It’s the insider’s guide to picking the best budget planner in the bunch!

Sometimes, I’m stupid. Yup, I said it.  

I don’t want to figure something out, or I don’t have the time to figure it out, or sometimes I just don’t “get it.” Certain things just don’t compute, like directional navigation. Don’t tell me, “go north,” just tell me to “turn left here.” Or sometimes, I just need reassurance that I’m on the right path, that I’m not missing something important. Because the constant, “Am I doing this right?” doesn’t exude confidence, it holds us back from fully moving forward.

Directions and roadmaps are great! I love to see something laid out, step by step. All you need to do is fill in the blanks! So you know that you’re on the right path, you didn’t miss anything important, and you’ll end up reaching your destination.

Budget planners are the perfect example of using the tools & directions to guide you to exactly where you want to be. But you don’t just want any budget planner; you want the best budget planner!  

Today, we’re going to find just that; the perfect budget planner for you so you don’t get tripped up or focused on the wrong things, or go in only gear 2. Budget planners keep you on track and up to speed!.”

15 of the best budget planner to help run your financial empire

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What is a Budget Planner?

A budget planner book takes many forms; it can be…

  • Budget planner notebook (spiral bound)
  • Budget planner book (hardbound
  • Budget planner binder (3 or 6 ring binder)

Basically, it’s a place (a tool, so to say) where you keep all your financial information in one tidy, neat package! Usually, it has all things money-related in it. Like your monthly budget (of course), savings trackers, monthly bills, debt payoff trackers, financial goal tracking, a daily/weekly/monthly calendar, etc.

A budget planner is a must! It’s your money bible!

Now, many people like apps and they’re great. But there’s something special (tactile) about putting pen to paper and writing things out. If you rack your brain and think back to HS, you’ll remember the learning pyramid. It covers the different ways we learn and how each additional “level” of learning helps us retain more information.  

The smallest percentile of retention is listening, then reading, then comes audiovisual, then watching someone do it, then group discussion, and then (finally) comes the practice by doing. That is where using a budget planner comes into play. You retain more information by writing it out yourself and not leaning on an app to do it all for you! The more info you retain, the more you learn, and the more committed you become to your goal!

Learning Pyramid

So if you’re looking to make lasting change, pass by the apps and go old fashioned pen & paper!

Writing down your own budget is Tip #5 in my Top Tips for Successful Budgeting, be sure to check it out if you’re into tips & hacks!

Why should you use a budget planner?

A budget planner works great for so many women because the good planners…

  • Are comprehensive
  • Easy to use
  • Fun (creative outlet with stickers, pens, etc.)
  • Keeps you engaged with budgeting (this is the most important piece!)
  • Are formatted efficiently, so everything flows nicely together, and you know that you haven’t forgotten anything!

Remember up above when I talked about roadmaps? A great budget planner guides you along on a journey without needing a money guru on call! It allows you to take control of your finances while still having a guide along!  

Also, when you start actively participating in something, it gives you a greater sense of control over “it.” Taking action puts you in the driver seat of your finances, even if you’re just filling out a binder. Everyone knows that the first step is the hardest. So committing yourself by buying a budget planner is a GREAT first step!

Once you have mastered your budget planner, and are using it to strategically plan your finances, you can go anywhere!  Budget Planners can get you your heart’s desire, as almost everything comes back to money, or “can I afford it?”

I hate to sound callous or crude, but money can buy you what you really want. (It’s the greed and not being satisfied with “enough” that gets people into trouble). If you want more free time for your hobby, then having enough money can enable you to take time off of work. Want to be a world class chef? It’s money that can buy you lessons. I could go on with thousands of examples, but in the end, the truth is that money can buy you happiness. (just don’t get greedy on us!)

How to pick the best budget planner for you

The good news is that there are lots of options for you! The bad news is that it can make it a bit overwhelming to pick one. No worries, buy the end of this post, you will know which is the best budget planner for you!

