By Evelyn Pyburn

Almost a fourth of Montana’s incumbent state legislators in Montana were ineligible to file for re-election this year because of term limits. It’s been over 30 years since Montana adopted term limits, amid much controversy and with lots of contrasting predictions about their impact.
So how have term limits impacted the state legislature and representative democracy?
Not very much, according to Brad Molnar, Laurel, who is a Montana State Senator, representing District 28. In fact, Molnar says there really are no term limits, given the options that state legislators may serve eight years in the House, eight years in the Senate, and then repeat.
In Montana, this year, according to Center Square, term limits accounted for 75 percent of the open districts in Montana, the largest percentage since 2014. The largest effect was on the state Senate, where they left 12 of the 25 districts holding elections open. In the House, 18 of the 100 districts up for election were left open.
Molnar is perhaps the only legislator who can compare the two eras as an active legislator. Not many people served in the state legislature 30 years ago and is a state legislator today. Molnar was first elected to public office in ‘93, as a Republican Representative. Term limits became a reality with the passage of Constitutional Initiative-64 in 1992.
After serving eight years in the House and being himself term-limited out, instead of running for the other house, as many legislators do, Molnar ran for the Public Service Commission, to which he was elected in 2004 and then re-elected in 2008.
Molnar then ran for Senator to represent District 28, in 2020. He assumed office on January 4, 2021 and his current term ends on January 6, 2025.
As a freshman legislator just learning the ropes 30 years ago, Molnar had an opportunity to gain some unique insights. He served with legislators who had already served 20 or 30 years when term limits went into effect and who were still able to serve another 8 years – so there were plenty of long-termers in the state legislature during Molnar’s tenure, and they were quite used to having things their way.
“In some ways the legislature was more constrained 30 years ago and in other ways it is more constrained now” says Senator Molnar.
Molnar discovered as a freshman legislator 30 years ago that the success of a bill depended upon “decisions of the leadership.” “The leaders determined if it would pass or not. It was not a partisan issue. You would stand in line because they had been in power so long and had developed friends over for so long – now you don’t see so much of that.”
The parties tend to stick together more now, said Molnar. Any horse trading that goes on tends to go on within the parties and there is considerably less bipartisanship negotiations.
And there are fewer caucuses. We used to have caucuses all the time. We would interrupt a debate and caucus to understand and talk it out. All of that has changed,” said Molnar. “Only two or three Senate caucuses were held last session.”
“We no longer talk together. We are preached to,” he added.
“First, ‘they’ would tell you not to bring a bill up,” if it was troublesome for some reason. But “if it came up, because the other side brought it up, then we had discussions, which we could do in caucuses because you could say things and you could change your mind as they were closed to the press.“
But now decisions are made in the “Solutions Caucus.” The Solutions Caucus, today, plays a key role in shaping state policy, according to Molnar — it is the center of power in the state legislature. “They call the shots…. that is where the money is. They join with Democrats on spending issues so the minority of the Republicans negates the majority of Republicans and tempers rise. Their ‘solutions’ are always bigger government. I am not aware of any of their solutions that do not now need solutions. ”
The Solutions Caucus has been described as a bloc of comparatively moderate Republicans who break rank with Conservatives to vote with Democrats in support of a measure. Explained one member of the caucus in a news report, “You get into the ring and you work to solve problems.”
Molnar has always been tenacious about any issue that violates the constitution – especially going back 30 years when the Constitution seemed far less in vogue as a political issue. Nowadays, the Constitution is on everyone’s lips, so is there more awareness of issues in relation to their Constitutionality?
Not at all, said Molnar, noting that there is a small cadre of legislators who do focus on issues from a Constitutional perspective, and they work together to try to bring awareness to others. “We fight for the rights of everybody,” he said. But, it is not a popular pursuit. There were several bills passed in the last state legislature, declared Molnar, which were “highly unconstitutional, and known to be so.”
In fact, Molnar said he is in agreement with about a third of the Court decisions that over turned 24 (so far) of the laws passed in the last session. He expressed concern, though, that the courts are activists attempting to write state law, usurping the legislature’s role.
Molnar lamented that today there is little depth to the discussion of issues. “It is all about talking points, not facts,” he said, “Before we dug into the facts. We listened to opposing points of view. There is a desire (now) to silence any dissent. Now it degenerates into name calling. I get in trouble for violating rules, when in fact the issue is the interpretation of a rule that seems to challenge dissent. Compared to past sessions, I have walked into an alternative reality.”
“Because I respect the constitutional limits placed on the legislature, I am a dinosaur now,” said Molnar.
One argument in opposition to term limits that was often raised was the claim that they would give the bureaucracy greater power. That didn’t happen, said Molnar. “The bureaucracy is more powerful, but not because of term limits, but because of the personal weaknesses of the legislators.”
Molnar said that the Republicans are so glad now to have a Republican Governor and to have a majority that that they are reluctant to rock the boat. This result is the silencing of many voices. “The Governor has a right to nominate his cabinet but legislators should ask challenging questions – you need people to ask questions, and get honest answers” said Molnar. Legislators are reluctant to ask questions and discouraged from doing so, according to Molnar.
CI-64 prohibited the following public officials from seeking re-election if they already held the office for 8 years in any 16-year period: Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Representative, State Senator and US Congressional Representative.
In 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down term limits on congressional terms, saying that states do not have the constitutional authority to regulate the tenure of federal legislators.

