Richard Milz thinks the Chicago Bears are for real!

Richard Milz thinks the Chicago Bears are for real!

Chicago Sun Times via Richard Milz

Are the Bears for real? Long snapper Patrick Mannelly, a remnant of the Dave Wannstedt era, has been around here too long to fall for that one.

‘‘We’ve started off 3-0 and that’s great. But we’ve had good starts before and fizzled or things have happened,’’ said Mannelly, who has played in a franchise-record 234 games with the Bears. ‘‘I don’t think you can say we’re better than we were in prior years. We’ve got a lot of games to go.

‘‘We were 7-1 last year [and didn’t make the playoffs]. We were 7-3 [in 2011] and playing some of the best football we’ve played since I’ve been here and Jay [Cutler] goes down. We’ve got the potential to be a pretty good team. But you can’t say that yet.’’

Bears coach Marc Trestman is even more adamant that the Bears’ 3-0 start is not an indicator of a breakthrough season for a team that has missed the playoffs five times in the last six seasons — despite records of 3-1 (2009), 7-3 (2010) and 7-1 (2012).

‘‘Past performance is no indication of future success. It can’t be,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘You’ve got to go out every day and earn it in practice and do it on Sunday.

‘‘Nothing in the past is relatable in my opinion, other than the fact that we have signs that we can be a good football team and we’ve got good people and good character in our locker room to get it done.’’

Trestman is new in town, but you don’t have to be here as long as Pat Mannelly to know that some of those signs are indeed indicators that what the Bears are doing now is real. Even Mannelly can see that.

‘‘Offensively you see a little difference [from previous teams] and a lot of that has to do with coach Trestman and his scheme, but also the talent we have,’’ Mannelly said. ‘‘We have an o-line that Jay has been sacked [only] three times. You look outside and see [wide receivers] Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and [tight end] Marty Bennett — I mean, we haven’t had that before. That makes a difference. Just as a fan sitting on the sideline watching, you look out there and say, ‘That’s a talented offense.’’’

It remains to be seen how much of a difference that will make, but already there are enough signs to indicate that general manager Phi Emery and Trestman are not building a house of cards.

That’s not to say the Bears are going to win the Super Bowl — though noted soothsayer and Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Ditka thinks they are. Like the rest of the NFL, the Bears are a key injury from returning to the non-playoff muck. If they don’t improve on offense and defense they will ultimately disappoint. But already there are indications this team will have more staying power than the faux contenders of previous years. Here’s a few to consider:

BETTER COACHING

The Bears have two rookies — first-round pick Kyle Long and fifth-round pick Jordan Mills — not only starting on the right side of the offensive line, but playing well. When’s the last time that happened?

But it’s more than that. Trestman and his veteran staff have instilled a discipline and focus that allow players to maximize their potential. Cutler isn’t just better this season (94.0 passer rating, 10th in the NFL); he’s better at the right times — in the first quarter (117.0 rating) and the fourth (108.5).

The Bears, who had more false starts than all but five NFL teams last year (25), have not had a false start this season — the first time the Bears have not had a false start in three consecutive games since 2001. The Bears had 21 penalties through three games in 2012. They’ve had 11 this season. Sunday’s game at Ford Field — where the Bears had nine false starts in a 24-13 loss in 2011 — might be the ultimate test. But the Bears have given every indication they can handle it.

CONSISTENCY

Trestman, a master of measured response and discipline, has a history of consistent performance — with his players and coaches and on the sideline.

His Montreal Alouettes teams in the CFL rarely slumped — only twice losing three games in a row. In five seasons in Montreal, his Alouettes never lost more than three games in any five-game stretch.

The Alouettes were nearly as good in the second half (29-16, .644) as they were in the first half of the season (30-15, .667). His only significant collapse came in 2011, when the Alouettes lost their last three games to finish 10-8, then lost to a sub-.500 team in their first playoff game. But that was after Trestman had won two Grey Cups in three appearances.

