The Caledonia Argus http://hometownargus.com The Caledonia Argus covers community news, sports, current events and provides advertising and information for the cities of Caledonia, Eitzen, and Brownsville; Independent School District 299 and Houston County, Minnesota. Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:48:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Money Planning in 9 Steps http://www.adviceiq.com/content/money-planning-9-steps http://www.adviceiq.com/content/money-planning-9-steps#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:32:01 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=aef691645b00c509c2ee677a84f16e85 Everybody wants a solid financial plan, yet more than 40% of Americans don’t have one. Unless you develop a formal strategy – such as a written plan – you might well find any financial goal elusive. Here are nine tips for planning.

1. Define your goals. Decide exactly what you need your finances to do and the strategies you need to make your money work best.

For example, do you have children who will attend college one day? You must save the money to make that happen. At what age do you hope to retire? This answer helps you decide how much time you have left to save and then to establish how much you must save to meet this goal.

Do you want to get out of debt? Strategy: Add up all your liabilities and determine how much you can afford to pay toward the balance and how much time paying off will take.

It can be helpful to work with a financial planner to help you target the most worthwhile and realistic goals.

2. Set up a budget. Any type of financial planning requires creating surplus money in your finances. This is why a budget is so important, enabling you to see exactly how much money you spend each month compared with what you earn.

You might at first think that a budget adds stress; often over the long run it does the opposite. As planner Adam Broughton of PlanningBetterLives.com remarks:

“Being in control of your spending gives you the ability to say ‘yes’ to the things that really make life meaningful. You are also able to enjoy your expenditures more when you eliminate the stress of constant overspending.”

3. Cut expenses. With a budget in place, you can prioritize outlays and redirect the flow of your money.

Identify necessary expenses that you must pay: mortgage, debt balances, insurance premiums and taxes, to name a few. The next category can be important expenses that you can control to an extent, such as groceries, utilities and outlays related to work or school. You can almost always cut these to some degree.

The third category: purely discretionary spending, such as entertainment, vacations and recreational shopping. Desirable but not necessary, this spending you can eliminate without threatening your survival.

Once you put your expenses in the proper categories, you can make reductions or cuts clearly to free your cash for savings or to debt payoff.

4. Create an emergency fund. Basically a bank savings or brokerage money market account holding your liquid cash, such a fund exists for an unexpected expense or income disruption. You not only weather a brief storm but can also potentially avoid borrowing. Generally, your emergency fund needs to contain enough cash to cover three to six months’ living expenses.

5. Get out of debt. The cash flow you create in your budget after cutting expenses you can now funnel into paying off debt.

You can use different methods to accomplish this, including Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball: You target your smallest debt first, paying it off before moving on to your next-smallest debt and so on. Among the several advantages:

  • Each balance paid off – regardless of how small – represents visible progress and a moral victory.
  • Each balance you whittle down completely eliminates a monthly payment, increasing your cash flow to take on the next obligation.
  • By the time you get to your largest amount owed, you enjoy a greater ability to pay it off because all your other debts are gone.

6. Save for retirement. Hopefully you already put away something for your golden years, even just a little bit each month. As you get out of debt, your cash stockpile increases, ultimately meaning you can save a lot more for retirement.

As with every other financial goal, the most important step in saving for retirement is getting started. Begin with contributions in amounts that don’t significantly hurt your overall finances. Then increase your contribution each year.

You can direct future pay increases into your retirement contribution or redirect debt payments once you pay off those debts. If your overall finances are strong, you can also feel confident contributing a lump sum to your retirement plan, such as income tax refunds and bonus checks.

7. Save for other goals. A host of reasons exist to save money other than emergency or retirement funds, such as saving for children’s college education, buying a new car (so you can buy one without going into debt) or for major home repairs.

Working hard to get out of debt does you little good if you only plunge back in when faced with a major expense – the merry-go-round many people get stuck on. Prevention through saving is your best strategy.

8. Carry adequate insurance. Many contingencies you can’t possibly save enough for, and that’s the whole purpose of insurance. Coverage comes in various types, including life, health, auto and homeowners’ insurance, in addition to business insurance if you are self-employed.

And often overlooked benefit of insurance: protection of your assets. For example, homeowners’ insurance enables you to repair your residence after damage from certain catastrophes without having to drain other financial resources. Auto insurance likewise pays claims you otherwise must cover out of pocket. Typically you can use life insurance is typically used to replace the lost wages of a deceased wage earner.

9. Set up a will. A properly drawn and executed will is your final direction regarding your financial affairs. At a minimum, if you don’t set up a will your survivors can end up in probate court, working out some sort of a deal to distribute your assets. At worst, assets you intended for your heirs just disappear.

An estate attorney can help; you can modify your will later as your circumstances change. You may also gain a sense of peace on completing your will, just like you can from a proper financial plan.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Jeff Rose, CFP, is the founder of Alliance Wealth Management in Carbondale, Ill., and also is the founder of the website Good Financial Cents and Life Insurance by Jeff.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

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Everybody wants a solid financial plan, yet more than 40% of Americans don’t have one. Unless you develop a formal strategy – such as a written plan – you might well find any financial goal elusive. Here are nine tips for planning.

1. Define your goals. Decide exactly what you need your finances to do and the strategies you need to make your money work best.

For example, do you have children who will attend college one day? You must save the money to make that happen. At what age do you hope to retire? This answer helps you decide how much time you have left to save and then to establish how much you must save to meet this goal.

Do you want to get out of debt? Strategy: Add up all your liabilities and determine how much you can afford to pay toward the balance and how much time paying off will take.

It can be helpful to work with a financial planner to help you target the most worthwhile and realistic goals.

2. Set up a budget. Any type of financial planning requires creating surplus money in your finances. This is why a budget is so important, enabling you to see exactly how much money you spend each month compared with what you earn.

You might at first think that a budget adds stress; often over the long run it does the opposite. As planner Adam Broughton of PlanningBetterLives.com remarks:

“Being in control of your spending gives you the ability to say ‘yes’ to the things that really make life meaningful. You are also able to enjoy your expenditures more when you eliminate the stress of constant overspending.”

3. Cut expenses. With a budget in place, you can prioritize outlays and redirect the flow of your money.

Identify necessary expenses that you must pay: mortgage, debt balances, insurance premiums and taxes, to name a few. The next category can be important expenses that you can control to an extent, such as groceries, utilities and outlays related to work or school. You can almost always cut these to some degree.

The third category: purely discretionary spending, such as entertainment, vacations and recreational shopping. Desirable but not necessary, this spending you can eliminate without threatening your survival.

Once you put your expenses in the proper categories, you can make reductions or cuts clearly to free your cash for savings or to debt payoff.

4. Create an emergency fund. Basically a bank savings or brokerage money market account holding your liquid cash, such a fund exists for an unexpected expense or income disruption. You not only weather a brief storm but can also potentially avoid borrowing. Generally, your emergency fund needs to contain enough cash to cover three to six months’ living expenses.

5. Get out of debt. The cash flow you create in your budget after cutting expenses you can now funnel into paying off debt.

You can use different methods to accomplish this, including Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball: You target your smallest debt first, paying it off before moving on to your next-smallest debt and so on. Among the several advantages:

  • Each balance paid off – regardless of how small – represents visible progress and a moral victory.
  • Each balance you whittle down completely eliminates a monthly payment, increasing your cash flow to take on the next obligation.
  • By the time you get to your largest amount owed, you enjoy a greater ability to pay it off because all your other debts are gone.

6. Save for retirement. Hopefully you already put away something for your golden years, even just a little bit each month. As you get out of debt, your cash stockpile increases, ultimately meaning you can save a lot more for retirement.

As with every other financial goal, the most important step in saving for retirement is getting started. Begin with contributions in amounts that don’t significantly hurt your overall finances. Then increase your contribution each year.

You can direct future pay increases into your retirement contribution or redirect debt payments once you pay off those debts. If your overall finances are strong, you can also feel confident contributing a lump sum to your retirement plan, such as income tax refunds and bonus checks.

7. Save for other goals. A host of reasons exist to save money other than emergency or retirement funds, such as saving for children’s college education, buying a new car (so you can buy one without going into debt) or for major home repairs.

Working hard to get out of debt does you little good if you only plunge back in when faced with a major expense – the merry-go-round many people get stuck on. Prevention through saving is your best strategy.

8. Carry adequate insurance. Many contingencies you can’t possibly save enough for, and that’s the whole purpose of insurance. Coverage comes in various types, including life, health, auto and homeowners’ insurance, in addition to business insurance if you are self-employed.

And often overlooked benefit of insurance: protection of your assets. For example, homeowners’ insurance enables you to repair your residence after damage from certain catastrophes without having to drain other financial resources. Auto insurance likewise pays claims you otherwise must cover out of pocket. Typically you can use life insurance is typically used to replace the lost wages of a deceased wage earner.

