Organizing your finances can be a pain. However, using one of the best budget planners below can help ease that pain and help you get a better handle on your finances.
Using a budget organizer helps you track your spending, get out of debt, and save more money.
These planners provide you the tools to see where your money is going. Understanding your month-over-month spending is vital when trying to improve your financial situation.
If you have trouble keeping track of bills, keeping your transactions and financial obligations in a budget notebook can help ensure you don't make late payments or fall behind on your financial goals.
Additionally, having a better grasp of your finances can reduce a significant source of stress in your life.
And who couldn't use a little less stress in their life?
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5 Best Budget Planners and Organizers
Here are our top picks for the best budget planners to manage your money better.
When looking for a good budget organizer, you'll want to consider the size, portability, tracking features, time range covered, and additional budgeting tools and guidance included.
Some budget planners are ideal for beginners, while others are focused on more advanced users.
The last planner on the list includes a few cash envelopes if you want to get started with the cash envelope budgeting system. However, you can use any of the other planners to do this.
And if you're looking to get started with this system, read our Best Cash Envelope System Wallets article to find the best wallet to use for it.
1. Clever Fox Budget Planner
The Clever Fox Budget Planner tops my list of the best budget planners.
This budgeting journal has everything needed to keep track of your finances.
To get you started, you list out your financial goals for the year. You can also create mindmaps to help brainstorm ideas to achieve your goals.
Additionally, you can list strategies for achieving your financial goals, affirmations for wealth and prosperity, tactics to earn more money, and actions to cut your expenses.
Taking those first steps can really change your mindset about budgeting and money in general.
Monthly planning tools
- Align to annual goals
- Financial checklist
- Income and savings tracker
- Reminders for bills and payments coming due
- Includes standard budget categories
- Additional blanks for personalized categories
- Budgeted vs. Actual spend
- Budget summary
- Expense tracker
- Four pages for each month to track expenses and categorize them
- Monthly budget review
- Budget summary
- Review of goals and what was learned
These monthly planning tools provide helpful insights to your spending month over month. This helps find ways to cut wasteful spending.
And the pre-populated budget categories are helpful for people new to budgeting. Having those categories can also help you brainstorm other, personalized budget categories.
Annual planning tools
- Savings tracker
- Tracking for four savings goals for the year
- Debt tracker
- Tracking for four debt payoff goals for the year
- Christmas budget and spending
- Summary of the year
- Summarize each month's income and spending by category
By using these additional planning tools, you can gain a broader overview of your finances. This helps to ensure you are on track to meet your long term money goals.
- Available in five different colors
- Size: A5 (5.8″ x 8.3″)
- 0.65 lbs
- 120 gsm no-bleed paper
- 12-month planner (start anytime)
- Quick start manual
- Inner pocket – great for storing your bills
- Budgeting stickers
- Bookmark and elastic closure
The small size makes it ideal for taking it along wherever you go. However, it could be an issue for those who have larger handwriting or prefer a larger size book to write in.
As you can see, the Clever Fox Budget Planner has pretty much everything you could ask for in a budget planner. It can really help you get control of your finances and reduce financial stress.
For More Advanced Budgeters: Clever Fox Budget Book 2.0
The Clever Fox Budget Book is similar to the Clever Fox Budget Planner, but it provides more customization for those who are more advanced at budgeting.
The budget book is also a little smaller than the planner. It is 5.3″ x 7.7″. Again, this compact size could be advantageous for portability. But it could also be a detractor if you have trouble writing in a smaller sized book.
One of the key differences is how the monthly budget is laid out. In the Clever Fox Budget Planner, there are predefined budget categories and subcategories to help guide you in filling out your budget.
However, in the Clever Fox Budget Book, the monthly budget is a blank slate. This allows you to use personalized expense categories when completing your budget.
While that may be desirable for people who are familiar with budgeting, it may be a little intimidating to have to categorize all of your spending for a person new to budgeting.
Another key difference is that there is no calendar in the Clever Fox Budget Book. So if that is important to you, you should stick to the budget planner.
Having a calendar handy when budgeting is useful for keeping an eye on when paychecks are coming in and when bills are coming due.
However, the budget book has a section for Upcoming Purchases and Upcoming bills and additional savings and debt tracker pages.
The Clever Fox Budget Book is ideal if you've been budgeting for a while and prefer to have more freedom on how you structure your budget.
2. GoGirl Budget Planner
The GoGirl Budget Planner is similar to the Clever Fox Budget Book. It is an excellent budget notebook if you are struggling with your finances or just want to be more responsible with your spending.
But if you are new to budgeting, you may prefer a planner that helps you categorize your spending a little better because similar to the Clever Fox Budget Book, this planner doesn't have common categories listed.
This planner includes a financial plan, debt trackers, savings trackers, and a holiday budget.
The monthly budget section includes the month's:
- Financial goals
- Upcoming purchases
- Upcoming bills
- Budget by category
- Budgeted vs. Actual
- Monthly summary.
The included expense tracker helps you understand your daily spending habits to find money-saving opportunities.
Additional features of the GoGirl Budget Planner include:
- Available in several different colors
- Animal-friendly PU leather hardcover
- Size: Smaller than A5 (5.3″ x 7.7″)
- 120 gsm no-bleed paper
- 12-month planner (start anytime)
- Quick start manual
- Inner accordion pocket – great for storing your bills
- Budgeting stickers
- Two bookmarks and an elastic closure
- 120 pages total
This budget planner does not include a monthly calendar. So, if you prefer to visualize your bills that way, you may want to consider a different planner on this list.
