SFG Breadcrumb

Web Content Display

North American Company Blog


Quit Smoking - Start By Making a Plan



With increasing costs of tobacco products, higher insurance premiums, greater risks of disease, and new laws across the country banning smoking in public, there are many incentives to give up smoking. However quitting the use of an addictive substance like tobacco is an incredibly difficult thing for many to do. As we observe the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout this week, take some time to encourage someone you know to develop a plan to quit.


Nicotine, a drug naturally found in tobacco can be as addictive as heroin or cocaine according to the American Cancer Society. When a smoker tries to quit or goes for long enough without tobacco, they may have to deal with the unwanted side-car of dependency—withdrawal. Both physical and emotional in nature, withdrawal can cause a smoker to experience some very unpleasant things like dizziness, depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, headaches, and weigh gain (just to name a few). With the negative symptoms that can crop up from trying to quit, it’s not hard to see why it can be a formidable challenge. Thankfully quitting is possible, and it all starts with a plan:


Pick a date. Choose a day when you are committed to quitting—whether a random day or a significant one, it is important to give yourself a timeline.


Decide how you’ll do it. Whether going cold turkey, cutting back, replacing cigarettes with gum, using a prescribed medication, or attending meetings there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Just make sure you have a plan prepared that makes sense for you.


Replace the old with the new. Throw out the cigarettes, and stock up on things like gum, hard candy, toothpicks, etc. to keep your mind off the physical act of smoking. Replace your old routines with new ones that don’t involve lighting up, and avoid situations where the urge to smoke is strong.


Get your friends involved. Build a network of support and accountability by letting your friends and family know about your decision to quit. Ask your friends who smoke to not do it around you.


Keep your resolve. Whatever method or combination of methods you choose to use to stop, quitting takes commitment—even in the face of withdrawal symptoms and psychological urges to smoke.

While quitting may seem like an insurmountable goal, it can be achieved by researching the options, recognizing the challenges, and defining a path for success. Visit the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout resource page for additional information on how to quit smoking.



NAM-3397  11/15



A Millennial’s Guide for Financial Planning


According to a recent survey by Bankrate, the biggest retirement fear among Millennials is running out of money. If you’re part of the millennial generation and haven’t gotten around to retirement planning, now is the time to stop procrastinating. It’s vital that you take steps to secure your future, sooner rather than later. Here are some tips to help with a long-term financial strategy:


1.      Make a Budget

It’s important to know what you’re spending and how you’re spending it. Creating a budget that takes into account costs for essentials (food, shelter and technology), bills, debt and savings, will help you to better organize and understand your financial priorities. If you don’t set aside money you might not be able to pursue potential goals like going back to school or buying your first home.


2.      Understand Good Vs. Bad Debt

Not all debt is necessarily bad. Debt that helps you generate income and increases your net worth is considered “good.” Your student loans, for example, fall under good debt because you invested in an education. Credit card debt, on the other hand, can be bad. It’s important to build credit history, but be careful with your cards. Any debt that doesn’t go up in value or generate income can hurt you financially. To get debt free, put extra cash toward the debt with the highest interest rate first.


3.      Start NowEven If It's Small

As a millennial, you are probably new to investing, but it should be a priority. The earlier you start the better off you will be down the road. Make sure you contribute to your employer’s 401(k) or equivalent retirement plan. Many employers match the amount offered on contributions when you reach a certain level, so take advantage. Some retirement plans also offer target-date retirement funds, which do much of the investment work for you. Make sure you do your research on all the options available to you, and get started soon! You could be missing out on thousands of dollars by procrastinating.


4.      Spend Wisely and Save

It’s a good idea to put some money away before you even have a chance to spend it. Before buying that shiny new Star Wars toy, ask yourself if you really need it. Try going out to eat twice a week instead of every day. Making a few changes to your spending habits can have a tremendous impact on your wallet. A savings account also gives you a buffer in case you lose your job or have a medical emergency. Try to put away at least three to six months of living expenses in savings.


5.      Ask for Financial Advice

Transitioning to the real world after college can be difficult. But you likely know more than a few people who can give you advice on how to navigate your financial life. Reach out to people you trust – parents, friends, professors – to help you find a financial professional, and start planning for your financial future.



Manage Your Money with FREE Financial Apps


Manage Your Money with FREE Financial Apps

Balancing your budget no longer has to be a stressful affair filled with piles of receipts. Today there is a better option. In fact, there are a few. A variety of financial apps now offer you an easier way to manage your accounts and help you stay on track with spending.


Here are 6 of the best, FREE budgeting and personal finance programs that can help you maintain your money and sanity:


Level Money

The Level Money app works with your bank accounts, automatically tracking cash flow and calculating your income and recurring bills. It then suggests what your spending should be on a daily, weekly and monthly schedule. Digit transfers money every 2-3 days to your Digit savings with a no-overdraft guarantee. It lets you see exactly how much you have in your account, reinforces positive habits and provides insights about spending and saving.


