The move part 3-Tips for searching for your new home

The move part 3-Tips for searching for your new home

Form a solid relationship with your realtor

We were very lucky with our first home purchase in that we were able to team up with a super awesome realtor who understood us, our needs, and our personality.  If you don’t mesh and the realtor does not understand your needs it will be very difficult them to help you find your home.  When building that relationship be sure that you both are able to communicate clearly and in a timely manner.

Know your price range

Before even starting the home search most realtors will require you to get a pre-approval from your lender to ensure you are ready and able to purchase a home in your price range.  Remember that just because you are approved for a loan of a certain amount does not mean that you can actually afford that home.  Keep in mind that as a homeowner you will incur many more expenses that you may have not needed to worry about as a renter. (Repairs, replacement appliances, maintenance, ect.) Purchasing a condo or townhouse? Don’t forget to factor the HOA fees.

Know your community

Once you’ve decided you want to buy a house the next thing you need to decide is where.  Use sites like Realtor.com or Truilla.com to get an idea of what houses go for in the areas you are interested in.  Be  very clear with your realtor about the areas

Know what you want

So you know what you have to spend and the area you are interested in; now its time to decide what you need.  Generally speaking, its not financially wise to purchase a home if you plan on moving in two or three years; so when you put together your requirements think about the future.  Decide how many bedrooms and living areas you need as well as if you need a garage, yard, pool, patio, ect.

Know what you can live without

Depending on your area of the county and your price range you may have to make some sacrifices.  Maybe to get the three bedroom home you want you may have to settle for only a one car garage or a house without a patio.  Sit down and discuss what items are very important and what is non-essential. This also means be realistic; you can’t get everything on a shoestring budget, but you can get something.

Once you start the search be diligent with reviewing homes regularly

Right now we are in a seller’s market. Homes are going fast (Mine sold in hours.) and you don’t want to fall in love with a home but wait too long to put in an offer and lose it. Keep up to date with new homes in the MLS that meet your needs and plan to see new homes regularly.  Once you start looking at homes be ready to put an offer in the moment you find one you love. Even after you’ve put in an offer (before it is accepted), keep an eye our for your next option.

Have a plan for your offer

When you find the perfect home and decide to make an offer, time is of the essence.  Have documents from your lender ready as well as easy access to however much you plan to put down as earnest money.  This is money towards closing costs that the buyer puts down when they sign the contact.  This money is generally held in escrow and most often can be returned to the buyer if the deal falls through. Know any contingencies you must place on the offer as well as how long of a closing period you need.

 

After that its a waiting game!  Check back next week for my post on sealing the deal and getting your next home under contract.   Follow up Facebook for updates on new posts!

 

Happy Planner box kit (Summer 2016) review

Hey everyone, I just got my hands on one of the new planner box kits by Me and My Big Ideas, the creators of the Happy Planner.  This summer they released several kits for teachers, students, fitness lovers, and everyone else. The student planner kits are dated, however the rest are undated which means they can be used right away or stored for future use.  Perfect for gifting! These kits are currently available at Michael’s stores and the mambi shop.  They retail for $34.99

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The planner I chose is titled “Best Year Ever” and includes monthly and weekly spreads for twelve months.  It also includes stickers for date labels as well as month labels.  An added bonus are decorative and motivational stickers, sticky notes, and magnetic bookmarks.

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The monthly layout for this planner is fairly simple, each month has a color and so the weekends in the monthly view and the sections in the weekly view with both carry through this color.  The color of the month can also be found in little embellishments throughout the month as well as the divider.

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One of the things I love about this planner is the “Currently page” This is the page at the beginning of the month where you can document current events, favorites, goals, birthdays, and other important notes.  This is a great page to work on as you start to form your month, as well as one to look at at the end of the month to see how you have progressed.

 

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Oh, and this title page is just adorable, isn’t it?

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Have you purchased one of these kits?  What do you think of it?  Share below!

Happy Planner house hunting free printable

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Home Search Planner Printable (4)

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Happy Planner, and one of the things I love the most about it is how customizable it is. With the use of a punch I can put just about anything in my planner.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, we are currently in the process of selling out current home and purchasing another.  We received the good news the other day that our house in under contact so we the hunt for a new home has begun! I put together these simple little printables to help us narrow down our choices and make the best selection.

This file is  in PDF format.  Print at 100% on an 8.5x11in sheet of paper and then cut down to Happy Planner size. (7in x 9.25 in)I suggest using something a little heavier than copy paper as it is thin and will show through. I like this cardstock. After you’ve cut down the sheet punch it and add it to you’re planner.