Things to consider when picking out the best budget planner book

You’ll want to look at a variety of planners, so you know what’s available and the features that appeal to you. Pay attention to…

  • How big/small it is: portability, will it fit in your favorite bag?
  • Binder & paper size: listed in inches
    • A4 8-1/4 x 11-3/4
    • A5 5-7/8 x 8-1/4
    • A6 4-1/8 x 5-7/8
  • Dated or undated: i.e., can you start at any time?
  • Format and layout: horizontal, vertical, grid, lined, sectioned
  • The level of detail: do you want general instructions and guiding or very specific?
  • Available accessories: stickers, decorative tape, add in pages for budget planner notebooks, etc

Think about…

  • How will I use it? (at home, to plan big picture stuff or plan EVERYTHING)
  • How often do I want to use it?
  • One year or multi-year use
  • Return policy
  • Any social media groups that use this book (community can be great for learning tricks and new ideas)

Maybe you’re worried about choosing the wrong one? Here’s a tip, pretend you’re a physic! Physics notice details about you, and they know something about human nature. A physic would look at your outward appearance, notice your word choices, they would play into common fears and desires. So if you’re super stylish but conservative, they would pick out a simple but elegant planner. Or, if you talk about loving the new kitchen gadgets that you just got, they would pick out a planner with accessories.

They would pick a planner that plays up your strengths and is something that you’re already drawn to. That’s how a physic would pick the best budget planner for you!

How much do budget planners cost?

I will give a general cost range for each item, yet prices change, so I will give a range.

  • $ = $10 and under
  • $$ = $20 and under
  • $$$ = $35 and under
  • $$$$ = $50 or more

With a few planners, you can easily drop $100 or more if you decided to go hog wild with all the accessories. A cautionary tale (of course), DON’T go too crazy!

A great idea is to add these items to your Amazon gift wishlist! Be it for your birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Arbor Day (just kidding) 🙂 This way, you can snag the fun, cute extras but not put yourself over budget.

I went through all the 1 & 2-star ratings to find common dissatisfiers and laid it out for you. So you don’t have to go digging for any real-life info; I’ve done it all for you!

The 15 best budget planners

I will go through the planners and suggest what “type” of a person it may be best for. YET, please don’t think that you can’t get it if you have a different focus than what I am suggesting. It’s only to give you a rough idea and be able to narrow down your choices quickly.

Best budget planner for those who like things organized & straightforward

01.

Clever Fox Budget Planner – Expense Tracker Notebook – $$

The Clever Fox Budget Planner snags Amazon’s Best Seller distinction with 4.6 stars and 8,000+ ratings! Clever Fox has several different budget planners, but this one is an excellent middle of the road option, perfect for those just starting!

4.6 stars with 8,000+ ratings

Features:

  • A5 size (5.8″ x 8.3″)
  • Monthly budget worksheets
  • Monthly budget review sheets
  • Strategy & mind mapping activity
  • Financial goal sheets
  • Savings tracker
  • Expense tracker
  • Bill tracker
  • Cash flow worksheets

Pros:

Comes with 86 budgeting stickers
Pocket for bills & receipts
Quick start instructions
Undated – start anytime
No questions asked return policy

Cons:

Hard bound (pages don’t lay flat)
Single pocket for reciepts doesn’t offer a lot of room
Not refillable
Small print can be hard to read
Small size = not a lot of space for notes

There are lots of great accessories that are a part of the Clever Fox brand! Lots of fun budgeting stickers and cash envelopes that you can add-on to your purchase!

Best budget planner for those who have a lot of receipts & paper bills

02.

Clever Fox Budget Planner & Monthly Bill Organizer with Pockets – $$$

The Budget Planner & Monthly Bill Organizer with Pockets is the next level up budget planner notebook from Clever Fox, yet this one focuses on budgeting & bills. If you liked the one above but wished it was a little “more,” then look no further! This one has 4.7 stars with 1,000+ ratings!

