If you’re trying to decide between a store bought planner that’s straight off the shelf and ready to use right away, versus going down the route of DIYing and making your own, here are some pros and cons to consider!
Store bought planner
Pros of buying a planner already made
- Saves time – quicker to just choose a planner that’s already designed, printed, bound and ready to use, rather than printing and making your own, designing the layout, choosing a size, choosing colors, making the cover, printing the pages, binding the pages etc.
- Analysis paralysis – with so many decisions to make when designing your own planner, unless you know exactly what you want, it’s going to be quicker to choose a planner layout from those already on the market
- Planners that are already made tend to be designed to suit everyone, with simple layouts that can be adapted to suit your own needs
Cons of buying a planner already made
- What if the planner doesn’t work? This is probably at the top of your list and holding you back from buying a planner. No one wants to spend $100 for a planner including shipping if it doesn’t work. Note that you can try some popular planner layouts for free. Day Designer, Passion Planner and Limelife Planner all have free printable samples on their websites
- Because generic planners tend to come in simple layouts, it can be hard to find specific planners. Let’s say you’re a direct sales consultant. If you wanted the planner spread to include a checklist of routine tasks specific to you, it’s going to be hard (basically impossible) to find a planner that matches the exact tasks you do each week AND in a weekly planner layout you like (horizontal, vertical etc.), that uses fonts and colors that you like etc. there are so many variables when it comes to planners!
- Can get expensive – some planners are $50 + these days – yes that’s a fair bit of money to drop on a planner but given how much time you save getting organized and if you work that back to a cost per week (only about $1!), it’s really not so bad
- Can take a while to find a cover you like. You may love the layout of a planner but not the cover and vise versa. Companies such as Erin Condren, Plum Paper, LimeLife, Happy Planner etc. have so many cute options it can take a while to decide! #firstworldproblems
- There are a lot of planner options out there nowadays so it can take a while to compare which ones you like the best with so many variables from binding styles to page size, to full color pages or a neutral design, to hardcover or softcover, daily or weekly, horizontal versus vertical (or another layout entirely) etc.
- It’s easy to get sucked in to buying all the pretty coordinating accessories. From MAMBI’s deco tape, to so many different planner pens, to paperclips, bookmarks, dashboards, interchangeable covers, it can get overwhelming and expensive
- You’ll probably have to pay for shipping. Most ‘designer’ planners (Plum Paper, Day Designer, Passion Planner, She Plans etc.) can only be purchased online. So on top of the cost of the planner itself you gotta pay for shipping, and if you live in Australia like I do, that ain’t cheap! Sometimes shipping can be almost as much as the cost of the planner itself (and some planners don’t even ship outside the USA 🙁
Pros of DIY and making your own planner
- Decisions, decisions, with the ability to make your own planner comes so many different variables that all those endless (literally) options can be very overwhelming – but DIYing also means you can make exactly what you need
- You choose the order of the pages – so if you want to add a checklist or a notes page at the start or end (or both!) of each month (or even each week), you can!
- You choose page count – so if you want to make a big planner that will last all year, you can. If you don’t need to plan that far in advance you print pages that’ll last 3 months, 5 months, however long you like
- Add pages specific to your needs – you can add printables such as bill pay checklists, to do lists, online shopping / mail trackers (free printable in this post), cleaning schedules, password log, subscriptions tracker, meal planning inserts etc.
- No shipping costs (unless you’re buying supplies to make the planner and having them shipped to you)
- You choose the cover design and you can change it out as often as you like!
- You can personalise the cover with your name or any wording you like
Cons of DIY and making your own planner
- Can be expensive. If you want to print every page in full color it will probably cost you more than buying a planner in full color that is already made (economies of scale and all that). Related: 7 Ways to make colors POP when printing using an Inkjet printer. I previously posted a comparison of the cost of DIY Printable Planners versus pre-printed & Assembled Planners
- Quality of a DIY planner will likely not be as good as a store bought planner. Again you lose economies of scale when you’re just making one or 2 planners for yourself. So you probably won’t want to splurge for luxe paper if it means you have to buy reams of it in bulk when you only need 100 or so pages
- It’s harder to add a pocket folder – you can DIY and create your own but the quality will likely be less than one included in a professional printed and bound planner
- Like with the pocket folder, if you add dividers and tabs, they probably won’t be as sturdy as a store bought planner
- If you want to bind it yourself, the MAMBI happy planner punch and discs are a cheap option (and reusable year after year) – plus you can add and remove pages as many times as you please with discbound systems. Binding machines for spiral and wire binding are expensive. So if you don’t want to use a discbound system, I recommend going to an office supply store and have them bind it for you. Having to go to an office supply store can be inconvenient if they’re located far away from where you live
- I recommend printing the cover onto cardstock and laminating. Like with the binding, if you don’t own a laminating machine you’ll need to take the cover to your local office supply store
- If you don’t know how to make a cover you may be stuck looking at any ugly cover. I don’t know about you but when something is pretty I’m more likely to use it. If you don’t know how to make a planner cover and planner inserts, my ecourse: how to make planner printables will solve that problem 🙂
Why not try a combination of the 2?
Take a bought planner and customise it:
- How to make a DIY Erin Condren Planner Cover for less than $2 (plus free printable cover)
- Add some washi tape
- Make some planner Dividers
- Make a bookmark / page marker
- Make some DIY planner inserts
Which option is right for you?
If you’re just getting started with planning, I’d go with a store bought planner. It’ll be quicker and cheaper than DIYing your own straight off the bat, and you’ll learn what you do and don’t like in a weekly layout, planner size, binding type etc.
Planner companies tend to put their planners on clearance at the end of the first quarter of the year so that’s a good time to buy some planners at a discounted price and try them out (I may or may not have just received a shipping notification from Mi Goals…) . And if you do buy a planner you don’t like, there are numerous buy, swap and sell Facebook groups. I did a roundup of 60+ Facebook groups for planner addicts.
Having a blank page where you can create a custom planner can be overwhelming as there are literally endless layouts you could create you’ll probably end up being ‘paralyzed’ and not know where to start. DIYing doesn’t have to mean that you create the entire planner from scratch, you could buy some planner inserts off Etsy (cheaper than a professionally bound planner) or try some printables and use in a binder or with MAMBI discbound rings.
If you’ve been planning for a while and are frustrated by the same vertical and horizontal style layouts (as I was), then join me in my challenge this year to try 52 planners in 52 weeks!
- 7 Ways to make colors POP when printing using an Inkjet printer
- Don’t own a printer? Here are 5 companies that will print and ship printables to your door
- How to get rid of a white border when printing printable (borderless, no bleed, no scaling step by step video tutorial)
- How to Choose a Printer (Including the best printer for printing printables and planner stickers)