Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Preparing For Your Vacation

Whether you’re planning to get away for spring break, or planning a family vacation this summer, here are some helpful tips to prepare for your vacation.

1.      Set a budget – And stick to it!  While it may be tempting to upgrade your hotel or room, or book reservations for fancy restaurant, you don’t want to run out of money half-way through the trip.  What will hotel, flight and car rental cost?  How much do you want to allot every day for meals?  Keep to that budget.  And if you come in under your budget, then you’ll have some extra so spend at the end.

2.      Make flight/hotel reservations – If you plan to travel during the busy season, call well in advance for hotel and flight reservations so you get what you want.  But be prepared to pay extra during the summer or over holidays when rooms and flights are scarce.  If you’re traveling during a slow time, it’s still best to make reservations ahead of time.  There may be an event going on in the area (like a conference), that might make finding a room more difficult.

3.      Check flight restrictions – If you’re flying, check the new security restrictions.  What can you pack in checked luggage?  How much can it weigh?  What can you take in your carry-on?  How early do you have to be there for the flight?  Checking these things ahead of time will mean less stress later.

4.      Pack according to weather – Look at the weather report before you leave.  While you may be expecting ideal weather, the area might be experiencing temperatures or conditions above or below normal.  Be prepared so you don’t have to buy clothes while you’re out there.

5.      Stop mail/newspaper delivery – Put in a delivery stoppage for mail and newspapers.  You don’t want them piling up at your house while you’re gone.  If you plan to have someone watching the house, then make sure you tell your sitter to check for papers and mail and bring them inside.

6.      Notify local law enforcement – If you are going to be gone, it’s good to notify your local law enforcement.  They can do a drive-by to check on matters and look for anything out of the ordinary.

7.      Make arrangements for house/pets – If you have pets, you’ll need to arrange for someone to walk/feed them, or you’ll have to board them.  If you’re traveling during a busy time, call sitters/boarders well in advance to reserve your spot.  If you’re going to have someone watch your house, give them the security codes/keys, etc. they will need, and make a list of emergency numbers for them at the house.

8.      Pay bills before you leave – Check to see if anything will be coming due while you are gone, and pay ahead of time, or schedule payments with online billpay.

9.     Confirm reservations – Before you leave, confirm ALL travel reservations.  Sometimes flights change last minute, or hotels lose your booking, or car rentals set aside a compact car instead of a minivan.  You don’t want to be caught stranded or inconvenienced.

10.   Clean your house/fridge – What’s better than coming home to a nice clean house after a restful vacation?  You’ll have enough  to do to catch up with laundry, mail, phone calls, etc., without having to clean your house, too.

11.   Don’t advertise on Facebook – I can’t stress this enough!! Don’t tell the world you are going on vacation for two weeks!  It is an open invitation to thieves.  Even if your posts are private, friends of friend of friends can sometimes see your posts through notifications.  Your address is public record.  Thieves will find you.

Finally, enjoy yourself!  And if something does go wrong, accept it and move on.  There is always a solution.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ten Steps to Cleaning out Your Closet

Is your closet overflowing?  Are you running out of room to put all those new sweaters and accessories you received over the holidays?  Follow these ten steps to clean out your closet.

  1. Pull everything out of your closet and sort accordingly.  Put all dress slacks together, jeans together, turtlenecks together, etc. Complete outfits, such as a suit, can stay together as a unit.
  2. Only clothes and accessories belong in your closet.  That means no wrapping paper, framed art work, skeins of yarn or old tax returns.  If you can’t wear it, move it.
  3. Evaluate every category.  How many of each do you need?  There is no magic number.  Your lifestyle will determine this.  If you’re a professional, you’ll need more dress pants and blouses than a technician who wears a uniform to work.  If you only dress up occasionally, then you don’t need four formals and twelve dresses.
  4. What fits?  Weight often fluctuates, but that doesn’t mean you need a wardrobe in three sizes (current weight, and up/down a size).  Keep what you’re wearing now.  Get rid of the rest.
  5. What do you like?  How many items in your closet are things your family gave you as gifts, but you don’t like?  Why is it taking up room, when that space could be utilized by something you love. 
  6. What looks good on you?  Maybe the color isn’t quite right for you, or a skirt is too long for your short frame.  If you don’t feel flattered, then don’t keep it. 
  7. Set up donation box as you sort.  Drop in all those pieces that don’t fit, you don’t like and don’t look good on you.  Someone else will be happy with it!
  8. Replace the articles of clothing back into the closet according to category.  Store all sweaters together, skirts together, tees together, etc.  You can further sort by season, keeping short-sleeve tops separate from long-sleeve, for example.
  9. Purchase organizers for accessories.  Hanging bags are useful for purses, shoes, and sweaters.  There are hangers designed specifically for accessories such as scarves, belts and jewelry.  See photos for examples.  This will keep things sorted and easy to find
  10. Keep to the “One in, one out” rule in the future.  If you bring a new pair of jeans home, get rid of an old pair.  If you buy new shoes, find a pair you don’t wear anymore and get rid of them.  This will keep your closet from getting overcrowded.

Remember, you use 20 percent of what you own 80 percent of the time.
  Find that 20 percent and get rid of the rest!