Tag Archives: budget

My Erin Condren Life Planner Review

wpid-20150522_155319-1.jpgI’ve been living by an agenda or pocket calendar for years now.  It’s the only thing that has kept me somewhat sane all these years with being a single working mama.  My son used to be involved in everything!  Soccer, Martial Arts, Tutoring, etc.  I had to keep it all written down or I’d very easily forget.  I have been hearing all the hype about the Erin Condren Life Planner and I was very skeptical.  What makes a planner so interesting that she can charge over $50 for one when I can spend $1 at Dollar Tree.  I bought a discounted one that she had for $30 and decided to try it out.

  • It’s extremely durable.  Each cover front and back are laminated and it’s thick too!  It won’t fray, easily bend, or tear apart.
  • The covers are removable.  While I could care less about this feature, those who have money to spend can switch out their covers for holiday designs, custom designs, the season, etc.
  • The coil/binding is like 5x stronger than a regular let’s say notebook coil you’d find on a .99 notebook.  You cannot bend it, squeeze it, or damage it.  I guess you could if you really tried.  But again, its durable.
  • There is a pocket in the back to hold loose papers in, bills, or anything you want to keep on hand.
  • It comes with colorful stickers that can stand out amongst the chaos of your week to highlight special events, appointments, or birthdays.
  • The sheets are reinforced as you can see hopefully from the weekly view picture below.  This makes them a little harder to fall out or tear out easily.
  • I love the plastic zipper pouch it comes with.  It’s a little small and doesn’t hold much, but its a nice feature
  • I love how positive her planners are.  They come with verses of encouragement, words of wisdom, and sayings that inspire.
  • They are super colorful!  Not just black and white like cheapy planners so you’re more apt to use it.  It’s fun!
  • There is a spot for everything.  I used to clutter my pocket calendar up with sticky notes. This planner has a sidebar for notes, lists, shopping lists, anything you want to write there.  At the bottom, there is a spot for menu planning, excercise routines, or anything else you want to put there.
  • There is a monthly calendar view
  • There is a weekly view and each day is separated into Morning, Day, Night sections.
  • It comes with a really thick ruler that hooks onto the coils and acts as a place holder for the week that you are currently in.  I have to say the lamination or design of this ruler is not one of my favorites and honestly its poorly made.  The corners are coming unglued and its bubbling up in the middle.  It is easy to pop in and out of the coil though.
  • It comes with a loose Perpetual Calendar & Contacts.  What I love about this is you can write them down once and move them into new planners each year as you get them.    A lot of planners have these as actual pages that you’d have to tear out.  This is a little book you just put in the next planner and store in your folder.
  • It comes with a few samples of labels, 2 funky paperclips, and a coupon card for $10 off your next purchase.
  • There is a note section in the back and I LOVE this because there is a lot of lines.  It also has pages that are completely blank with no lines and are just decorative.  I use this area for blogging agenda and grocery lists.
  • Erin Condren takes great pride in her products.  She is a genius for buying into the trend of offering carriers, notepads, pens, stickers, budget book, exchangeable covers.  In my opinion, she’s a smart chica.  But she does take pride in how they appear to her customers and I feel this is what keeps people coming back.  It comes in a white box made specifically to hold her product.  The outside of the box even has Damask scroll work in beautiful colors.  Inside is neatly wrapped with brightly colored tissue paper.  Open the box and I swear angels start singing in perfect harmony HAHA!
  • She also takes into consideration all of the suggestions she receives from her buyers.  Her designs are updated using these suggestions annually.  I love how she takes down her products for a short period to surprise her buyers with the latest designs.  Ugh I have to wait until  June 1st and it killing me!!

Overall, I’m pleased!  I will be ordering another life planner when she finally has them on her website.  I love the fact that I can put my family name or my own name or quote on the front cover and it really makes it my own.  I don’t buy into the “prettying” up my planner like I see on You Tube.  I’m talking HUNDREDS of videos showing how to “decorate your planner” OMG you gals are NUTS!  Who has time to spend 30 min with stickers, washi tape, little money stickers for payday, trash can stickers for trash day. Come on, my time is better spent elsewhere.  LOLwpid-20150522_153336.jpgwpid-20150522_153400.jpg

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Tips:

