advantages of printables

Advantages of printable planners: The Top Three

Did you know that printables can be your planner’s best friend?  Do you know what the key advantages of printable planners are? Whether you prefer daily, weekly, or monthly planning, read on to find out the top three reasons why you should consider printable pages for your planner even if you already have another system in place!

advantages of printable planners
advantages of printable planners

Advantage #1: Perfectly Personalized

Imagine walking into a store and picking each individual page for your planner, and then putting it all together just for yourself.  And being able to go back to the store year after year and duplicate the planner at no additional charge.  If you decide you need a random weekly planner page in addition to your regular monthly pages, or you want to add a second gift tracker when the holidays come around, simply being able to add individual pages as you need them. Want to try out new mood trackers? Go ahead!

I even keep my travel printables right in the month of the trip. I simply print one out for each trip when we’ve locked in the dates and start making my notes right there.

Being able to add any page you want (I admit that I have several fun coloring pages in mine), and not being “stuck” with pages you don’t need.  Like a beautiful eyeshadow palette with that one weird shade.  Who wants that in a planner that you are going to use every day for an entire year? No one!

Planners are so personal because they are truly your life on paper.  And why shouldn’t it work for you instead of the other way around?  If you mess up a page, no need for whiteout, simple re-print and replace. Personally, I love this particular feature!

Advantage #2: Completely Customizable

Individual printable pages allow you to customize the layout and combination in your planner itself.  But in addition to the individual printables that are available, you can also find beautiful blank templates.  These templates are terrific because you can add your own colors and pictures, or even type in special dates to remember directly into the calendar.

For example, the gift tracker that I use has everyone’s birthdays printed right onto the page. It’s so handy not to have to recreate that every year (since rarely do people’s birthdays change, ha!) Not to mention the templates are yours forever so you can update and reprint year after year.  Or if you need to add or change something, make the edits and reprint just that page!

Advantage #3: Entirely Economical

I mentioned it above, but I wanted to highlight the fact that printables are actually very economical.  That is the world of printable planner pages!  Being able to pay upfront just once, and print as many as you like!  There is the initial cost for the files or templates, however after that purchase, you own those digital files and can re-print as many pages as you like.

Need 5 gift trackers?  Go ahead and print them all out!  Made a mistake on the week of April 9th?  Reprint and replace it! Wait, do you need to insert more Notes pages in June? Do it!

No matter whose system you use or where you find your printables or templates, they are a great economical option for a truly personalized and customized planner that’s all about you!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are printable planners?

Simply put, printable planners are digital pages and files that you create or buy, and then physically print out to put in a holder such as a binder or a discbound system. You can buy individual pages or entire planners, whichever you are looking for.

What can I do with a printable planner?

Anything you want! It is yours to personalize and customize any way you see fit. And you can change it as you go through your year. Do you currently have a spiral for this year? No worries, if you want to start testing the waters with printables, go ahead! When I started my first bullet journal, I found some lovely printable trackers I wanted to use. I made my purchase, printed it out, and then glued it into the pages. You can start today!

Why are paper planners better?

I’ve really tried to get into some of the electronic planners but they just aren’t the same. I like my paper planners because I like the tactile aspects of putting pen to paper. I like using my colored pens and pencils, I like doodling in the margins, and I love my stickers. My current planner is a discbound system, full of so many wonderful printables, and I love the fact that I can truly make it my own. I’ve added spreadsheets, calendars, schedules and more.

Do paper planners even still matter?

Just ask Erin Condren whether paper planners still matter! I think there is something special about a beautiful paper planner. Think of it as the difference between a Happy Birthday email or a Happy Birthday card in the mail. Which would you prefer to receive? The card of course, that has a loved one’s handwritten note and signature.

I also like the fact that even if I don’t hole punch a page and insert it, I can stick things into the discbound holder such as bills that need to be paid or cards that need to be mailed. If you’re planning only in electronic formats, where do you keep those things???

SMART goals defined

How are your SMART goals defined?

What can I say about goal setting?  We have all been there with work-related goal setting when it comes to our performance reviews.  That dreaded process of setting goals to discuss with your manager for the next year, most of which are just words to fill the page and complete the task. Every year, asking yourself how are my SMART goals defined this time?

