2017 Mindful Budgeting Planner Review

Despite years of insisting I couldn’t make a paper planner work for me, I bought myself a Living Well Planner as a birthday gift last year. I’d heard enough oohing and aahing over planners on podcasts, Pinterest and blog posts that I needed to see what the fuss was all about.

Four months later, I’ve decided I love using the Living Well Planner. Not so much that I couldn’t live without it but enough that I feel as though it’s earning its keep. It’s also led me to rethink my budgeting strategy.

Currently, I plan my budget using YNAB – you may know it as You Need a Budget. I really like the program, but I find I don’t update it as often as I’d like. You would think it would be easy since I seem to always be on my computer or phone. However, I regularly forget about budgeting until after the computer is powered down or the phone put away. On the occasions I do get back on the computer, my quick budget update ends up being a one-hour time suck as I find myself checking email and social media since I’m online.

It’s become apparent I really need an offline way to maintain my budget.

A Look Inside: Mindful Budgeting Planner Review

As a Christmas gift to myself, I opted to buy the 2017 Mindful Budgeting Planner. I must say I didn’t know anything about it when I made the purchase…didn’t even look at the sales page or inside photos. I decided I wanted to buy it because it was put together by Cait Flanders, whose blog I’ve come to love.

As a blogger myself, I know how hard this gig can be. You share a bit of your world, try to produce great content and give it almost all away for free. As a reader, I appreciate Cait’s candor and her thoughts on living intentionally. Even if her planner ended up being a bust for me personally, I figured it was money well-spent in thanks for the thought-provoking content she’s shared over the years.

Fortunately, I don’t think it’ll be a bust. My main goal right now is to find something that will help me put to rest my impulse buying, and this looks like it will do the trick. I love that there is space every day to enter my purchases and categorize them. Plus, there are lines to write notes about what may have triggered a purchase. With this knowledge, I hope I can take better control of my money.

Since I think a video will give you a better feel for the planner than still photos, here’s a brief review for you to watch.

I think at the end I may have focused more on the cons than the pros (sorry Cait!), but I do think this planner is perfectly suited for my needs.

If you’re not a video person, here are my first impressions:

  • This is more of a basic journal or spending log than a planner you’d decorate and personalize.
  • There are no prelisted categories for your budget. Some people might love this freedom, but I’m a little worried about forgetting something.
  • You’re not going to be able to easily crunch numbers and run reports like you can in YNAB, but I don’t think that’s the point of this planner.
  • My impression is that the chief strength of this planner is its ability to bring your daily spending habits into focus.
  • The price might freak you out, but if you’re in the U.S., remember the exchange rate is on our side.
  • My initial recommendation is that this planner is ideal for anyone who needs to plug all the little leaks in their budget. In other words, it will shine a spotlight on all the dollars and cents you spend frivolously each day.

That said, I won’t actually start using it until February. Give me a month or two, and then I’ll report back on how well it’s working for me.

Also, just to be clear: I don’t know Cait personally, professionally or in any way other than that I have left a few comments on her posts over the years. So be assured these are my 100% objective thoughts on the planner!

What do you use for your budgeting?

(Note: Some links in this post are affiliate links.)