Sewing: A Frugal and Fulfilling Hobby – Save Money by Sewing Your Own Clothes

Howe's First Idea Of The Sewing Machine

Once upon a time, sewing was a widespread skill common to the poorest and richest of women as well as men of many professions. The reason for the former popularity of sewing is that it is a skill both basic and necessary. Nowadays, because of manufactured clothing and looser fashions, we are more inclined to search for clothes that we fit into rather than have clothes made to fit us.

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Frugal Travel Begins Before the Trip: Vacation Preparation Checklist

Beach Vacation Photo by Anna Cervova

Merriam-Webster defines the word “vacation” as “a respite or a time of respite from something”. Well, if that “something” from which one is taking a respite is “peace and quiet” then I would have to agree with the definer. Otherwise, gathering from my 2 recent “vacations” (one to Disneyland, one [working] vacation to Las Vegas from which I have just returned), vacation seems more like a respite from peace and quite to me.

Anyhow, I thought I would put together a pre-vacation checklist to help all you other poor vacationers prepare for your vacations, because if there is one thing I have learned, vacations are costly – and I am not just talking about transportation, lodging and amusements, but all the little everyday necessities – and the only way to travel frugally is to travel prepared. Also, the better prepared you are, the better the time you will have on your vacation; knowing that everything back home is taken care of and that you are prepared for most common travel mishaps will allow you to enjoy yourself to the utmost.

And yes, I am the extremest of Type A personalities, but admit it, sometimes it is handy to have someone who has the bases covered. You’ll certainly be glad to have one of us along when the unexpected happens because we’ve planned and prepared for it (or at least have given some thought to it beforehand so as not to be caught by surprise). 😉 This isn’t a list of what to pack (toothbrush, underwear, etc.) but rather more of a pre-departure to-do list to help prepare for your trip. I’m not saying you need to do everything suggested, but hopefully a few items will prove helpful or relevant to your circumstances.

Prevention is the best medicine

Just because you are on vacation, it doesn’t mean everyone else is. This goes for utility companies, burglars and your own plumbing and wiring. When you come home from vacation, you want to make sure you still have an intact home to come home to, and aren’t met with a mountain of additional expenses. Therefore before you leave, you might want to try some of the following:

(These checkboxes are check-able, so feel free to come back and use it.)

Home and Business

Schedule (online) or mail all your bills that are due during and a few days after your vacation in case of travel delays. You never know if there may be technical difficulties that prevent you from accessing your accounts while you’re away. Better to pay early rather than pay late fees.
Library Books
Return or renew library books. Libraries often offer a vacation extension loan period if you want to take a few books with you. It might be a good idea to bring a few books if traveling with children who might need an occupation at airports, on flights, etc. If taking library books, just be sure to count the number of books you take and bring them all back.
Windows & Doors
Secure and lock all doors and windows, including any in the garage, and draw blinds or curtains.
Appliances & Faucets
Unplug all appliances including computers, TVs, lamps, hair dryers, etc. Check that all faucets are securely shut off and not dripping or leaking.
Request a Mail Hold with USPS if you’ll be gone for more than 3 days (this can be done online). This way any packages that arrive while you’re gone won’t be left outside your door and stolen or blown away.
If you have a neighbor or two that you can trust, let them know that you will be away and ask them to help keep an eye on your place for you. Offer to do the same for them the next time they will be away. A small thank-you souvenir when you return probably wouldn’t hurt.
If you have houseplants but would prefer not to have people entering your home, consider asking a neighbor if he/she wouldn’t mind keeping and watering them for you at their home while you’re away.
Leave at least one light on that is visible from the exterior of the house. If you will be gone more than a few days (or even for a few days), it would probably be worth the money to purchase an automatic timer that switches a lamp on and off at certain times. Using energy efficient bulbs would definitely help cut costs.
Business Email
If you have a business, be sure to set up an automatic Vacation Reply for your email(s) to let customers and clients know that you are away and that you will get back to them as soon as you return.

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Falling Off Your Financial Horse: If You’ve Never Fallen Off a Horse, You Just Haven’t Ridden Enough

"Die Croupade"; aus Die Reitkunst im Bilde von Ludwig Koch

Our family owned horses for several years in my late teens and early twenties, and friends of ours were always asking us to take them riding. Many amateur riders like to boast that they have never fallen off a horse, which must mean they’re good riders, right? Wrong.

Contrary to popular belief, the best riders are those who have fallen the most times. Seasoned horsemen always say that if you have never fallen off a horse, it just means you haven’t ridden enough.

In the years in which we had horses, I probably had at least one or two (if not more) falls a year. No one who spends a good part of their hours on horseback can be 100% alert and in control 100% of the time. Horses get startled, agitated, excited, run away, buck, etc., and riders sometimes just lose their balance and fall. It’s a natural part of the learning process.  No one becomes an advanced rider without ever falling off.

Some falls are inconsequential and you get up without a scratch. Others might leave you a little scratched, a little or seriously bruised, with a concussion, broken bones or unable to walk for several days. I’ve had most types, but, thank the stars, escaped the concussions and broken bones.

Circumstances differ, but one thing remains the same. The longer you wait to get back in the saddle, the harder it gets. The best cure for getting over the fear of falling is to brush yourself off and immediately get back in the saddle. If you don’t get right back on, but instead go straight home to dwell on your close call and bruises, the next time you get in the saddle, if you ever do, it becomes a lot scarier than it would’ve been.

I also believe that falls come when you need them. When you ride horses regularly, you forget about the many dangers of riding. If you haven’t fallen in a while, you tend to get overconfident, too comfortable and careless. Falls often come at this point. After a fall, you are once again acutely aware of the dangers and find yourself more alert and careful … until history repeats itself all over again.

So what does this have to do with personal finance?

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