9. Set up a will. A properly drawn and executed will is your final direction regarding your financial affairs. At a minimum, if you don’t set up a will your survivors can end up in probate court, working out some sort of a deal to distribute your assets. At worst, assets you intended for your heirs just disappear.

An estate attorney can help; you can modify your will later as your circumstances change. You may also gain a sense of peace on completing your will, just like you can from a proper financial plan.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Jeff Rose, CFP, is the founder of Alliance Wealth Management in Carbondale, Ill., and also is the founder of the website Good Financial Cents and Life Insurance by Jeff.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

]]>
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Video: Hometown Sound Episode 6 with The Rum River Brass http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/video-hometown-sound-episode-6-with-the-rum-river-brass/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/video-hometown-sound-episode-6-with-the-rum-river-brass/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:05:15 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=40181

The Rum River Brass

The Rum River Brass plays “Amazing Grace,” and while they hope the audience thinks it is a sweet sound, they say the best part is having fun performing together as a band. They plays a wide variety of music such as jazz, electric repertoire, pop, ragtime, classical transcriptions, and pop. This quintet has players from the northern part of the Twin Cities and was formed in 2006.  The band has played over 60 performances for events including weddings, concerts out in the park and in local cities and corporate functions. The Rum River Brass became a band when five members from the North Suburban Concert Band were asked to perform brass quintet music for the band’s “Pops”concert.

Scott McCullough plays the trumpet, cornet, and piccolo trumpet. He has been playing the trumpet since elementary school. He was also a member of the University of Michigan Marching Band. McCullough has written many of the quintet’s arrangements and says he doesn’t want to be done playing his instrument anytime soon.

“I said once up a time I don’t want to ever say I used to play the trumpet,” said McCullough.

Ron Chamberlain plays the trumpet and the flugelhorn and comes from a musical family. He began playing with his dad’s band, “Big Stoop,” when he was 13 years old. Now, he is the leader of that band. He also writes many of the arrangements for the Rum River Brass.

  While they are performing they hope the audience knows they are having a good time.

“One of the most appreciated comments we’ve gotten and we get it fairly often is you guys are having a great time up there, you’re having fun, and that’s what this is really all about,” said McCullough.

To find more information on the band visit their website at http://www.rumriverbrass.com/. ]]> http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/video-hometown-sound-episode-6-with-the-rum-river-brass/feed/ 0 Handling Market Turmoil http://www.adviceiq.com/content/handling-market-turmoil http://www.adviceiq.com/content/handling-market-turmoil#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 16:30:58 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=61e1877ea56369bad1610675097994dc Stoicism amid market turmoil comes hard when a tsunami of dire investment headlines and plunging prices hits you, as we’ve seen in the last few days. Your financial future rides on Wall Street. What should you do?

Let’s look at recent history. In 2008, the problem was credit risk fears and collapsing home prices – along with oil hitting $100 a barrel. This time the culprits are different, with investors worried about China’s economic growth worries and falling oil prices.

The effect remains the same: double-digit drops, the bear market’s roar announcing a nasty market correction, the first in four years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now down 12% for the year.

Consider the mistake some investors made exiting markets in 2008-09. Those investors’ selling locked in steep losses and often were too nervous to get back into markets as prices rebounded. The result: a double drubbing.

Similarly, in the 2008 crash a well-known advisor liquidated his clients’ accounts in August, saving millions of dollars. This advisor wasn’t shy about his impeccable market timing.

Too bad that a number of years passed and this same advisor continued to sit on cash in his client portfolios. His clients began to complain they were missing the bull market rebound; some left him. He soon retired.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind in the current market turmoil:

Market timing fails. Stocks outperform other asset classes – even considering bouts of steep decline.

Investing in stocks means remaining disciplined through both good times and bad; no formula exists for consistently timing markets to buy at the bottom and sell at the top. Investors who attempt such timing often get sub-par returns because they actually often end up doing the opposite: buying high and selling low.

Free lunches are a myth. Higher historic returns on stocks go hand in hand with higher volatility. Conversely, we expect a lower return from bonds in exchange for lower volatility. Pursuing higher long-term returns means accepting accompanying risk, period.

My clients’ portfolios are based on unique financial and personal circumstances. This conceptual purpose doesn’t change if stocks correct 10% or rise 10%. We do rebalance regularly. We certainly don’t buy or sell in a panic.

While fundamentals are little changed, lower prices make stocks more attractive, if anything.

Diversification remains key. Proper asset allocation is the one free lunch in the investment world. The magical effects of diversification – which help smooth returns over time – persist.

During a massive selloff, stocks, bonds, commodities, real estate and other asset classes may all exhibit weakness but this is a short-term phenomenon. Once we move beyond the urge to excessively sell in a panic, the benefits of diversification again become obvious.

Avoid emotional reactions. Your core portfolio needs to be sufficiently diversified (multiple assets classes with lower correlations) to give you the highest probability of achieving your goals for the reasons important to you. Stick to your core portfolio and look to rebalance so you remain on track longer after you forget the scary headlines.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Eve Kaplan, CFP, is a fee-only advisor in Berkeley Heights, N.J. Kaplan Financial Advisors is a Registered Investment Advisor in New Jersey and New York.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

]]> Stoicism amid market turmoil comes hard when a tsunami of dire investment headlines and plunging prices hits you, as we’ve seen in the last few days. Your financial future rides on Wall Street. What should you do?

Let’s look at recent history. In 2008, the problem was credit risk fears and collapsing home prices – along with oil hitting $100 a barrel. This time the culprits are different, with investors worried about China’s economic growth worries and falling oil prices.

The effect remains the same: double-digit drops, the bear market’s roar announcing a nasty market correction, the first in four years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now down 12% for the year.

Consider the mistake some investors made exiting markets in 2008-09. Those investors’ selling locked in steep losses and often were too nervous to get back into markets as prices rebounded. The result: a double drubbing.

Similarly, in the 2008 crash a well-known advisor liquidated his clients’ accounts in August, saving millions of dollars. This advisor wasn’t shy about his impeccable market timing.

Too bad that a number of years passed and this same advisor continued to sit on cash in his client portfolios. His clients began to complain they were missing the bull market rebound; some left him. He soon retired.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind in the current market turmoil:

Market timing fails. Stocks outperform other asset classes – even considering bouts of steep decline.

Investing in stocks means remaining disciplined through both good times and bad; no formula exists for consistently timing markets to buy at the bottom and sell at the top. Investors who attempt such timing often get sub-par returns because they actually often end up doing the opposite: buying high and selling low.

Free lunches are a myth. Higher historic returns on stocks go hand in hand with higher volatility. Conversely, we expect a lower return from bonds in exchange for lower volatility. Pursuing higher long-term returns means accepting accompanying risk, period.

My clients’ portfolios are based on unique financial and personal circumstances. This conceptual purpose doesn’t change if stocks correct 10% or rise 10%. We do rebalance regularly. We certainly don’t buy or sell in a panic.

While fundamentals are little changed, lower prices make stocks more attractive, if anything.

Diversification remains key. Proper asset allocation is the one free lunch in the investment world. The magical effects of diversification – which help smooth returns over time – persist.

During a massive selloff, stocks, bonds, commodities, real estate and other asset classes may all exhibit weakness but this is a short-term phenomenon. Once we move beyond the urge to excessively sell in a panic, the benefits of diversification again become obvious.

Avoid emotional reactions. Your core portfolio needs to be sufficiently diversified (multiple assets classes with lower correlations) to give you the highest probability of achieving your goals for the reasons important to you. Stick to your core portfolio and look to rebalance so you remain on track longer after you forget the scary headlines.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Eve Kaplan, CFP, is a fee-only advisor in Berkeley Heights, N.J. Kaplan Financial Advisors is a Registered Investment Advisor in New Jersey and New York.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

]]>
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The Fed and Its Broken Record http://www.adviceiq.com/content/fed-and-its-broken-record http://www.adviceiq.com/content/fed-and-its-broken-record#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 13:32:01 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=9b41089e0f6be4d9e3c7440c03946c36 The Fed likes to keep people in the dark about when it will raise interest rates. Will this occur at their September meeting? October? December? To further the obfuscation, the board barely bothers to change the language in Fed monthly missives, which are supposed to discuss the factors that will compel it to finally act.

Recently, we reported that the Federal Reserve’s policy statement was almost identical to its previous one.  Now the Federal Open Market Committee, its policy-making arm, has issued another statement – and it’s almost identical to the last one.