  • Go to Dollar Tree and buy the colorful elastic headbands to keep your planner closed.  Erin Condren sells these for over $6 for 3.  I got 6 plus 2 thick headbands for $1 (as seen above)
  • I bought Sharpie’s fine tip pens in a variety pack.  They were $12 and I split them with my fiance each taking one of each color.
  • I don’t use stickers, just the ones that came with the planner.  You can find them on Etsy or through the E.C. website, but expect to pay over $5 for like 20 stickers.  It’s crazy
  • I keep my pens, mini postit notes, and whiteout tape in a makeup case I got from Ipsy.  It all fits perfectly versus buying one overpriced online.
  • I got a case from Ross to hold everything together like a bag.  E.C. charges $35 and I got mine for $14.99.  All you need is a cheap tablet case.
  • Side Note: I use this planner in conjunction with my Home Management Binder.  Together its an unbeatable and effective system to manage your time and your home. 

PLEASE NOTE: this is my personal review on product I purchased only and what works for ME.

Home Made Sunday!

I was busy busy Sunday! I had a very busy Saturday too though. I worked 6 hours. Woohoo overtime! Gotta love it. Then got dark curtains to keep my house cooler, a bedskirt for $4.99 SCORE! to hide the ugly rails of my free bedframe, and got a dish rack. I disconnected my dishwasher and will now handwash my dishes.

Got all my chores done today too plus made my own laundry detergent about 3 gallons, a gallon of yogurt, and all purpose cleaner. 

I went to the Dollar Store for cheapy things like toothbrushes, shampoo, bodywash, sandwich bags and a gallon jug for my yogurt. I lost the lid to my other one 😦  then went to Kroger for their sale on fresh raspberries 10/$10 which I froze half. Then Aldi for everything else. I had a $100 budget total for two weeks and ended up spending $101.49…not bad!

Overall its a good day! See how to make the above in my recipe page.

American Chop Suey = 3 meals for Less than $4!

I decided to make my mother’s american chop suey recipe for dinner last night.  Its a one pot wonder on the super cheap! 

I used a .33 cent bag of macaroni, .33 can of tomato sauce, .54 cent diced tomatoes, 2.79 pkg of ground beef and spices I had in my cabinet. I used ceyenne pepper, rosemary, salt, pepper, cumin.

Total Price of Dinner!!  $3.99

Out of that I fed my son and I for dinner, saved two more helpings for another dinner, and made a bowl for my lunch today!  WHO HOO!!

Change it up by adding parmesan cheese, canned mushrooms, spoonful of ricotta, or veggies.

Week 1: Setting Myself Up for Success!

So far this week I’ve done the following:

  • Opened a bank account and savings account as another bank.  (ex works for the one we had and I want no chances he has secret access lol!!)
  • Set up direct deposit
  • Signed up and configured Mint (as written in previous post)
  • Made an appointment to consign my old clothes
  • Lowered my two cell phones to the lowest plan available for what we need
  • Started implementing a weekly menu
  • Started a grocery list
  • Signed up for SouthernSavers.com a grocery saving site with coupons!
  • Started collecting the grocery flyers from the two stores I use for menu planning.
  • Downloaded Gas Buddy (an app) on my phone to search for lowest gas prices based upon my GPS location
  • Started this blog for my own accountability

Off to a good start!!

Mint: A Cool Financial Tool

I just signed up for Mint.  www.mint.com

It’s a financial tool I now use to create a budget and stay on top of my finances.  One thing I love about this site is it enables me to embed my bank accounts (scary I know! but most major companies and banks allow them to link so I’m not that worried), categorizes my transactions to fit in my unique budget categories, and keeps a real time tally of what I spend.  I can look at a graph or chart to see where most of my money has gone. I get suggestions such as low interest credit cards if they are lower than what I currently have, setting life goals, obtaining 401k’s and CD’s, its really neat!!! I did have Allstate car insurance and learned I was paying 26% higher than the average and was brought to other companies for a quote…..ended up saving money with Liberty Mutual.  Score!

I set up text and email alerts so when I break budget…..DING!!! I get immediate notice to stop me dead in my tracks.

This works for me……what works for you?? What are ya’ll doing?

I’ve been following America’s Cheapest Family and even they recommended Mint along with one other site I didn’t really pay attention too.  I’ve used Mint in the past, but like other things I let it go over time.  Now its back and downloaded as an app on my Android.

I make it a point to look at it each morning to start my day knowing exactly where I am at.