Download Level Money here



Mint is a full service tool that syncs up all your bank accounts, credit cards and investments, and allows you to manage your spending and budgeting on your smartphone or your desktop. It shows deposits, expenses, credit card debts and other investments in real time. Mint also offers cool charts and graphs to show you where you are spending money and even provides help with making smart financial investments and long-term decisions.


Download the Mint here


Pocket Expense

Pocket Expense doesn’t sync with your bank accounts, instead it requires manual entry for all your transactions in order to bring them together. Categorize your transactions, track your bills and set budgets to achieve your savings goals. A handy color-coded calendar tab lets you look at expenses per day, week or month. Once you set up your budgets you can view charts for your spending.


Download Pocket Expense here



Digit is designed to help you “save money, without thinking about it.” The app connects to your checking account, automatically scans your income and spending patterns, and then finds small amounts of money it can safely set aside for you. You can withdraw from that savings account anytime and Digit allows unlimited transfers with no minimums or fees.


Download Digit here



GoodBudget offers a traditional budgeting system that allows you to categorize your monthly expenses in “envelopes.” GoodBudget users can select time frames and then record and track how much they’re spending from each envelope. This app offer an easy way to help keep your spending under control.


Download GoodBudget here



Mvelopes offers an envelopes system similar to GoodBudget, but it requires you to make a realistic look at your means by defining your income and creating a budget. Mvelopes separates spending from the total amount in your bank accounts so you’re spending based on a smart budget rather than how much is in your accounts.


Download Mvelopes here



The Empty Nester Guide to Downsizing


So you’re an empty nester now. The kids have all moved away and suddenly you find yourself in a space that’s way too big for one or two people. You don’t need the extra rooms, the material goods or the hassle. But starting over can often be a daunting challenge. How do you go about downsizing?


Here are three suggestions for adapting your home to a new lifestyle:


1.      Clean Out Your House

Once you’ve decided to move, the first thing you need to do is get your family home ready to sell. That means getting rid of the stuff you don’t need any more. Start by writing a list of all the items you love and can't live without, then start going through your house at least three months before you move. Try taking some time once a week or each day. The older we get the more we tend to hold onto things that remind us of our past, so sorting through everything in your house will take time. If you have a hard time de-cluttering, consider hiring a professional organizer.


2.      Think Long-Term

When you make the decision to look for a new house, take time to think about what your life will be like without your kids around. Empty-nesters are often surprised by how much time they actually devoted to their children’s activities. Your next home should accommodate your new lifestyle changes and priorities. Make sure to figure out what you need and don’t need in a new place. Do you really want take care of a pool? How many bedrooms are necessary? Do you need a two-story home, or should most of the living space be on the ground floor? Long-term considerations when downsizing also include finances, health, proximity to transportation and other factors as you age.


3.      Move When You Can

Make sure you move when you are able not when you are forced to. The older you get the harder it will be to maintain your family-sized house. Many empty-nesters are stubborn about moving out of a home with so many memories. It often takes a fall down the stairs or a major illness to pressure them into making a change. But by that time moving is usually a much bigger challenge, both financially and physically.



What a Company's Financial Strength Means to You


What goes into your decision to buy something? Research? Recommendations? A gut hunch about a product or provider?


If you're in the market for a hammer, you can easily do a little browsing online to comparison shop and read some reviews. Looking for a car? It's pretty much the same experience, although you may take a little more time checking out that late model sedan that you've got your eye on before writing a substantial check.


Choosing an insurance provider can be a lot more challenging. It's not simply buying a tool for a job, or a car to get you from one place to another. The product can be finicky and hard to understand in the best of circumstances. And any guarantees are only as good as the company that stands behind them. So how can you determine what is the best company to do business with?


Fortunately, there are independent agencies that evaluate insurance companies and publish ratings based on their relative financial strength:


·  A.M. Best

·  Fitch

·  Moody’s

·  Standard & Poor’s


Each of these agencies rates companies according to somewhat  different criteria,  rating scales and standards, but there are important commonalities. The rating agencies  look at a company’s balance sheet, recent and historical performance, business profile, and other critical factors. The better the rating, the more secure the company.  Be sure to research among all the agencies to get the clearest picture of a company’s stability.


What it Means to You


Insurance companies are there to protect you from financial disasters. But what if the company is no longer financially solvent? You can find yourself without that protection and without the hard-earned dollars you put toward it. Premiums can be lost and payments can be frozen. And you may find yourself scrambling—and paying more—to replace the coverage that you’ve lost.


That’s why it’s so important to choose a highly rated company (and to periodically monitor the company’s ratings for significant changes). The agency ratings provide a vital picture of your insurer's ability to keep its commitments to you, the customer. It’s about that most valuable commodity in the insurance business: trust.

Related Links


·  A.M. Best Company, Inc (http://www.ambest.com)

·  Fitch Ratings (http://www.fitchibca.com)

·  Moody’s Investor Services* (http://www.moodys.com)

·  Standard & Poor’s Insurance Ratings Services* (http://www2.standardandpoors.com)


*Requires free registration to access




Showing 1 - 5 of 98 results.
Items per Page 5
of 20

Web Content Display

North American Company Blog


RSS (Opens New Window)
Showing 1 - 5 of 98 results.
of 20