Granted, there’s not much to say.  The economy has flat-lined, the Fed has run out of policy tools and it’s late summer, a time when many people spend more time avoiding work than actually working.  But this is the Federal Reserve Board we’re talking about – the people who are in charge of our economy, since neither President Barack Obama nor Congress want to do much about it.

So for those of you who remember what a “carbon copy” is, the latest policy statement is a carbon copy of the last one. 

“The most notable change,” as Goldman Sachs’ Chief Economist Jan Hatzius wrote, “was the addition of the word ‘some’ in the committee’s description of desired progress in the labor market.  Specifically, the June FOMC statement said that it will be appropriate to raise interest rates ‘when it has seen further improvement in the labor market’ (and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to two percent).  Today’s statement said that rate hikes would be appropriate after ‘some further improvement in the labor market.’ ”

So “further” became “some further.” 

Goldman Sachs interpreted this to mean that the FOMC “requires a smaller cumulative improvement in labor market slack” before raising interest rates.

Keep in mind that Goldman Sachs employs financial experts, not experts in the English language.  They haven’t a clue about what the Fed means when it adds the word “some” to a phrase.  What the coupling of the words “some further” tells us is that the Fed should hire someone who can write to edit its policy statements and Goldman Sachs should stick to interpreting financial data, because Hatzius is just winging it.

Zerohedge, the financial website, recommends that “if you are currently unemployed, discuss what ‘some’ means and you may soon have a job.”

In the interest of doing our part in promoting full employment, we’ll note that the American Heritage Dictionary defines “some” as “an unspecified number or quantity.”  “Further” means “more distant in time or space.”  So the Fed statement means, “We’re not going to tell you when we’re going to raise interest rates, except to say that we’re not ready to do so now.”

Of course, there’s a reason that Fed policy statements are as telling as a press conference with New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick.  Any real information is subject to misinterpretation.  If the Fed was straightforward and honest about its plans, it could cause the equivalent of another “taper tantrum.”  When then-Fed Chair Ben Bernanke announced the obvious in 2013 – that the Fed would taper its bond purchases in the not-too-distant future – the markets went a little nuts. The current Fed chair would like to prevent another tantrum.

Of course, we think the real reason the Fed issues the same policy statement month after month is just plain laziness.

Think about it.  The FOMC gets together, as it must, even during the summer.  The members talk, pontificate, argue and presumably eat well.  Then, because media know they’re meeting, they have to issue a policy statement.  The policy statement has to be written at the end of the meeting, so it can tell the American public what happened during the meeting.  By that point, Fed members are anxious to book it back home to their summer homes in the Hamptons (or wherever they happen to have summer homes).

It’s unlikely that everyone on the FOMC can ever agree on anything, except for the need to not spook investors by actually saying something real, so they review the most recent policy statement, change a few words and call it a day. 

If you disagree, consider the other changes to the Fed policy statement, as Goldman Sach’s Hatzius notes:

“(T)he committee upgraded its description of activity in the housing market (‘additional improvement’ vs. ‘some improvement’), but left its characterization of consumer spending unchanged (‘has been moderate’). A reference to stabilizing energy prices was removed. The statement also revised the discussion of utilization in the labor market. Previously the statement said underutilization ‘diminished somewhat’ (implicitly over the intermeeting period). Today’s statement said that underutilization ‘diminished since early this year’.”

No one who’s not a member of the FOMC – including Hatzius – really knows what happens at those meetings, and the FOMC likes it that way, so it issues policy statements that say nothing.  Nothing is revealed, but analysts, economists and journalists are paid to report what happened, so they go along with the charade.

If you want deeper meaning, forget the Fed’s policy statements and go read some haiku.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Brenda P. Wenning is president of Wenning Investments LLC in Newton, Mass. 

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

]]>
The Fed likes to keep people in the dark about when it will raise interest rates. Will this occur at their September meeting? October? December? To further the obfuscation, the board barely bothers to change the language in Fed monthly missives, which are supposed to discuss the factors that will compel it to finally act.

Recently, we reported that the Federal Reserve’s policy statement was almost identical to its previous one.  Now the Federal Open Market Committee, its policy-making arm, has issued another statement – and it’s almost identical to the last one.

Granted, there’s not much to say.  The economy has flat-lined, the Fed has run out of policy tools and it’s late summer, a time when many people spend more time avoiding work than actually working.  But this is the Federal Reserve Board we’re talking about – the people who are in charge of our economy, since neither President Barack Obama nor Congress want to do much about it.

So for those of you who remember what a “carbon copy” is, the latest policy statement is a carbon copy of the last one. 

“The most notable change,” as Goldman Sachs’ Chief Economist Jan Hatzius wrote, “was the addition of the word ‘some’ in the committee’s description of desired progress in the labor market.  Specifically, the June FOMC statement said that it will be appropriate to raise interest rates ‘when it has seen further improvement in the labor market’ (and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to two percent).  Today’s statement said that rate hikes would be appropriate after ‘some further improvement in the labor market.’ ”

So “further” became “some further.” 

Goldman Sachs interpreted this to mean that the FOMC “requires a smaller cumulative improvement in labor market slack” before raising interest rates.

Keep in mind that Goldman Sachs employs financial experts, not experts in the English language.  They haven’t a clue about what the Fed means when it adds the word “some” to a phrase.  What the coupling of the words “some further” tells us is that the Fed should hire someone who can write to edit its policy statements and Goldman Sachs should stick to interpreting financial data, because Hatzius is just winging it.

Zerohedge, the financial website, recommends that “if you are currently unemployed, discuss what ‘some’ means and you may soon have a job.”

In the interest of doing our part in promoting full employment, we’ll note that the American Heritage Dictionary defines “some” as “an unspecified number or quantity.”  “Further” means “more distant in time or space.”  So the Fed statement means, “We’re not going to tell you when we’re going to raise interest rates, except to say that we’re not ready to do so now.”

Of course, there’s a reason that Fed policy statements are as telling as a press conference with New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick.  Any real information is subject to misinterpretation.  If the Fed was straightforward and honest about its plans, it could cause the equivalent of another “taper tantrum.”  When then-Fed Chair Ben Bernanke announced the obvious in 2013 – that the Fed would taper its bond purchases in the not-too-distant future – the markets went a little nuts. The current Fed chair would like to prevent another tantrum.

Of course, we think the real reason the Fed issues the same policy statement month after month is just plain laziness.

Think about it.  The FOMC gets together, as it must, even during the summer.  The members talk, pontificate, argue and presumably eat well.  Then, because media know they’re meeting, they have to issue a policy statement.  The policy statement has to be written at the end of the meeting, so it can tell the American public what happened during the meeting.  By that point, Fed members are anxious to book it back home to their summer homes in the Hamptons (or wherever they happen to have summer homes).

It’s unlikely that everyone on the FOMC can ever agree on anything, except for the need to not spook investors by actually saying something real, so they review the most recent policy statement, change a few words and call it a day. 

If you disagree, consider the other changes to the Fed policy statement, as Goldman Sach’s Hatzius notes:

“(T)he committee upgraded its description of activity in the housing market (‘additional improvement’ vs. ‘some improvement’), but left its characterization of consumer spending unchanged (‘has been moderate’). A reference to stabilizing energy prices was removed. The statement also revised the discussion of utilization in the labor market. Previously the statement said underutilization ‘diminished somewhat’ (implicitly over the intermeeting period). Today’s statement said that underutilization ‘diminished since early this year’.”

No one who’s not a member of the FOMC – including Hatzius – really knows what happens at those meetings, and the FOMC likes it that way, so it issues policy statements that say nothing.  Nothing is revealed, but analysts, economists and journalists are paid to report what happened, so they go along with the charade.

If you want deeper meaning, forget the Fed’s policy statements and go read some haiku.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Brenda P. Wenning is president of Wenning Investments LLC in Newton, Mass. 

