12-29-2016 Columns

Investing in Your Future


Consider some New Year’s (financial) resolutions

 We are just about ready to open the door to 2017, so you might be thinking about some New Year’s resolutions. What is on your list this year? More visits to the gym? Learning a new language? Mastering the perfect beef bourguignon? All worthy ambitions, of course, but why not also include some financial resolutions?

By reviewing your needs and goals, you can identify some resolutions that are particularly relevant to your own situation. But here are a few suggestions:

Build an emergency fund. If you needed a major car repair or a new furnace, or faced some other large, unanticipated expense, could you cope with it? If you did not have the money readily available, you might have to dip into those investments intended for long-term goals, such as retirement. Instead, build an emergency fund containing three to six months’ worth of living expenses, kept in a liquid, low-risk account.

Cut down on debts. It is not easy to cut down on one’s debt load. But if you can find ways to reduce your debts, you will help improve your overall financial picture. Many debts are not “useful” – that is, they do not carry any tax advantages – so every dollar you spend to pay down those debts is a dollar you could use to invest for your future.

Boost contributions to your retirement plan. If your employer offers a 401(k) or similar retirement plan, take full advantage of it. Your earnings have the potential to grow tax deferred and your contributions may lower your taxable income. Plus, most plans offer a selection of investment options, so you can choose the investment mix that fits your objectives and risk tolerance. Therefore, if your salary goes up this year, or if you think you can find other ways to free up some money, increase your contributions to your retirement plan.

Review your portfolio. Is your investment portfolio still on track toward helping you meet your long-term goals? If not, you may need to make some changes. You will also want to study your investment mix to make sure it still accurately reflects your risk tolerance. Over time, and often without your taking any significant actions, your portfolio can “drift” to a place where you are taking on too much risk – or even too little risk – for your needs and long-term objectives. If this happens, you may need to “rebalance” your holdings.

Avoid mistakes. None of us can avoid all mistakes, in life and in our investment activities. But as an investor, you will clearly benefit from minimizing your errors. For example, it is generally a mistake to jump out of the market in response to a period of volatility. If you wait for things to “calm down” before investing again, you might miss out on the opportunity to participate in the next market rally.

Think long term. Keep this in mind: You are not investing for today or tomorrow, but for many years from now. Try to keep a long-term focus when making all your key investment decisions. By doing so, you can avoid overreacting to short-term developments, such as a sudden drop in the market or a “momentous” political event that actually decreases in importance as time goes by.

Try to follow these financial resolutions as best as you can. You could make 2017 a year to remember.

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

A look back at a productive 2016

All told, I was able to respond to 31,255 constituent letters and emails this year, and took part in 463 meetings with constituents. We were also able to help 1,196 constituents through casework and gave 172 U.S. Capitol tours. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance with a federal agency please do not hesitate to contact one of my district offices to see if we can help. In 2017, this same focus on building, supporting, and leading our Southwest Michigan community will continue.

On the legislative front, we were able to garner major accomplishments such as a national defense bill that aims to provide the largest pay-raise to our troops in six years, water infrastructure improvements and updates that specifically helps the residents of Flint, meaningful mental health reforms, and I was proud to have 17 additional legislative initiatives signed into law.

Lastly, 2016 finally saw the culmination of the groundbreaking 21st Century Cures Act that will bring faster cures to patients in need. Simply put, patients needed a game-changer – and it is our hope that history will look back at our efforts as the moment in time when the tide finally turned against disease.

Whether on the home-front, or in the halls of Congress, we worked together in 2016 to accomplish tremendous things for the American people. To learn more about our record of success in 2016, please visit my website: upton.house.gov/2016.

Have a healthy New Year!

 Happy New Year from everyone at the Berrien County Health Department! This time of year many people take the opportunity to make a resolution to do something better for themselves. The top four resolutions people make are to: increase exercise, be more conscientious about work or school, develop better eating habits, and stop smoking, drinking, or using drugs (including caffeine).

One of the biggest mistakes people make when creating a resolution is not setting goals. Research shows us that people who write down their goals and look at them every day are much more likely to achieve their goals over people who do not write goals down.  Take a few minutes every morning and write down your goals for the day, week, month, year, 10 years.

How to stick to your resolutions:

Be realistic. Choose a goal that you know you can reach.

Reward yourself. Allow yourself something you enjoy when you reach a goal (just do not make it food if you have been dieting!).

Have a plan. Know how you will deal with temptations, such as to have a cigarette or skip exercising.

Talk to others for support. Ask friends and family to help you stick to your resolutions. Find someone who shares your resolution.

For more information, call the Berrien County Health Department at (269) 926-7121 or visit us online at www.bchdmi.org or Facebook at www.facebook.com/bchdmi.

Landmark energy policy puts Michigan consumers first

Most importantly, the pro-active plan puts Michigan consumers first and will empower our state to determine for ourselves which of the fuels are most cost-effective to meet our current and future energy needs and goals.

I was proud to work together with Sen. Mike Nofs on a next generation energy policy that is not about the best interest of a few companies, organizations or individuals — but is about doing what is best for the entire state.

Public Acts 341 and 342 of 2016 will ensure providers have enough energy to meet demand; end mandates; require different types of fuels to compete with one another to see what is most cost effective; and create a statewide goal of 35 percent of resources derived from renewables or waste reduction.

Southwest Michigan consumers will have the continued assurance that the lights will turn on and that we will use a mix of the best and most affordable fuels.

Residents now will also be able to utilize technology, such as an iPod or iPhone, to control their thermostats, washers and dryers when energy is the cheapest — through voluntary demand response programs.

One of our key objectives was to encourage more competitive rates.

I want to thank Sen. Nofs for his leadership on putting together a comprehensive plan that provides for fairness, adaptability, reliability and competitively priced clean energy.

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.