Lance Fred…

KLJ Engineering is welcoming Lance Fred to its Billings office where he will be working as an associate project manager in the telecommunications department.

Fred has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Montana State University in Bozeman and has held a Cisco Certified Network Associate certification.

Chris Barlage…

KLJ Engineering has welcomed Chris Barlage to its Billings office. Barlage, who has experience designing fiber optic and copper plants, will be working as a designer in our electrical department.

Barlage has worked in telecommunications for 18 years.

He earned an associate degree in web development and microcomputer support from South Central College in North Mankato, Minnesota.

[The following goes to show either there’s nothing new under the sun, or it underscores how ineffectual governments are at changing things that don’t work. At least 30 years ago, the famous economist, Lester Thurow, a Montana native, wrote to say that government give-a-ways, subsidies or special tax breaks does nothing to improve a state or community’s economic well-being. That’s before they started totaling into the billions. -editor]

By Michael Farren 

From Governing

Kansas lawmakers recently approved offering $1.3 billion to a mystery corporation for the company to build a new industrial facility in the state. They may think they’ve taken a step toward a brighter economic future, but in reality, they’ve only started another battle — and maybe even opened another front — in the endless economic subsidy wars among states.

Reporters in Kansas and Japan have unearthed indications that a Panasonic electric vehicle battery plant is the prize in this fight. Missouri would make sense as Kansas’ most likely competitor, given that the two states spent decades (and more than $330 million) poaching companies from each other across State Line Road in Kansas City. If true, this would suggest that Kansas was violating the spirit of its tenuous 2019 border truce with Missouri.

However, reports suggest that Panasonic is actually deciding between a rehabilitated site at an old ammunition plant near De Soto, Kan., and an industrial park outside of Tulsa, Okla. That the sites are 200 miles apart suggests that subsidies might affect Panasonic’s decision, although I’d warrant that the 45 percent cheaper cost of electricity in Tulsa has a larger influence.

If Kansas is competing with Oklahoma rather than Missouri, then one border battle has just been exchanged for another. Do Kansas leaders really want to pick a fight with yet another neighbor? For their part, Oklahoma’s policymakers are now confronted with their own no-win choice between rushing to offer their own subsidies (as reports suggest) or taking the high road and risking the appearance of doing nothing in the face of economic aggression.

That may sound a bit melodramatic, but the truth is even more sensational. States and cities spend an estimated $100 billion every year on an arms race that research shows does little to improve their economic outlook. In fact, corporate handouts actually slow down national economic growth.

This conclusion isn’t controversial; few challenge the idea that bribing companies to choose one jurisdiction over another is a bad use of limited taxpayer dollars. Academic research shows that while subsidies can swing site-specific decisions within a metropolitan area, the handouts don’t sway most corporate location decisions between regions. In other words, in the few situations where subsidies may have a substantial influence on a company’s location decision, they don’t actually increase regional economic growth compared to what would have otherwise occurred without the subsidy — as the Kansas City region has infamously shown.

But the practice continues because politicians are stuck in what economists call a “prisoner’s dilemma.” Just recently, for example, Michigan policymakers, motivated by Tennessee and Kentucky’s combined $1.3 billion in subsidies for a set of Ford EV and battery plants, approved $1.8 billion to subsidize a set of General Motors and Ultium EV and battery plants.

Because there isn’t an easy way for policymakers to commit to mutually beneficial cooperation — yet — the default choice is to continue an economically ruinous competition. Kansas and Missouri took the first step with their temporary truce, agreeing to limit the degree to which each could poach businesses from the other. However, that carriage is scheduled to turn back into a pumpkin in 2025. It may not even last that long if Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly — whose executive order is the most precarious part of the agreement — doesn’t win re-election.