I’m not talking about that kind of goal!

I’m talking about the ones you actually want to set for yourself and want to accomplish!  The goal or goals can be related to your job, to your family, to your health, to anything.  Personally, I want to focus on some of the health changes that I have been having, as well as balancing my regular job and my business here.

SMART goals defined

Let’s look at
SMART goals defined!

* Specific
* Measurable
* Achievable
* Relevant
* Time-bound

S — I want to clean out my closet so that I can see my clothing more easily.

M — I want to eliminate 20 items from my stuff that I no longer need or use.

A — I will need to gather my supplies and set aside the time to get it done.

R — This will help streamline my morning and get me out the door faster.

T — I want to accomplish this within the next 30 days.

It also helps to envision the final result.  Right now, you’re on Island A and you want to be on Island B.

  • Island A is the state of your closet right now.  Shoes that you bought 10 years ago that you haven’t worn in 8 years; a bridesmaid’s dress you wore once in a wedding you can barely remember; and let’s not forget those Christmas bows.  How did they get in there anyway?
  • Island B is the land of color coordinated coat hangers and perfectly aligned pairs of shoes and a shelf display of handbags.  (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration).  But Island B could realistically be the clothing you wear regularly hanging up nicely and no more digging through those bridesmaids’ dresses to find the sweater you need for work this morning.

When you imagine living on Island B, what does it look like?  What does it feel like?  Are your mornings a little easier?  Do you have a better idea what to add to your wardrobe when you go shopping?  Can you breathe just a little easier when you walk into that closet?

Once you’ve defined your SMART goals, you can keep that image to motivate you to get the goal accomplished!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the meaning of SMART goals?

The general meaning of SMART goals is to set realistic goals that can be defined, measured, and accomplished. When goals are too vague, they tend to get lost. But when you outline the terms of the goal, it becomes more real and more achievable.

What are the 5 parts of SMART?

  1. Smart
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Relevant
  5. Time-bound

How do you write a SMART goal?

  • Smart – The who, what, when, where, why, and which of the goal you are setting.
  • Measurable – What type of metrics will you use to measure your progress and your completion?
  • Achievable – How will you accomplish your goal? Will you need a new skill? Will you need help?
  • Relevant – How does this individual goal line up with your overall ideas and objectives?
  • Time-bound – Set a realistic time limit. If it’s a large goal, make sure to break it down into milestones.

What are some SMART goal examples?

  1. S – I want to earn a promotion at work.
  2. M – I will seek new projects and certifications.
  3. A – My boss already mentioned a possibility.
  4. R – I want to keep my career moving upward.
  5. T – I will complete the project and the certification and apply within 4 months.
  1. S – I want to lose 25 pounds.
  2. M – I’ll track of my food, exercise, and weight.
  3. A – I am in good health to start this regimen.
  4. R – I want to have more energy for activities.
  5. T – I have already RSVP-ed for my class reunion in 6 months.

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    Budget planning time

    Money in May Part #4: Savings Tracking

    Budget planning time
    Savings??? How do I build up savings while I’m still working on everything else??? Let’s talk about some little ways to work on the savings account.

    Budget Planner Pages

    Where will the savings come from?

    After taking a look at your spending tracking and debt reduction plans, where do you intend to find the money to save?  Many experts will tell you to pay yourself first and it truly is an important comment that many people over look.  Savings does not always have to be large amounts like a bonus from work.  Try setting aside even $10 per paycheck into a savings account and then ignoring it.  Some might suggest the envelope method however I prefer not to keep everything in cash (personal preference only).

    Some people have taken on a “side hustle” to infuse more cash into their household finances.  This is certainly an interesting approach but can work if you can still balance your home and work lives.

    What are your savings goals?

    What are you saving towards?  Are you trying to build a nest egg?  Go on vacation?  Fund your kids’ or grandkids’ education?  Planning for your own retirement?  I would recommend building a nest egg first even as you are reducing your debt.  Any available funds could be split between debt payoff and savings.  Having that cushion of savings does go a long way to reducing financial stress in a household.  When the unexpected costs of life rear up, having that savings available makes it quick and easy to address instead of having to add to the credit card balance.

    What will keep you motivated?