4.7 stars with 1,000+ ratings

Features:

  • 8″ x 9.5″
  • Monthly budget
  • Monthly calendar
  • Expense tracker
  • Debt tracker
  • Savings tracker
  • Regular bill tracker
  • Pockets for bills
  • Financial goal sheets & mind mapping
  • 12-month usage

Pros:

Receipt pockets for each month
Spiral coil = pages lay flat
Monthly color scheme to quickly open to the right month
Undated – start anytime
Keepsake box (perfect as a gift!)
No questions asked return policy
192 stickers
Holiday budgeting section

Cons:

Spiral binding means some pages may come unfastened
Heavier than other budget planners
If fill all the receipt pockets = bulky

Best budget planner for those who need some extra motivation!

03.

Life & Apples Budget Planner – Monthly Budgeting Notebook for Family and Personal Finance – $$

The Life & Apples Budget Planner doesn’t have as many reviews as bigger companies, but I don’t want you to look past it just on that. The company has a wide variety of planners, but its main focus is to motivate you! We could all use a little motivation, and if that is your Achilles heel with budgeting, then be sure to check this option out!

4.5 stars with 200+ ratings

Features:

  • A5 sizing
  • Monthly budget plan
  • Income, savings, and expenses logs
  • Undated calendar with goals and gratitude sections
  • Monthly expense tracker
  • Goal setting section
  • Vision board – visualize your goals
  • Holidays and special projects budgeting tracker
  • Debt tracker
  • Savings tracker 
  • Bill payment tracker
  • Yearly and quarterly budget review

Pros:

87 stickers
Has a mini vision board & goal setting section
Undated – start at any time
Motivationally focused!
Inner pocket for receipts

Cons:

Limited return policy
A5 size can be considered small – hard to read
Not a lot of room for notes
Hardcover – pages don’t lay flat

Best budget planner for those who want budgeting to be a part of a whole planning program

04.

Erin Condren Designer Petite Planner – Financial Planner/Budget Planner Organizer Book: $$ – $$$$

Everyone raves about Erin Condron Planners (there are many Facebook groups dedicated to this line of planners)! The Petite Financial Planner Book lives up to the hype with 4.5 stars with 1,000 ratings!

So what makes it a petite planner? I mean, it’s small, but there’s more than just that. The petite planning line is where you can mix & match 4 of any petite planners to go into a folio system. So if you want budgeting to be part of a larger “planning” goal that you have, then be sure to check out this line! Other petite planners include – wellness, meal planning, weekly planning, daily planning, self-care journal, weekly intention setting, and more! You can check out the full line of petite planners here.

4.5 stars with 1,000+ ratings

Features:

  • 8.25″ x 5.75″ size
  • 1 saving tracker spread
  • 72 pages of monthly spending summaries
  • 4 pages of debt tracking
  • 1 quote page
  • 1 sticker sheet

Pros:

Has a whole suite of accompanying accessories
Portable size
Mix & match with 3 other planners to fit into the EC folio system
Lots of colors & designs to match your style!

Cons:

It can be very expensive – depending on accessories
Basic sections, not as detailed as other planners
Limited return policy
Prefilled out budget categories may not suit your needs

Best budget planner for those who want quality

05.

Legend Budget Planner – Deluxe Financial Planner Organizer & Budget Book – $$

Legend Planners have a variety of planners, not just budgeting. They market themselves as our planners “will help you to figure out what you really want in life, create your personal vision, define and breakdown your short and long-term goals, and incorporate them into each area of your daily life.” Looking through the features and benefits of their Deluxe Budget Book, it sounds like it’s almost guaranteed to deliver! In fact, they do guarantee it with hassle-free returns for any reason!

4.6 stars with 1,300+ ratings

Features:

  • A5 sizing
  • 2 pages for making a financial plan for your life
  • 2 pages for setting your financial goals and their breakdown on the mind map
  • 4 pages for tracking savings
  • 4 pages for debt tracking
  • 12 months (8 pages per month)
  • 2 pages for Christmas budgeting
  • 2 pages for regular bill tracking
  • 2 pages for an annual summary to track your progress throughout the year.
  • Accordion pocket for receipts

Pros:

No questions asked return policy
9 color choices
109 stickers
Pride themselves on quality!

