9 Best budget planners to improve your finances in 2022 – Use your budget to better savor life

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We reviewed here the best budget planners for 2022. The best fit for most is Clever Fox Budget Planner

Table of Contents

We have analyzed the best budget planners reviewed online. Many of them are outdated and unavailable in online stores. Here we avoid such issues and mention those at the end.

You can find here an analysis based on my many years of experience using budgeting tools. After describing in a dedicated article Living on a budget enjoying life, here we focus on the related physical tools.

If you need the smallest size one without losing features check Clever Fox Budget Book 2.0. But if you want the biggest possible to keep it at home, check Your Balanced Budget.

The closest we could find to a planner satisfying most expectations is Clever Fox Budget Planner. It has great guidance for beginners and a wide range of templates for tracking finances and detailed actions to improve your financial situation.

Best Compact sizeBest For Most ExpectationsBest Big Version

Every person is different and can have special requirements for a good planner. With the variety described here and the best for different situations described. Also, before the end, you will see considerations for buying the best one for you.

Let’s go through the best of them!

Product Mini-Reviews

For better organization, many products are grouped by special features like size or customization:

The big ones and not expensive (10″ x 7″)

For people willing to have a big monthly detailed view and to keep at home, car or backpack. But not ideal for those having big writing and willing to make many notes.

Your Balanced Budget [The big Inexpensive 2 years choice in 48 pages]

This big spiral-bound planner (10” x 7”) comes in a unique color. It is designed by the U.S. News Money senior editor Kimberly Palmer.

What we like

  • Covers up to 2 years in 48 pages
  • Easy to use
  • Stays flat for ease of use

What we don’t like

  • Doesn’t fit in typical purse

How could you enjoy it?

The content is simplified and focused on the daily expense tracker. So, it is a nice fit for anyone making frequent purchases. It could be a household budget planner or a small business one.

Thanks to the income and expense trackers included, you could monitor your cash flow. Once you know your cash flow, you can use the financial and yearly goal trackers. They will prove to you how you have progressed towards a goal like building an emergency fund.

Home Budget Workbook [From a Consumer Advocate for CFP]

Another spiral-bound big (10″ x 7″) budget planner with a black cover. A perfect choice for people looking for a product designed by a Consumer Advocate for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

What we like

  • Lays flat
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Undated budget planner
  • Many suggested categories for daily expense trackers
  • Balance sheet worksheet to let you know your net worth
  • Planning goals and guidance to shape your current decision and achieve them

What we don’t like

  • Small boxes to fill expenses
  • The cover is a flexible plastic
  • Little space to add your own expense categories

How could you enjoy it?

It let you cover 48 months of daily expense tracker to better understand your spending patterns through mostly already defined categories.

You can define your planning goals in this workbook. Also, thanks to the tips it includes, you will be able to better manage your money.

A proper balance sheet is available in it. You can define your assets and liabilities to define your net worth. Finally, a section for notes will let you add your own thoughts. For instance, to reflect on why you did an impulsive purchase to avoid it next time.

Mead OrganizHer Expense Tracker [The outdated spacious choice, 8″ x 11″]

Its many pockets make it convenient for cash envelope system and other bills, letters, or documents organization. And its big size is ideal for those needing plenty of space for annotations.

What we like

  • Big budget planner to cover all the details
  • Durable cover
  • 12 monthly pockets
  • Checklists
  • Stands up to wear and tear
  • Mid-range price
  • Pockets to hold cash

What we don’t like

  • You might run out of pages
  • Many users report pages sliping off
  • Outdated calendar
  • Available only in purple
  • Too cumbersome for some
  • You cannot download and print additional pages as available before.

How could you enjoy it?

Its 2 folders can help you organize invoices and letters. That will improve your classification of coming expenses. You could even write them in the checklist the planner includes. So you will not miss any important payment deadline. Besides, the pleasure of checking off the items in your checklist makes you feel good while progressing.

Unfortunately, the website meadonline.com offering the download of new pages is not available. Its replacement mead.com seems to have removed the download new pages option.

So, many would prefer buying a binder and printing a customized sheet from Google Sheets adapted to individual situations. You can customize the Prosperous Frugal budget template by checking the How to Make a Budget article.

The medium to small customizable ones

For those who want their planner to have a specific color or size that they love.

Clever Fox Budget Planner – Expense Tracker Notebook [Best for beginners]

Ideal choice to track finances towards your financial goals. Also, you can enjoy its guidance and structure to identify tactics and strategies. With an undated format, you can start and use it during the next 12 months. It comes in 24 different colors to suit most tastes.

What we like

  • Monthly and yearly financial review
  • 86 stickers
  • Pocket to keep all your bills and receipts
  • A lot of guidance to achieve your financial goals
  • Portable size
  • Good for a single person
  • Undated calendar

What we don’t like

  • Small for people with big writing
  • Pages don’t lay completely flat
  • Overwhelming for beginners
  • Can be limiting for people having more than 5 debts (including credit cards)
  • Not convenient for households with a complex financial situation

How could you enjoy it?