    It can be difficult to stay motivated in regards to savings.  There is rarely an immediate payoff to achieving this financial goal, plus it is lifelong.  There is no “end”.  So how will you stay motivated?  I suggest focusing on what you can accomplish – giving your children a debt-free education, enjoying that family cruise, or being able to live comfortably in retirement.  Those life goals are much more motivating than simply skipping the morning latte.

    Budget planning time

    Money in May Part #3: Debt Reduction

    Budget Planner Pages

    The bottomless well — student loans, credit cards, personal loans

    This debt can include student loans, credit cards, personal loans, mortgages, auto loans, and more.  It’s no wonder we feel like we can’t get ahead!  It racks up one at a time, and suddenly you turn around and you’re drowning.  The expenses of living increases faster than the raise at work, and that doesn’t include the unexpected such as a flat tire or a water break in the house.

    Making more than the monthly minimum payment

    Now, all of that said, there is some personal responsibility to be discussed.  While some debt cannot be avoided, some of it can.  Medical bills can happen unexpectedly (believe me, this isn’t hypothetical) but maybe that new dress or those snow skis can wait.

    I recommend making a list of your current debt, including balance, interest rate, and monthly payment.  Once you have the list, decide which to tackle first.  My personal choice is always the one with the lowest balance since I can pay it off fastest and move on to the next one.  You can also choose the one with the highest interest rate since paying that one off will definitely save you money in the long run.  If you only pay the minimum, you will not make progress.  Even if you can only afford to add an extra $10 per payment, it can make a difference.

    Self-fulfilling cycle

    The debt reduction process is a self-fulfilling cycle.  The more debt you pay off, the more money you have to put towards other debt.  If you pay off a credit card that has a $100 minimum payment a month, that $100 is now available to put towards the next credit card.  This is the main reason I encourage folks to pay off the smallest balances first because you can make real progress and can quickly generate additional cash to put towards something else.

    Budget planning time

    Money in May Part #2: Spending Tracking

    Budget planning time
    The first in this series was about budget planning.
    Now let’s talk about tracking our spending habits!

    Budget Planner Pages

    What are your largest expenses?

    Let’s start with the biggest expenses.  Typically that is housing (the rent or the mortgage).  For many households, it can also be debt which might include student loans, car payments, or credit card payments.  Child care and medical care can also take a big chunk out of your paycheck.  Some of these expenses are fixed which means there is no flexibility in the minimum payment.

    Where can you save money on outgoing expenses?

    While some expenditures are fixed such as the rent, some are more fluid such as groceries or entertainment.  If you wonder why your money runs out long before the month runs out, tracking your spending will help narrow down what is happening with the money.  Oftentimes, it is a $5 coffee here or a $10 movie ticket there but it all adds up.  I am a huge spreadsheet girl and I have created several to track expenses.  At one point, my grocery bill was out of control so I even broke the grocery bill down into its own spreadsheet – hand-entering how much we spent on dog food and coffee creamer and ice cream. Once you have a better handle on the spending, you can start to figure out where you could start saving.  Can you download apps to take advantage of grocery store sales?  Can you start eating leftovers more often?  If you go out to eat, can you reduce your alcohol tab or maybe even split a meal with a friend?

    What do you want to use that savings toward?

    Now all of this tracking only benefits you if you have a goal in mind.  Once you carve out that extra money, what will you do with it?  Do you want to reduce your debt?  Do you want to take a vacation?  Maybe you just need to build up a nice cushion in your savings account.  If you start to miss that $5 coffee, it will be easier to stay on track if you keep your ultimate goal in mind.  There is no incentive if you don’t know what you are working towards!

    Money in May Part #1: Budget Planning

    Budget planning time
    So for the month of May, I want to talk with you about your household financial organization: planning a budget, tracking your spending and expenses, reducing your debt, and tracking your savings. There are a lot of moving parts to organizing the financial parts of your life, and I have some tools to make it a little easier.

    Budget Planner Pages

    In-come versus Out-go

    Budgeting all boils down to balancing the “in-come” versus the “out-go”.  And oftentimes, the budgeting downfall is more of the out-go than the in-come.  Tracking both can really help establish the household budget and keep it on track.  In this series for May, we will be talking about tracking our spending, reducing our debt, and improving our savings.  So let’s get started!

