Happy Holidays Collector’s Bills from Swagbucks

Disclaimer: I earn extra Swagbucks from those who sign up through my referral link, however I only recommend products and services I really love.

Hey guys! I wanted to share some Swagbucks related news today, ya’ll may know I recently became a Swagbucks influencer, because I am so crazy about their program! I’ve been doing it for years now and I’ve earned a good bit of extra money in the form of amazon gift cards! My goal this next year is to save ALL of my gift cards for Christmas 2015 & to see how much I can save up.

One of the best things about Swagbucks is earning through the search bar. I use my Swagbucks search bar any time I need to search anything online, I even have the app on my phone! Every once in a while, Swagbucks offers HIGH VALUE collector’s bills- and it’s that time again- the Happy Holidays Collector’s Bills are out! I’ll making sure to do all my searching through Swagbucks over the next few days to try and collect them all!

If you collect all of these Collector’s Bills you get a 14 Swagbuck bonus!

Here’s what Swagbucks has to say…

From now until 11:59pm PT on Sunday, Dec 14th you can find limited edition Holiday Collector’s Bills. All you have to do is use Swagbucks Search for all your online searching needs, whether it’s finding a recipe for an upcoming cookie swap, or looking for the best deals on the new gadgets for friends & family!

Collect all 4 limited edition Happy Holidays Collector’s Bills & you’ll instantly get a bonus of 14 SB in addition to the other SB you’ve already earned! Who knew that searching online could reward you with so much? If you haven’t yet, Swagbucks is free to join, and many things to earn Swag Bucks, like searching online & watching videos, are free too!

Bonus: when you do things like shop online at major retailers via Swagbucks, you’ll earn various amounts of SB for every dollar you spend. Now that’s getting more value out of your holiday shopping (whether you’re actually shopping, or just looking for things online)!

Join today & start searching for those Collector’s Bills!

How to Budget- Setting Up A Cash Envelope System

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Hey guys! I’m pretty excited about today’s budgeting post. However, I’m going to let the experts do most of the talking today. This post is all about setting up an envelope system and budgeting for expenses with cash.

How to Budget- Setting Up A Cash Envelope System

There was a time when my husband and I were in such financial trouble we were forced to use cash for everything- we literally didn’t even have a bank account. I couldn’t believe how clear our financial situation became on a daily basis when we were using cash instead of swiping a debit card. The impact it had on us was life changing. However, once our situation improved we went back to just letting the money pile up in our bank account, and then draining it back out by swiping our debit card.

In 2015 we are definitely going to make a change. One of my BIG goals is to get our financial situation now (mainly overspending, not prioritizing our funds) under control. I recently came upon this amazing post by Victoria from Happily Ever Strader about how she does her envelope system and I LOVE her methods. I am going to work towards doing what she does this year, so I’ll let you learn it from her! Keep your eyes peeled next month, I’m hoping to create some cute and colorful printable cash envelopes to offer for free!

My plan is to do just like Victoria- pay our bills out of our checking account (obviously, as soon as we get paid) then, I don’t know if I will even have enough cash left to set aside for all of the categories I’m envisioning in my head, but my plan is to label some of my categories priority categories and work towards filling those first (things like vehicle maintenance) and then other envelopes (like entertainment) will start getting filled once I have the important things under control. We’re also considering the 52 week money saving challenge!

Here are some things I’ll be purchasing off Amazon over the next couple of weeks to get us started with our envelope system.

Expanding Accordion File (for holding and sorting envelopes)

Unlike Victoria’s system- I won’t be carrying my envelopes outside of the house. When it came time to spend money from my envelopes, I would take the cash I needed, get a sticky note for the cash’s purpose and paper clip that and put it into my wallet. I am leery about carrying cash, so I would only carry what I needed. I think this would also help me to avoid spending extra from my envelopes. This accordion file I’ve linked to is 7 inches wide, be sure to take note of the size when buying envelopes!

Envelopes

These envelopes are 6 1/2 inches wide so they’ll fit those accordion files perfectly, and a dollar bill is 6.14 inches wide so the cash will fit perfectly in the envelopes. I know, I’m crazy, but I knew to be sure and check the sizes so that I didn’t waste any money on my cash envelope system supplies!

and I’ve already got some CUTE colorful paper clips (not essential, but fun nonetheless) from Target that I’ll use for my cash.

Okay, so hopefully I’ll be back in a couple of weeks & I can show you guys how we are doing our new cash envelope system & what expenses categories we’re using. In the mean time, do read up on the system I’m going to use here on Happily Ever Strader!

Do you use a cash envelope system? Do you have any tips for me? Please share them in the comments!

Girl Meets Glitter Ipsy Glam Bag – November 2014

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Hey guys! Per my usual trend lately, this bag is a month behind! I swear I’m working on getting back on track and posting these subscriptions quickly after I get them in! Anywho… November’s Ipsy Glam bag the was Girl Meets Glitter, and as always, I LOVED the items I got! Here we go-

Girl Meets Glitter Ipsy Glam Bag- November 2014

Love, love, love!

