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2017 Calendar and Pretty Cover for Mini Planners

2017 Calendar Feature Picture
Pin 2017 Calendar

It’s here and it’s free! I have just finished creating the 2017 Calendar (Year-at-a-Glance) and planner cover to go with my customizable daily planner pages. I’ve also created mini binder bookmarks that displays months of the year. Scroll to the end of the post to get your free cover, year at a glance, and dividers for your mini planner.

2017 Calendar and Cover Page

This year I have taken classes learning all about Adobe Illustrator. My goal: to make prettier products for my subscribers including my planner pages. These free printables are my first attempt at Adobe Illustrator so I really hope that you like them. Stay tune in the coming year for more free printables as I try to get better and improve my skills and products.

Changes This Year

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

For those who are currently using my planner pages, you will find that I did not include the monthly cover sheets. After using my planner, I realized that those covers weren’t so planner-friendly as I thought. Instead, I am using my bookmarks (with months printed on them) to mark special days along with my Avery color coding labels. I find this more planner-friendly and hope you do too. I use green labels for birthdays, pink for holidays, yellow for special events, and orange for vacations.

Bookmark with Avery color coding labels for 2017 Calendar
This was the prototype bookmark. See below for the one you will receive.
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Putting your Bookmarks Together

To put your 2017 Calendar bookmarks together, first cut on the dotted line and then fold on the solid ones.

Dividers or bookmarks for 2017 Calendar

I suggest laminating your bookmarks so they will last the whole year. With a dry erase marker, mark the placement for your punch holes. Don’t forget that you want the bookmark to stick out on the top a bit, so adjust accordingly. After hole punching your bookmark, snip from the edge of the bookmark (side with the punch holes) to the punch hole. This will allow you to easily move the bookmark. Also, I cut the top inner corner of all my pages and bookmark leaving room for ring tab on the top.

For First Timers to My Site

For those who are here for the first time, scroll down to the end of this post to access my customizable perpetual daily mini planner pages. Also, visit my planner pages post to learn how best to put these pages together. For the printables in this post, I highly suggest laminating them so that they don’t fall apart before the year is over. Another option is to insert your cover/year-at-a-glance calendar sheet into a mini planner page protector. If you’re unable to do either, I suggest purchasing reinforcement labels to protect your paper punch holes from tearing.

Planner cover and 2017 Calendar

Ready to Print Your Freebie?

[content_upgrade id=6037]Click here to receive your free mini planner cover, year at a glance, and dividers.[/content_upgrade]

I hope you enjoy these mini planner pages. Don’t forget: I have the mini binder menu planner and mini binder finances pages that you can access here. I am currently working on a goals worksheet for the upcoming year.

Subscribe to my newsletter and never miss out on any upcoming freebies. You can find the forms at the end of this post or in my sidebar to the right.

Have any suggestions for planner inserts that you would like to see made? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to create one for all my readers.

Pinterest image for 2017 Calendar and Cover

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Menu Planner for Mini Binders

menu planner array

Menu Planner for Mini Binders

menu planner pinterest picture

For those of you who have mini planners, I have created an easy to use menu planner.

menu planner array

Every Sunday, I plan our meals for the week and it takes only minutes to do with my menu planner. This menu planner, if laminated, are sturdy and reusable week after week. But before I introduce these pages, here are a few items you may need. Many of these items are optional but will make putting your menu planner together and easier and some items just make it pretty. I’ve also added links if you’d like to purchase them online.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

  1. adjustable hole punch
  2. paper cutter (optional) *scissors will do
  3. laminator or you can take them to an office supply store that will laminate them for you or you can use #4 below
  4. mini binder page protectors (optional) you can use these instead of laminating your pages
  5. Post-It page markers (optional)* you can use a dry erase marker as well (see my example below)

menu planner binder ringsFor those who do not have a mini binder, you can still use these pages by punching a singular hole on the top left corner of each page and threading a keychain ring or binder ring clip through the hole.

I created these sheets so that you can print on both sides to save paper. If you are going to use the menu plan for more than one meal, I suggest printing more of the inventory sheets. After printing all your sheets, I suggest laminating them. If you don’t have a laminator, you can get them laminated at most office supplies stores where they will also cut and hole punch your sheets.