JAY CUTLER IS BETTER

In his previous four seasons with the Bears, Cutler has been a disappointment for a franchise quarterback whom the Bears traded two first-round draft picks to Denver for in 2009. His accuracy dropped form 60.5 in his first season to 58.0 in 2011, when he missed the last six games with a broken thumb.

Under Trestman, Cutler’s accuracy is at a career-high 67.3 percent. He’s still not perfect, but he recovered from fourth-quarter interceptions to throw game-winning touchdown passes against the Bengals and Vikings. He’s finishing strong, too. In his last five drop-backs of the first three games, Cutler has a perfect 158.3 passer rating.

BETTER OFFENSIVE LINE

Former GM Jerry Angelo deserves credit for acquiring Cutler, but it was Emery who recognized that Cutler has to be in a comfort zone. Emery revamped a shaky-at-best O-line with four newcomers — he signed left tackle Jermon Bushrod and left guard Matt Slauson in free agency and drafted Long and Mills.

The Bears still are 22nd in total offense through three games, but the new line has protected Cutler (three sacks — he was sacked 11 times in the first three games last year) and avoided penalties. No false starts and two holding calls. Most of all, it has kept Cutler in a positive frame of mind — by this time last year, he already had shoved and berated J’Marcus Webb as they returned to the sideline after an aborted drive at Lambeau Field.

SECOND-HALF SCHEDULE

Even when the Bears were building their 7-1 first-half record, the potential for disaster was looming in a difficult second-half schedule that included the Texans, 49ers, Seahawks and Packers.

Things can always change in the NFL, but a similar scenario is less likely this season. The Bears play the Lions (2-1), Ravens (2-1), Cowboys (2-1) and Packers (1-2) at home in the second half and the Rams (1-2), Vikings (0-3), Browns (1-2) and Eagles (1-2) on the road. Unless the subtle but significant signs of progress are a mirage, the Bears will have the opportunity to build on their early success.

Chicago Sun Times via Richard Milz

Ways to Waste Your Money

Ways to Waste Your Money

Rich Milz via Yahoo news

Nearly everyone has holes in their budgets. And as with other kinds of leaks, you may have hardly noticed some of them. But those small drips can quickly add up to big bucks. The trick is to find the holes and plug them so you can keep more money in your pocket. That extra cash could be the ticket to finally being able to save, invest or break your cycle of living from paycheck to paycheck.

We’ve updated our popular list of money-wasters with even more tips and resources to help you cut unnecessary expenses from your budget. Consider these 28 common ways people waste money. If any of them sound familiar, start plugging your budget holes right away.
Carrying a Balance

Debt is a shackle that holds you back. For instance, if you have a $1,000 balance on a credit card that charges an 18% rate, you blow $180 every year on interest. Carrying a balance can also cost you down the line in the form of a lower credit score that will trigger higher interest rates on your loans.

Get in the habit of paying off your balance in full each month – or at least limiting your balance to 25% or less of your available credit.
Buying Brand-Name Instead of Generic

From groceries to clothing to prescription drugs, you can save money by choosing an off-brand over a fancy label. And in many cases, you won’t sacrifice much in quality. Clever advertising and fancy packaging don’t make brand-name products better than lesser-known brands. For example, a 30-day supply of cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor costs about $154, but a generic version costs half as much, according to DestinationRx, which creates drug-comparison tools for insurers and consumers.

QUIZ: Are You Saving Enough for Retirement?
Paying Late Fees and Missing Deadlines

istockphotoIf you pay a stack of bills every month, it’s easy to overlook one or two every now and then. But if you miss a credit card payment by even one day, you will pay a late fee of $25 ($35 if it’s the second time in six months). Your credit score could also take a hit if you pay your bill late. Your history of on-time payments accounts for 35% of your FICO credit score — more weight than any other factor. If you pay the bill within 30 days of the due date, the lender might not report the delay to the credit bureaus. But if you let the bill go longer than that, the card issuer is more likely to inform the credit agencies and turn over your case to its collections department.