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

]]>
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Darelius http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/darelius/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/darelius/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:27:55 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=40172 NOTICE OF AND ORDER FOR HEARING ON PETITION FOR DETERMINATION OF DESCENT
STATE OF MINNESOTA
COUNTY OF HOUSTON
DISTRICT COURT
THIRD JUDICIAL DISTRICT
Court File No.: 28-PR-15-576
In Re: Estate of Bruce Darelius,
Decedent.
Linda Darelius has filed a Petition for Determination of Descent. It is Ordered that on September 15, 2015 at 2:00 P.M., a hearing will be held in this Court at 306 S. Marshall St, Caledonia, Minnesota, on the petition.
The petition represents that the decedent died more than three (3) years ago leaving property in Minnesota. The petition requests the Court determine the descent of such property and assign the property to the persons entitled.
Any objections to the petition must be raised at the hearing or filed with the Court prior to the hearing. If the petition is proper and no objections are filed or raised, the petition will be granted.
Notice shall be given by publishing this Notice and Order as provided by law and by mailing a copy of this Notice and Order to each interested person by United States mail at least 14 days before the time set for the hearing.
Dated: August 13, 2015
BY THE COURT
/s/ Matthew Opat
Judge of District Court
/s/ Darlene L. Larson
Court Administrator
HAMMELL & MURPHY PLLP
Timothy A. Murphy (MN# 76594)
PO Box 149 Caledonia, MN 55921
Telephone: (507) 725-3361
Facsimile: (507) 725-5627
Published in
The Caledonia Argus
August 26, September 2, 2015
437525 ]]>
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Conniff http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/conniff/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/conniff/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:27:49 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=40170 NOTICE OF INFORMAL PROBATE OF WILL AND INFORMAL APPOINTMENT OF PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE AND NOTICE TO CREDITORS
STATE OF MINNESOTA
COUNTY OF HOUSTON
DISTRICT COURT
THIRD JUDICIAL DISTRICT
Court File No.: 28-PR-15-561
In Re: Estate of Duane J. Conniff,
Decedent.
Notice is given that an Application for Informal Probate of Will and Informal Appointment of Personal Representative was filed with the Registrar, along with a Will dated December 28, 1983, and a Codicil dated April 8, 1994, and a Codicil dated October 13, 2009. The Registrar accepted the application and appointed Joan Conniff, whose address is 6587 State 44, Hokah, Minnesota 55941, to serve as the personal representative of the decedents estate.
Any heir, devisee or other interested person may be entitled to appointment as personal representative or may object to the appointment of the personal representative. Any objection to the appointment of the personal representative must be filed with the Court, and any properly filed objection will be heard by the Court after notice is provided to interested persons of the date of hearing on the objection.
Unless objections are filed, and unless the Court orders otherwise, the personal representative has the full power to administer the estate, including, after thirty (30) days from the issuance of letters testamentary, the power to sell, encumber, lease, or distribute any interest in real estate owned by the decedent.
Notice is further given that, subject to Minn. Stat 524.3-801, all creditors having claims against the decedents estate are required to present the claims to the personal representative or to the Court within four (4) months after the date of this notice or the claims will be barred.
Dated: August 12, 2015
/s/ Darlene L. Larson
Registrar
/s/ Susan M. Kasten
Deputy Court Administrator
ATTORNEY FOR PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE
Timothy A. Murphy (MN# 76594)
Hammell & Murphy PLLP
PO Box 149
Caledonia, Minnesota 55921
Telephone: (507) 725-3361
Facsimile: (507) 725-5627
Published in
The Caledonia Argus
August 26, September 2, 2015
437511 ]]>
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Snow Removal http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/snow-removal-2/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/snow-removal-2/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:27:36 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=40168 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 299
SNOW REMOVAL PROPOSALS
Independent School District #299 is seeking proposals for snow removal services for the 2015-2016 school year. Proposals will be accepted until 12:00 p.m. on Friday, September 11, 2015, at the Caledonia School District Office, 511 West Main Street, Caledonia, MN 55921. Snow removal specifications can be picked up in the District Office. Any questions may be directed to Facilities Director, Jay Marschall at 507-725-3316, extension 2010.
Published in
The Caledonia Argus
August 26, September 2, 2015
438959 ]]>
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July 20 http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/july-20-2/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/july-20-2/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:26:21 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=40166 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 299
Abbreviated Board Meeting Minutes
July 20, 2015
The Board of Education of Independent School District No. 299, Caledonia, Minnesota, met in a regular school board meeting in the Middle/High School Media Center. The meeting was called to order by Chair Kelley McGraw at 6:00 p.m. The Pledge of Allegiance was said. The school board members present were Jared Barnes, Amanda King, Kelley McGraw, Jean Meyer, Michelle Werner, Jimmy Westland, and Spencer Yohe. Also present were Superintendent Ben Barton, Barb Meyer, Karen Schiltz, Dan McGonigle, Nancy Runningen, Joel Sutter, Jeff Sealy, Duane Thomford, Harley Doering, Mark Schiltz, Mary Marchel, Todd Roesler, Gary and Polly Heberlein, David and Jean Klinski, Quentin and Glorie Ann Robley, Steve Schuldt, Andy Milde, Justin Zmyewski, Brad Harguth, Deb Cody, Matt Klug, Kerry Schaller, Charles Schulte, Andy and Sheri Allen, Wade Cordes, and Dale Vetsch. Absent were Principals Gina Meinertz and Mary Morem.
Moved by Spencer Yohe, seconded by Jimmy Westland to approve the agenda as presented. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Amanda King, seconded by Jean Meyer to approve the following consent agenda: Approval of June 15, 2015, Regular School Board Minutes; Approval of the electronic transfers and bills due and payable amounting to $937,741.19 including check numbers 58704 through 58784; Approval of placing the Robotics Program advisor position in the Category V of the non-coaching extra-curricular salary schedule of the Teacher Master Agreement beginning the 2015-2016 school year; Approval setting the student participation fee for the Robotics Program to be at $35.00 per student in grades 7 12; Accept the resignation of Doug Miller as the 8th grade football coach effective immediately with thanks for his years of service to the school district in this position; Accept the resignation of Jodi Petersen as the Spanish teacher effective immediately with thanks for her year of service to the school district; Accept the resignation of Jacob Dellamuth as the head girls soccer coach effective immediately with thanks for his past two years of service to the school district as a soccer coach; Ratify the contract for Brad King as the 8th grade football coach beginning the 2015-2016 school year at I/0 years at $1,665.89; Ratify the 200 day at will employee contract for Pat Christiansen as the Professional Development and Instructional Technology Coach beginning the 2015-2016 school year at $50,000; Ratify the contract for James Larson as the Robotics program advisor beginning the 2015-2016 school year at V/0 years at $2,092.75; Grant tenure to the following full-time, non-tenured probationary staff members: Zoe Lamm, Tory-Kale Schulz, and Kelly Hansen; and the following part-time, non-tenured probationary staff members: Denise Wernecke at 0.60 FTE, Stacey Meyer at 0.1716 FTE; Approval of the 2015-2016 District Employee Handbook; Approval of the Agreement between Hiawatha Valley Education District and Caledonia Public School District to purchase education services for the 2015-2016 school year; Approval of the Purchase Service Agreement for Science Teacher Services between Caledonia Public School District and La Crescent Public School District; Approval of the FTE increase for Jessie Emerson at 0.9432 FTE which includes the contract with La Crescent School District beginning the 2015-2016 school year at BA+15/5 at $40,698.88 (0.3432 FTE Caledonia School District and 0.60 FTE La Crescent School District); Approval of the Memorandum of Understanding between Caledonia ISD #299 and Caledonia Chapter of the River Valley Education Association with regard to the Activities Director assignment as presented; Approval of the Memorandum of Understanding between Caledonia ISD #299 and Caledonia Chapter of the River Valley Education Association with regard to the PLC time as presented; Approval of the increase of student lunch and breakfast prices by $0.10 and $0.05 per carton of milk beginning the 2015-2016 school year. Breakfast prices will be as follows: $1.45 for elementary students, $1.55 for middle/high school students and $1.95 for adult/second lunches. Lunch prices will be as follows: $2.40 for elementary students and $2.50 for middle/high school students, and $3.45 for adult/second lunches. Milk prices will be $0.45 per carton; Approval of the dairy product bid from Ziebells Foods for the 2015-2016 school year; Approval of the gas/fuel oil bid from Kwik Trip for the 2015-2016 school year. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Member Spencer Yohe introduced the School Crossing Guard Agreement between the City of Caledonia and Independent School District #299. The motion for the adoption of the foregoing resolution was duly seconded by Jared Barnes. On a roll call vote, the following voted in favor: Jared Barnes, Amanda King, Kelley McGraw, Jean Meyer, Michelle Werner, Jimmy Westland, and Spencer Yohe. The following voted against: None. Whereupon said resolution was declared duly passed and adopted. Moved by Jean Meyer, seconded by Michelle Werner to adjourn the meeting at 8:24 p.m. Motion carried by a unanimous vote.
These minutes are only a summary and complete minutes are available at the school district office or on the school district website at www.cps.k12.mn.us
Published in
The Caledonia Argus
August 26, 2015
437491 ]]>
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August 27 http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/august-27/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/august-27/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:26:05 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=40164 WILMINGTON TOWNSHIP
The Wilmington Township Board of Supervisors will hold its monthly meeting on Thursday August 27th at 7:00pm at the home of the clerk/treasurer Melissa Schroeder.
Published in
The Caledonia Argus
August 26, 2015
438897 ]]>
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Annual Meeting September http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/annual-meeting-september/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/annual-meeting-september/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:26:02 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=40162 BROWNSVILLE TOWNSHIP
The continuation of the Annual Meeting will be held Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at the Brownsville Community Center, 104 North 6th St., Brownsville, MN at 8:00 p.m. Year 2016 levies will be set for General, Road and Bridge, Fire and Solid Waste funds.
Doris Mitchell, Clerk
Published in
The Caledonia Argus
August 26, 2015
436225 ]]>
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Regular Meeting http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/regular-meeting/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/26/regular-meeting/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:25:55 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=40160 BROWNSVILLE TOWNSHIP
The regular monthly meetings will be held at 7:00 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at the Brownsville Community Center, 104 N. 6th St., Brownsville, MN
Doris Mitchell, Clerk
Published in
The Caledonia Argus
August 26, 2015
436212 ]]>
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Using Social Security Online http://www.adviceiq.com/content/using-social-security-online http://www.adviceiq.com/content/using-social-security-online#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 20:00:34 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=720192ea776ff5831a14cc2737344bde You might think that dealing with a federal agency, such as the Social Security Administration (SSA), means long lines in some office near you. Not so: If you’re an adult, you can monitor your benefits situation with a few clicks of the keyboard and start serious planning for your retirement income.

