Thursday, May 30, 2013

Online claim filing resource

A great thing about starting a life insurance policy at a young age is that you will be protected from any eventuality, you never have to worry about a thing. Well, that and the monthly premiums, which will be cheaper.

Parents and grandparents can pay for their children and grandchildren’s life insurance policies the day they were born. These policies commonly build cash value as the child ages, and can be borrowed against for any number of expenses. Various coverage levels are possible, but the end goal is to leave the family without debt upon the policyholder's passing.

Life insurance can be used to not only cover the cost of funeral but to pay off any final debts the person has, as the family remains responsible for those debts upon the person’s demise.

When a policy is created, a beneficiary is named to receive the funds. Generally, people name their spouses and children as beneficiaries, as they are allowed to keep the remaining funds to take care of anything they need.

With varying types of policies available out there, choosing the right one for you can be difficult.’s goal is to provide comprehensive information on how to file a claim so you don't have to spend hours researching.

Check out the website to learn different types of coverage - whole life, term life, and universal life. You can also get information on how to initiate the claim process with the company that holds the policy and find contact information - phone, email address, mailing address, and website address for your policy provider.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The $4,200 Bottle of CHANEL No. 5 perfume

A bottle of CHANEL No. 5 perfume is seen during the No. 5 CULTURE CHANEL exhibit at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris May 3, 2013. The exhibition, which runs from May 5 to June 5, displays works of art, photographs, archives and objects to provide an account of the inspiration which fed the imagination and world of Coco Chanel.

The pitch:

Ah, Chanel No. 5. The perfume that’s considered the world’s most iconic by many a fragrance fan. But if you’re still shopping for Mother’s Day, why settle for just any bottle of the “now and forever” scent when you can purchase it in “its rarest, most collectible form”? That’s how the brand refers to its Grand Extrait edition, which runs $4,200 in its 30-ounce bottling — yes, nearly two pounds of perfume. (A 7.5-ounce Grand Extrait bottle can be had for $2,100.)

But it’s not just the quantity that counts. The Grand Extrait bottle is itself of “exceptional quality,” says Chanel spokeswoman Ruthie Vexler. Each is created through the use of molds, but also benefits from a glassmaker’s individual touch. To complete the package, the bottle is placed in what Chanel describes as a “hand-assembled, artisan-crafted case.” Chanel doesn’t provide exact details as to how truly rare the Grand Extrait is, but Vexler says “very few pieces are produced” each year.

Of course, there’s also what goes in the bottle. Company founder Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel asked legendary perfumer Ernest Beaux to create “a fragrance for women that smells like a woman.” And the complex, floral No. 5 – unveiled on the fifth day of the fifth month of 1921 – was the result. Chanel says No. 5 is still made with care and precision, pointing to the fact that the brand sources the may rose and jasmine that go into the fragrance from its very own fields in France.

The scent has also had plenty of famous fans — and plenty of famous endorsers, from Nicole Kidman to current spokesman Brad Pitt. And then there’s Marilyn Monroe: When asked what she wore to bed, she famously replied, “Why, Chanel No. 5, of course.”

The reality:

As iconic as Chanel No. 5 may be, the idea of a plus-sized bottle of it — priced in the four digits, no less — doesn’t quite smell right to some in the scent biz. For starters, there’s the issue of how long a fragrance lasts once a bottle is opened. “The rule of thumb is two to three years,” says Pamela Netti, a veteran cosmetics industry professional who helped launch Elizabeth Taylor’s perfume and is now behind Kallini Beauty, a brand of antiaging products. And chances are that even the most ardent of Chanel No. 5 fans might not go through 30 ounces in that timeframe; Netti says many women need only a one-ounce bottle per year.

There’s also the matter of whether Chanel No. 5 is the right scent for the recipient — regardless of price. Perfume pros say it’s not just a question of individual taste, it’s also a question of body chemistry — the same scent works differently on every person because of the nature of their skin (and the same person’s skin can change, based on everything from their mood to medications). On top of that, there’s the question of fashion: As “timeless” as Chanel No. 5 may be, some experts say it represents an older-school (and, yes, floral) approach to perfume. “Each era has had a unique fragrance, indicative of the times,” says Mary Ellen Dorey, founder of DoreyAromaTherapy, a Texas-based company. As for modern approaches to perfume, consider the brand Bond No. 9, which takes as its inspiration different New York City neighborhoods and locales (for example, Bond’s Nouveau Bowery perfume, with notes of lime, bergamot, violet wood and Indonesian patchouli, is intended to represent “the sweet scent of Skid Row transitioning to ultra-modernity”).

But price plays a role too. Even the “cheapest” bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume (as opposed to eau de toilette) runs $120 for a quarter-ounce. And scent cognoscenti say perfumes priced under $50 with comparable floral appeal aren’t tough to come by. “It’s hard to replace Chanel No. 5, but you could find a fragrance that is very similar,” says Pamela Netti.

The folks at Chanel don’t argue with these points. Can’t afford the $4,200 bottle? They indeed suggest the $120 one. Looking for something more contemporary? They point to any number of other fragrances in their lineup, including No. 5 Eau Premiere — a “lighter” version of the classic No. 5. (One perfume writer described Premiere as “akin to a dance-club remix.”)