Planner Inventory Sheets

The first few pages of the menu planner consist of the inventory sheets as well as a shopping list page for when you run out of an item. These sheets are divided into proteins; grains, rice, pastas, and potatoes; fruits and vegetables; dairy; miscellaneous; and lastly beverages and desserts. Using Post-Its colorful page markers, I use a different color for each category. This makes finding items and relocating items easier to manage.

three inventory pages for menu plannershopping list for menu planner

*See below on how to make your markers prettier using your printer

Creating your inventory for the first time will probably be the only time consuming part of using this plan. After that, it should only take you a couple of minutes to adjust your inventory each week, preferably after you’ve done your weekly shopping.

Daily Plan Sheets

Your daily plan sheets will consist of two days per side. On the last sheet, I created a rainy day/leftovers section which I use to plan a back up meal. It is my go-to page if we are suppose to barbecue and the weather doesn’t allow for it. Or if something unexpected happens during the week making little time to cook a whole meal, I can then easily switch out a meal for any leftovers I have on hand.

example daily menu planner

Now, if you don’t want to use Post-It markers, then you can also use a dry erase marker and write in both your inventory and meals as I have done below. I recommend using dry erase markers with a fine tip.

example of dry erase menu planner

When planning my meals, I personally like to take out all my sheets and lay them before me. This way, I am not constantly flipping back and forth in my binder.

Making Your Page Markers Prettier

If you are an organizing neat freak like me, then here is how you can make your menu planner prettier with a consistent font on your page markers. First, get your inventory list ready.

inventory list for menu planner

In your word processor, format your document with narrow margins and three columns. In my photo above I only used two but three columns will save you paper. Choose the font that you like and make it bold. I used Lucida Handwriting. For foods that are 13 characters or less including spaces, I went with a font size of 18. In the photos below, you can see where some of my longer food names, like mashed potatoes, went beyond the page marker. To avoid this, go with a size 16 font and it should work. Lastly, you want to double space your page to leave room for your page markers.

After you have written all your inventory items, go ahead and print and do not close out your document. After printing, take your page markers and cover each item with your preferred color as neatly as possible.

partial food list with page markers for menu plannerpage markers covering inventory list of food for menu planner

When you are done, place your list back into your printer feeder/tray so that when it reprints, it will print on the same side of your written page. Hit print again and Voila! Your page markers will be pre-printed with your food items.

printed page markers for menu planner

Now, eventually your page markers will get worn out as you continue to enjoy your menu planner so save your document on your computer as well as the printed version. This way, all you have to do is add page markers to the already printed version. So far, I have been using my planner for over a month and I have yet to change out my markers due to wear.

So if you are ready to try out my menu planner, click here and enjoy!

UPDATE: Click here for my free 2017 Mini Planner Cover and Year-at-a-Glance Sheet as well as the 2017 bookmark.

This post contains affiliate links that help pay for this blog.

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Customizing Planners

planner cover page customizing planners

Customizing Planners

UPDATE: Click here for my free 2017 Mini Planner Cover and Year-at-a-Glance Sheet as well as the 2017 bookmark.

pin pic of customizing planners

Trying My Hand at Customizing Planners

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

I know, I know. Customizing planners is now the latest rage. But I swear I had no idea it was the latest fad until I stepped into a Michael’s and saw shelves of stuff dedicated to putting one together. For years now I have looked for planners and organizers that suited my freakishly organized ways…there are none! So I end up buying those planners that just have a lot of lines where I just insert those ‘things to do’ items. It turned out to be equivalent to a mini notebook. My current planner has a 4 months-at-a-glance set up (see arrows in pic below), which I like, and lines for specific times of the day. Pretty boring and most of all ugly.

black planner cover customizing plannersinside classic planner customizing plannersWith my current planner ending in June, I decided to start shopping for a more customizable and pretty planner. The search was on and it was going nowhere. One day while needing to go to Michael’s for paint supplies, I came across their display for creating one’s own planner. I was intrigued with all the beautiful shiny parts that one can buy to create a planner but I was also turned off by what I saw as clutter. Their binders were beautiful but everything else was just clutter with hundreds of stickers and doodads. While this may seem cute for some people I don’t think I could get anything done having to wade through all that stuff. So the next logical step for me to do is to create my own planner and begin customizing it to fit my lifestyle. It wouldn’t hurt to make it look pretty too.

