There are tons of planners out there and lots (if not most) are super overpriced. Yeah, I said it.
And, to be honest, it can sometimes be daunting to know where to start.
I personally have a budget, and when I hear that I have to pay $50 to have a pretty and organized place to have all my life organized I feel a small knot in my stomach forming.
And then I start thinking about all the other ‘needs’ I could be getting with those $50…bulk tubes of toothpaste, kitchen soap, sponges, fruits and veggies.
I mean, the list goes on.
I decided to try and make my own planner. I knew I had the design skills, I loved creating things, and all I really had to do was gather a few materials to bring my own DIY planner to life.
It might not be as good as the store bought stuff, but at least it’ll get me organized. Or so I thought.
Long story short, turns out my planner didn’t turn out half as bad as I thought it would.
And I like it EVEN more than the store bought stuff I’d spend my money on in the past because I had more control over how it looked and what PAGES I wanted to include in it.
Now, it also helps that I’ve created a printables SHOP that I’m constantly filling with new planner printables designs.
So I get to print out the pages I want when I want to! Yayy me!
I’ve made a lot of these pages available for free throughout my blog. You can find lots of them in the printables section of my blog and print them out to your heart’s content.
But if you want more complete sets of printable pages, then you can always take a peek at the shop!
DIY planners are super useful if you need a home management system you can work with.
This is true whether you have a big family that you’re trying to keep fed and clean, or you’re living with roommates and you’re trying to figure out who’s turn it is to get the groceries!
But first let’s talk materials
At first creating your own DIY planner seems like it would cost WAAYYYY too much money.
But it’s not once you really break it down!
I literally sat down and did the math. Now, a good paper planner can run you anywhere from $35 to $100 or more.
And it often comes with extra pages that you never end up using, or that you wish were different.
But when you create your own printable paper planner, the general breakdown goes like this:
Your planner binder (letter sized): $8 bucks
An average 500 ream of white printer paper: $9
Printables for your planner from the shop (optional): $15
Now, the average cost of printing colored ink per page on an average printer under $200 is about 8.9 cents. Let’s round it to 9 cents per page for simplicity’s sake.
For a full on planner complete with weekly planner pages, monthly planner pages, important date page, passwords page, year at a glance page, etc. let’s say its an average of about 100 pages per year (assuming you’re printing front and back).
This means that each planner year you print out is costing you about $9 (100 * 0.09 = $9) in colored ink.
And you used about a fifth of your 500 ream of paper, about $1.80 (500 ream of paper for $9/5)
This means that for the whole year, your planner cost you about $19 ($34 if you buy some of the printable planner kits for $15 that you get to use again and again)!
And that’s keeping in mind that you’ll use your binder for years to come and you have to replace it less often.
That doesn’t include any extras like sticker paper, dividers, or gel pens that you definitely CAN use but don’t absolutely have to.
Isn’t that cool?
You can make your own planner with the pages that you want EXACTLY and none of the ones you don’t by simply DIYing it right at home with my planner kits.
And I’m here to help you learn how. Let’s get to it!
DIY planner materials
To successfully design a DIY planner that you’ll actually use you want to make it as pretty and as accessible as possible!
These are all the materials and tools I use to put mine together. Here’s a quick pic (sorry for the bad quality!) of one my quote pages in my ‘planning’ section. I love it.
See through three ring binder
The closest I got to that was this Jam Paper see through 0.75 three ring binder.
It works great and it’s durable so its a great binder if you want to be able to see your cover page through it.
I ordered it through amazon and I got it within two days! No need to go to Staples.
White printer paper
You can find basic white printer paper on amazon. It’s totally up to you if you want to buy reams of paper in bulk (always remember to recycle too) or if you want to buy a ream individually (they can last you for what seems like forever).
There are also different grades of white paper, and it’s also up to you the kind of feel and look that you want your paper to be.
I like to get the basic paper and it works just fine for me. This Amazon Basics 500 page ream is only about $8! It’s a pretty good steal if you’re going to be printing a lot (which after you fall in love with your own DIY planner you totally will!).
It’s great for making simple DIY thank you cards, making dividers, or printing out wall art that you can frame and hang in your bedroom or home office.
For the DIY planner, I like using cardstock for the cover pages. And also for the divider pages. It’s sturdy and helps your planner stay neat, new, and tidy.
Pens and markers
I love when you find a pen that works with you and your penmanship.
So it might take a little experimenting to find something that fits you.
I personally like to use the classic Sharpie pens. I like getting them in sets of two.
Another great pen brand is the Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pen Set.
These are great for color coding different parts of your planner printables and are great for doodling and drawing.
Especially if you’re including a bullet journal section in your planner with dot grid paper (more on that later!)
I like using them for doodles, or if I want a certain appointment or set of notes to stand out. They last long and they don’t bleed through paper, which is always a plus!
DIY sticker paper
DIY sticker paper is great for when you want to create your own stickers instead of buying them.
Lots of my planner printable kits include sticker templates so you can print them and cut them out at home on your very own sticker paper.
They come with their own set of directions on how to use them so you get the most out of them. Making your own stickers might seem intimidating, but it’s a lot easier than it seems.
This Avery sticker project paper is perfect for that!
I’ve had a set of small washi tapes that I’ve used and had for a while now. These tapes are great for decorating just about anything.
