November 19, 2017

Columns

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Investing in Your Future

Diversification is still important for Retirees

 During your working years, your primary investment goal is generally growth – you need your money to grow so that you can eventually afford the comfortable retirement lifestyle you have envisioned. But when you retire, should you change course and adjust your investment strategy from “offense” to “defense”? Actually, it is not quite that simple. To begin with, even while you are working, you do not want your portfolio to be completely filled with growth-oriented investments, such as stocks. If it were, you would likely be taking on a degree of investment risk that is too high, because, as you may know, stocks will fluctuate in price – sometimes significantly. And if you only own stocks, you could take a big hit during a market downturn. That is why you need to have an array of investments – stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit (CDs) and so on. By spreading your investment dollars this way, you can give yourself more opportunities for success while reducing the impact of volatility on your portfolio. (Keep in mind, though, that diversification, by itself, cannot guarantee profits or protect against all losses.) Now, let’s fast-forward to your retirement date. Once you retire, you may need to look at your investment portfolio somewhat differently – instead of “building it up,” you may now want to think of “making it last.” So, your first impression might be that instead of maintaining the diversified portfolio you had when you were working, you need to switch to predominantly “safe” investments, such as CDs and Treasury bonds, to reduce the risk of losing principal. And such a strategy might indeed be effective – if your retirement were only going to last a year or so. But the chances are reasonably good that you could be retired for two, or possibly even three, decades. If that is the case, then you will have to deal with a threat to your lifestyle that you might not have considered: inflation. We have had low inflation for several years, but that could change in the future. Consider this: Even at a relatively low 3% inflation rate, prices double roughly every 25 years. And depending on your personal needs and spending patterns, your personal inflation rate might be even higher. To protect yourself against inflation, you will find that investments such as CDs and Treasury bonds are typically not much help. In fact, in a low-rate environment, your returns on these investments may not even keep up with inflation; much less keep you ahead of it. That is not to say they have no value – they can provide you with an income stream and help lower your overall investment risk. But to defend your purchasing power, you will still need some growth potential in your investment portfolio during your retirement years. Your exact percentage of stocks and other growth-oriented investments will depend on a variety of factors – your projected longevity, other sources of income, family situation, risk tolerance and so on. You may want to consult with a financial professional to ensure that your portfolio mix is suitable for your needs.  Many things may change in your life when you retire – but the need for investment diversification is not one of them. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

news from lansing col head 2-2-06Education is key to restorative justice, safer communities

 The vast majority of our prisoners will eventually return home, making it vital that we give them the best chance to become productive citizens.  We recently heard from Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) Director Heidi Washington about a federal government pilot program that allows prisoners to receive Pell grants to pursue a two- or four-year degree at certain approved schools.  Our state was awarded the most grant positions in the nation, and Jackson College was the single largest recipient in the country.  The federal requirements for prisoners to receive a Pell Grant is that they be within five years of their earliest release date, otherwise be eligible for a Pell Grant and have a GED or high school diploma. However, it is likely that the DOC will put more restrictions in place in order to find and help the people most likely to be successful.  I applaud Director Washington for her work. She is an innovative leader who has helped reduce our prison population and is helping prisoners as they prepare to return to society.  Another program that the DOC is doing in that effort is the Vocational Village program in Ionia. It helps give useful skills to inmates who are nearing their release date.  The Pell grants and the Vocational Village program are just the type of restorative justice efforts that can help us reduce the cost of the system while also helping break the cycle of crime.  Two other key parts of this effort are the businesses willing to give a second chance to former prisoners as they return home and the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development’s resources on available jobs in our state.  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.