To get started on this new endeavor, I quickly wrote down those things that I wanted in a planner. One thing I needed was a way to remind me of all the things that need my attention on a daily basis. This could be accomplished by listing certain topics on a daily page. Some planners had a ‘bills to pay’ section or ‘errands’ but I needed more than that. I wanted more sections for other parts of my life like fitness goals. I also wanted sections to cover my homeschooling and blogging duties. Lastly, I wanted to have my months (current and next month, if possible), visible on my pages.

Once I felt that I had listed everything I wanted, I got started on creating the most awesome planner. Not! OMG! I didn’t realize how difficult this was to put together. The easiest part was purchasing my beautiful shell of a binder. I got mine at Walmart for under $4. It is made by Avery.

Pretty Mini Binder customizing plannersHaving used a letter size binder a few years ago which I didn’t like for various reasons, I opted for a mini one this time.

Mistake #1 in customizing planners: learn how to use your margins for optimum space and don’t forget that you will need to hole punch these.

Mistake #2 in customizing planners: so that you are not wasting paper, learn how to create printables keeping in mind what the other side of the sheet will look like. You don’t want to hole punch through tomorrow’s schedule.

Mistake #3 in customizing planners: DO NOT ADD MONTHS TO YOUR DAILY SHEETS. This was the worst part. Because I wanted my 4-months-at-a-glance aspect, I had to make sure everything was in order, and if I made a small mistake, then I would have to start over and waste more paper. Not only that but I had to create separate files for each month and make more modifications for the beginning of each month and end. It was just crazy.

Mistake #4 in customizing planners: underestimating how much paper it would take for creating a two-page daily sheet. I was only able to fit two months at a time in my binder.

Mistake #5 in customizing planners: taking my creation to Office Max to be printed out. For about 100 color pages back and front, they wanted to charge me $120, this was without cutting my pages in half and having them hole punched. Never mind, OM, I’ll do it myself.

Ok, so after learning from those mistakes above, I learned how to create my planner without having to rip out all my hair. I learned what margins worked best, used my alignment buttons correctly to avoid hole punch errors, and I made myself a pretty page divider that holds my months at-a-glance. After working with my daily two-page layout, I realized that I did not need that much space and was able to condense my daily aspects into one page. I, also, used one page for Saturday and Sunday planning.

Below is the evolution of my planner (sorry for the blurriness, I’m in the midst of learning how to post better photos). I am now working on adding more parts such as a monthly goals worksheet, fitness goals sheet, finance organizer, blogging planner, and a menu planner. I know, I know, where am I going to fit it? Again, it’s all about optimizing paper space, getting rid of what you don’t need, and coming up with creative ways to fit in the stuff you need. If I can successfully get this finished, I am hoping this could be the start of a cute side business. I wonder if I can make a go of customizing planners for different individuals but first, I’ll test them on the family, starting with hubby’s beer brewing planner and the kid’s student’s planners….binder cover page customizing plannersyear at a glance customizing plannersmonth at a glance customizing plannersMonth covers customizing planners


two page daily pages customizing planners
1st attempt on daily pages: two-page layout
new daily pages customizing planners
last and final attempt on creating a one- page daily sheet for binder
planner divider customizing planners
bookmark like divider with months on front and back


planner divider in use customizing planners
bookmark in binder replacing 4 months at a glance aspect that i love

UPDATE: Click here for my free 2017 Mini Planner Cover and Year-at-a-Glance Sheet as well as the 2017 bookmark.

This post may contain affiliate links that help pay for this blog.

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Organizing Your Finances Printables

organizing your finances Budget Binder Cover

Organizing Your Finances

pin pic of finance pages

I am hoping that for the new year you have set some financial goals for yourself such as paying off that student loan, saving up for a much needed vacation, or opening up that retirement account you keep putting off. Whatever your goals, you should first have a firm handle of your finances. That is, you need to start organizing your finances. Now there are tons of software out there that can help you set up a budget and electronically fill in your expenses from your bank account and these are great. However, if you are terrible with saving money and just can’t seem to climb out of debt, might I suggest plain old paper and pencil to track your finances. I believe that by documenting all your finances by hand, you can get a better understanding of where your money is going. By relying on software to do this, you can easily deny yourself the practice of recognizing certain spending patterns that you follow.

Personally, I have been documenting all my finances by hand for years now. Sure, I could probably do this using software since I have a strong hold of my finances but why mess with a good and reliable system. So, today, I am giving away for free printables to help you start your own budget/finance binder and help get you organizing your finances.