The my Social Security accounts give you the chance to change direct deposit of your benefits if you already receive Social Security, as well as request a replacement Medicaid card or order SSA tax documents, among other services. To qualify for an online account, you must be at least 18 and have a valid email address, a Social Security number and a U.S. mailing address.

A my Social Security online account also starts your next considerations in planning for benefits. Once you set up the account, you can review your Social Security statement – a key move since earnings determine your future retirement benefits and, according to the SSA, you cannot normally correct your earnings after three years, three months and 15 days from the end of the taxable year in which your wages were paid.

(Average monthly benefits max out at some $2,600 a month for most workers in 2015, according to SSA figures.)

You can correct your record after that length of time to:

  • Confirm records with tax returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service;
  • Fix errors due to employee omissions from processed employer reports or missing reports;
  • Rectify mistakes “on the face of the record,” that is, errors Social Security can find after examining agency records of processed reports; and
  • Include wages that an employer reported as paid to you but that don’t appear in SSA records.

Once you verify your earnings, you’re ready to figure where benefits fit into the whole picture of your retirement income. In his study “Does the Social Security ‘Statement’ Add Value?,” Steven Sass of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College states:

“Social Security is the nation’s most important source of retirement income, providing half or more of the monthly income of well over half of all retired households … Benefits, however, are set by a complicated formula based on a worker’s lifetime earnings record at retirement … Workers, on their own, cannot be expected to know how much they could get.”

For instance, the study finds that reviewing your records generally leads to an understanding that claiming benefits later increases monthly Social Security income. No evidence, though, indicates that just because most people understand this concept they do delay retiring: Most look at planning for retirement only in terms of saving and investment and not in terms of working longer – the latter of which can drastically increase savings and benefits.

When planning for your retirement, envision what living in the golden years will look like and then work backward. What standard of living do you want in those years? Will you spend more or less on maintaining a home, on grandchildren, travel, health care or taxes?

How much will you get from Social Security? Will you run out of money during retirement? How much will you need to supplement Social Security with savings and other sources – and how do you accumulate those additional savings now?

Waiting a few more years before retiring and filing for Social Security raises your monthly benefit with Delayed Retirement Credits (DRCs); these include a 5.5% increase in your eventual benefits per year of delay if you were born in 1933 or 1934, a 7.5% yearly increase if you were born in 1941 or 1942 and an 8% increase in you were born in 1943 or later.

Delaying filing can also of course decrease additional savings you need to maintain your desired standard of living and can shorten the number of years that you eventually draw on savings.

Using my Social Security constitutes only one part of your overall retirement planning. Take the time to review your account at my Social Security and then speak with a qualified advisor who can help you integrate your benefits with your planning for retirement income and taxes.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Wayne Fourman, with the May Financial Group in Greenville, Ohio, has served individuals and businesses with personal financial counseling since 1983 and was among the first in the nation to provide Social Security start-date planning.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

]]>
You might think that dealing with a federal agency, such as the Social Security Administration (SSA), means long lines in some office near you. Not so: If you’re an adult, you can monitor your benefits situation with a few clicks of the keyboard and start serious planning for your retirement income.

The my Social Security accounts give you the chance to change direct deposit of your benefits if you already receive Social Security, as well as request a replacement Medicaid card or order SSA tax documents, among other services. To qualify for an online account, you must be at least 18 and have a valid email address, a Social Security number and a U.S. mailing address.

A my Social Security online account also starts your next considerations in planning for benefits. Once you set up the account, you can review your Social Security statement – a key move since earnings determine your future retirement benefits and, according to the SSA, you cannot normally correct your earnings after three years, three months and 15 days from the end of the taxable year in which your wages were paid.

(Average monthly benefits max out at some $2,600 a month for most workers in 2015, according to SSA figures.)

You can correct your record after that length of time to:

  • Confirm records with tax returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service;
  • Fix errors due to employee omissions from processed employer reports or missing reports;
  • Rectify mistakes “on the face of the record,” that is, errors Social Security can find after examining agency records of processed reports; and
  • Include wages that an employer reported as paid to you but that don’t appear in SSA records.

Once you verify your earnings, you’re ready to figure where benefits fit into the whole picture of your retirement income. In his study “Does the Social Security ‘Statement’ Add Value?,” Steven Sass of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College states:

“Social Security is the nation’s most important source of retirement income, providing half or more of the monthly income of well over half of all retired households … Benefits, however, are set by a complicated formula based on a worker’s lifetime earnings record at retirement … Workers, on their own, cannot be expected to know how much they could get.”

For instance, the study finds that reviewing your records generally leads to an understanding that claiming benefits later increases monthly Social Security income. No evidence, though, indicates that just because most people understand this concept they do delay retiring: Most look at planning for retirement only in terms of saving and investment and not in terms of working longer – the latter of which can drastically increase savings and benefits.

When planning for your retirement, envision what living in the golden years will look like and then work backward. What standard of living do you want in those years? Will you spend more or less on maintaining a home, on grandchildren, travel, health care or taxes?

How much will you get from Social Security? Will you run out of money during retirement? How much will you need to supplement Social Security with savings and other sources – and how do you accumulate those additional savings now?

Waiting a few more years before retiring and filing for Social Security raises your monthly benefit with Delayed Retirement Credits (DRCs); these include a 5.5% increase in your eventual benefits per year of delay if you were born in 1933 or 1934, a 7.5% yearly increase if you were born in 1941 or 1942 and an 8% increase in you were born in 1943 or later.

Delaying filing can also of course decrease additional savings you need to maintain your desired standard of living and can shorten the number of years that you eventually draw on savings.

Using my Social Security constitutes only one part of your overall retirement planning. Take the time to review your account at my Social Security and then speak with a qualified advisor who can help you integrate your benefits with your planning for retirement income and taxes.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Wayne Fourman, with the May Financial Group in Greenville, Ohio, has served individuals and businesses with personal financial counseling since 1983 and was among the first in the nation to provide Social Security start-date planning.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

]]>
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Using Credit Cards Wisely http://www.adviceiq.com/content/using-credit-cards-wisely http://www.adviceiq.com/content/using-credit-cards-wisely#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 16:01:32 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=fa9c1b1aaf8bdde403b6b3c938f8f7f1 Did you know that the average adult in the U.S. carries $5,596 in consumer debt? That fact alone might account for credit cards’ bad rap. Your careless use of credit can wreak havoc on your finances in a variety of ways.

You might rack up a mountain of debt you’ll need years to pay off. You might end up paying thousands in interest – to the detriment of your other financial goals. Your credit score might get hammered, hurting your chances to qualify for a mortgage or a car loan.

Credit cards aren’t inherently bad; using a card doesn’t guarantee you a sluice run into deep consumer debt. Learn about credit and how your plastic works before racking up charges.

Basic rules. First, treat your credit card like a debit card, which draws money directly from your checking or savings bank account. Don’t charge more than you can afford, no matter your credit limit. Be mindful of the size of your bank account so you don’t end the billing period unable to afford to pay your balance, which you want to pay off regularly.

Keep your balance low. A credit limit of $5,000 doesn’t mean you ought to have a $4,500 balance at the end of the month, even if you can afford it. Your debt affects your credit score: Max out your cards and your score may suffer.

Make timely payments or you can incur a late fee – interest rates of up to nearly a third of what you owe – and ding your credit.

Late fees apply if you fail to make a payment within a certain time. If you previously paid on time the card company may (or may not) waive this fee. The Credit Card Act of 2009 caps late fees at $25 for first-time offenders and $35 for frequent offenders.

Set a reminder to pay your bill, or set up automatic payments.

