Tips From A Planner Addict On A Budget

Don’t get me wrong, I love perusing all the planner accounts on Instagram, but I’ve always been the kind of person to do my own thing. Especially when I’m doing said thing on a budget. I’m a part-time librarian, so we really rely on Husband’s full-time job. But, just because we keep our purse strings pulled a bit tight doesn’t mean I can’t decorate the hell out of my planner.

It all really comes down to reusing things most crafters already have in their supply. I do buy things on rare occasion, but I also rely heavily on my local public library (also coincidentally my workplace). A library?! Oh, yes! Read on to find all my juicy tips, tricks, and suggestions to help you strengthen your planner game!

thechroniccreative_tips

Your Planner

My planner goes everywhere with me. Work, meetings, the grocery store- everywhere. So, it matters to me that my planner will stand up to being tossed into my tote bag (and under my desk, and under my rolling desk chair…). The second stipulation is customization. If I can’t completely change it then I will get bored of it fast. I love to add flare to my things, but not when the planner sets me back $60.

My solution: I simply use an A5 three ring binder!  It’s simple, clean, and serves it’s purpose well. I can add my own covers, and decorate literally every inch of it while trusting the rigid structure to protect my ideas. It’s perfect!

The Takeaway: Planning shouldn’t be about what brands you use. It should be all about your brand.

Pages and Inserts and Dividers, Oh My!

So, I’ve got a binder…what now? The pages you use have to work for you; why else would you need a planner? If you have the ability to print your favorite pages from a blog you follow religiously, cool! But, ink is expensive, and I also don’t like to waste paper. Besides, I would feel too guilty printing them at work! What’s a planner addict to do!?

My solution: Book pages. Our library recycles books that are beyond repairing and unwanted by our Friends group (like dust saturated electrician manuals from the 80s, for example). I snagged a couple and…helped…the pages apart a bit. I have a package of white printer paper in my craft room, so I cut those sheets down to fit the pages, glued them together, and  bam. Planner pages.

The same method can be used for inserts. Thicker pages are ideal; I’ve painted, lettered, and collaged on top of them to add uniqueness. In the past, I’ve used paint sample cards, notecards, bookmarks, old manilla folders, thin cardboard (think Kleenex boxes), and the list goes on. Right now I have a Dr. Pepper box sitting on my craft table that will soon be turned into a divider. My planner is also part therapist, part motivator, obviously.

The Takeaway: Think outside the box…or paint the heck out of the box and turn it into a divider!

Get Decked

This is probably my favorite part of planning – the decoration! But, washi tape, stickers, and stamps can get pricey pretty fast. I will tell you upfront, I do buy washi tape. Not tons, but I give myself standards: it needs to be neutral, sparkly, or must speak directly to my soul. When I use up one roll, I replace it. If your weak spot is stickers, give yourself limits or standards to look for. I’ve found that a roll of address labels holds up to Sharpies, so I do on occasion doodle out my own stickers (you could also glue things to your labels and make stickers that way, just saying).

As for stamps, I think I’m covered. Husband served in both the United States Navy and Army. That makes for a lot of stuff; he has seventeen uniforms and a chunk of Cornwall living in our apartment. He also happens to have a clothing marking kit, which I now lovingly use to stamp all my pages!

I saved the best part for last because this is where I pin my librarian badge on and tell you that yes, crafters of the 21st century, public libraries can help you make more awesome. My library runs a magazine exchange program, to which I take our magazines when we’ve read them. Then, I take that magazine home and cut the crap out of it. Instead of stickers, I glue on fonts, photos, textures, and objects onto my pages. Good Housekeeping and Real Simple are my favorites! My library also boasts a small Makerspace that has stamps, papers, paints, and all kinds of good and lovely things crafters like.

The Takeaway: While you might not have a sailor, marine, soldier, or airman handy, you probably have other tools that can serve a different purpose like Husbands marking kit. Also, when in doubt, go to a library. Librarians are full of information. And since we’re talking about libraries, my super wonderful coworker, Danica, wrote a totally true post about what it’s like to work in a public library!


Now, time for your guesses! How much do you think I spent on my current spread? If you’re counting:

  • the magazines I exchange
  • washi tape
  • the composition notebook I separated and hole punched for notetaking
  • binder
  • address labels, and
  • the coloring books I use for decoration, then we’re talking less than $15.

Yes! Really! But, remember, most of these supplies last months and months (and months and…). Buying during sales, swapping with other planners or reusing things others are throwing out are all great tips for feeding your planner addiction while staying within your budget.

What’s your favorite planner hack or tip? Do you buy all your supplies, or do you do a bit of DIY here and there?

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