What if, instead, Oklahoma — and any other state seeking to free up billions to expand social services and reduce taxes — were invited to join the truce? In fact, leaders in some states are working on something even better: an interstate compact. It’s a constitutionally based contractual agreement to end the current ruinous form of interstate competition, which wastes taxpayer dollars and starves important social programs of funding. States would still be free to compete over who has the best policies for economic growth, but would forswear the use of subsidies.

Eighteen states so far have proposed interstate compact legislation to permanently end the economic arms race, but it would be especially poetic if Kansas and Missouri were the first states to pass it. They have an extensive history of such compacts together, meaning they’re well suited to serve as national role models in taking the next step toward mutual subsidy disarmament. A rivalry over who can cooperate the most would be the best kind of competition.

Michael Farren is a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

By Bob Pepalis, The Center Square

Montana taxpayers shouldn’t worry about the state’s budget once the influx of federal money runs out because of the approach state lawmakers took last session, according to a taxpayer advocacy group.

Revenue estimates by Montana’s Legislative Fiscal Division range from $181 million above forecasts to $956 million higher than set in the Legislature’s joint balance budget resolution passed in January 2021.

“How long does that surplus go on? Because most analysts here think it’s mainly driven by the federal stimulus money,” Bob Story, executive director of the Montana Taxpayers Association, told The Center Square.

Income and corporate taxes have also been a big a part of the state’s budget.

Individual income tax collections through the end of December were $114.2 million, which was 12.7% above the year-to-date collections in fiscal year 2021, the Legislative Fiscal Division report said.

Even without a surplus, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte is expected to work on lowering income tax rates, something he accomplished in the last legislative session. In next year’s session, Story said he expects more legislation to further reduce rates, which would happen even without the big budget surplus.

“That was kind of one of his goals all along was to try to bring down, get back in line again with some of the surrounding states’ income tax rates,” he said.

Corporate income tax collections through the end of December were 29%, or $33.9 million above this time in fiscal year 2021, which was far above estimates.

Coal, oil and gas tax revenues have been down a bit, but might be coming back up, Story said.

But federal stimulus funding during the pandemic has supported the state budget. The American Rescue Plan Act provided $2.7 billion to the state in 2021. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act sent $1.25 billion to Montana and “CARES Act II” provided another $754 million in 2020.

“They did the best they were allowed to do to use it in existing programs where they could or use it … in one-time-only expenditure. So, and I don’t think there’ll be a big, big hit when the federal money finally runs out,” he said.

Montana received $14 billion total in federal funding in the past 18 months, according to Story. A lot of that has been driving the economy, along with a pickup in the tourism industry.

Whether the huge growth in revenue is something that will stay with us or it’s a bubble in the system, he said legislators are reluctant to use it to backfill local government revenue losses from property tax reductions.

All the federal money hasn’t been allocated or spent in Montana, Story said. A lot of it goes into infrastructure projects that will take several years to build, keeping the money churning in the system.

“Everyone’s in the same boat,” Story said. “There’s X amount of construction workers and equipment and supplies out there and every state is scrambling for them.”

A lot of the infrastructure projects funded with stimulus money will have trouble meeting the 2026 deadline. Congress may have to extend the deadline just to get projects that have been on the drawing board completed, he said.

Last week, temperatures across Montana ranged from -10 to -36 degrees, with the coldest spot south of the Little Belt Mountains in Meagher County.

Montanans relied on NorthWestern Energy to keep their homes and businesses operating safely. NorthWestern Energy’s Montana customers’ demand for energy, both gas and electric, was at an all-time peak. according to NorthWestern Energy Vice President Transmission Mike Cashell, however, there was almost no wind which helped created a shortage.  To fill the gap, the company went out into the market to purchase energy, but at such times prices increase dramatically because of the increased demand. Market prices on Wednesday were ranging from $50 to $100 per megawatt, compared with about $35 to $40 per megawatt Tuesday, Feb. 22. 

Plans are progressing for a proposed land trust in Lockwood that is envisioned to develop a downtown area for Lockwood and help address a critical shortage of affordable housing.

Three years ago a group of property owners in Lockwood announced a plan to develop a land trust to help develop a town center for Lockwood. The idea was inspired with the issuance of a plan for land-use development  in Lockwood from municipal  planners who had been overseeing a growth study for Lockwood.