Need a punch?  Get one here!

The new Happy Planners are out!  This one runs through December 2017.

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Here we go:

Download the PDF file here!

Like this insert?  If you use it tag me in a photo on Instagram! @_amberdowns.

Note: this post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store.  This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you.  Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page. My printables are free.

Happy Planner sidebar printable

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Instructions-Print at 100% on regular paper, card stock or sticker paper. Cut and attach in the note secton of he weekly spead in the Happy Planner.Like

Hey everyone, I put together a new free printable for the Happy Planner.  This one is for the notes sidebar on the Happy Planner and Erin Condren planner.

With this printable, print it on regular paper, card stock, or sticker paper. Print at full size. (100%).  I use a paper cutter to get my lines straight.

Download the PDF HERE.

 

Need a punch?  I have this one and love it!
The new Happy Planners are out!  Grab one here!.
Looking for sticker paper?  I buy this one from  Amazon.
I cut my stickers with a Silhouette Cameo electric cutting machine.
On a budget?  Try the Gyro-cut to cut your stickers.
Looking for more?  Check out my archive of free printables.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

 

What I read : June 2016

Copy of March Favorites

 

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
I first checked out this book back in January when I had heard a buzz about it, but I got busy and didn’t get around to it before it was due back to the library. Anyways, I had heard more good things back it in May so in went ahead and got the audio book version of the title since I am spending so much more time in my car with my new job. Well, it was great. If you are looking for inspiration or a reason to keep up with your creative work this book is perfect.


Still life with Tornado by A.S. King
While at the American Library Association annual conference in June I was able to pick up an advance copy of this new book by A.S. King. First of all, I love her books; she truly gets what life as a teenager is like. Like her 2015 novel As I Crawl Through it, Still life takes the pains of being a teen and adds an awesome surreal element that is sure to entertain and intrigue readers. This story follows Sarah, who is convinced nothing original will ever happen to her and she has lost the will to art. Look for my full review of this title in September prior to its October 11th release.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
This is a book that has been on my to-read list for some time. I keep seeing it, wanting to check it out, and then passing it over for something else. I finally had the chance to download the audio book and give it a listen. Guess what? I really enjoyed it. This short, humorous YA novel is about a gay teen and the secrets and life surrounding his eventually coming out in high school. What I love about this book is that it includes the LGBT community, but in a normalized fashion. Yes, he is gay, yes, he still “in the closet.” but the book isn’t really about the fact that he is gay, it is about high school and all the crap that it entails. Oh, did I mention it was funny?

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
Continuing on the Jojo Moyes bandwagon, I listened to One Plus One. Like Me Before You, this novel is about a young woman who is in the pits of despair who will do anything for the people she loves. This emotional story is uplifting, funny, and has a a better ending than Me Before you.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home: A Novel by Carol Rifka Brunt
This was my totally random book choice for the month. An older patron came into my library looking for it as her adult daughter was reading it in a book club and suggested it. I figured this was enough of a recommendation to go ahead and try it myself. Oh, and the cover looked cool. This book in set in the 1980’s and is about the life of teenage outsider before and after the death of her uncle due to AIDS. This is a heartwarming story of family, secrets, and sisterhood.

June Favorites

I can’t believe June is over already. It seriously flew by! Anyways, we are in the thick of summer now and I want to go ahead and share with you a few of my current favorites.

App: Anylist
This nifty little app has been very useful for us.  It allows users to have both personal and shared lists.  I use it for our grocery list.  I am the worst about remembering the items my husband requests I purchase at the store and when I am in the store often times he is unreachable by phone for his requests.  With the app I just have him (and myself) add items as we find we need them and then whoever is in the store can pick them up.  I also have an personal shopping list in there for items I want to remember to purchase when at the store. Right now AnyList is only available on iOS devices. Oh, did I mention the best part?  Its free!

Avocado

Just like the rest of America, I am currently OBSESSED with avocados.  I put them in my smoothies, on my quinoa, on toast, and in just about whatever else I am making.  For Father’s day I tried out a new recipe that was delicious on chips.


My Planner Life blog
A week ago I ran across a new blog, My Planner Life, and I fell in love!  Nicola has beautiful free printables for planners and she includes Silhouette files.  Anyways, check her out and don’t forget to add her on Instagram.