    Fixed and Flexible Expenses

    Some of the expenses are fixed such as rent or a car payment.  However, many of our regular expenses are flexible in the sense that they could be managed differently.  Perhaps keeping the thermostat a degree or two differently could impact the energy bill, or you might be able to reduce your cable bill by changing to a smaller plan.  Being able to improve the flexible expenses will go a long way in helping you achieve that financial organization!

    Spending Tracking

    Without a good tracking system, it is hard to know where all the money goes.  I suggest tracking every outgoing dollar for two months (three if you have some quarterly payments) to really get a handle on the spending.  There will be some areas that will really surprise you I’m sure!

    Debt Reduction

    Almost everyone carries some type of debt.  Albeit, a mortgage payment is a different type of debt versus a credit card balance.  But reducing the debt where you can will really help the bottom line of your household budget.

    Saving Tracking

    In addition to reducing the debt, creating a savings plan is essential for financial organization and peace of mind.  Whether you are saving towards a cushion of cash or a specific vacation or even retirement, keeping track of what you are saving will help keep that goal in mind.  And remember — pay yourself first!

    Top 7 To-Do List Hacks

    To-Do List Hacks

    The famous-slash-infamous to-do list that we all face. From our bosses, from our family members, from our other responsibilities, and even from ourselves. Sometimes it can seem endless. For every item you cross off, you discover four more items that you have to add. But here are seven to-do list hacks that could change the way you tackle your chores! Plus sign up below and get the library password to access three free printable to-do lists.

    7.The art of forgiveness
    We need to learn to forgive ourselves for not getting everything done immediately and simultaneously. I am a repeat offender of this myself — thinking that if I just can get more done, I can rest. That’s not how it works. Because guess what? There will always be more. I don’t say that to scare you, I say it to be realistic. So learn to forgive yourself for not getting it all done right now.

    6.Not making a list at all
    This seems to be the pendulum swing I see most often. That when the list gets too overwhelming, to abandon the idea altogether. My primary reason for loving my to-do lists is that it means I don’t have to remember everything. If I jot it down on the list, it no longer occupies brain space to remember that I have to do it. Think of your grocery list — let’s say on Wednesday you realize you need potatoes but you do your grocery shopping on Saturdays. Would you rather write down potatoes on your grocery list and move about your day, or would you rather spend the four days trying to remember to get potatoes?

    5.Delegation is your friend
    You don’t have to get it all done by yourself! If your eight-year-old can peel carrots and your ten-year-old can wash and tear up the lettuce, then those are two steps of making dinner that you don’t have to do. The rest of your list can work similarly. Maybe your spouse can swing by a postal drop box on their way to the gas station; maybe a co-worker can

    4.Be as specific as you can
    Abby offers some terrific to-do list hacks including being specific about your tasks. If something on my list is a larger item to tackle, I like to break it down to smaller tasks. If I don’t finish the entire chore in one day, I might accomplish one or two pieces so that I have made progress. Admittedly, this can make the list look longer, but you can knock out the smaller sub-tasks quicker and get them crossed off.

    3.Work smarter, not harder.
    In our recent crazy Dallas snow-mageddon, our poor doggie flipped out every time the power would come back on. It was the beeping of the microwave. We tried to reassure her that everything was okay, but then the power would come back on the next time, and the beeping would scare her again. We finally unplugged the microwave. The moral of this story — sometimes the best solution actually is the easiest solution.

    2.Busier does not mean more productive
    Brent says this right from his introduction – productive and busy are not interchangeable. This feeds right off of number 3 above. Running around dust all of the flat surfaces in the house, vacuum all of the rugs and carpets, and scrub all of the bathrooms simultaneously means that nothing really gets done and you end up exhausted without actually having accomplished anything. But deciding that you are going to complete one of those chores a day means that you will spend no more than 30 minutes a day and by the end of it, you will have a cleaner house.

    1.The NUMBER ONE hack — find a system and stick with it
    Moving the list from an electronic format to a physical planner to a pile of sticky notes and miscellaneous notepads means something will get lost in the translation. And not everyone’s system will look the same. Test out ones that appeal to you and stick with the one that will get the job done for you.