Cons:

A5 sizing can be considered small
Not a lot of room given to debt payoff
Not a lot of free writing space

Best budget planner for the no-nonsense kinda girl

06.

Budgeting Workbook – $

Now don’t let the low price of this budgeting workbook fool you; it has almost everything you NEED to budget effectively. That being said, it’s not a traditional “planner,” as there are no cute stickers or bells & whistles, but it gets the job done (and you can’t beat the price)!

4.5 stars with 1,200+ ratings

Features:

  • 148 pages
  • Paperback – standard 8.5″ x 11″ sizing
  • Monthly Budget Worksheet
  • Weekly and Daily Expense Tracker

Pros:

Undated – start anytime
Simple & clear layout
Lots of room to write
Cheapest option of the planners!

Cons:

No “extras” (i.e. colors, stickers, fancy formatting, etc.)
Paper is thin, ink can bleed through
Not as portable as some planners

Best budget planner for the basic forms

07.

Budget Planner – Monthly Budget Book and Expense Tracker – $

Even though this entry on the best budget planner list doesn’t have a lot of ratings (338), they are really good, average to be 4.7 stars!

4.7 stars with 300+ ratings

Features:

  • 5.3″ x 7.6″ (small)
  • Spiral-bound (pages lay flat)
  • 2 pages for regular bill trackers
  • 12 months of monthly budget planner and expense tracking
  • Annual expenses budget. 
  • monthly income, regular monthly payments, monthly direct debits & bills, monthly savings, monthly essentials, 
  • 3 monthly day-to-day spend pages
  • 2 monthly spend totals pages and Month overview
  • Special section for Christmas & extra expenses
  • 1 inner pocket

Pros:

Portable
Simple & clear layout
Pretty watercolor design
Sturdy, can handle tumbling in purse

Cons:

Small!
Simple layout might be “too” simple

Best budget planner for someone who is doing the debt snowball 

08.

Smart Planner Bill Organizer – $$

Smart Planners are for those that “have a million tabs open in their minds.”  Yup, I’m raising my hand right here!  They focus on scientific approaches with productivity in mind, perfect for busy moms!  Smart Planner Budget Planner has 4.6 stars with 250+ reviews!

4.6 stars with 200+ ratings

Features:

  • 8.3″ x 5.8″
  • 5 colors to choose from
  • 176-page financial planner
  • Affirmations pages
  • Goal setting pages
  • Tracking your debts (debt snowball method – this is great!)
  • Expense sheets
  • Spending analysis
  • Monthly calendars
  • 10 blank pages for spider mapping your plan of action
  • 10 lined pages for notes
  • Expanded pockets for receipts
  • Focus on quality paper and construction

Pros:

This is the only planner I’ve seen that focuses on debt payoff
Undated – start anytime
Lots of pages for note taking

Cons:

Limited return policy
Not as flashy as other planners
No extra add-on accessories

Best budget planner for someone who likes all the bells & whistles – Happy Planners

Women everywhere rave about their Happy Planners! They are cute, fun, and you can totally customize yours to make it exactly what you want it to be! It’s a mix & match process…

  1. Pick your size – basically small, medium & large
  2. Pick Your theme – what’s the general area of focus? Health & wellness, budgeting, journaling, etc
  3. Customize it – pick your inserts (lots to choose from! You can buy expander disc rings to make it so your planner holds more
  4. Accessorize it – think stickers, washi tape, sticky notes, envelopes & tabs, pens, etc
09.

Classic Happy Planner Budget: $$ – $$$$

The Classic Budget Planner is the theme you’ll want; they have extra financial inserts too, so you can make it exactly how you want it!

Features:

  • 7″ x 9.25″
  • Vertical layout
  • Income, expenses, and remaining budget overview
  • Bill organization chart – date, bill/description, category, amount, paid
  • Savings tracker – date, account, activity, balance
  • Accounts and debts – date, account, activity, balance
  • Monthly budget challenge – no spend and reporting

Pros:

Super cute & lots of color choices & themes
Lots of accessories to customize it!
Can add in inserts with other areas of focus – health, meal planning, etc.