Only buy what you need. Remember the debit card rule: Credit is not free money. Only use your credit card for routine shopping and planned purchases within your budget.

Rates. You need to understand little card terminology to avoid costly mistakes. One of the most important: the annual percentage rate, or APR.

If you fail to pay your balance in full, the card company charges you the APR on all or part of your remaining balance. An item you bought for $20 using your credit card might end up costing you $25 next month. If your card carries a rate of 20%, you pay $20 for every $100 you charge if you don’t pay off your balance within your billing period (usually about a month).

You want the lowest APR available but beware promotional offers. Some cards entice you with low introductory rates for a year and increase those rates – sometimes drastically – later.

Minimum payments. Your statement includes a minimum payment that you can make. Minimum payments look manageable compared with your balance most of the time – until you consider interest.

Any time you leave a portion of your card bill unpaid, interest accrues on that balance. If you continue charging with that card while paying the minimum you owe, you never catch up to paying your balance off.

Rewards and points. When you buy with a rewards card, you acquire points to redeem for travel, cash back and other goods and discounts. Sounds like a nice deal.

Maybe: Many cards, especially those that offer rewards or points for money off future purchases, also come with annual fees. You often pay this fee during your first billing cycle although some cards waive the fee for the first year and start charging it in the second. As always, read the fine print and don’t charge everything in pursuit of points.

Credit card companies can offer these bonuses because of cardholders who use credit irresponsibly – the companies profit off the interest rates charged to those who don’t (or can’t) pay off balances.

Rewards and points only benefit you if you limit yourself to charging expenses you already planned for. The moment you start charging more to grab more points is the moment that rewards cards threaten your financial situation.

The big upside. Credit cards come with safety features other methods of payment lack. When you charge on your credit card, the amount doesn’t immediately deduct from your checking account and you’re out no cash until you pay that card bill. This can help guard against fraud, theft and mistakes on your statement.

If you pay for an item with cash, you may or may not get that money back. You can always dispute a charge on your credit card.

If you pay with a debit card, remember that such a transaction is similar to cash and that the money leaves your account as soon as that transaction posts. Again, if you’re a victim of fraud or want to dispute the charge, you may or may not get that money back.

Use credit cards? Despite plusses to credit cards, many people are staunchly against using credit when we might all stick with debit cards or cash. And with reason: Out-of-control spending with credit cards can speed you into financial disaster. If you struggle to develop good money habits, you might be smart to stick to cash or debit until you can better manage money.

If you educate yourself about how this plastic works, take steps to use it responsibly and keep a budget to track all spending, you can find a credit card to be a useful financial tool.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP, is the founder of Workable Wealth, an RIA in San Diego. She is a writer, speaker and financial coach who is passionate about working with individuals and couples in their 20s and 30s to help them organize and gain confidence in their financial lives. She has been quoted or featured in various industry publications on the local and national level. You can find her on Twitter at @marybstorj.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

]]>
Did you know that the average adult in the U.S. carries $5,596 in consumer debt? That fact alone might account for credit cards’ bad rap. Your careless use of credit can wreak havoc on your finances in a variety of ways.

You might rack up a mountain of debt you’ll need years to pay off. You might end up paying thousands in interest – to the detriment of your other financial goals. Your credit score might get hammered, hurting your chances to qualify for a mortgage or a car loan.

Credit cards aren’t inherently bad; using a card doesn’t guarantee you a sluice run into deep consumer debt. Learn about credit and how your plastic works before racking up charges.

Basic rules. First, treat your credit card like a debit card, which draws money directly from your checking or savings bank account. Don’t charge more than you can afford, no matter your credit limit. Be mindful of the size of your bank account so you don’t end the billing period unable to afford to pay your balance, which you want to pay off regularly.

Keep your balance low. A credit limit of $5,000 doesn’t mean you ought to have a $4,500 balance at the end of the month, even if you can afford it. Your debt affects your credit score: Max out your cards and your score may suffer.

Make timely payments or you can incur a late fee – interest rates of up to nearly a third of what you owe – and ding your credit.

Late fees apply if you fail to make a payment within a certain time. If you previously paid on time the card company may (or may not) waive this fee. The Credit Card Act of 2009 caps late fees at $25 for first-time offenders and $35 for frequent offenders.

Set a reminder to pay your bill, or set up automatic payments.

Only buy what you need. Remember the debit card rule: Credit is not free money. Only use your credit card for routine shopping and planned purchases within your budget.

Rates. You need to understand little card terminology to avoid costly mistakes. One of the most important: the annual percentage rate, or APR.

If you fail to pay your balance in full, the card company charges you the APR on all or part of your remaining balance. An item you bought for $20 using your credit card might end up costing you $25 next month. If your card carries a rate of 20%, you pay $20 for every $100 you charge if you don’t pay off your balance within your billing period (usually about a month).

You want the lowest APR available but beware promotional offers. Some cards entice you with low introductory rates for a year and increase those rates – sometimes drastically – later.

Minimum payments. Your statement includes a minimum payment that you can make. Minimum payments look manageable compared with your balance most of the time – until you consider interest.

Any time you leave a portion of your card bill unpaid, interest accrues on that balance. If you continue charging with that card while paying the minimum you owe, you never catch up to paying your balance off.

Rewards and points. When you buy with a rewards card, you acquire points to redeem for travel, cash back and other goods and discounts. Sounds like a nice deal.

Maybe: Many cards, especially those that offer rewards or points for money off future purchases, also come with annual fees. You often pay this fee during your first billing cycle although some cards waive the fee for the first year and start charging it in the second. As always, read the fine print and don’t charge everything in pursuit of points.

Credit card companies can offer these bonuses because of cardholders who use credit irresponsibly – the companies profit off the interest rates charged to those who don’t (or can’t) pay off balances.

Rewards and points only benefit you if you limit yourself to charging expenses you already planned for. The moment you start charging more to grab more points is the moment that rewards cards threaten your financial situation.

The big upside. Credit cards come with safety features other methods of payment lack. When you charge on your credit card, the amount doesn’t immediately deduct from your checking account and you’re out no cash until you pay that card bill. This can help guard against fraud, theft and mistakes on your statement.

If you pay for an item with cash, you may or may not get that money back. You can always dispute a charge on your credit card.

If you pay with a debit card, remember that such a transaction is similar to cash and that the money leaves your account as soon as that transaction posts. Again, if you’re a victim of fraud or want to dispute the charge, you may or may not get that money back.

Use credit cards? Despite plusses to credit cards, many people are staunchly against using credit when we might all stick with debit cards or cash. And with reason: Out-of-control spending with credit cards can speed you into financial disaster. If you struggle to develop good money habits, you might be smart to stick to cash or debit until you can better manage money.

If you educate yourself about how this plastic works, take steps to use it responsibly and keep a budget to track all spending, you can find a credit card to be a useful financial tool.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP, is the founder of Workable Wealth, an RIA in San Diego. She is a writer, speaker and financial coach who is passionate about working with individuals and couples in their 20s and 30s to help them organize and gain confidence in their financial lives. She has been quoted or featured in various industry publications on the local and national level. You can find her on Twitter at @marybstorj.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Sliding Revenue = More M&A http://www.adviceiq.com/content/sliding-revenue-more-ma http://www.adviceiq.com/content/sliding-revenue-more-ma#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 14:01:14 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=74a505e0d9ea3d1015c1ea8f4a3571be Slumping corporate revenues are a big factor in the current merger boom, lifting stock prices that otherwise would reflect a downbeat reality. This is artificial stimulation, though, and cannot last. Nothing beats escalating revenue as a profit elixir.

Revenue declined 3.3% in the second quarter at Standard & Poor’s 500 companies.  This followed a revenue drop of 2.9% in the first quarter, according to research firm FactSet, the first consecutive quarters of revenue declines since 2009. 

Much of the revenue decline stems from weakness in the materials and energy sectors and a strengthening dollar.  There may be no better fundamental measure of the health of a company than revenue.  Relative to almost all other reported statistics in financial statements, the top line (as it also is known) is a pure number that is hard to manipulate, particularly over multiple quarters.  Two quarters of declining sales could be a red flag for stock investors.
 
Management teams are paid to create earnings growth.  Declining sales makes this job particularly difficult.  If sales are declining, the primary way to make profits rise is to reduce costs faster.
 
Corporate earnings are the difference between revenues and costs.  You can measure this difference as a percentage, called net margin – which in its simplest for is net income divided by revenue.  Last year, net margins reached their highest level in the past 10 years at about 10%.  Companies are running at historically very high efficiency levels.  There is not much room to expand margins through cutting fat from the budget or squeezing out more profitability from each dollar of revenue.