The GoGirl Budget Planner has just about everything you need to keep your finances organized and is an excellent choice to help you meet your financial goals.
3. Mead OrganizHer Expense Tracker
The Mead OrganizHer Expense Tracker, Budget Planner, and Bill Organizer is a bit more basic than the other budget planners on the list.
However, if you prefer to use a full-sized notebook (8.5″ x 11″), this organizer is for you. It will give you a lot of extra room to jot down your thoughts, but don't expect it to fit in your purse.
It includes worksheets to track expenses and cash flow. It also includes a calendar for each month, as well as 12 pockets to hold receipts and bills for each month.
Additionally, there are two clear folders for more filing capabilities.
Other features include:
- Three Tech-Lock poly wrings with fabric gusset
- Poly cover with bungee cord closure
- Additional budgeting pages with current and future year dates available to download
OrganizHer is a complete line of tools to manage your life, including scheduling, organization, expense tracking, and meal planning. So if you are interested in the other areas, you could have a similar set of tools for all of them.
The Mead OrganizHer Expense Tracker is a great choice if you are looking for something bigger than the other planners or if you want to expand to other areas of the OrganizHer line of products.
4. Boxclever Press Budget Planner
The Boxclever Press Budget Planner is a hardcover budget book to take control of your finances.
This budget planner is the smallest on the list at 7″ x 4.5″.
Due to the small size, it may be challenging to use if you have large handwriting. However, the pages lay completely flat due to the ring design, unlike some of the other planners.
You can track the following budget items:
- Annual financial goals
- Income details
- Regular payments
- Direct debits and bills
- Monthly savings
- Available funds to spend and daily spending
- Monthly spend totals
- Monthly overview
- Christmas planning
Additionally, an un-dated calendar is provided for each month. There is also a bill tracker to monitor when bills are due, if they have been paid, and if there are significant changes in the amount from month to month to investigate.
Boxclever Press Budget Planner features include:
- A folder for each month for receipts and bills
- Wrap around magnetic closure
- Satin ribbon page marker
This planner is a bit thicker than the others, but it is still plenty small to fit in your bag to keep on top of your finances on the go.
The Boxclever Press Budget Planner packs a lot of budgeting power in a small size.
5. Limitless Mindset Budget Planner
The Limitless Mindset Budget Planner is the perfect budget planner to get you started with cash envelope budgeting.
Besides most of the other features budget planners have, this planner includes three cash envelopes to start using the cash envelope system.
Using this method, you can better control your spending in categories you typically overspend. Set aside a specific amount for the month, and once the envelope is empty, you are done spending money in that category.
Budgeting features include:
- Income tracker
- Savings tracker
- Bill tracker (budget) by category
Additionally, this non-dated budget planner has the following features:
- Large size: 9″ x 6″
- Two thick front and back pockets for receipts and bills
- Made of PU leather
- 80 gsm pages
- Elastic band closure
- Six colors to choose from
- 150 stickers included
The paper is not quite as thick as some of the other planners, but it won't bleed through when using the included pen.
The Limitless Mindset Budget Planner is a pretty straightforward, easy-to-use budget planner.
Common Questions about Budget Planners
While budget planners are pretty straightforward, here are some of the most common questions about them.
Can budget organizers be used with any kind of budget?
Yes – budget planners can be used for any type of budget.
Budget planners are best for keeping a detailed view of your income and spending. With that information, you can use any type of budget to manage your finances better.
In fact, without a thorough understanding of your cash flow, it is difficult to develop any budget that will advance your finances.
How do budget planners save money?
Just like a food diary provides a detailed inventory of what you are actually eating to help you lose weight, a budget planner provides a comprehensive listing of your spending to understand it better.
While you may think you know where all of your money is going, it is helpful to see it written down.
You may be spending more in a particular category than you think. And tracking it allows you to identify this and address it to save money.
Are there alternatives to physical budget planners?
Yes, there are several budgeting apps available that you can use to track your finances. You can also use an Excel or Google Sheets Spreadsheet.
Some of these tools will simply list and categorize your spending. Others will create more detailed budgets for you.
Why choose a budget notebook vs. a budgeting app?
Budgeting apps are very convenient, and I highly recommend them.
However, if you are struggling to save money or are always living paycheck to paycheck, you should try using a manual budget planner.
By writing down all of your spending, it makes every purchase an intentional one. This article from the muse discusses that writing down purchases can help train your brain to make better financial decisions.
And besides individual purchases, it is helpful to see how much you spend in different categories each month. This will help you focus on trouble spots and save more money.
What is the difference between a budget planner and a budget book?
There really isn't a specific difference between a budget planner, budget book, budget notebook, or a budget journal. These terms can be used interchangeably.
If you go on Amazon and search for the different terms, you'll find similar items. That is why it is essential to look at the individual products to see what features they have to ensure it is the right choice for you.
Summary of the Best Budget Planners
While there is a core set of standard features between most budget planners, each planner has its own unique characteristics.
You should think about your financial goals and use those to help guide you in understanding what features are important to you. This will help you choose the best budget planner.
I hope one of the planners above will help you achieve your saving, debt reduction, and other financial goals.
And if you are struggling financially, beyond creating a budget, I highly recommend using Personal Capital to track your net worth and see all of your accounts in one place. And Credit Karma to track your credit score and monitor for any negative impacts to your credit. Both of these tools are free.