If you have a good payment record — especially if you have paid on time for an entire year — call your card issuer and ask that the late fee be waived. To avoid missing deadlines, set up payment alerts to be delivered by e-mail or a text message from your credit card company.
Buying Insurance You Don’t Need

You only need life insurance if someone, such as a child, is financially dependent upon you. That means most singles, seniors and kids don’t need a policy.

Other policies you can probably do without include credit-card insurance (better to use the premium to pay down your debt in the first place), rental-car insurance (most auto policies and credit cards carry some coverage) and mortgage life insurance (a regular term-life insurance policy is more comprehensive). See 5 Insurance Policies You Don’t Need for coverage that isn’t worth buying.
Overspending on Gas and Oil

There’s no need to spring for premium fuel if the auto manufacturer says regular is just fine. You should also check to make sure your tires are optimally inflated to get the best gas mileage. And are you still paying for an oil change every 3,000 miles? Many models nowadays can last 5,000 to 7,000 miles between changes, and some even have built-in sensors to tell you when it’s time to change the oil. Check your owner’s manual to find the best time for your car’s routine maintenance.

To lower your gas costs even more, consider one of our picks for the 15 Most Fuel-Efficient Cars, 2013.
Keeping Unhealthy Habits

Smoking costs a lot more than what you pay for a pack of cigarettes. The average price per pack of cigarettes in the U.S. is $6.03, but the health-related costs per pack are $35, according to the American Cancer Society. Over a year, those added costs can amount to $12,775 for a pack-a-day smoker.

Another habit to quit: indoor tanning. There is now a 10% tax on indoor tanning services. As with cigarettes, the true cost of tanning — one of the most dangerous forms of cancer-causing radiation — is higher than the price you pay each time you go to the tanning salon.

Once you kick your bad habits, you’ll save even more if you institute these six healthy habits.

QUIZ: Test Your Financial Fluency
Paying Too Much for a Mutual Fund

ThinkstockMutual fund fees can weigh down performance. The average diversified U.S. stock fund charges about 1.3% a year in expenses. If your fund isn’t beating its benchmark, you’re better off buying a low-cost index fund or exchange-traded fund that matches the benchmark. For example, you’ll pay an annual expense ratio of just 0.05% to invest in the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI), which tracks the CRSP US Total Market Index. On a $50,000 investment, that’s a savings of $625 per year over the average managed fund.

It is possible to outperform a benchmark with a well-managed fund (although it’s not guaranteed). Stick with no-load funds, which can save you more than 5% in sales charges. See our favorite no-load mutual funds in the Kiplinger 25. And watch out for other nickel-and-diming, including low-balance fees or charges for paper statements.
Passing up Tax Breaks

There’s a good chance you’re among the millions of taxpayers who overpay taxes each year by overlooking deductions to which you’re entitled. Failing to maintain a file of tax receipts throughout the year, rushing to file your taxes at the last minute, and fearing an IRS audit are all reasons that may keep you from claiming perfectly valid deductions. See if you’ve missed one of these commonly overlooked tax breaks. If you have, by all means, claim it! That money is yours. Just be sure you have the documentation to prove it.
Opting for a Low Insurance Deductible

ThinkstockA low deductible may seem appealing as you ponder a costly claim down the line, but you’ll pay a lot more in higher premiums. Boosting your deductible from $200 to $500 can reduce your collision and comprehensive auto insurance premiums by 15% to 30%; raising it to $1,000 can save you 40% or more. If your homeowners insurance deductible is $500, increasing it to $1,000 can lower your premiums by up to 20%. Besides, when you have a low deductible, you might be tempted to file claims more frequently for small amounts. Insurers don’t like frequent claims on your record and can punish you with higher rates.

Before raising your deductible, however, make sure you have enough cash in your emergency savings account to cover it if you ever file a claim. You won’t have to rely on costly credit cards to bail you out.
Leaving Your Money in a Low-Interest Account

If you’re stashing your cash in a traditional savings account earning next to nothing, you’re wasting it. Make sure you’re getting the best return on your money. Search for the highest yields on CDs and money market savings accounts. And consider using a free online checking account that pays interest, such as ones offered by Ally Bank and EverBank.