Given that corporate margins are near highs, revenue declines are likely to translate directly into earnings declines.  In the second quarter, S&P 500 earnings declined by 1%.  To deliver rising earnings to shareholders, management teams either have to become better salespeople with more exciting products or find new ways to increase margins.
 
One way to increase margin and sales growth is to acquire a similar company and eliminating duplicate cost functions like lawyers, accountants, administrators, mid-level management, buildings, etc. Acquirers gain the other companies revenues but without all the cost.   The newly combined company now has a larger top line, improved margins and perhaps a better strategic position in its industry, which helps boost sales.  This is called synergy.
 
It’s no surprise that, in a market whose hallmarks are low growth, high cash balances, cheap debt and high stock valuations (and where executive pay is tied to rising earnings and stock prices), we are seeing a record level of mergers and acquisitions. M&A activity is on pace this year to reach $4.58 trillion, an all-time high.

Even master investor Warren Buffett and his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B), are actively involved in the M&A boom. His recently announced plan to acquire Precision Castparts (PCP) for $37.2 billion announced is his largest deal ever for Berkshire, and significantly larger than their $26 billion buy of Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad in 2010.

Buffet may see long-term value in Precision Castparts – which makes parts and equipment for aircraft, oilfields and power plants – and Buffet is a buyer of what he believes to be undervalued assets.  This is generally a bullish signal for the broader market.  Whatever the motivation, high levels of M&A support stock prices. Rising merger activity is part of the reason the S&P 500 is flat on the year, rather than down, despite declining revenues and earnings. 

Using M&A as an instrument of growth can sustain stock valuations for a while, but fundamentals eventually win out.  For the stock market to advance meaningfully from current levels, we will need to see a resumption of revenue growth and organically derived earnings growth.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Nicholas Atkeson and Andrew Houghton are the founding partners of Delta Investment Management, a registered investment advisory firm in San Francisco, and authors of the new book, Win by Not Losing: A Disciplined Approach To Building And Protecting Your Wealth In The Stock Market By Managing Your Risk. Additional market commentary and investment advice is available via their websites at www.deltaim.com and www.deltawealthaccelerator.com

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Slumping corporate revenues are a big factor in the current merger boom, lifting stock prices that otherwise would reflect a downbeat reality. This is artificial stimulation, though, and cannot last. Nothing beats escalating revenue as a profit elixir.

Revenue declined 3.3% in the second quarter at Standard & Poor’s 500 companies.  This followed a revenue drop of 2.9% in the first quarter, according to research firm FactSet, the first consecutive quarters of revenue declines since 2009. 

Much of the revenue decline stems from weakness in the materials and energy sectors and a strengthening dollar.  There may be no better fundamental measure of the health of a company than revenue.  Relative to almost all other reported statistics in financial statements, the top line (as it also is known) is a pure number that is hard to manipulate, particularly over multiple quarters.  Two quarters of declining sales could be a red flag for stock investors.
 
Management teams are paid to create earnings growth.  Declining sales makes this job particularly difficult.  If sales are declining, the primary way to make profits rise is to reduce costs faster.
 
Corporate earnings are the difference between revenues and costs.  You can measure this difference as a percentage, called net margin – which in its simplest for is net income divided by revenue.  Last year, net margins reached their highest level in the past 10 years at about 10%.  Companies are running at historically very high efficiency levels.  There is not much room to expand margins through cutting fat from the budget or squeezing out more profitability from each dollar of revenue.

Given that corporate margins are near highs, revenue declines are likely to translate directly into earnings declines.  In the second quarter, S&P 500 earnings declined by 1%.  To deliver rising earnings to shareholders, management teams either have to become better salespeople with more exciting products or find new ways to increase margins.
 
One way to increase margin and sales growth is to acquire a similar company and eliminating duplicate cost functions like lawyers, accountants, administrators, mid-level management, buildings, etc. Acquirers gain the other companies revenues but without all the cost.   The newly combined company now has a larger top line, improved margins and perhaps a better strategic position in its industry, which helps boost sales.  This is called synergy.
 
It’s no surprise that, in a market whose hallmarks are low growth, high cash balances, cheap debt and high stock valuations (and where executive pay is tied to rising earnings and stock prices), we are seeing a record level of mergers and acquisitions. M&A activity is on pace this year to reach $4.58 trillion, an all-time high.

Even master investor Warren Buffett and his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B), are actively involved in the M&A boom. His recently announced plan to acquire Precision Castparts (PCP) for $37.2 billion announced is his largest deal ever for Berkshire, and significantly larger than their $26 billion buy of Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad in 2010.

Buffet may see long-term value in Precision Castparts – which makes parts and equipment for aircraft, oilfields and power plants – and Buffet is a buyer of what he believes to be undervalued assets.  This is generally a bullish signal for the broader market.  Whatever the motivation, high levels of M&A support stock prices. Rising merger activity is part of the reason the S&P 500 is flat on the year, rather than down, despite declining revenues and earnings. 

Using M&A as an instrument of growth can sustain stock valuations for a while, but fundamentals eventually win out.  For the stock market to advance meaningfully from current levels, we will need to see a resumption of revenue growth and organically derived earnings growth.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Nicholas Atkeson and Andrew Houghton are the founding partners of Delta Investment Management, a registered investment advisory firm in San Francisco, and authors of the new book, Win by Not Losing: A Disciplined Approach To Building And Protecting Your Wealth In The Stock Market By Managing Your Risk. Additional market commentary and investment advice is available via their websites at www.deltaim.com and www.deltawealthaccelerator.com

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Scanlan resigns as zoning administrator http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/scanlan-resigns-as-zoning-administrator/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/scanlan-resigns-as-zoning-administrator/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:35:00 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=40152 By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

The Houston County board accepted the resignation of Houston County zoning administrator, Bob Scanlan, at Tuesday’s county board meeting. His resignation is effective August 21.

Scanlan will be working at the Root River Conservation and Soil District.

The county will now conduct a search to find Scanlan’s replacement.

“In talking with the zoning office, we feel that the work load might entail replacing with two positions,” HR director Tess Kruger said.

She asked for permission to advertise effective immediately to replace Scanlan’s position with the ad containing language that might read “one, with the possibility of two positions.”

“This will help us save advertising costs,” she said.

Commissioner Justin Zmyewski, however, felt the county should go through the budgeting process before taking on the additional position.

“I’m not saying it might not be warranted,” he said.

However, he felt that replacing Scanlan with just one person is the way to proceed at the moment.

Kruger has initiated a competitive search to fill the position of zoning administrator.

Other news

• The county will rent space from United Methodist Church in La Crescent to conduct their WIC clinics from. The previous spot, Prince of Peace, is in the process of revamping their space.

• A gambling license was approved for the Caledonia Touchdown Club for an upcoming fundraiser.

• The commissioners discussed per diem for Tuesday meetings. Currently the commissioners are not paid a per diem if a meeting takes place on Tuesday. They agreed to look at the matter during their January policy and procedures meeting.

• Budget meetings have begun. The commissioners are meeting with various department heads to set the 2016 budgets. ]]> http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/scanlan-resigns-as-zoning-administrator/feed/ 0 2-door Cutlass intended for fundraiser for Caledonia fire chief reported stolen http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/2-door-cutlass-intended-for-fundraiser-for-caledonia-fire-chief-reported-stolen/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/2-door-cutlass-intended-for-fundraiser-for-caledonia-fire-chief-reported-stolen/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:33:59 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=40148 Submitted

Submitted

By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

Video footage released by the Hokah police department and posted online shows the 1972 Oldsmobile 2-door Cutlass driving through Hokah on Sunday, August 16 just after 2 p.m.

Authorities are asking for any information which would lead to the return of the vehicle.

The car was removed from an establishment in Caledonia where it was being stored for an upcoming benefit for Caledonia Fire Chief Chuck Gavin.

A fundraiser, including a raffle of the car is being organized for Gavin, who was diagnosed with ALS.

“We just feel terrible,” one of the organizers, Erica Jacobson said.

Jacobson was speaking with other organizers as well as seeking advice from council.

“We’ve sold over half of the tickets so far,” she said.

Some early thoughts are that a different vehicle could be purchased. Another consideration is that a cash donation could be made as the prize.

The authorities are asking that anyone who has any information contact the Caledonia police department or the Houston County sheriff’s office.

Editor’s Note: In an upcoming issue we plan to do a story on the benefit itself.

The organizers will have had time to make some alternate decisions/arrangements and we will report what they intend to do at that time. ]]> http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/2-door-cutlass-intended-for-fundraiser-for-caledonia-fire-chief-reported-stolen/feed/ 0 Meeting held to better undersand new buffer strip legislation http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/meeting-held-to-better-undersand-new-buffer-strip-legislation/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/meeting-held-to-better-undersand-new-buffer-strip-legislation/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:31:19 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=40146 Daniel McGonigle/The Caledonia Argus  Speaker Warren Formo.