Once Conrad and Teresa Stroebe realized that they owned property in the middle of what was being identified as Lockwood’s business center, they started thinking about how to best develop for a downtown – or what the Stroebe’s call an “uptown” since the area is actually at a higher elevation than much of Lockwood. They talked to other property owners in the area. What emerged was the first serious discussion about land trusts which the Stroebes have remained focused upon and hope that the other property owners will be able to become part of it. 

The fundamental purpose of the land trust is to help keep housing and development affordable for the people of Lockwood. “We want to build a village,” say the Stroebes.

Stroebe said that he believes they will have a master plan developed in the next 90 to 120 days. They will then start building the infrastructure so builders can start building on what is anticipated to be a minimum of 40 acres and hopefully closer to 170 acres, along the upper end of Johnson Lane as it joins Ford Road.

“We are not looking for investors but builders,” said Conrad. The proposed project does not have to be done all at once. It can be developed as the market needs.

Land trusts are not for everyone, explain the Stroebes. If you have to own “the dirt” you probably won’t  be interested in the land trust. “I’m one of those people,” said Teresa, but she sees the potential a land trust holds to address what is fast becoming a crisis of affordable housing. It has become a critical need for the whole county. The Stroebes also point to the need in Lockwood for many more retail stores.

Since the Stroebes first initiated their idea about three years ago, the concept of land trusts have gained more interest and have already been developed in some Montana communities such as Bozeman, Missoula, and Red Lodge. They are actually being used across the country to help deal with affordability issues. But actually the concept of land trusts is not all that new. A century ago people were utilizing the concept in building cabins on publically-owned forest service land with 99-year leases.

A more recent and perfect example for Lockwood, points out Conrad, is the development of the St. Vincent Clinic on the Lockwood School Campus.  While the school district retains ownership of the property, a developer leased the property , built the building, and is now leasing it to St. Vincent Health Care on a 30 year lease, which is renewable on into the future. The developer owns the building, which he can, with the school district’s permission, lease or sell to someone else. In their agreement with the developer, at the end of the ground lease with the school the building becomes the property of the school district.

That is exactly how a land trust can work.

Land trusts are increasingly being used across the country to meet a variety of community needs. Most commonly they are used in meeting residential needs, but they are equally adaptable to serving commercial and retail developments. What the Lockwood property owners are planning is essentially a “planned unit development”, which is a holistic concept  within which a general layout is designed, identifying structure types, streets, utilities, landscaping and other features.

The Stroebes envision a campus kind of development. They have already purchased 700 trees that will be planted this spring on the rolling Lockwood hills, so as the community grows so will the trees.

Stroebe pointed to the development of Shiloh Commons at Central Avenue and Shiloh Road, in west Billings, as an example of a planned unit development, except it isn’t as large, and it is a for-profit project.

As a non-profit organization, Lockwood’s Town Center would probably lease property, long term – such as 99 year leases – with all revenues generated reinvested in the maintenance and continued infrastructure development of the site. Administration of the development would be flexible enough to meet market demands and to be able to adapt as changes occur in the future.

The trust pays for taxes on the land and the home or shop owner pays the taxes on the building.

“It is not to make money but to save money for the community,” said Conrad Stroebe. Teresa noted that it will just be another option for people. They are not really intending to compete with more traditional developers, but they do want to create opportunities by keeping the ever escalating cost of land under control – most especially for low and middle income home owners.

A community land trust (CLT) model is a form of permanently affordable housing in which a community-controlled organization retains ownership of the land and sells or rents the housing on that land to lower income households in exchange for purchasing homes at below-market prices. Owners agree to resale price restriction  that keep homes permanent affordable to subsequent households with similar income levels. Meanwhile, the sellers are still able to build some equity.

Stroebe explained that what that means is that rather than having to spend $75,000 to $100,000 for a lot the builder or home owner just signs a lease. That alone can bring down the cost of a new home by 43 percent.

CLT provides not only the opportunity to get into affordable housing and to build equity, but to also learn about the responsibilities of property ownership.

If they are structured right, lenders are very willing to lend on the properties, because they have demonstrated to have far less risks associated with the property.

A historic number of small businesses are struggling to increase their workforce, according to National Federation of Independent Business’s (NFIB) monthly jobs report. A net 50 percent of small business owners reported raising compensation, up two points from December and a 48-year record high reading. A net 27% plan to raise compensation in the next three months, down five points from December.

