 11-12 for two reasons: HPV vaccine must be given before exposure to virus for it to be effective in preventing cancers and other diseases caused by HPV. Also, HPV vaccine produces a high immune response at this age.

If you have not already vaccinated your preteens and teens, it is not too late. Ask your child’s doctor at their next appointment about getting HPV vaccine. The series is three shots over six months’ time. Take advantage of any visit to the doctor—such as an annual health checkup or physicals for sports, camp, or college—to ask the doctor about what shots your preteens and teens need.

Families who need help paying for vaccines should ask their doctor or other healthcare professional about Vaccines for Children (VFC). To learn more about the HPV vaccine for your teen boy or girl, visit www.bchdmi.org or call 269-926-7121.

‘Hunter Pink’ bill about safety

 Our rich hunting heritage plays a vital role in Michigan’s economy and way of life — with hunter participation in Michigan ranking third in the nation.

While hunting has always been a favorite tradition of many Southwest Michigan families, it all starts with safety. Wearing hunter orange when hunting with a firearm has been the law in Michigan since 1984.

However, it turns out that wearing hunter pink could be even safer.

A recent University of Wisconsin study evaluating the visibility of various colors demonstrated that hunter pink is the safest color to wear when hunting. The study found that pink was more visible to humans and less visible to deer.

That is why I supported legislation that would allow deer hunters in Michigan next year to wear pink instead of the traditional hunter orange.

House Bill 5484 would allow hunters to choose to wear “hunter pink” or other colored clothing as determined by the Natural Resources Commission (NRC), as an alternative to “hunter orange” clothing when hunting. Wisconsin and Colorado have already passed similar legislation.

The Senate-passed version would require the state to review whether hunter pink or any other colors are effective and safe for hunters to wear and would require the NRC to authorize by Oct. 1 what additional colors may be worn while hunting.

Allowing more flexibility in hunting colors could further increase safety, attract more people to try hunting and help us conserve our great outdoors for generations to come.

This would build on our efforts to make hunting as safe as possible. As a result of proactive steps taken by Michigan, the last two years marked the safest period for hunters in state history.

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.

21st Century Cures signed into law

 On Tuesday, I was at the White House for a historic moment: President Obama took pen to paper and signed into law my 21st Century Cures Act.

As you may know, 21st Century Cures was an innovative look at our healthcare system. For more than three years, my colleagues and I did something Congress is often accused of not doing: We listened. We listened to researchers, innovators, job creators, doctors, and patients. We heard from all of the stakeholders. It was a unique, transparent process that crisscrossed the country, engaging experts in every field related to health care.

What we learned was staggering. The gap between biomedical innovation and our regulatory process was widening. Of the 10,000 known diseases, 7,000 are rare, and there are treatments for only 500. We needed to change the conversation and restore urgency to boosting research and innovation. By working together, we have with 21st Century Cures.

The House of Representatives passed 21st Century Cures with an overwhelming 392-26 vote, and the Senate followed suit with a strong 94-5 vote of its own.

A new day for medical research is on the horizon; a new day of hope for patients and their loved ones. We needed to do better. And with 21st Century Cures, now signed into law, we will.

To learn more about this and other important legislative issues, please visit my website: upton.house.gov.