Think of them like colorful masking tape. You can decorate your planner binder with it (like I did) or use it to decorate or color code different sections of your binder.
Washi tape is definitely not a necessary ingredient to make your DIY planner a success. But it definitely helps to add pops of color and brightness to your planner!
At home laser jet printer
I searched for a while for a good printer that helped me both print AND scan, since I upload lots of free coloring pages for anyone to download and print whenever I get the chance.
So I finally came upon this Prixma Canon laser jet and its pretty handy.
One of the big perks is that it doesn’t have a bunch of wires for you to plug in. It’s all wireless, which is a plus.
So if you’re on the lookout for a decent printer that won’t break down (I’ve had mine for about a year now) this one is definitely one to look into. Especially because of the price and the quality you get with it!
And of course you want to get a hole puncher if you don’t already have one.
A hole puncher is pretty straight forward and if you’re going to be using your DIY planner with the printable planner pages you print out yourself then you want to make sure they have holes in them so you can thread them into your binder.
You can always go out and get a cheap one through your local store or you can just order one off Amazon.
How to resize your printables with Adobe Acrobat
You can get Adobe Acrobat for free if you don’t already have it on your computer. It’s a great way to read and edit PDFs.
Once you open your printable, go to Print > Properties > Printer Paper Size.
Once you’re there you’ll see a TON of different printing options.
You can choose the option you need from the list, or you can scroll all the way down to where it says ‘Custom’ and create a custom size from there.
Once you click ok, you’ll be brought back to this page.
Under ‘Page Handling’ make sure you choose ‘Fit To Printer Margins.’
This way you avoid having the printer print only a part of your printable instead of resizing your printable to fit the size you’ve chosen.
Once that’s set you’re ready to print!
And voila! You just printed your printables in another size than the one they come in without losing quality. Super nifty!
How to print your printables with the prixma printer
This is where you might run into some trouble when you first start. But not to worry, once you have a few basics down, you’ll be printing out your printables like a pro!
Now, everyone has a different type of printer. So they each might have different settings and abilities. For the most part, a lot of them have the basics, so we’ll go over these to be able to print out the best quality version of your printables as possible.
Usually your printer will pull up the basic settings for printing a document every time you hit the print button.
You want to click on the ‘more settings’ or ‘advanced settings’ button to be able to access more printing settings.
Here’s an example of what the Canon Prixma printer settings looks like below.
Usually what you’ll want to tweak the most is:
You want to set it to the highest quality possible to make sure you get the best print quality possible. I always go in and change it by setting the output quality to ‘high quality’ instead of ‘normal’ quality.
With your printer. If you have borderless printing as an option, its great if you want to print a borderless cover page that won’t have any white space added around it when it prints.
It’s helpful to leave it as is when you’re printing the pages you know you’ll hole punch. That way it’s adjusted so you have some extra space to add the hole punches.
How to resize your printables
Sometimes you want to print your planner printables in a size other than the standard 8.5 X 11 to fit your personal planner size, or if you use disc planners.
You can easily resize your printables when you tweak the settings in your printer.
For the Prixma Canon, after clicking ‘more settings’ under ‘paper and quality’ and then ‘paper size’ you can choose a size other than Letter.
Depending on your computer and the printer you have, they might vary slightly in the sizes you can choose.
How to put your DIY planner together
Personally, I like using binders with smaller rings. Either 1 inch or less.
I feel like smaller rings makes them more manageable, and makes them easier to carry around. Usually I can fit anywhere from 50 to 80 pages per binder. And I like creating a category for each binder with a quote page and a sticky note.
I like doing this instead of using the generic dividers you can get at Wal-Mart. It adds a bit more of a personal touch to it!
DIY Planner Tips And Tricks
How to make your DIY planner dividers
Coming Soon (with pictures!)…
Free printables on the blog
Coloring pages are a GREAT thing to keep in your personal planner. If you’re feeling overwhelmed you can just leaf over to that section and start coloring to relieve some stress. Thankfully I have a TON of printable pages on the blog that you can instantly download and print.
Need a place to write all your summer plans? Print out this summer bucket list printable to help you organize all your ideas!
Free wall art printables make great DIY planner dividers. So print some out on cardstock and add it to your binder!
If you’ve got a bare wall that needs some decoration, check out this free printable with a positive message. It’s an automatic download, no sign up needed!
Habit trackers are some of the best things about bullet journals because you can track the habits that you want to grow and the habits that you want to get rid of. Get two FREE printables and choose your favorite one to use!
Is it the holidays yet? Print out this gorgeous holiday page to make sure you don’t miss anyone on your gift list and ditch the shopping stress.
Meal planning is hands down one of the best ways to make sure you’re eating nutritious and good meals with a little planning ahead. This is one reader favorite for sure. Make sure you download your own copy.
Meal prepping is another great way to save time during the week because you get to plan your meals ahead. Once you get into the habit of doing it every Sunday night, then you’re almost guaranteed to be less stressed during the day. Check out the rainbow printable and add it to your household binder.
Are you a blogger and want a planner that revolves around your blogger to-do list? Then this is the perfect printable planner for you!
If you love desk pads you’ll love this idea! Learn how to make your own desk pad at home and organize your home office!