“Small business owners are managing the reality that the number of job openings exceeds the number of unemployed workers, producing a tight labor market and adding pressure on wage levels,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Reports of owners raising compensation continues at record-high levels to attract applicants to their open positions.”

Twenty-three percent of owners said that labor quality was their top business problem, down two points from December. Eleven percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem. Reports of labor costs as the top business problem are at 48-year record high levels, just two points below December’s record-breaking 13%.

Forty-seven percent of owners (seasonally adjusted) reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, down two points from December. The number of unfilled job openings still far exceeds the 48-year historical average of 23%.

Small business owners’ plans to fill open positions remain at record high levels, with a seasonally adjusted net 26% planning to create new jobs in the next three months, down two points from December but only six points below the highest reading in the 48-year history of the survey set in August 2021.

Overall, 59% of small employers reported hiring or trying to hire in January, down one point from December. Ninety-three percent of those hiring or trying to hire reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Twenty-nine percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions and 26% reported none.

Thirty-six percent of owners have openings for skilled workers and 22% have openings for unskilled labor. Forty-four percent of the job openings in construction are for skilled workers. Sixty-four percent of construction firms reported few or no qualified applicants, one of the tightest domestic labor markets.


Rent Is Due LLC/Jas Contracting, 1140 1st Ave N, Com Fence/Roof/ Siding, $5,000

G & J Diesel Performance LLC/ Raisin Contracting Inc, 1739 Main St,  Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $52,000

City Of Billings/Warren Transport Inc., 2216 38th St W, Com New Other $1,651,258

Landon’s Legacy Foundation/Bauer Construction, 2216 38th St W, Com New Other, $750,000

JNL Holdings LLC/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 1450 S 32nd St W, Com New Other $2,850,000

W Rimrock Owner LP/Andre’s Construction, 316 S 24th St, Com Remodel $160,000

West Grand Plaza LLC/Jones Construction, Inc, 3039 Grand Ave, Com Remodel, $190,000

Lads Hospitality Associates Ll/ Lads Hospitality Associates LLC, 956 S 25th St W, Com Remodel , $456,625

Shamrock Foods/Yellowstone Basin Construction, Com Remodel – Change In Use,

1323 Main St, $900,000

Jack Gray/ Golden Sands General Contractors, 1313 Grand Ave, Com New Other, $150,000

1400 S 24th LLC/T.W. Clark Construction LLC,1390 S 24th St W, Com New Restaurant/Casino/ Bar, $1,900,000

4M Properties/ JRB Construction, 50 27th St W, Com Remodel, $79,800


Ironwood Land LLC/Colters Construction LLC, 6056 Canyonwoods Dr, Res New Single Family, $405,500

Lorenz Construction/Lorenz Construction, 3504 Crater Lake Ave, Res New Single Family, $256,294

McCall Homes/ McCall Development, 1801 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $217,352

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 6126 Norma Jean Ln, Res New Single Family, $409,521

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 6047 Elysian Rd, Res New Single Family, $155,277

McCall Homes/ McCall Development, 6041 Elysian Rd, Res New Two Family, $224,432

McCall Homes/ McCall Development, 6041 Elysian Rd, Res New Two Family, $258,618

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 6047 Elysian Rd, Res New Two Family, $260,768

Upfront Development/Aaron Higginbotham, 2203 Lindero Blvd, Res New Single Family, $252,888

Diverse Construction/Diverse Construction Llc, 2051 Gleneagles Blvd, Res New Single Family, $263,284

Ferguson, Kristy R/Capp, Jerry Construction, 2264 Greenbriar Rd, Res New Single Family, $268,732

Feusner, Leroy & Lynnette/Image Builders, 2504 Aspen Creek Trl, Res New Single Family, $560,000

Wagenhals Land And Livestock L/ Wagenhals Enterprises Inc, 1105 Daybreak Dr, Res New Single Family, $211,452

McCalls Homes/McCalls Development, 6035 Elysian Rd, Res New Single Family, $260,968

McCalls Homes/ McCalls Development, 6140 Johanns Meadow Ln, Res New Single Family, $283,222

McCalls Homes/  McCalls Development, 1890 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $283,222

Founder and President of America21, Marc Malone, will present a two-hour talk on what the Great Reset actually is and how it can be stopped, on Feb. 18 at the  Big Horn Resort in Billings. Backers of the America21 Initiative of Repealing & Blocking Agenda 2030 include; Republican Central Committee, Yellowstone County GOP, Stillwater County GOP, Carbon County GOP, and the John Birch Society.