Daniel McGonigle/The Caledonia Argus
Speaker Warren Formo.

By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

In June of this year, the Governor and both state houses passed buffer strip legislation to help protect Minnesota’s waterways.

The new initiative was aimed at enhancing protection of Minnesota’s waters. It is meant to help protect the state’s water resources from erosion and runoff pollution by establishing roughly 110,000 acres of buffer along waterways.

A meeting was held in Houston County with land owners to discuss the legislation further.

Senator Greg Davids said that the legislation which he voted for, was a scaled back version of the Governor’s original proposal.

Davids attended Wednesday’s meeting which was held at Good Times.

“I want to hear from groups like you,” he told the gathered group of land owners and farmers about 40-50 strong. “We need to know ideas to help change the legislation and make it something we can all live with.”

Warren Formo, executive director of the Minnesota Ag. Water Resource Center has been traveling the state speaking to groups like the one gathered at Good Times.

“Some of the best conservation practices got their start in Houston County,” Formo noted. “Our job is to educate as we can, but also to help protect our landowners and let the state know the really good work we’re doing as well.”

The law, which was really pushed by an environmentalist contingent that includes Pheasants Forever, Habitat for Humanity and others, pits land owners against hunters.

Many were concerned that what they believed to be a “taking” of their land would lead to unwanted trespassing from individuals wishing to hunt.

“Nobody will be able to come onto your land and hunt without your permission,” John Jaske, Director of Soil and Water Conservation District said.

Formo said that his group is watching this closely and emphasized the great things Minnesota farmers and land owners are doing state wide.

“I’ve traveled all over the state,” he said. “Our challenge is to continue to identify environmental risks on each farm, because even though great progress has been made, there is still room for improvement. There are still a few farms tilled excessively. There are still places in need of a waterway or buffer.”

Jaske noted that there has always been a 10 foot buffer in place. The new law will require 16 1/2 feet on either side of a waterway.

Maps coming

The DNR is in the process of mapping all waters subject to the new requirements.

Many landowners had questions that will certainly not apply to land owners in many parts of the state.

For example, one land owner in attendance at the meeting spoke about his own property.

He has a creek bed that is dry 99 percent of the time.

“It might only have water going through it during a flood event,” he said.

Others said they have similar examples of such a situation and asked “will I have to have a buffer?”

Formo noted that is something his group is watching closely.

Jaske said that he is meeting with DNR people and is passing along that the public wants the chance to review all maps and give input before anything becomes official.

“Make sure you’re working with your local SWCD district,” he said. “Keep watch for when these maps come out and review your property carefully.”

Law specifics

• A 16.5 foot minimum buffer of perennial vegetation (alfalfa, grass, trees, etc.) on property adjacent to public drainage systems must be in place by November 1, 2018.

• 50 foot average buffers (30 foot minimum) of perennial vegetation on property adjacent to waterways designated as public waters-must be in place by November 1, 2017.

Daniel McGonigle/The Caledonia Argus   Representative Greg Davids addresses a group of area landowners and farmers on the “Buffer Strip” legislation that was passed in June. Maps are expected to be released by the DNR sometime during the early part of the summer of 2016. Davids encouraged individuals to send questions or concerns his way leading up to the release of the maps.
Daniel McGonigle/The Caledonia Argus
Representative Greg Davids addresses a group of area landowners and farmers on the “Buffer Strip” legislation that was passed in June. Maps are expected to be released by the DNR sometime during the early part of the summer of 2016. Davids encouraged individuals to send questions or concerns his way leading up to the release of the maps.
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Vehicle simulating drunk driving at Houston County Fair http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/vehicle-simulating-drunk-driving-at-houston-county-fair/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/vehicle-simulating-drunk-driving-at-houston-county-fair/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:29:16 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=40144 Daniel McGonigle/The Caledonia Argus  Ben Barton holds the ‘drunk goggles’ over his eyes as he attempts to operate the pedal driven vehicle through a course of cones.
Daniel McGonigle/The Caledonia Argus
Ben Barton holds the ‘drunk goggles’ over his eyes as he attempts to operate the pedal driven vehicle through a course of cones.

By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

The Houston County Sheriff’s office, along with Houston County Public Health, hosted a beer goggle obstacle course at the Houston County Fair on Saturday.

Thanks to a Towards Zero Deaths (TZD) grant, a pedal driven vehicle and an obstacle course were placed in a portion of the fair.

Riders donned “drunk goggles” which blurred one’s vision, simulating intoxication.

You then had to navigate the pedal driven, go-cart sized vehicle through a series of cones.

“It’s disconcerting,” Ben Barton said after navigating the course.

The goal is to help people understand the dangers of drunk driving and how it can impair one’s ability to successfully navigate a car.

“If we can discourage someone from taking the risk then we’ve accomplished our goal,” Sheriff Mark Inglett said. “Having navigated the course myself, the goggles create a sensation that makes it difficult to properly focus on the task at hand.”

Several youngsters also navigated the course. One asked, “Is that what it feels like drunk driving?”

The teachable moment was brought to you courtesy of the Houston County Public Health and the Houston County Sheriff’s office.

The vehicle is normally housed in Olmstead County. It travels throughout southeastern Minnesota in an effort to help teach the dangers of driving drunk.

Daniel McGonigle/The Caledonia Argus  Madison Zehnder navigates the course with caution.
Daniel McGonigle/The Caledonia Argus
Madison Zehnder navigates the course with caution.
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A Summer Crush http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/a-summer-crush/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/a-summer-crush/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:27:08 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=40142 By Angela Denstad Stigeler

Every summer is a chance to fall in love with fresh tomatoes all over again. In my book, those vine-ripened beauties need little adornment and I like best to eat them as fresh and unprocessed as possible. But when you want to highlight summer’s best in a new way, here’s a great recipe to make use of much garden bounty.

Generally known as ezme, which is a Turkish word meaning ‘crushed,’ this sort of tomato dip is rather like an equivalent to salsa. Eaten with fresh pita bread, yogurt dips, eggplant, and seasoned grilled meat patties, it’s an essential part of a summer feast. What’s more, it can be tailored to your taste or the contents of your garden; there seem to be as many versions as there are people who make it. So long as you start with a base of very ripe tomatoes and chop everything very finely, you’ll end up with a tasty Turkish-style treat. So be sure to get your fill of sun-filled flavor with the freshest of produce and this perfect summer crush.

Turkish Tomato Dip

(Antep Ezmesi)

3 very ripe beefsteak tomatoes

1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded

1 red or green bell pepper

1 medium onion

1-2 red chilies, or equivalent amount of red chili paste or sauce

A large handful of fresh parsley

1-2 teaspoons fresh mint

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon vinegar

Salt to taste

Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Meanwhile, fill a bowl with ice water. Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins crack. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them immediately to the ice water bath. When cool enough to handle, peel off their skins, slice them in half and discard the seeds. Chop the tomatoes as finely as possible without turning them to mush. Place them in a large bowl.

Chop the cucumber, bell pepper, onion and chilies as finely as possible, mixing each successive addition with the tomatoes. Very finely chop the parsley and mint. Add the herbs and all additional ingredients. Adjust seasoning to taste. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. Serve with slices of fresh pita bread and hummus. ]]> http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/a-summer-crush/feed/ 0 Grab your running/walking shoes, first annual Camp Winnebago 5K run/walk is August 29 http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/grab-your-runningwalking-shoes-dirst-annual-camp-winnebago-5k-runwalk-is-august-29/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/grab-your-runningwalking-shoes-dirst-annual-camp-winnebago-5k-runwalk-is-august-29/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:26:10 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=40140 By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

Camp Winnebago invites you to their first annual Camp Winnebago 5K run/walk. The event will take place on August 29 beginning at 10 a.m.

Runners/walkers can pre-register at active.com or contact Josh Gran, Camp Winnebago board member and organizer of the event.

“We hope to have as many participants as we can,” Gran said.

On active.com simply search races near Caledonia, Minnesota and you will be directed to the sign up page.

The route will take runners/walkers through the scenic Camp Winnebago trail system and around the Winnbago grounds.

Several area businesses have donated sponsorships as part of the event which has helped make it possible.

“We appreciate the support of so many of our community members,” Sheri Allen, Camp Winnebago board member said. “Without them we couldn’t have held this event.”

All proceeds will benefit Camp Winnebago and its continued mission of providing recreational opportunities to children of all abilities and special needs; as well as providing vacation options for adults with developmental disabilities.

Any questions or to sign-up contact Josh Gran at 507-458-6300. ]]> http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/25/grab-your-runningwalking-shoes-dirst-annual-camp-winnebago-5k-runwalk-is-august-29/feed/ 0