At the beginning of this year, 2017, I went planner shopping. I was mainly between the Erin Condren planner and The Happy Planner by me & my BIG ideas. The EC definitely had more of the hype. Everyone and their mama had one and loved it. However I kept coming across so many reviews of the two versus one another, and The Happy Planner always won. The HP seemed to be the best kept secret kind of thing. Plus, the EC is $60 before customization, while the HP is only $25. Another option, you can get a Planner Box Kit – BIG planner, 12 dividers, 5 sticker sheets, sticky notes, a folder, and a pen – all for $33.
So with that, I went ahead about picked out a Happy Planner I loved and put it to use. Nine months later, I’m sharing with you all the things I love and don’t care for! As always, any amazon links I share are affiliate links.
Besides being extremely affordable, it’s so adorable! The layout is clean, aesthetically-pleasing, and ridiculously organized and functional. The beginning of each month has a catch-all page with a notes section, monthly goals, birthdays for that months, and important dates. Each month also has a cute divider page. For obvious privacy reasons, I’ll show you the summer months of my planner since they were the least-written-on pages.
On the other side of the divider page is the calendar for that month. All major holidays are already included on the calendar. There is also a notes column that is usually full of my thoughts and notes for most months.
After the calendar is a weekly view – VERTICAL! **all the praise hands** I love how it is split up into 3 sections. I like to write down my morning schedule in the top part, afternoon in the middle, and evening plans on the bottom. And again, another handy notes section. Another cool feature The Happy Planner offers is you can buy a 12 month undated planner if you’d like. This way if you were to buy one in the middle of the year, or now in the middle of September, you can start off right where you are and not waste any months.
Now what makes this planner so unique and different from the rest? The Happy Planner is SOOO versatile! It isn’t bound with a spiral wire like the EC and other planners. Instead the pages are held together by darling, gold discs with a heart cut out in the middle. These discs allow you to quickly pull up on any paper, even the cover pages, and remove them (as pictured below). Whenever you’d like to change up your planner, you can buy a different cover and switch the old one out in a matter of seconds. If your planner is getting too full and bulky, you can either buy bigger discs or just quickly remove your old months. If you want to add some fill paper to journal in your planner, you can quickly add that wherever. You can also add in an hourly schedule, a 6 month extension pack, a fitness extension pack, a recipe extension pack, a budget extension pack, and one of my personal favorites, the wedding planner extension pack.
The pink page easily pops off
This planner allows you to get as creative or simple as you’d like. The nicest thing is that there is more to add to it if you’d like, but everything you need and that is offered in a normal planner comes in the $25 planner itself.
The home planner is every woman’s, wife’s, mother’s, and homemaker’s personal assistant. It is heaven sent! It cost a whopping $7.95 and way worth it for me. Check out those tabs: to-do lists, meal planner, house cleaning, and budget!
Like each month, the to-do lists differ in colors on each page. There are useful slots for the date, task, and check mark. I am a visual person who loves making lists, so this is a favorite feature of mine…then again almost every feature is my favorite!
Now out of all my favorites, the meal planner is my most favorite. It is perfect in every way. On the left side is the weekly calendar for all the meals. Then on the right is not only a grocery list, but a grocery list organized by categories. This makes grocery shopping so much easier. I walk into my local store and head toward the produce area, and look at my produce box. Then right next to my produce area is the deli so I check my deli, then the canned food aisle, etc. I never forget anything at the grocery store anymore AND never waste time going back and forth, criss-crossing across all of Safeway.
The biggest benefit of meal planning isn’t even exclusive to this planner, but just because of meal planning alone. I save so much money. I went from spending $400 a month on groceries for the two of us, down to $200, sometimes even less. By planning out our meals beforehand, I know exactly what I need from the grocery store and only buy those items on my list. I don’t wander, aimlessly stocking up on things I might need. We eat healthier as a result as well. It relieves so much stress already knowing what we are eating and knowing that we already have everything for that meal. I no longer wonder what to make for dinner at 5pm and then end up going to get take-out and wasting more money. Meal-planning is a win-win all around – no more money wasting and no more stress over dinner!
Here’s where you can tell this review is 100% honest. This is why I said I said almost every feature is my favorite. This one isn’t. Who knows, maybe it’s because cleaning isn’t always my favorite. Really though, all these items just aren’t applicable for me. There is only 2 of us in a small apartment that doesn’t get dirty quickly. I don’t clean out my fridge every day (does anyone?!). Our trash doesn’t fill up every day. I don’t have plants. I don’t plan meals, change bedsheets, clean the bathroom and mirrors, or grocery shop every day. And heck, I don’t even dust monthly!
However, I still tried it out to make it work for me. I crossed out things that don’t apply to me. I wrote in personalized, specific tasks in the convenient empty lines beneath. I accepted that it was okay to not have every box checked off every day. Plus, I love a handy notes section. 😉
Ultimately, it makes more sense for me to put specific cleaning chores for my day in my to-do lists and to keep everything in the same spot. That’s my experience. Someone else with a large house, lots of kids to pick up after, 6 people’s worth of laundry to do each day may find a ton of help in this cleaning schedule!
Before the HP, I budgeted in what we called “the black book”. It was a 50 cent black notebook that I wrote down every. single. purchase. off of our bank statement each month. Then I’d write down all of our earnings. I would do the math and make a projected income and outcome for the following month. It took me 2-3 hours. It was miserable, but helped us save a ton of money, so I reluctantly did it.
Then this budget planner made my life so much easier. The organized layout spread it all out in a systematic matter. The categories helped me to group things in a less overwhelming way. I love the subtotal lines in each category so I can quickly see how much money is going to each group. And I love the Plan and Actual columns that make it easy for me to reflect back on the month and see everything in one place without having to flip through 5 pages, like I did with the dreaded black book.
The only complaints I have are similar to the cleaning schedule. They aren’t all applicable to me, but would be for someone else. We don’t pay maintenance or association fees. We don’t have a landline. We don’t have any loans or credit card bills. However a quick black line covered up those unnecessary things and I wrote in expenses we did have. Again for obvious reasons, I won’t show you an actual budget where I have made those adjustments, but for example, I crossed out videos/DVDs and wrote “Dates”. Also in the entertainment category, I put “Gym Memberships” on the “other” line. I replaced dry cleaning with “Laundromat,” when we used to have to go to the laundromat to do laundry. I added “Tithing” on the miscellaneous’s other line.
At the beginning of the budget section, I added one of my pocket folders (left side in picture). The folder design, “Very Important Stuff,” is perfectly fitting for what I use it for. This folder holds all of my important bills to pay, receipts I need to keep, bank statements, etc.
The pack of pocket folders came with 6 folders for $8.85. At the moment, I am only using 2 – the budget one and a cute black, white, and pink one labeled “the good stuff”. The other one sits at the very beginning of my planner and holds reminders, flyers, handouts from church, etc. It is so comforting to know that I have more folders I can add in 2 seconds, wherever I want, or even take them out to save space if I am no longer using them.
Now that you’ve seen The Happy Planner, let’s talk details.
There are 3 sizes – mini, classic, and big. These can be bought on the me & my BIG ideas website, or on Amazon for quite a bit cheaper. The mini is 5 inches x 7.5 inches and costs $14.94. It is the perfect size for carry in your purse. The classic is 7.75 inches x 9.75 inches and costs $24.99. This is the size I have. The big is 8.5 inches x 11 inches and costs $28.80 today on Amazon here.
My honest, unsponsored review is that I am so, so pleased. My Happy Planner is cute, functional, versatile, and affordable! I will definitely be buying another one come 2018 and have no desire to try anything else.
— What planner do you use? —