 

How I plan my week

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How I functionally plan my week in The Happy Planner

As you may know, today is the first day in the new 2016-2017 Happy Planners.  In honor of today I wanted to share a little bit about how  use my Happy Planner to organize and plan my week.  I know I have posted on this topic before, but today I want to focus on the parts of the week planner that i use and how.  This post will be about what works for me; of course everyone’s life is different so my system may not work for you, but it might give you ideas and insight into how to make your planner work for you. Please not that although this post in similar to a “plan with me,” I will be focusing on my general layout/planing system instead of the creative process of putting together an appealing layout.

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First of all this planner has a Monday start. Because of this I sit down before the start of the week and start thinking about the week ahead.  I prefer to do this on Sunday, but it could happen any day Friday-Sunday that I have the time.  First I speak with my husband and jot down his schedule for the week as well as any engagements he has or has roped me into.  Because he works in entertainment his schedule is not fixed. I like to know his additional plans for the week as well so that I can plan means or plan my own events.   Now that I have an idea of the general make up of the week I can sit down with the week view of my planner.



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The first thing I do with my weekly view is my decorating.  As you my have noticed from my spreads, I tend to keep my weekly layouts simple with lots of white space.  Today I went a little wild and downloaded a free printable weekly kit from My Planner Life.  I stumbled upon her blog last week and it is awesome!  She also includes free Silhouette files so you can print and cut her stickers.  I chose this kit for the week of June 27-July 3rd.

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When I place my stickers I am already thinking about where and how I want things.  I keep the same basic setup each week so it is relatively easy.  The top section of each day is my to do list.  This is where I jot down tasks as they come to me.  I refer to this section the most and I like it to be simple and readable. This is also where I place functional icon stickers like yoga, trash, and others.

In the middle section of each day I have a place for my dinner plan, my  husband’s work schedule, and any other events or important things going on that day.  I also mark holidays, important work meetings, and other events in this space.  If you have kids this is a great place to record their events, playdates, or school functions. Or, if you’re in school jot down your own school events.  I write down all or most of my meals at the beginning of the week.  After they have been decided on I look through my fridge and pantry and add any grocery items that I need to my grocery app, AnyList.  This app shares my list with my husband so that we can both add to the list as well as see it when we are in the store.  I am notorious for writing a great shopping list only to leave it at home or end up shopping before I was planning on it.

Note on work meetings: I have a separate daily planner for work, however I have been leaving it at work at night so I don;t look at it before I leave the house.  If I have something for work that I need to remember before I leave the house I add in in my personal planner.  All other work events and notes are in my work planner.

The third section of each day is where I do my blog planning.  I like to write down the posts that need to go up along with reminders to do social media.  I also jot down any blog related to-dos in that section as they come to me.

I tend to switch up what I use the sidebar for.  This month I am tracking my spending.  This way I can go back and see if there are any areas in my life where I need to cut back.  In the past I have used this area for a grocery/shopping list, packing list, or just general notes.  See what works for you.


Although I like to decorate my planner I always try to keep the focus on functionality first. This means a neat organized layout with space to write down everything I need in a clear and logical fashion.  With the start of this new planner I am working to dedicate myself to really following through with my plans.  To do this I am making it a habit to look at my planner first thing when I get up as well as right before bed.  This way I can ensure I am reviewing the day and preparing for whatever I will need.

Like this planner?  Get your own here.

Want free planner printables?  Check our my archives here.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free.  Enjoy!

 

Travel planner inserts

 

 

Free travel information planner inserts for personal sized planners.  Print and cut these inserts for your next vacation!A month ago my husband and I traveled to Maryland to attend his high school reunion and do a little visiting and sight seeing.  Because we were flying and short of space, I left my regular planner at home but opted to bring my small Kate Spade personal planner.  I have been using this planner off and on for travel, events, and note keeping.  After the trip, I noticed for for travel there are a few main topics I wanted to keep notes on. Because of this, I made this set of inserts specifically for traveling.  These are not dated sheets and are instead notes sheets/prompts that can be used to ensure that when you are traveling you are bringing all the important information with you.

 

Please read:
If you choose to use these inserts please be aware of your own personal security. Keep the planner on your person at all times and carry it safely in your bag. Travel information is sensitive and should be treated as such. 

 

Click here for the PDF: travel Inserts

To use these inserts please print the PDF file at 100%.  I printed on regular computer paper, however if you want something thinker you might enjoy this 24 lb. paper.