Girl Meets Glitter Ipsy Glam Bag- November 2014

I got a sample of this SeaRx Birchsap Moisturizing Lotion

Value- ???

Girl Meets Glitter Ipsy Glam Bag- November 2014

I also got this full size Star Looks Gem Eye Pencil in Ultra Olive

$17 Value

Girl Meets Glitter Ipsy Glam Bag- November 2014

I also got this sample of Marc Anthony Argan Oil Hairspray (LOVE Marc Anthony products!)

$1.30 Value

Girl Meets Glitter Ipsy Glam Bag- November 2014

I got this JCat Beauty Wonder Lip Paint (full size!)

$6.95 Value

Girl Meets Glitter Ipsy Glam Bag- November 2014

Finally, I got this It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Cream (yes, please!! mama has dark circles!)

$16.95 Value

Okay, so the total value of this Ipsy bag was $42.20+ …woah!! As always, my Ipsy bag costs me just $10 a month!

Ipsy sends cosmetics samples based upon a survey used to curate items you will love! Then, you get to review your items each month so Ipsy knows what types of items to keep sending and which items to skip over for your bag. I LOVE this subscription- it’s a little present in the mail for me each month!

Also, Ipsy gives you points for reviewing items and referring others which can them be used to purchase more items from Ipsy!

If you’d like to sign up, feel free to use my referral link. ;) I know you are going to love the Ipsy glam bag! I have gotten so many wonderful items that I’ve loved and discovered new favorites from, and I even used some of the great unopened items that I wasn’t partial on and gifted them this year for Christmas! You could use the bags to create gift bags for all your  female friends and family!

20 Sweet Treats for your Christmas Baking List

20 Sweet Treats for your Christmas Baking List

Hey guys! Can you believe we are almost half way through December?? I haven’t done a single lick of baking yet, and it is definitely on my to-do list. Today I’m sharing a roundup of some delicious sweet treats I’ve found around blog land. Be sure to add some of these to your Christmas Baking List! My little man’s birthday is coming up this week, too, so I’m looking forward to making some of these treats. I think the Pretzel Turtles will be the perfect treat for him to be able to help with!

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Getting My Home Clean with the Suction Seal 2.0

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EurekaPower #CollectiveBias

Hey guys! Today I’m sharing with ya’ll my experience getting my home clean with the new Eureka Suction Seal 2.0 Vacuum. Let me start by saying, this vacuum blew me away. Hear me out! I thought we had a GREAT quality vacuum, I really did. I felt like it was doing a pretty good job, I mean hey- it was only a couple of years old, we changed the filters, etc.. etc… I thought my carpet was clean! Enter the Suction Seal 2.0…

Getting My Home Clean with the Suction Seal 2.0

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Time Out- The Great Debate

Okay, so ya’ll know I recently wrote a post about my toddler & how his behavior was starting to get way, way out there. I was able to reign him in, but my husband and I still fret and debate over what the best discipline is for him, considering his age and other factors.

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I’m a firm believer in the power of time out. For us, short time outs became a great alternative to other forms of punishment that simply weren’t appropriate for a toddler such as spanking him. We’ve come to really lean on time out as our main form of punishment, and my son really seems to respond well to it. However, there are always going to be different opinions, and I recently came across this article from Yahoo! Parenting about time-out that proved to be very interesting. I try to always keep an open mind when it comes to parenting advice and information, because I know I am definitely not a perfect parent.

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How to Budget- Setting Up a Budget + Getting Bills Paid

Hey guys! I’m back with Part 2 of my How to Budget series… today we’re talking about setting up a budget & getting bills paid

If you are just joining, be sure to check out my previous post… How to Budget- Getting Started

How to Budget- Setting Up a Budget + Getting Bills Paid

Today I wanted to share my process for budgeting each month and each week + how we keep track of bills & expenses and make sure everything gets paid on time.

Monthly Budget

Okay, so at the end of each month I will sit down and write down an estimate of what I think our income will be. I get an estimate by basically looking at the last couple of months and taking the lowest numbers. My husband’s income is easy, because he works the same amount of hours each week and his checks are generally always the same within about $25 or so. My income is more variable, so that’s where the guesstimation really comes in. I know about what I can expect, but it can vary between $100 or more so that makes a huge difference. It’s easiest just to take the lowest amount or to UNDER guess on mine. Then whatever is extra gets put into savings! …or spent, if we use it for something extra ;)

To keep track of all of our bills, I use my monthly bill checklist.

How to Budget- Setting Up a Budget + Getting Bills Paid

This helps me keep track of what has been paid and what hasn’t. I have all of my bills written down where I’m keeping my budget (sometimes in my planner, sometimes in a separate budget binder) I have their due dates and minimum due, or what the average bill is for things like electricity. This way, it’s easy to refer back and remember all of my due dates.

Next, I’ll look at my calendar in my planner and see where our pay days fall in relation to where our bills are due. Sometimes I’ll move things around if I can just to make life easier if I have a week where a ton of things are due or something like that.

