best budget planner

Best Budget Planners for Better Personal Finance

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If you’ve ever followed any of those personal finance gurus or read a blog about financial freedom, they have almost all likely mentioned using a budget. Creating a monthly budget not only acts as expense tracking but can also keep you focused on your savings goals.

Many people don’t want to go through the hassle of putting together their own monthly budget planner. If it’s the first time you use an expense tracker, then it can be overwhelming. That’s why a budget template can be so useful.

A budgeting planner takes care of organizing your cash flow. All you have to do is keep track of it. Which budget book should you pick? There is not a shortage of options out there. Let’s go through and discuss some popular budget planners out there, the pros and cons, and find the right financial planner for your financial life.

What is a Budget Planner?

A budget planner is an organized system that helps keep track of your money. It is a budgeting tool similar to a budgeting app that can keep you motivated to build savings, pay off debt, and improve your cash flow.

Using a good budgeting planner, you should be able to plan more effectively. This should allow you to manage to pay irregular bills, pay off your bills on time, get out of debt faster, and build emergency savings. A budget planner book is essentially a book of your finances, similar to how a small business keeps its accounting books.

Why Do You Need a Budget Planner Book?

It’s not necessary to use a budgeting planner to reach your financial goals. You can use a paper and pen or spreadsheet to create a budget.

However, budgeting is something that many people don’t like to do. It is common for people to start a finance planner, then fall off the habit after a month or so.

A monthly budget planner already has a budget template that makes it easy to fill in your information. And they had more features (want to add stickers to your debt tracking goals?) to make them more engaging and fun. Budget planners can help you create that habit of budgeting each month so you can reach your financial goals, like paying off a high-interest credit card.

If you have tried to use budgeting in the past, with no luck, it’s worth trying out a bill organizer to get control of your spending habit.

Best Budget Planner Reviews

There are plenty of budget planners that come in different sizes, designs, and price points. It could get overwhelming to look at the different options. So let’s discuss the best monthly budgeting books we’ve come across.

Clever Fox Budget Planner

Our best budget planner is the Clever Fox budget planner. This is an all-in-one finance planner that has different functions to keep you on pace with your financial freedom goals. The Clever Fox planner acts as an expense tracker (both weekly and monthly), bill organizer, and savings goals.

The budgeting planner comes in two sizes, large and medium. There are currently two colors available, black and green. The Fox planner is spiral-bound so you can easily lay it on surfaces or take it with you. Inside the Fox planner are 12 pockets that you can use to hold your bills and receipts. There are also stickers included with the monthly budget planner.

Financial goals, mind map, action, and affirmations page are all included with this personal finance tool. Each monthly section has an inspirational money quote to give you something to think about when curbing your spending.

There is an undated calendar, a blank monthly budget template, four pages that can be used for expense tracking, and a monthly budget review page. An inspiration quote, savings tracker, debt tracker, holiday budget planner, bill tracker, year-end summary, and bulleted journal dotted pages are all included in the back of the planner.

Pros

  • Thick bleed resistant 120gsm pages
  • Has durable pockets that can be used to keep your receipts and bills
  • Undated calendar allows you to have more flexibility
  • Plenty of fun stickers
  • Great quality planner; Hardcover is coated with premium quality faux leather and the pages are made with 120 gsm “no-bleed”

Cons

  • Higher cost than other financial planners out there
  • Bulky for some

Clever Fox Budget Book 2.0

Another planner we like is also from Clever Fox. The Clever Fox Budget Planner notebook helps you keep track of your bill due dates, daily expenses, income, and savings. Using this expense tracking book, you can get a handle on curbing your spending habits and reaching your savings goals.

The nice thing about this budgeting tool is that it comes with a user guide that explains how to use each page.

This budget planner comes in five different colors, so you can find a color that you like. It’s also compact, measuring 5.3″ x 7.7″. That makes it the perfect size for carrying it with you while you’re on the go.

There is an attached pen loop so you don’t have to search for a pen, a pocket to keep your bills and receipts, and over 80 budgeting stickers., so

It comes with monthly budget pages that include a calendar, expense trackers, budget goal tracking, mind map, monthly review pages, dot grid journal pages, savings trackers, debt trackers, an annual budget summary, and Christmas budgeting pages. This book has all the financial planning features to make it a must-have!