Need a punch? I love this Rapesco punch because it works for both personal sized planners and a5.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free.Anyways, enough talk, here is the printable.  Enjoy!

Free printable summer planner stickers

 

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Free Printable Planner Stickers with Silhouette file! (1)

With summer here I wanted to put together  new sticker set for my new Happy Planner. These stickers are similar to my spring set, but still awesome. I hope you enjoy using them in your planner. They are designed to fit in the Happy Planner as well as the Erin Condren planner and will work in many others.

This printable is designed for sticker paper you can print onto regular paper as well. As always, I have provided this printable in both PDF form as well as a Silhouette file for those with Silhouette machines.  Silhouette owners- download the file and open it with the silhouette software.  The cut lines will be ready to go.  Be sure to check your blade settings! Download the Silhouette file HERE.

 

summer flowers (1)

Click the image below to be taken to the full size image.  Print and cut.

Need a punch?  I have this one and love it!
The new Happy Planners are out!  Grab one here!.
Looking for sticker paper?  I buy this one from  Amazon.
I cut my stickers with a Silhouette Cameo electric cutting machine.
On a budget?  Try the Gyro-cut to cut your stickers.
Looking for more?  Check out my archive of free printables.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

 

Six tips for saving money at Michaels

If you’re anything like me, then you love craft stores. I am there all the time for planner supplies, personal craft supplies, work supplies, and sometimes just to get some inspiration.  However, if you’ve ever been in Michael’s then you know you can easily drop a pretty penny there. I am going to share with you here some of my tips for saving cash at Michael’s.

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1 Download the app:
The first thing you need to do to start saving at Michaels is to download their app.  The app is free and available for Andriod and iOS devices. With the app you have access to store locations, coupons, and sales flyers at the tip of your fingers.

2. Check the ad:
Michaels have items on sale all the time.  These sales very from 25%-60% off and BOGO Free and BOGO 1/2 off of items.  You may sporadically see B2Get1 Free and other sales throughout the store.  Most (But not all) coupons are for regular priced items.  If you plan to use a coupon you need to check if an item is on sale before you attempt to use the coupon.

2. Check your coupons:
Generally if you have the app all available coupons will show up there.  Of course you could have special coupon from an event, email, or other source. Michaels regularly puts out a 40% off one regular priced item coupon.  This can be found in the app, ad, or on a receipt from a prior purchase.  This coupon can be used over and over again, but is limited to once per day.  Because there is a Michael’s near my workplace, if I need more than one item I just go back the next day or have my husband go with me and buy it.  Be sure to check the wording on the coupon.  Some coupons only apply to one item, some coupons only apply to regular-priced items.  The wording matters.  Many items are regularly excluded from coupons.  These items (currently) include Silhouette, Circuit, Polaroid, and other brands as well as everyday value products and others.  Check out the entire policy here.  Keep in mind these are just the general exclusions, check the fine print on your coupon to see what exclusions apply.

3. Subscribe to emails:
New email subscribers receive a 20% off their entire purchase coupon.  This AWESOME coupon includes sale items. I suggest waiting until the items are want are on sale and then subscribing to the email list to get a coupon to use on top of the sale price.  Example:  Project Life albums are on sale 40% off.  You purchase on that is regularly priced $21.99.  With the sale is it $13.19 and then when you use the 20% off coupon it will come to $10.55.  That is half off.  Awesome!

4. Pay with gift cards:
Still want to save?  Pay with a discounted gift card.  Whenever I make a major purchase I check Raise for discounted gift cards to the store I am interested in.  Right now they have discounted cards up to 21% off.  Click here to get $5 off your first gift card.

5. Use competitor coupons:
Michaels, along with other craft stores, accept competitors coupons.  This means if you have a coupon to Jo-Anns for 60% off a regular priced coupon you can use it at Michaels.  Big Deal, I know.  They currently accept coupons from AC Moore, JoAnn Fabric and Crafts, Ben Franklin, and Hobby Lobby.

6. Be aware of sale cycles:
Just like at the grocery store, product lines and categories that go on sale do so on a regular basis.  As I already mentioned, I know that Project Life items regularly go 40% off every few weeks.  This means that instead of wasting my 40% off on one item coupon on an album, I’ll wait for it to be on sale and then use an email coupon or another coupon that includes sale items. Of course some items, like adhesives, never go on sale, so using that 40% off one item coupon on that would be a smart idea.

Have another tip? Share it below!

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store.  This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you.  Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page.