So,when I’m planning out the entire month I’ll sit down on a scratch piece of paper and write down the first payday and what I expect that amount to be, then I’ll write down (subtracting) $$ for groceries and gas that week (gotta have those) and then I’ll fit in what bills I can to be paid. If there is money left after all of that is subtracted, I’ll plan for that money to go into savings. I do this for each pay day. I double check to be sure I’ve found a spot on each pay day for all the bills & that they’re all getting paid on time, and that’s it! Once I have it all organized and in order I’ll write my final plan for the month on one of my monthly budget worksheets.

How to Budget- Setting Up a Budget + Getting Bills Paid

Weekly Budget

Okay, so once a week I’ll also sit down (usually on each pay day) and look at what I budgeted for us to have coming in and see if that matches up more or less with what actually came in. Then, I’ll re-do our budget really quickly for that week based on our actual income amount and what bills I’ve planned to pay. Hopefully everything matches up, but if it doesn’t I can re-evaluate and see if I can move some things around. This would be the perfect time to also have a weekly family budget meeting, so that everyone is on the same page!

Tracking Expenses

I don’t typically bother with writing down all of our expenses on paper, I use my online banking so I can see right there what all has come out. We don’t write checks and we try not to run things like gas as credit so that we don’t have anything sneaking up on us. I do try and take a look at the online banking once each day, just so I’m accountable and know what is happening, and I can tell my husband not to swipe his debit card, if needed. Ha!

Paying Bills On Time

I did want to touch on some things I do to make sure bills are paid on time. I always try to contact my companies- like cable, internet, etc… and know exactly when my due dates are, if there is a grace period, and if there is a late fee. These are all helpful for keeping my stress level down if I think I might be late on a bill. It’s better to know exactly what you are dealing with than to wonder “what if” on your bills, like “is this a $5 late fee if I have to be late or a $25 late fee?” Those two are totally different. Okay, so for us, getting the bills paid on time all comes down to paying the bills before we do any other frivolous spending. If my husband gets paid on Friday, I pay bills on Friday, otherwise, the money might get used up over the weekend and come Monday, all my bill money is gone. This helps us know exactly what extra money we have, too, and saves us some worry and stress over the weekend if we do decide to spend money- we know the bills are paid. Also, some companies will allow post dated payments. Say you get paid on the 8th, but your bill is due on the 5th. To avoid a late fee, call them and see if you can set up a post dated payment to come out on the 8th once you have your money. A lot of companies are totally willing to do this.

Alright, ya’ll… those are my tips for setting a budget & paying bills! Next week I’m going to tackle getting strict and using a CASH ONLY budget. We used one when we had to be super strict on our spending, and you never know, a cash only budget may be best for your family!

How to Budget- Setting Up a Budget + Getting Bills Paid

If you would like to grab my  Budget & Finances planner, which has all of the budgeting worksheets you need to get your family’s finances under control, you can check it out in my shop, here!

12 Christmas Activities for Toddlers- Printable Packs, Tot Trays, & More!

12 Christmas Activities for Toddlers- includes Printable Packs, Tot Trays, and more!

Christmas Activities for Toddlers

Hey guys! It’s officially December & today I’m rounding up some great activities for your little ones to do- including tot trays, tot school printables, and other fun Christmas inspired fun. Find some new activities for your toddler or preschooler & stop by and show these bloggers some holiday cheer!

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Holiday Date Night Idea- Special Adults Only Stocking for your Spouse

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

Hey guys! I’m here with a little bit of a different post today to share with ya’ll. I know personally, the holidays can be an extra special, but extra hectic time, and when life gets hectic, so does my relationship with my husband. That’s why I think it is so important to take the time to have some one on one, adult only holiday fun. We love having a date night regularly, and it can be even more fun to have a holiday themed date night. In past years, we’ve taken time out to build ginger bread houses, look at Christmas lights, etc… but kid free. It’s much easier to relax when you don’t have that added worry whether the kids are hungry, tired, going to have a good time, etc…

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However, date nights don’t have to be complicated. One of our favorite things to do is have at home date nights. My parents get our little one a couple of times a month, but with at home date nights, baby sitter or not, we can always have our date night after bed time. Movie nights are probably our favorite at home date night idea. So, the setup is easy, peasy. I’m making it extra fun by doing a stocking “gift” for my spouse.

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To make this date night a little more special, I’m going to include a treat to spice things up in the bedroom. This also ensures that this whole stocking idea will for sure be a hit with my husband. ;)

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Julep Maven Box November 2014-Friendsgiving + Get a FREE Box!

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Hey guys! I am so excited… I am BACK with another Julep Maven box… I turned this subscription off for a couple of months, but I missed it because it is one of my FAVORITES. I love Julep makeup & their polishes, and this box is SO customizable, you can’t beat it.

Okay, so here is this month’s box…

Julep Maven Box- November 2014- Friendsgiving Collection! Get a FREE box!

I was SO excited for the Fall nail colors to come out & this month’s box theme was the Friendsgiving collection!

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