Cons:

One of the more expensive planners
Many smaller companies have created their own additions to the Happy Planner line (which can be confusing, as you may not be buying directly from HP, so just be aware). That being said, people have made some GREAT add-ins, like the Better Note Finance Kit or extra budgeting sticker sets like this 682 budget theme pack! 

In addition to this planner, they also make the Mini Happy Planner Budget, which is more streamlined with fewer “extra” pages. And at the other end of the spectrum is their Savvy Saver Deluxe Budget Planner! “This 2021 budget planner is the perfect solution to combine your daily planning and budgeting. It features an expense tracker, savings tracker, bill tracker, notes section, and area for no-spend challenges. If you are looking to streamline your planning and budgeting, this planner is your answer.”

Best budget planner as a gift for someone

10.

The Happy Planner Box Kit – Wealth & Budget Theme – $$$$

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a new budgeter, then you have to check out the Happy Planner Box Kit from Me & My Big Ideas! It has everything a new budgeter needs to tackle their finances!
Features

It comes in the Classic size (7″ x 9.25″), with added accessories – magnetic bookmark, stickers, sticky notes, 12-month budget planner (expense tracker, bill pay checklist, etc.)

Features:

  • 1 Classic Budget HP
  • Stickers
  • Sticky notes
  • Magnetic book mark

No need to go through pros & cons, as they are the same as th eone above.

Best budget planner for someone who wants to learn a lot about money & behavior

11.

The Total Money Makeover Workbook: $ – $$$

The Total Money Makeover Workbook is more of a whole picture perspective than the planners above. It combines education (from the most famous money guru in America) and a financial workbook. This book goes along the book The Total Money Makeover.

4.7 stars with 2,000+ ratings

Focuses on:

  • Assessing the urgency of your situation
  • Understanding where your money’s going
  • Creating a realistic budget
  • Dumping your debt
  • Cleaning up your credit rating

Pros:

Tens of thousands of people has proven that his methods work!
Accompanying book to expand on topics
Comes in Spanish and in Kindle edition

Cons:

Some consider this info repetative of his others, not a lot “new” here.
Dave Ramsey can be blunt and sometimes hard to hear from (yet it’s almost always truthful). Facing these truths can be challenging and uncomfortable, but it may be necessary to work through these things to come out stronger & smarter!

Best budget planner to carry on the go

12.

Simplified Monthly Budget Planner – $$

This Simplified Budget Planner from ZICOTO has 4.6 stars with 800+ ratings! It markets itself as, “This 12-Month budget book is your chance to develop monthly habits, monetary strategies & action plans”, which sounds like a great budgeting beginning!

4.6 stars with 800+ ratings

Features:

  • 5.5″ x 8
  • Financial goal setting
  • Strategy & action plans
  • Monthly bill tracker
  • Saving and debt tracker
  • Monthly income, savings & budgeting
  • Daily expenses
  • Month & year-end review for reflection
  • Christmas tracker to enjoy the best time in the year without financial worries
  • Notes section
  • undated = start anytime

Pros:

Sturdy hardback
6 colors to choose from
Comes with stickers
Easy to use while still being detailed

Cons:

Small size
No calendar layout

Best for those that want simple & stylish

13.

 GoGirl Budget Planner – $$

GoGirls’ mission is to help you have a more inspired and happier everyday life! Now that sounds like something I can get behind! This GoGirl Budget Planner has 4.5 stars with over 4,500 ratings!

4.5 stars with 4,500+ ratings

Features:

  • Two size options – 5.3″ x 7.7″ and an A5 size (5.7″ x 8.5″)
  • Monthly goals & budget
  • Debt tracker
  • Expense tracker
  • Monthly review sheets
  • Savings tracker
  • Stickers included
  • Holiday spending tracker
  • Accordion pocket for receipts

Pros:

12 color options
2 size options
Thick paper (ink won’t bleed through)
No questions asked return policy

Cons:

Small size is very small!
Not as detailed as other planners
Could use extra pages for notes or more sections

Best for those that use the cash envelope system

14.

