New year = new budget. If you want to use paper instead of a spreadsheet to track your finances, then Plum Paper would be one of my top picks. I’ve reviewed many of their planners in this past and their budget planner has the same quality, base layouts (e.g. the monthly calendar is the same as their dated planners) and color scheme options.
Click here for all of my past Plum Paper planner reviews.
This is not a sponsored post – I purchased the planner myself and all opinions are my own.
I purchased this planner as part of my 4th Plum Paper haul (weekly, daily, financial, goals planner).
- Size: 7″ wide x 9″ high
- Tear proof & water resistant cover with a clear plastic protective sheet
- Coil binding
- Personalised cover – can choose your own pattern, color scheme and text
- 2 x 2 Page dates at a glance (current year & next year)
- 2 page special dates tracker
- 2 page open ended ideas. plans. goals
- 2 page monthly planning – 1 page for life events and goals, 1 page for budget tracking
- 2 page Monthly calendar (starts on Monday)
- 2 page weekly spread – 1 page horizontal weekly spread (starts on Monday) + 1 page budgeting (purchases, weekly spending by category summary)
- 1 page monthly budget review
- Tabs for each month, plus a tab for each add on you section (if you choose to add these)
- Double Sided Pocket Folder
- Neutral or colorful inside pages
- Paper Weight: 70lb text
- Dated planner – you choose the start month and year
Price: depends on what page size you order, what customisation options you select, and if you add any additional pages. The starting price is $34 USD for 7 x 9″ page size (which is what I chose and will be reviewing in this post).
I wanted to compare and show the difference between the pages included in the budget planner, versus the budgeting add on pages. That way you can decide which is better suited to your needs so I’ll be showing photos of both in this post.
Let’s take a closer look!
To enlarge the screen of the video, click the square icon in the bottom right hand corner of the video (it will say ‘full screen’ when you hover your mouse over the icon).
I like this style of cover as the extra clear cover protects from stains and dust without adding weight. Planner brands that come in hardcover only can usually only offer a few cover designs and no cover personalisation, so I always appreciate a cardstock cover where I get to choose the pattern, colors, the text (even the frame behind the text!)
The planner (including the budgeting add on pages I chose to include) is approximately 0.75″ thick (just under 2cm). The budgeting add on pages add about an extra 3mm (so not that much!)
Dates at a glance
The planner starts with the same annual overview, important dates and ideas. plans. goals. that Plum Paper include with all of their planners.
I forgot to take a photo of the page but you can see it in the video ^above^, and it’s the same layout that appears in all of their planners. Here’s a photo of the page that I took for one of my previous Plum Paper planner reviews.
The monthly calendar is also the same design that all of the Plum Paper planners have.
I chose the colorful version but you can also get a neutral version of the planner.
In addition to the month calendar, is a 1 page overview (same design as all other Plum Paper planners) plus a unique to this planner, budget overview page. You can track your monthly income, debt, savings, fixed expenses and how much savings you have at the end of the month.
At the end of each month is a recap to see how you went with sections for:
- Monthly spending for each week
- If you spent less than your budget
- The start balance, end balance and net gain or loss for each of your bank accounts
- Monthly debt payoff
- Savings overview
- The category where you spent the most money
I track most of these things in my budgeting spreadsheets and it’s very satisfying to see the growth each month so I think it’s great this planner includes an entire page for this every month!
Each week has one page to record your purchases by category (love the color coding!). You can also compare your budgeted versus actual spending, and list out any payments due this week.
I like that the planner has kept the weekly spread for your day to day planning completely separate to the budgeting aspect. Some planners merge the budget tracking into the weekly spread and I just find that a bit annoying as everything gets jumbled up. Or then you need to carry two planners with you, as the budget planner may only have layouts for budgeting, so you need another planner to do your day to day planning.
The weekly spread starts on Monday (which is consistent with the monthly calendar).
I really like this weekly spread and would buy an entire Plum Paper planner with this weekly spread! I’d combine it with a notes page or checklist for the right page of the spread.
There are no notes pages although there is 1 page for contacts and 1 page for passwords. These were placed behind the budgeting add on pages I chose, so I’m not sure if they were included in the planner by default.
The contacts page was a bit of a random inclusion in my opinion, I don’t know of anyone who records this on paper, I thought everyone just uses their phones for that.
The planner has the same tabs that Plum Paper includes in all their planners. If you choose the colorful version like I did, the same color will be used in different shades for each quarter. Plum Paper did bring out another color scheme, however it’s unfortunately not a version that has a different color for each month’s tab.
One thing I did want to mention, is how smooth the paper is. There are very few planner brands out there that use paper as smooth as this, pens just glide across the page so easily.
The paper is the same as the other Plum Paper planners, so here’s the results of a pen test I did for a custom notebook I purchased in a previous Plum Paper haul.
However highlighters, marker pens and some of the thicker gel pens are prone to showing on the other side.
There are 2 sheets of planner stickers included with the planner.
Pros of the Planner
- Very comprehensive budgeting pages
- Minimalist color scheme
- Good amount of space to write
- Pocket folder
- Paper is bright white and very smooth to write on
- There is a good mix of general planning and goal setting pages, as well as the pages specific to budgeting
Cons of the Planner
- The detail included on the budgeting pages might be a bit much for some people – the planner could be time consuming to maintain
The Plum Paper Budgeting Add on Pages
The budgeting add on pages include:
- Bank accounts
- Yearly cash flow
- Monthly assessment (1 page)
- Monthly budget (1 page)
- My Bills (2 pages)
- Debt tracker (1 page)
Enough pages are included to last 12 months.
One thing I think is missing from this collection, is an annual savings tracker. There also isn’t anything to record investments.
Plum Paper Budget Planner versus budgeting add on pages: which is better?
The budget planner pages are very well thought out, and this planner is a true all in one life planner and budget planner.
I think this planner is for someone that likes tracking their spending in a lot of detail (especially if you’re using cash budgeting so don’t have bank statements to fall back on). Or if you get the most satisfaction / motivation from physically writing down your progress towards your savings goals and debt pay off.
I think the budgeting add on pages contain the ‘essential’ budgeting pages that would be enough for most people’s budgeting needs. If you’ve never set a budget before, have bad money habits, are doing cash budgeting or have a lot of transactions (e.g. have a family), then the entire budget planner may be warranted.
For me personally, I prefer to use Excel to track my spending and financial goals. Most of my money budgeting these days is around investing my money, which a lot of paper planners don’t address. Read more in this post: why I switched from paper to Excel spreadsheets for budgeting
Is this budget planner not quite right for you? See this roundup post I did on the Best Planners for Budgeting on Paper.
More planner reviews:
- The best planners for budgeting on paper
- 5 Planner Companies that will make a completely custom planner for you
- Amanda Rach Lee Doodle Planner
- 10 ways to save money when buying planner supplies
- 10 Brands that have date dot stickers for your planner or bullet journal
- 50 Tips for writing a better to do list that will make you more productive
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