Pros 

  • 120gsm bleed resistant pages
  • Its compact size makes it easy to keep with you anywhere you go
  • Comes with a pen loop
  • Has several color options
  • Affordable price
  • The pages are well thought out, with good line spacing, and uses bright white paper

Cons

  • There are no tabs
  • Might feel a little bit squished with the 4mm dot grid line
  • Would have been nice to have a page for spending on irregular events like birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

Erin Condren Budget Book

For someone who is just starting to learn to budget, wants to live a simple financial life, or enjoys using pen and paper to create their monthly budget, this might be the perfect fit. It’s a low cost to start your financial planning with the Erin Condren budget book.

Reach financial freedom with its colorful pages that include a monthly budget template, important contacts, important passwords, debt management tracker, and savings challenge. The very first page of the book is the savings challenge where there’s a “goal deposit” and “actual deposit” section for your savings to help with motivation.

The sleek, simple design is actually pretty beautiful. If you have the Erin Condren Life Planner, you can actually fit this budgeting tool inside of it.

Pros

  • Cost-effective
  • Small size makes it easy to take with you
  • Can list 9 of your own personalized budget categories on top of the typical budget categories provided
  • Very appealing monthly budgeting book

Cons

  • Some of the sheets like the important contacts and passwords won’t’ be useful
  • If you want a more comprehensive budget planner book, this isn’t it
  • Limited on the debt sections (only has personal and student loan debt)

Legend Deluxe Budget Planner

The Legend budget planner has a nice cover design that is sure to grab your attention. It comes with an elasticated pen loop and an inner pocket that you use to keep your bills and documents.

You get 112 pages that have expenses tracking, budgeting, debt tracking, and goal setting pages. There is also a section for Christmas budget planning. Not only will you be able to track your monthly expenses and savings tracking with the Legend Budget Planner, but you get pages for note-taking, pages to create a life financial plan, and a yearly summary page.

You get over 100 sticks to make tracking your money more fun. Since the Legend Budget planner is undated, you can start anytime during the year with your financial planning.

Pros

  • Highly customizable monthly budgeting planner
  • Undated budgeting pages allow you to have more flexibility
  • Includes life financial plan pages so you can focus on the big picture
  • Simple and lightweight book
  • Has many colors to choose from

Cons

  • Might not meet expectations for more-advanced budgeting
  • Limited number of spaces for debt tracking

Limitless Mindset Planner

This planner has a spiral spine that makes it easy to layout the pages flat. That is helpful when you’re going through your spending and cash flow at a desk.

This bill organizer has 12 undated and color-coded budgeting pages. You get trackers for expenses, savings, and income and 3 cash envelopes. It also comes with its own pen and stylus.

You can use the inner pocket for bills and receipts, including 150 stickers, and there is also an elastic loop. The book’s standard size is 9.4 x 6.6 x 0.7 and there are several different colors to choose from. It is also lightweight, which makes it more portable.

Pros

  • Has undated pages
  • Includes envelopes for cash
  • Solid choice for budgeting beginners
  • Includes a pen and pen loop
  • Can customize your budget categories using blank spaces

Cons

  • Pages are not as high quality as others

Happy Planner Deluxe Budget Planner

The Happy Planner is one of the best budget planners that comes with a laminated cardstock cover. There is a place to add your contact information in case your planner gets lost. The disc binding makes it easy to lay out the book flat.

You get a date at a glance, savings goal, monthly budget, monthly calendar, and vertical weekly spread. The book has tabs and different divider cover pages for each month so keep yourself more organized.

The budget book is very functional and useful for those who want one that has very few pages that are specifically used to track money.

Pros

  • Nice, colorful budget book
  • Affordable price
  • The page layouts are functional
  • Well organized with the divider and tab pages

Cons

  • No notes pages; There is only one notes page that’s in the back
  • Monthly calendar splits one box into two instead of re-starting the numbering on the top row

Busy Bee Planners

While the Busy Bee planner is not specifically a budget book, it can be used to help you keep motivated with your financial goals. The planner is 9″ wide x 9.75″ tall and weighs in at 2.5 pounds.

There are daily planning pages, goal setting worksheets, top 3 to-do prompts, notes, to-do list, daily inspirational quotes, and gratitude pages.

This high-quality planner has a beautiful and durable hardcover. The spiral spine allows you to easily lay the book flat on a surface.

Pros

  • 100gsm bleed resistant paper
  • High-quality book with tear-out pages included
  • Has protective gold corners
  • Includes a front cover pocket

Cons

  • Not made specifically for budgeting

GoGirl Budget Planner

At a size of 5.7′ x 8.55, the Gogirl budget planner comes in at a low price tag and is a top girl budget planner. It includes a hardcover, pen loop, sewn binding, and it is made to last 12 full months. There are also two ribbon bookmarks.