“From Lockdowns, Economic Devastation and Inflation to Vaccine-Passports and Shipping Shortages – everything is linked to the Reset which is fundamentally a Climate Change project – not a Covid one”, says Malone, a Philosophy-Science Academic and a man of Faith. “The Great Reset is politically underway via Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development in almost every city in America, and indeed the world. It happens locally. Nothing is more important than ending Sustainable Development, and regaining control of America’s economy and infrastructure. Our future must be the freedom to choose what we do or don’t do, instead of the UN’s Global State choosing it. Our future must be Sovereignty.” The Event will cover topics such as – the importance of faith and significance of the Biblical stories to the Great Reset, why America is under-attack, why Christians are under-attack, how Agenda 21 and 2030 are reshaping our civilization – and the political remedy to Save America from Global Governance. Tickets to the event can be found for $10 at and President of America21, Marc Malone, will present a two-hour talk on what the Great Reset actually is and how it can be stopped, on Feb. 18 at the  Big Horn Resort in Billings. Backers of the America21 Initiative of Repealing & Blocking Agenda 2030 include; Republican Central Committee, Yellowstone County GOP, Stillwater County GOP, Carbon County GOP, and the John Birch Society.

“From Lockdowns, Economic Devastation and Inflation to Vaccine-Passports and Shipping Shortages – everything is linked to the Reset which is fundamentally a Climate Change project – not a Covid one”, says Malone, a Philosophy-Science Academic and a man of Faith. “The Great Reset is politically underway via Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development in almost every city in America, and indeed the world. It happens locally. Nothing is more important than ending Sustainable Development, and regaining control of America’s economy and infrastructure. Our future must be the freedom to choose what we do or don’t do, instead of the UN’s Global State choosing it. Our future must be Sovereignty.” The Event will cover topics such as – the importance of faith and significance of the Biblical stories to the Great Reset, why America is under-attack, why Christians are under-attack, how Agenda 21 and 2030 are reshaping our civilization – and the political remedy to Save America from Global Governance. Tickets to the event can be found for $10 at

By Michael Vondra

What are your financial resolutions for 2022?

      As you know, 2021 was full of challenges. We were still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic when supply chains shut down and inflation heated up. So, if you’re like many people, you might not be sorry to see the year come to a close. But now it’s time to look ahead to a brighter 2022. And on a personal level, you may want to set some New Year’s resolutions. You might resolve to improve your health and diet, and possibly learn some new skills, but why not make some financial resolutions, too?

      Here are a few ideas to consider:

      • Prepare for the unexpected. If you haven’t already created an emergency fund, now may be a good time to start. Ideally, you’d like to have three to six months’ worth of living expenses in this fund, with the money kept in a low-risk, liquid account. (If you’re retired, you may want your emergency fund to contain up to a year’s worth of living expenses.) Once you’ve got this fund established, you may be able to avoid dipping into long-term investments to pay for short-term needs, such as costly home or auto repairs or large medical bills.

      • Boost your retirement savings. The pandemic caused many us to reevaluate our ability to eventually enjoy the retirement lifestyles we’ve envisioned. In fact, 33% of those planning to retire soon said they started to contribute even more to their retirement savings during the pandemic, according to a study from Age Wave and Edward Jones. This year, if you can afford it, increase your contributions to your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan.

      • Reduce your debt load. The less debt you carry, the more money you’ll have available to support your lifestyle today and save and invest for tomorrow. So, this year, resolve to cut down on your existing debts and avoid taking on new ones whenever possible. You can motivate yourself by measuring your progress – at the beginning of 2022, record your total debts and then compare this figure to your debt load at the start of 2023. If the numbers have dropped, you’ll know you were making the right moves.

      • Don’t overreact to the headlines. A lot can happen during a year. Consider inflation – it shot up in 2021, but it may well subside in 2022. If you changed your investment strategy last year to accommodate the rise in inflation, would you then have to modify it again when prices fall? And inflation is just one event. What about changes in interest rates? How about new legislation coming out of Washington? And don’t forget extreme weather events, such as wildfires and floods. Any or all of these occurrences can affect the financial markets in the short term, but it just doesn’t make sense for you to keep changing the way you invest in response to the news of the day. Instead, stick with a strategy that’s appropriate for your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. You may need to adjust this strategy over time, in response to changes in your own life, but don’t let your decisions be dictated by external events. 

      These aren’t the only financial resolutions you can make – but following them may help you develop positive habits that can help you face the future with confidence.

Michael A Vondra

Certified Financial Planner Practitioner

Edward Jones