But regarding whether or not that $4,200 bottle could last a Chanel fan for years, the brand has a somewhat different take. As they see it, the Grand Extrait bottle is really a collector’s piece — more for show than for use. Says Chanel spokeswoman Ruthie Vexler, “I think that most people buying the Grand Extrait would not actually open it and would prefer to keep such an investment intact.”
“We are talking about mindfulness; people being mindful and connected. If people are not mindful and not connected, they are disassociated with their money,” explains Karen McCall, co-founder in MoneyMinder Online and author of Financial Recovery: Developing a Healthy Relationship With Money. “Healthy thinkers connect the consequences with their behaviors in one thought process and make the appropriate decision. Unhealthy thinkers disconnect the consequences and rationalize why it’s OK to spend,” she says.

There’s another benefit to tracking a purchase as soon as possible, Valterra insists: “Tracking slows you down and that’s a good thing.”

The Talbots, meanwhile, continue to track their spending carefully, and they even publish their monthly spending online. They’ve turned their trip around the world into a full-time life of travel, and published several books. And it all started with the simple act of tracking where their money was going.
SOURCE: Charles Passy, Yahoo! Finance

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pay Off your Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is a big problem in America today. One recent study found that 1 in 4 people have more credit card debt than savings. Households with credit card debt on average have about $15,000 in debt, and that makes it incredibly hard to make ends meet — let alone pursue dreams for the future.

Do you find yourself in that boat?

If so, don’t despair. The best time to start paying off credit card debt is right now. These tips will help you take control of your debt and start your journey to becoming debt free. These are lessons that I’ve learned through my own personal experience with credit card debt (and from working at ReadyForZero which developed online tools to help people pay off debt). Just remember, paying off debt is not a goal you can achieve immediately — it will take significant time and perseverance.

1. Understand the Risks of Credit Cards

Why are credit cards risky? For a few reasons: first, they make it easier to spend money that you don’t have. Research has shown that we feel more pain when we spend actual dollars than when we swipe a credit card to pay for a purchase. In other words, the credit card actually removes the discomfort of seeing hard-earned money leave your wallet. That’s why it can be so easy to get caught up in credit card debt.

Another potential problem with credit cards is minimum payments — which can keep you in debt for a very long time. Many people simply make those minimum payments while their balance barely shrinks (or perhaps continues to grow!) because of further spending and interest charges.

In fact, the third reason credit cards are risky is the interest. Some cards have  high interest rates — up to 25 or 30 percent! Even if you have a lower interest rate, like 10%, that still means you’re losing money every month when you carry a balance. The interest can accumulate very quickly, which can also keep you in debt for a long time if you’re not careful.

For example, consider the story of a woman named Jennifer who paid off $37,000 in debt, and she said her problem began with a few innocent purchases on a credit card (including a desktop computer). “I pretty much just kept some kind of revolving credit card debt the whole time,” she said. Before she knew it, the debt had spiraled. But thankfully she was able to conquer it after learning some important strategies, including the ones below.

2. Make a Plan of Attack to Pay Off Your Credit Cards

Okay, so now you understand the risks of credit cards. But the question remains: how to pay off credit card debt? To do that, you’ll need a plan. Start by putting all your credit card statements on the table and writing a list of the current balances and interest rates. Make sure you put them in order — from the one with the highest interest rate to the one with the lowest interest rate.

Then craft your battle plan. You want to pay off the highest interest credit card first because that will save you the most money in the long run. So figure out how much you can pay in total (per month) and then load up all that extra money (after minimum payments) and aim it like a bazooka at the high-interest credit card.

Your plan will need to focus on the first card, and once that first debt is destroyed you’ll move onto to the second-highest card, and so on. This way, you’ll save yourself as many interest payments as possible.

Jennifer experienced a big change once she created her get-out-of-debt plan. As soon as she had her monthly goal in mind, she became very motivated and started working hard to make those higher payments every month.

3. Treat Credit Card Debt Like an Emergency

A third important lesson is that you should view credit card debt as an emergency. What this means is doing everything possible to get out of debt faster. A big factor in speeding up the process is to be an expert at budgeting. Make a budget and stick to it every month, while learning to save money in new ways. For example, if you spend a lot on food, try shopping at a different grocery store or limiting yourself to one restaurant meal per month. Or if you spend a lot on clothes, vow to stay away from clothing stores until you’re debt free. Whatever it takes, try to cut your monthly expenses.

These small choices will make a big difference in your debt repayment!

Another idea is to earn some extra income on the side, in addition to your main job. There are freelancing websites online now that allow anyone to apply for freelance jobs and you can spend a few hours a week doing things like typing, organizing, designing, writing, etc. and make some extra money to pay off debt faster.

Jennifer said that a key to paying off $37,000 of debt was making some major money-saving decisions. After thinking about ways to cut her expenses, she realized “If I got rid of this car it would help me pay off my debt a lot faster,” she said. So that’s what she did. She sold her car, and it sped up her progress.

4. Cultivate Your Motivation for Paying Off Credit Card Debt

How do you stay motivated? How do you keep plugging along week after week, month after month, even when it’s hard? We’ve found that the key is to keep your long-term goals in mind and to share your progress with friends and loved ones. You can write down your goal and even add a picture of something that motivates you — whether it’s a new house, a vacation, your retirement — and put it where you will see it every day. This will help you stick with it until you reach your goal!

And if you tell friends and family about your goal, they will almost always help you stay focused too!

Jennifer used both of these tactics. She got support from those around her, and she kept her goal at the forefront. “What I really wanted was freedom — to travel and to be able to grow my business in the way I want to,” she told us. We’re so glad she reached her goal, and we hope that these tips will help you reach your goals, too!
SOURCE: Benjamin Feldman, Yahoo! Finance