My son Michael and his National Championship Ring. Roll Tide!
We could all stand to have a better credit score, but the holidays are obviously NOT so good for your credit cards. So check out some of the facts from a recent FICO report on people with extremely high credit scores . . . they might surprise you.
#1.) People with great credit are not debt-free. On average, the highest FICO score-holders carry SEVEN credit cards.
#2.) But they don't carry many balances. Typically, between credit accounts and loans, they'll have about four debt payments a month.
#3.) Two-thirds of them have less than $8,500 in total debt. That excludes mortgages, but includes car loans. Most of them use less than 7% of their available credit.
#4.) They ALWAYS pay on time. Payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO score. And 96% of the highest scorers have NO missed payments on their credit report. The rest have none in the past four years.
#5.) Some of them have messed up before. One out of 100 has had debts go to collections. And a few . . . about one in 9,000 . . . have even had bankruptcies.
#6.) They keep the same accounts and rarely open new ones. The AVERAGE age of a high scorer's oldest account is 25 YEARS. The average age of all accounts is 11 years.
--So if you need a new car loan and your credit stinks, you can fix it. The bad news is, that new car might be a clunker by the time you do.
If you're planning to look for a better-paying job next year, "Forbes" magazine just put out a list of the most in-demand job skills for 2013.
--Some are pretty specific, like programming skills and sales skills. But the top five are pretty general. Here's what they came up with by looking at Career Builder's recent list of the top jobs for 2013, and the skill-sets you need for them.
#1.) Critical Thinking. Meaning you're able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of other people's ideas, AND your own. "Forbes" says it'll pretty much be a requirement for nine out of ten good-paying jobs next year.
#2.) Complex Problem Solving. It's kind of like the last one, but it means you're not just good at IDENTIFYING problems. You're able to come up with solutions too. Again, nine out of ten of the most in-demand jobs require it.
#3.) Good Judgment. Specifically, you need to be able to understand the costs and benefits of the decisions being made on a day-to-day basis, and how they'll affect the company.
#4.) Active Listening. That means you're a good listener, and you absorb what people say. But you also ask good questions without interrupting.
#5.) Computer Skills. And that's doesn't just mean you know how to type and use the Internet. Eight out of ten good-paying jobs next year will require solid know-how when it comes to software and/or hardware.
(--You can check out the full top 10 list at Forbes.com.)
After the Connecticut shooting, a woman named Liza Long wrote a raw, honest, emotional, and very thought provoking essay on her blog about her own troubled child.
--He's 13 and she discusses the INCREDIBLY SCARY warning signs he's demonstrated . . . and how the U.S. hospital, legal, and mental health system really has no idea how to handle him.
--The post went viral over the weekend and is definitely a worthwhile read. (--You can read it here.)
Have you ever freaked out and wondered whether "The Matrix" is true, and we're all just living in a computer simulation? Or that all of this is just some future civilization's reality show?
--Well, good news. We're about to have a scientific answer to your existential crisis.
--Quantum physicists at the University of Washington say they've figured out a test that will determine whether or not we're living in the Matrix. It gets incredibly scientific when they explain it, but we think we've got the basic gist.
--They're going to run their own simulation of a "universe" on a much smaller scale, to see if it's scientifically possible for fake atomic particles to come together and create unique physical beings that weren't specifically programmed into a computer.
--If they find that it's possible, then there IS a chance we're all living inside of some future civilization's computer. If it's not possible, we're outside the matrix.
According to one recent survey, 90% of companies are planning to throw a holiday party this year, which is up from 74% last year. But a separate survey showed that only about 5% of employees actually CARE . . . even if there's an open bar.
--Here are three more random facts about your holiday work party.
#1.) There's an 80% Chance They'll Serve Alcohol. But you probably won't be able to drink much, because there's a 43% chance your party is being held over LUNCH. Only one-third of holiday parties take place at night.
#2.) There's a 29% Chance It's Being Held at Your Office. But that's not actually the most popular place to have them. About 40% of office holiday parties happen at restaurants.
#3.) There's a Good Chance the Party Will Lead to One of Your Co-Workers Having an Affair. At least according to a survey by AshleyMadison.com . . . the dating site for people who are actively TRYING to cheat.
--72% of women and 60% of men who admitted to cheating with a co-worker said it started at the office Christmas party.
Since we're all about to put on some extra holiday pounds, it's time to think about how to take them OFF. If you're like us, you THINK about exercise . . . then think up excuses to avoid it. Here are five of the top exercise excuses, and ways to beat them.
#1.) I don't have time. If you have a DVR . . . and you watch at least one hour of TV a day . . . you have time to exercise. Use the DVR to skip all the commercials, and a 60-minute show becomes 40 minutes. Then you can exercise for 20.
--Or you can work out WHILE you're watching, by jumping rope or lifting weights. The point is, you can ALWAYS find enough time if you care enough about your health.
#2.) I'm too tired. Here's the thing: Working out gives you MORE energy. Do it first thing after you wake up, and you'll feel better throughout the day.
#3.) I have kids. In case you hadn't noticed . . . your kids LOVE to exercise. So just take them with you. Go bike riding, or go to the park. If they play sports, you can even walk around the field while you watch the game. Anything's better than nothing.
#4.) Exercise is boring. Yeah, it can be, but you don't have to run on a treadmill. Do something interesting, like taking dance classes or even starting a garden. Or exercise with other people. If you HAVE to use a treadmill . . . put on headphones or watch TV.
#5.) I'll just end up quitting anyway. Start small, with goals you know you can reach. Exercise with a buddy who can keep you accountable. And keep a log on Facebook, so your friends can encourage you when you make progress.
--Exercise makes you healthy. And being healthy makes you LIVE LONGER. Plus, you LOOK BETTER. If you can think of it in those terms . . . no excuse will stand up, this time of year, or whenever. (WebMD)
Chicago's WGN news team made a pretty glaring mistake Friday morning, when they reported that a small plane had CRASHED in the middle of the city.
--They showed footage of the wreckage and speculated about what happened for a few minutes . . . until someone in the control room finally told them a plane HADN'T really crashed. It was just a set for the NBC series "Chicago Fire".