Columns

Edward Jones

How can you declare your Financial Independence?

 Next week, we observe the 4th of July with sparklers, picnics and parades. And living in a country that offers so much freedom, we have a lot to celebrate. But on a more personal level, you may still be working toward another type of independence – financial independence. What can you do to speed your progress toward this goal?  Here are some ideas to think about:  Free yourself from excessive fear. As an investor, it’s not hard to find something to fear. Oil prices, interest rates, political squabbles, even natural disasters – at any given time, each of these factors (and many more) might be blamed for volatility in the financial markets. In response, many people take a “time out” from investing. Don’t let fear hold you back. It takes discipline and some mental toughness to stay invested in all economic environments, but if you’re constantly jumping in and out of the market, you’re almost guaranteed to miss out on the kind of continuity and opportunities you need to move toward your financial freedom.  Liberate your investments’ growth potential. Many investors avoid investing too aggressively, wishing to lower their risk level. And that’s certainly not a bad idea. On the other hand, you can easily slip into investing too “safely” by keeping the bulk of your portfolio in investments that protect your principal but offer so little in the way of return that they may not even keep up with inflation. So, try to always maintain a reasonable percentage of growth-oriented vehicles in your portfolio. The exact amount may depend on your age and tolerance for risk, but at virtually every stage of your life, you need some growth potential.  Avoid the tyranny of debt. It’s not easy to stay out of debt. But carrying a heavy debt load is truly a burden – you’re not only concerned about making the payments, but you’re also depriving yourself of dollars that could be used to invest for your future. Try to do everything you can to live within your means and avoid racking up more debt than is necessary. And when you do whittle down your debts, put that “found” money to work. The more you put in your investment portfolio, the more opportunities you have to reach your objectives.  Free your thinking about the future. Here’s another roadblock on your journey toward financial independence: short-term thinking. Instead of seeking quick gains (which are notoriously hard to achieve), strive for steady growth. Instead of reacting to the news of the day by making impulsive moves, chart a long-term strategy that’s appropriate for your needs, and stick to it. Instead of focusing on the losses you might see on one month’s investment statement, look back over the progress you’ve made over the last five or 10 years. In short, worry less about today – and plan for tomorrow.  It will take a lot of time, effort and patience to ultimately achieve your own Financial Independence Day. But once you do, you’ll have reason to rejoice – and you won’t even need the fireworks.



Paw Paw River an example of Good Government

 I have often said that the 79th District in Southwest Michigan is a microcosm of Michigan. We have urban areas, rural areas, farms, suburban communities, beaches and tourism, manufacturing, along with small and larger businesses. If you want to do a Pure Michigan ad, just come here, we have it all in our corner of the state. And we have a pair of mighty rivers, the St. Joseph and the Paw Paw. Over the past couple of years, I have learned even more about the Paw Paw River – I had some good coaching. Guys like Jerry Willmeng, Rick Rasmussen, Joe Herman, and Ken Parrigin pointed out the problems with the Paw Paw River and saw the opportunities. The problem is downed trees, particularly in the Coloma-Watervliet-Hagar area, that make the river difficult to navigate. The opportunity is to create a water trail along the Paw Paw that could create a 62 mile slice of heaven for canoes and kayaks.  So we got to work and pulled together a group of local government leaders, advocacy groups for the river, planners, and recreation enthusiasts to identify solutions. I talked to my colleague and friend Representative Aric Nesbitt and the Governor on ways we could improve our water trail. The result is our recent announcement of a $100 thousand grant for the Paw Paw River water trail that will clear the river, identify and mark access sites, and bring outdoor enthusiasts to our version of Pure Michigan. The grant was included in the budget that has been signed by Governor Snyder.  This is another example of the best ideas coming from you. Jerry and Rick had detailed information on the Paw Paw; Ken and Joe could see the vision of what could be. My job was to listen, build support, identify some possible resources, and help get the job done. So while I understand the anger in the electorate – at the state and local level- this is how it works. And it does work. As always, call us with your questions or ideas at 888-656-0079 or by e-mail at alpscholka@house.mi.gov.

Getting the job done; two important Bipartisan Bills  now law

 Last week, President Obama signed into law two important bills, the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016 and the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. I am proud to have championed and sponsored these two critical pieces of legislation. The PIPES Act of 2016 is a reauthorization of a bipartisan bill I spearheaded with Michigan Democratic Congressman John Dingell in 2011. The bill makes common sense reforms that help to boost our economy while protecting our environment. Specifically it ensures that the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) has the tools needed to enforce existing law and increases transparency and accountability for the agency. The PIPES Act of 2016 will directly protect our Great Lakes by increasing inspections on pipelines such as Line 5, which runs under the Straits of Mackinac. Working with my colleagues on the other side of aisle, we were able to pass the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act by a margin of 403-12.  This bipartisan bill will bring the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) into the 21st Century, as we are making the first updates to the law since 1976. We came together to improve chemical safety by clearing up the hodgepodge of state rules, reducing risks for consumers, and making chemicals and products that are used every single day safer for all Americans. This bill will have a positive impact for commerce, the environment, and public health. These bills were not messaging opportunities or partisan volleys, they are substantive legislation that will positively affect all Americans. They are now law thanks to our efforts. It has always been my priority to pass common sense legislation that helps Southwest Michigan. I am proud that these two bills, now law, do just that.  To learn more about these and other important legislative issues, please visit my website: upton.house.gov


 The Fourth of July is a joyous time to celebrate our freedoms, show our pride in our country and remember the declaration that started it all.  On Monday, July 4, America will be celebrating its 240th birthday.  The Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia voted on July 2, 1776 to approve a resolution of independence.  Two days later, the Declaration of Independence was adopted with the famous words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  With brave voices, our Founding Fathers risked their lives and those of their families and friends to stand up against injustice and tyranny.  To commemorate this courageous act that changed the world, we celebrate Independence Day each July 4.  As we join together to honor America, I encourage everyone to make this Fourth of July a safe one.  Please keep summer tips in mind, such as being careful around fireworks, using sunscreen (especially on young kids) and drinking plenty of water.  Let us also remember the founding ideals behind this celebration. The principles of self-determination and liberty were at the heart of America’s founding, have shaped country for more than two centuries and will guide the decisions of future generations.  I hope you all have a fun and safe Independence Day, and may God continue to bless America. 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.

For your health & safety

Fireworks Safety

 The Berrien County Health Department wants to make sure everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July. While the Berrien County Health Department encourages attendance at one of the many public fireworks displays this summer, they also caution any person who uses fireworks.  Fireworks cause an estimated 30,100 fires each year, 7,000 injuries, 7 deaths and about $34 million in direct property loss.   Minimize your risk of harm from firework with these tips:  The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home — period. Attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.  Make sure kids never have access to fireworks. Even sparklers can reach 1,800° Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt gold.  Steer clear of other people while lighting fireworks — they have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even in jest.  Don’t allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.  Think about your pets. Animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed on the Fourth of July. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they’ll run loose or get injured.  Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed, but you’ll enjoy them much more knowing your family is safe. Take extra precautions this Fourth of July and your holiday will be a blast!

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