Some good stuff from the Frugal Blog Network:
Kelly from Almost Frugal gives detailed instructions, complete with pictures of each step, for making an awesome-looking laptop case. Kelly has some seriously good sewing skills, and I love that she’s sharing her knowledge with her readers (and now with mine!).
Frugal Zeitgeist has a post about the virtues of living in a small home. Our house is about 1300 square feet, and I definitely wouldn’t want anything bigger. We have three bedrooms, one of which is a guest room/scrapbook room/office, so it does some multi-tasking. Our son’s room is just used to store his stuff, change his diapers, and for his afternoon naps, since he spends all day with us, and all night in our room. We could manage with less space if we had to. Our plan is to stay where we are, in our first house, forever. So we won’t be downsizing, but we also won’t be upsizing, even if we have another child someday.
Not Made Of Money has some great ideas for fall family fun that doesn’t cost a fortune. With kids back in school, weekends become a great opportunity to spend time together – but that doesn’t mean you have to spend money to do it. Go for a bike ride, go to a pumpkin patch or a corn maze, go hiking to look at the fall colors – show your kids all the great ways to have fun that don’t have anything to do with malls.
Andy from Tight Fisted Miser writes about his plan to retire at 50. He points out that his past retirement goals have come and gone, because he wasn’t as focused on saving as he is now. I have a feeling he’ll make it this time. One of the most interesting parts of his plan is that he’s budgeting $1000/month to live on after retirement. I think a lot of people would see this number as too low, but if you really look at only what you need, most of us could probably manage on a lot less than we think. We should have our home paid off in the next ten years or so, which will make our retirement income needs much lower than our current expenses. Health insurance is one area that is tough for early retirees. My family currently pays $430/month for two adults in our early 30s and one child. And we have a $3000 deductible, with only a small amount of preventive care covered before the deductible. For people in their 50s, the coverage is much more expensive. Bridging the gap between retirement and age 65 (when Medicare kicks in) can be a pricey venture. If your employer offers early retirement with health insurance benefits, you’ll be way ahead of the game. Otherwise, plan to pay for your own insurance for the years before you turn 65, and plan to spend some serious money to do so. Get the highest deductible you can, and make sure you have the money saved to meet the deductible should you need to. And my best advice on this subject is to keep yourself as healthy as possible. That way, you’ll be able to qualify for health insurance, and you won’t have to spend as much money on health care. And if you smoke, find a way to quit! Smokers in their 50s pay a lot more for their health insurance than non-smokers.