 

aric nesbitt column head 02-2015Elected Officials Meeting Brings  Resources to Community

 The empowerment of each individual is a fundamental part of American governance, allowing public officials to best meet the needs of their constituents, and providing citizens with an opportunity to hold their elected officials accountable. This is why I was proud to host my fifth annual “Local Elected Officials Meeting.”  I have hosted this meeting for five years now as an opportunity to update school, village, city, township, and county officials in Southwest Michigan on state and federal government programs and resources. Various state agencies made presentations to the local officials in a continuation of my effort to keep an open dialogue and make state and federal government more accessible to local office-holders. More than sixty officials attended the event, which took place at the Van Buren Intermediate School District Conference Center in Lawrence.  The meeting is both informative and productive for officials throughout our community, but it is also a great opportunity for our state and federal partners to share updates and resources. These gatherings are essential for effective government and help hold all levels accountable.  In order to continue the success Michigan has seen over the past five years, it is necessary that the common-sense values of Southwest Michigan be shared through continued interaction with your elected officials in all tiers of government. That is why I continue to engage in these “Elected Officials Meetings”, organize telephone town halls throughout the year, and work to host events like the Senior and Veterans Expo in May, to make sure our community groups and hardworking families have a voice.  As always, I encourage friends and neighbors throughout Southwest Michigan to contact me with any feedback on legislative issues or if help is needed working with state government agencies. I can be reached at (517) 373-0839 or via email at AricNesbitt@house.mi.gov.

 

Record of Successupton col header

 It is my job to represent everyone here in Southwest Michigan and it is something I take very seriously. In recent months, we have had several bipartisan victories, part of a larger “Record of Success,” I wanted to make sure you were aware of.  We started with chemical safety reform. This was a multi-year effort to update our chemical safety laws. The last update was in 1976. We worked with all of the stakeholders to reach a common sense compromise that improves chemical safety by clearing up the hodgepodge of state rules, reduces risks for consumers, and makes chemicals and products used every single day safer for all Americans. Our bill passed the House by a 403-12 vote and the president signed it into law in June.  Next up was pipeline safety reform. We all know that a pipeline accident can happen in the blink of an eye, which is why it is important we work together to make sure standards are tough and those responsible for a spill are held accountable. This year we worked to reauthorize a bill I helped get signed into law in 2011. We made improvements and got another bipartisan bill to improve our pipeline infrastructure and safety signed into law again in June.  For too long, mental health issues have been relegated to the shadows. No more. After more than a year of bipartisan work – including hearings and roundtables with those suffering, their families, doctors, and researchers – we advanced a bill to achieve real mental health reforms by a vote of 422-2 here in the House. I am confident the Senate will begin their work on this important topic soon.  We know the opioid abuse epidemic has touched our community and communities across the country. It is a tragic situation that demands real leadership and action. That is precisely what we did. We listened to the experts on what we could do to help, and then advanced a bipartisan bill in the House with more than 400 “yes” votes. The Senate then followed with an overwhelming 92-2 vote. The president recently signed this important bill into law.  As our Record of Success grows, our work to promote common sense solutions continues. I will not let you down.  To learn more about this and other important legislative issues, please visit my website: upton.house.gov.

 

For your health & safety

Immunizations for pre-teens and teens

 As they get older, kids are at increased risk for some infections. Plus the protection provided by some of the childhood vaccines begins to wear off, so kids need a booster dose. The vaccines for preteens and teens can help protect your kids, as well as their friends, community and other family members.  There are four recommended vaccines that preteens should get when they are 11 – 12 years old. If you have an older kid like a teen, they will need a booster dose of one of the shots. Plus it is not too late to get any shots they may have missed. You can use any health care visit, including sports physicals or some sick visits, to get the shots your kids need. The vaccines for preteens and teens are:  HPV vaccine for both boys and girls, which protects against the types of HPV that most commonly cause cancer. HPV can cause cancers of the cervix, vulva and vagina in women and cancers of the penis in men. In both women and men, HPV also causes mouth/throat cancer, anal cancer and genital warts.  Tdap vaccine, which is a booster against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Pertussis, or whooping cough, can keep kids out of school and activities for weeks. It can also be spread to babies, and this can be very dangerous and sometimes deadly.  Meningococcal vaccine, which protects individuals against meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria and is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis – a serious infection around the brain and spinal cord.  Influenza (flu) vaccine, because even healthy kids can get the flu, and it can be serious. All kids, including your preteens and teens, should get the flu vaccine every year.  Talk with your doctor or a nurse at the Berrien County Health Department about the vaccines for preteens and teens. Your teens need you to continue protecting their health by getting them these important and life-saving vaccines. Learn more about immunizations at the Berrien County Health Department website www.bchdmi.org.