These free printables include:

  • an account sheet (these can be printed multiple times for each and every account you have open such as a checking account, savings account, credit cards, and loans)
  • bill recorder (I use these to track all upcoming bills to be paid so that I don’t forget to pay them)
  • budget page

With these binder pages, I have also included examples and directions on how to use them especially if this is your first time tackling your finances. Please note that I created two different pages for the account sheets so that if you wish to print them front and back, you have room for hole punches.

Below is our family’s financial binder. In it, I used index dividers to separate my accounts into the following categories: budget, bills, checking, credit cards, loans, investments, savings, and our net worth. But by all means, name your index dividers according to the types of finances you currently have at the moment.

I really hope you find these printables helpful.

To download your free financial binder pages, click here. 

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

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Organizing Coupons, Part 3

Couponing Efficiently Series

coupon pile pinterest pic

Part 3: Organizing Coupons

Clipping Your Coupons

Below are the three types of couponing to consider when organizing coupons:

  • Extreme: clip out every single coupon. This is very time consuming.
  • Not so extreme: clip out things you need and want, along with items you’ve never tried but would like to if the sale is right. Again, this means clipping coupons you may or may not use.
  • Time saver: clip only coupons you know you will use.

When I first started clipping coupons, I would clip almost everything and when I tried my hand in extreme couponing, I did clip everything. But there was a price: my time. Between clipping and organizing coupons, I would spend hours on my precious Sundays doing so. As time went by, many of those coupons had expired. When I purged my binder of expired coupons, I felt all those hours I had spent organizing coupons go into the trash as well.

So what do I do now? I clip coupons of brands to which I am loyal. For example, I only use Pantene for my hair care and so I don’t bother clipping other shampoo and conditioner coupons. This saves a ton of time when it comes to organizing one’s coupons…consider all the hair care products out there! Now if there is a product you would like to try or do not mind using if you can get it cheap, by all means, clip it out. I clip out any and all coupons on paper towels. I am not brand loyal there. I buy which ever is cheapest.

Now, once you start clipping coupons, don’t try to be too neat and cut only on the dotted lines. As long as you don’t cut across the barcode or cut out the expiration date, stores don’t care how neat your coupons are. Also, to help save time, I create two piles of coupons as I clip them. One pile consists of “food” coupons including things like gum and beverages, and the other pile is my “non-foods” coupons which include such things as cleaners and oral care.

Divide and Conquer: Categorizing Your Coupons

Now, it’s time to start organizing coupons. I divide my binder, like my piles from above, into two parts. The first part deals with my ‘food’ coupons and the second part has all my ‘non-food’ coupons. Here is my binder’s table of contents page.

organizing coupon table of contents

You may or may not have these same categories. You may need a category for baby care or maybe you don’t own pets. Set up your categories for those things you buy.

Now, please don’t follow my example above and organize your categories accordingly. The order of my categories is purposely put in that order. I organize my categories in the same way my preferred store organizes the items in their store. In this way, if I take my binder with me to the store, the first pages of coupons coincides with the first aisle. The next set of pages coincides with the second aisle, and so on. This will save you a ton of time in the store. If you don’t know where items are placed in your store, then I suggest the next time you go, take notes on where things are located, or take a picture of the aisle listings, or better yet, get a store map from customer service.

For those using a binder, I use a page protector for my table of contents. As you can see, I also have my name and phone number printed out just in case I should ever lose my binder (I shudder just thinking about that.) I don’t use dividers between categories since I already know where each of them are by heart. You will get there too in time. However, if you would like to use dividers, has beautiful templates.

Once you have clipped them, start organizing coupons by category. I start with my food pile first. Starting with your first category (mine is produce, bakery, and pb &j), begin organizing coupons by their expiration date. Do this for each of the categories. The next step would be to insert your coupons into those baseball card sleeves. If you have identical coupons, store them in the same pocket. I also suggest filling only 6 of the 9 pockets. That way, if the upcoming week has coupons with expiration dates that falls in between coupons that you already organized, then you just have to move a couple of coupons around. You will see what I mean as you continue to do this weekly. Continue the above directions for organizing the non-food items.

Hopefully this has helped you to organize your coupons. One last thing: I also have copies of coupon policies, from stores I frequent, in the back of my binder in sheet protectors. You can usually get these policies from the company website. This is helpful when disputing coupon discrepancies with store managers/cashiers. Make sure you print these out at least once a year but check throughout the year to see if there are any new changes.