For more ideas, see 10 Best Ways to Earn More Interest on Your Savings.

Richard Milz Via Yahoo news!

Chicago now murder capital of U.S., FBI says

Chicago now murder capital of U.S., FBI says

Move over New York, the Second City is now the murder capital of America.

According to new crime statistics released this week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Chicago had more homicides in 2012 than any other city in the country. There were 500 murders in Chicago last year, the FBI said, surpassing New York City, which had 419.

In 2011, there were 515 homicides in the Big Apple, compared with the 431 in Chicago.

But as the Washington Post noted, residents of Chicago and New York were much less likely to be victims of a homicide than some Michigan residents. In Flint, for example, there were 63 killings — a staggering number when you consider Flint’s population is 101,632 — “meaning 1 in every 1,613 city residents were homicide victims.” In Detroit, where 386 killings occurred in 2012, 1 in 1,832 were homicide victims.

Guns were used in the vast majority of slayings in the United States last year. According to the FBI data, 69.3 percent involved a firearm.

Overall, violent crime — homicides and aggravated assaults — was up less than 1 percent in 2012, according to FBI data.

There was some good news in the report. The estimated number of burglaries declined 3.7 percent in 2012, and property crimes (down 0.9 percent) fell for the 10th straight year.

Click here for the full report.

Cities with the most homicides in 2012

1. Chicago | 500
2. New York | 419
3. Detroit | 386
4. Philadelphia | 331
5. Los Angeles | 299
6. Baltimore | 219
7. Houston | 217
8. New Orleans | 193
9. Dallas | 154
10. Memphis | 133
11. Oakland | 126
12. Phoenix | 124
13. St. Louis | 113
14. Kansas City | 105
15. Indianapolis | 101

Source: FBI

Via yahoo news and now Richard Milz

Richard Milz with the top 10 highest-paid college majors

Richard Milz with the top 10 highest-paid college majors

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To what extent does your college major dictate your future income? Very much so, according to recent research conducted by Anthony P. Carnevale, Jeff Strohl and Michelle Meltonan at Georgetown University.

The team interviewed hundreds of full-time employees holding various bachelor ‘s degrees and calculated each area of study’s median reported earnings.

The range of earnings is staggering. The highest-paid area of study—petroleum engineering—makes $91,000 (134%) more than the lowest-paid area, counseling psychology.

The researchers wrote that income isn’t the only thing to consider when selecting a major, but hoped their research would help students make educated financial decisions.

Check out the team’s entire findings here.

Top 10 highest-paid college majors

1. Petroleum Engineering: $120,000

2. Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration: $105,000

3. Mathematics and Computer Science: $98,000

4. Aerospace Engineering: $87,000

5. Chemical Engineering: $86,000

6. Electrical Engineering: $85,000

7. Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering: $82,000

8. Mechanical Engineering: $80,000

9. Metallurgical Engineering: $80,000

10. Mining and Mineral Engineering: $80,000

Top 10 lowest-paid college majors

1. Counseling Psychology: $29,000

2. Early Childhood Education: $36,000

3. Theology and Religious Vocations: $38,000

4. Human Services and Community Organization: $38,000

5. Social Work: $39,000

6. Drama and Theater Arts: $40,000

7. Studio Arts: $40,000

8. Communication Disorders Sciences and Service: $40,000

9. Visual and Performing Arts: $40,000

10. Health and Medical Preparatory Programs: $40,000

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VIA USA TODAY!

 

Richard Milz thinks the USO lunch Bag is the perfet back to school bag!

Richard Milz thinks the USO lunch Bag is the perfet back to school bag!

Support the USO – and get your lunch bag!

Available exclusively through Facebook, this reusable lunch bag shows off your support of the USO and our troops. Donate $15 or more and we’ll send you a USO lunch bag – perfect for back to school or bringing a homemade meal in to work.