There is a pocket folder, budgeting stickers, and it comes in a many color schemes. The pages included undated monthly goals, budget, spending, reflection, Christmas budgeting, annual summary, debt tracker, and savings tracker.

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable
  • 120gsm bleed resistant paper
  • Includes stickers that are functional
  • Affordable price
  • Have many cover colors to choose from

Cons

  • Cursive font on some pages are hard to read
  • Plain page design

Home Budget Workbook

Need a straightforward budgeting tool? The Home Budget workbook might be right for you. It allows you to keep track of your money including income and expenses.

The worksheets include tracking for income, spending, and for planning ahead. There are also strategies that you can use to manage your bank account, debit card, credit card, and more.

The 48 page book is 10 – 1/4″ wide x 7″ high and includes flexicover over wire-o-binding.

Pros

  • Low, cost workbook
  • Includes strategies that could help you with your spending
  • Simple and easy to use

Cons

  • Barebones as a budget planner

Mead Home Finance Organizer

This expense tracker by Mead allows you to keep track of your monthly bills, while effectively managing your household finances. It includes a monthly bill organizer that has pockets for expenses, paid statements, and budget tracking.

Each of the pockets has an area that you can list transaction information like date, description, amount, paid, and more. The plastic zip pouch can be used for storing your receipts.

The cover is attractive and durable, and the wire binding is preferred for laying out flat.

Pros

  • Nice looking organizer that’s durable
  • Extra pockets

Cons

  • Lack of lines makes it difficult to write straight
  • Costs higher than others
  • Not a ton of reviews (but they are good)

Your Balanced Budget Organizer

Make budgeting easier with Your Balanced Budget Organizer. It has 48 pages that can be used for up to two years.

The cover band is removable if you want to take it off. It has practical flexicover wire-o-binding so that it stays flat. The user-friendly monthly tables allow you to record and expenses and also see them by category. You won’t have to break your budget to add this to your budget planning.

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Simple and straight-forward to use

Cons

  • Budgeting pages are minimal

Budget Planner Buying Guide

Along with the budget planners mentioned here, there are several other solid choices out there. When looking for a budget planner, here are some things to keep in mind.

Features

Consider the features that you must have. For example, if stickers are something that will help keep you motivated, look for one that has plenty of colorful, useful ones.

Most importantly, your budget planner should be user-friendly. It should be easy to use and well organized.

Cash Envelopes

If you plan to use the cash envelope system for your budgeting, look for a planner that incorporates this strategy. This could be fulfilled by having at least 12 folders (one more each month). You can store your cash envelope for each month here.

Material

Choose a book that is made of high-quality materials and sturdy since you might be throwing it in a suitcase, backpack, or purse to keep with you. You’ll be using the book weekly most likely, so you need something that lasts.

Portability

If you plan to take your planner with you often on the go, choose one that’s compact in size and will be easy to put in a bag.

Customization

Being able to customize your budget planner will make it more motivating to use. Choose one that allows you to add budget categories and other customizations to make it your own.

Undated

Unless your new year’s resolution is to start budgeting, get a planner that’s undated. That way you won’t waste money on a bunch of pages you can’t use.

Good Reviews

Always check out what customers are saying about a product before buying. Look for a planner that has at least 4 out of 5 stars and has a significant number of reviews.

Looks

Part of the quality of a planner is the appearance. Make sure that it is appealing with a nice design and looks that match your preferences.

Avoid Paper Bleed Thru

Choose a planner that minimizes bleed thru. The last thing you need is to have your financial information smeared so you can’t read it. Look for at least 100gsm paper or 120gsm paper, which both of Clever Fox planners have.

How to Use a Budget Planner

You have a budget book, now what? Here’s what you need to do next:

1. Review the book and make note of the sections that you wish to use.

2. Use the monthly planner to start keeping track of your monthly expenses, savings tracker, and income.

3. Continue tracking expenses weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly or even as you get them.

4. Review the budget planner on at least a monthly basis.

A budget planner can be an incredibly powerful tool to help you build saving and cut down your monthly expenses when its used regularly.

Final Review of the Best Budget Planners

The best budget planners are the ones that ultimately you use regularly to build and sustain that habit. Choose a budget planner that has all the features that you need and fits your lifestyle. If you would rather use a budgeting app like Personal Capital for your budget planning, you can do that, but make sure you know the differences between budget planners and budget apps. The monthly bill organizer that’s effective for you could be something totally different for someone else. 

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