Up Next: Part 4, Choosing Your Stores

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

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Coupon Organizers, Part 2

Couponing Efficiently Series

coupon organizers pinterest pic

Part 2: Coupon Organizers

coupon organizers binderWelcome to part 2 of my couponing 101 series: Gathering Additional Materials/Coupon Organizers. These materials entail how you will organize your coupons. There are many ways to organize your coupons, so you will have to factor in how much time you want to put into this ‘weekly’ chore and what are the right materials for this job.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Expandable File Pocket/Wallet Organizers

These coupon organizersorganizers range in sizes from 6 to 8 inches wide and come with tabbed sections. These are great if you are the person who clips a few coupons here and there. I started out with one of these during the early years and it just became too cumbersome as my coupon stash increased. With too many coupons I would end up finding deodorant coupons mixed in with my frozen items.

Box Organizers

These coupon organizersorganizers resemble shoe boxes or fishing tackle boxes in size. My step up from the above wallet organizer was an actual shoe box in which I used envelopes as dividers. This lasted me a few years. The only complaint I had was having to sift through a whole section of coupons when trying to find that one coupon I needed. For example, when I needed a coupon for Bounty Paper Towels, I would go to my “Paper Items” envelope and sift through coupons that included facial tissue, toilet tissue, napkins, trash bags, etc. This was better than the above organizer but was still lacking in time efficiency. On the plus side, these organizers are great for transporting your coupons.

Large Expandable File or Binder with Page Protectors

I lunked these two types of coupon organizers because their functions are the same. The large expandable file or file box organizersare those that have that accordion feature and are ideal for storing 8″ x 11″ sheets. What this organizer does is it allows a couponer to skip the weekly coupon clipping phase. To do this, all one has to do is slap on a sticky note onto the front page of the coupon booklets that they get from their weekly newspaper and file it away in date order. So how do they know what coupons to use? There are many free shopping list creators online that match sales with coupons and list dates and codes so that you can find the coupon easily. (I will go over this more in part 5 of the series.) This method can also be applied to a binderorganizers where booklets can be inserted into sheet protectorsorganizers and filed in date order.

Now I am not a big fan of this method but if you are pressed for time then this may be the way to go. I did try this method once but let’s just say things got messy. Be aware that time saved from clipping coupons can be lost when trying to find coupons despite using an online service. With so many products in one booklet, you are looking at coupons that expire at various times of the year requiring you to hold onto to that booklet possibly to the end of the year. Also, if you use a coupon before it expires, the online sites do not know this, and may repeatedly direct you to that same coupon over and over again.

Binders with Baseball Card Sleevescoupon organizers binder

I am sure that many of you have seen these types of coupon organizers. They were highlighted in TLC’s show, Extreme Couponing, and if you grocery shop often, you have seen them laid out open on other shoppers’ carts. This binder consists of baseball card sleevesorganizers where coupons are inserted. This type of organizer is popular among serious couponers and for good reason. If organized correctly and maintained, this organizer lays out coupons so you can easily locate them. This is the organizer I most recommend to my friends and family and is the one I have been using for about 5 years now.

If you do go with this organizer, I suggest you start out with a 2-3 inch binderorganizers. If your coupons increase, then you can invest in a 5 inch one. I like having a zippered one in case it should fall. This happened to me once with my old zipperless binder. Let’s just say I had to spend an hour organizing all the coupons that fell out. I would also purchase the 9-pocket baseball card sleeves. I would start out with at least 50-100.

Small warning: At first, you will need to set aside some time to put this organizer together. This is the part that many find overwhelming but it does not have to be. Take you time with this part. Don’t worry if you are not going to make the next sale. Get yourself organized first. Once you have organized your binder and become more familiar with it, maintaining it becomes easier and time spent on it decreases. (I will go over organizing your coupons in part 3 of this series.)

Other materials that I recommend but are purely optional are:

  • set of pens in different colors (I use these to enter “codes” on my shopping list (part 6 of the series)
  • paper cutter (for bulk coupons if ordering more than 2 newspaper subscriptions)
  • store map: ask customer service for a store map… it can come in handy in part 3 of this series
  • page protectors (about 5-10 if using a binder)

Now let’s talk about time again

Think about the pros and cons of each organizer. Determine which organizer works for you. You can also do what I did. I started out with a wallet organizer and as my coupons increased, I upgraded to a shoe box and eventually to a binder.

Next up in the series, part 3: Organizing Your Coupons

This post may contain affiliate links which help pay for this blog.