 GoGirl Budget Book – $$

For just a few dollars more, you can grab the GoGirl Budget Book, which appears to be brand new as it only has a handful of ratings. This is similar to the budget planner, but it follows the cash envelope system.

Features:

  • A5 size
  • 12 months comes with a calendar spread
  • monthly goals & budget spread
  • 3 debt tracker pages
  • notes page
  • 2 savings tracker pages
  • 4 debt tracker pages
  • 2 holiday budget pages
  • 2 regular bill tracker pages
  • 2 summary of the year pages 
  • 220+ stickers and guide

Pros:

Undated – start any time
9 color choices
Thick paper (ink won’t bleed through)
No questions asked return policy
Comes with 3 sturdy cash envelopes

Cons:

Small size is very small!
Not as detailed as other planners
Probably need more cash envelopes

Best Budget Planner for Financial Goal Setting

15.

Cultivate What Matters Financial Goal Guide – $$

I am deeply in love with all things Lara Casey, and her Cultivate What Matters products. Her products are beautiful, meaningful, and focus on inner change & development. Her Financial Goal Guide is a digital download (so you can start right now)!


“From resetting your money mindset to discovering healthy financial practices, budgeting, paying off debt, saving, investing, and giving, this guide covers it all and is designed to get you started on a solid financial path.”

financial goal guide

Features:

  • 24 pages with sections on healthy financial practices, budgeting, debt, saving, investments, and giving
  • Action step guides
  • Included bonus teaching video

Pros:

Huge inventory of accompanying items
Inspiration is the name of the game!
Be sure to check out her podcast and books!
Digital download = start right now!

Cons:

Cultivate What Matters items can be expensive, depending on how much you add on
Nothing substantial to hold in your hand, just printable pages

Best budget planner when you’re in a hurry

16.

Money for the Mamas instant download printable budget planner – $$

Okay, so 99% of these are all physical products that need to be shipped to you. Yes, Amazon has 2-day shipping, but sometimes you need to start RIGHT NOW while your motivation is sky high!


The good news is that there are lots of printable budget planners available, which can be downloaded immediately! I have created 6 different printable budget planners (one for each of the main budgeting methods). So be sure to check those out if you are ready to roll RIGHT NOW!

zero based budget printable budget planner
(zero based busget shown)

Features:

  • 6 types of budget planners
    • Zero based budget
    • Simple budget
    • 50/30/20 budget
    • Budget by paycheck
    • Cash envelope budget
    • Budget sampler pack
  • Instant download so you can start right now!
  • Budget form for each month
  • Undated calendar
  • Quick start guide
  • Budget category lists
  • Important dates list
  • Quarterly review guide

Pros:

You can start right now! It’s an instant download!
Pick a budget method specific to your needs
Lots of room to write
Review & recap to see what went great and not so great, and plan for next quarter

Cons:

No accessories (but you can buy any on Amazon and use them)!
Not as hefty as a traditional planner

Best budget planner for skeptics – Money for the Mamas free templates

$0

I get it, budgeting isn’t for everyone, and it’s traditionally considered not a lot of fun. But, there are many nerds (just like me) who love it! Maybe you just need an easy path to the heavenly side of budgeting nirvana 🙂

If so, then grab my set of free budgeting templates; it will take you $0 and just two minutes of your time to get and print these handy budgeting sheets! Try them out and get a feel for what kind of info is in the physical planners, and maybe you’ll want to upgrade later.

Best budget planner accessories

Cash envelopes

Reusable trackers & add-in sheets

Stickers, tape & pens

Misc accessories

At the end of the day

I used a budget planner for quite a few years, and then I switched over to my own budgeting forms (excel sheets make me giddy). Yet, I can’t deny the allure of using a fun & cute planner! Getting that planner in the mail was always a highlight, and I loved putting it together.  

I was literally so excited to put the stickers in, date it all, and write out my goals! And I think that is what most of us don’t like about the stereotypical budgeting process; it’s not fun, it’s not motivating. And if you’re not motivated to use it, then you won’t use it, and you quit. So if lack of motivation is a typical roadblock for you, then give a budget planner a try!  

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