The main benefit is its tracking. In a single planner, you have the template to track monthly and yearly income, expense, budget, savings, debt, bills, and cash flow.

Its monthly checklist will let you remember bills due dates and other important financial transactions like payday(s).

Many expenses categories are available on budgeting. Those will inspire you while letting you free to define your own expense daily tracker.

The pen holder will ensure you will always have a pen close to it. No more excuses to not write down your expenses, goals, prosperity affirmation, or other financial notes.

You can use its pocket to store bills and important letters to review at the end of the month.

One great advantage is its guidance to improve. Goals like building an emergency fund, getting a promotion, or developing new sources of income need actionable steps. This is where this planner’s guidance helps a lot. Using the planner’s strategy, tactics, and mind-map sections you can define clear steps towards your goals. Coupled with a dedicated section to define the skills you need to get, you can have the tools needed to make consistent progress. One of such skills can be effective communication (especially important with your partner or spouse). Many people online appreciate the guidance and section diversity and confirm their usefulness. Writing down all such goals and actions contribute meaningfully to achieving them

Finally, if you like stickers, you have 2 pages to enjoy them as you want.

Some people report online the convenience of this planner for singles without complex financial situations. For them, households with many different bills can find the section limited. For others, the Christmas section might not be appreciated as they are not Christians.

Clever Fox Budget Book and 2.0 [Best compact size]

Here we highlight the differences from the previous Budget Planner as most of their features are the same but smaller in size (5.3″ x 7.7″). It comes in 10 colors available for version 1 and 8 for version 2.

What we like

  • Monthly budget categories are undefined
  • Portable
  • Keeps most of the key benefits from the previous budget planner
  • Yearly bill tracker
  • Additional 2 pages per month for notes

What we don’t like

Loses useful features from the previous planner like:

  • Big guidance tools
  • Undated calendar
  • Christmas savings, gifts, and expenses planner
  • Fewer stickers

How could you enjoy it?

You are free to define the budget categories as this budget book has undefined ones.

The yearly bill tracker lets you see how your payments have evolved throughout the year. This is useful to identify unnecessary subscriptions, gym memberships not used, or any other service. The next step is to cancel unused ones to show real financial progress.

Unlike the previous planner, this one’s debt tracker includes a dedicated section for minimum payments. It is helpful to know it and pay at much as you can to get rid of it as soon as you can. You could choose debt snowball or avalanche as strategies. If you are not sure what they are, take a look at our article Living on a budget enjoying life.

If you need lots of stickers, this might not be the best choice as it has 79 (less than the previous and next version.

Certainly, it is pocket-size. But it loses the big guidance present in the previous planner. So, say goodbye to the dedicated strategy, tactics, skills, and other guidance described in the previous item.

2.0

Less color variety than version 1 (8 different colors). Has the added version of a pen loop for not forgetting a pen and quickly writing daily expenses or prosperity affirmations when you need to. Such pen loop is not present in the previous 2 (budget planner or budget book).

What we like

  • Pen loop
  • 176 stickers
  • Monthly budget with groups
  • Holiday planning:Present again after lost in the last version
  • Monthly undated calendar

How could you enjoy it?

This version has defined budget categories groups. Unlike the Clever Fox Budget Planner that defines detailed categories. And also different from the Clever Fox Budget Book that leaves the categories section completely undefined.

Another key improvement is the Holiday planning section. Appreciated by many non-Christians who did not like the “Christmas” section. Others just planned for a big trip or other holidays like a honeymoon using this section.

Compared to the previous 2, this could be the best version if you like portability, stickers and do not need huge guidance to use the planner.

Clever Fox Budget Planner & Monthly Bill Organizer with Pockets

This organizer has most of the benefits of Clever Fox Budget Planner. That includes most of its guidance (strategy, tactics, mind maps, etc). So in this section, we will not repeat such great features but focus on the differences compared to that one. It is available in medium (5.1″ x 8.2″) and large (8″ x 9.5″) sizes. Both have 10 colors to choose from.

Medium (5.1″ x 8.2″)Large (8″ x 9.5″)

What we like

  • Has most good features from clever fox budget planner
  • Spiral-bound so it lays flat
  • Styled gift box
  • 12 pockets (1 per month)
  • 192 stickers
  • Colorful pages
  • Monthly inspirational quotes

What we don’t like

  • Missing bookmark
  • Bulky

How could you enjoy it?

Its gift box makes it even more appealing to offer. There are major life events when this could be a perfect gift. For instance, newlyweds, a new child, moving to a new city, getting the first job, and many others. You could help them be on track with all the financial guidance and templates available in this organizer.

If you don’t like the typical grey and white pages, then this is a great choice as their pages are beautifully colored without being extravagant. Many conservative people would appreciate its sober colors.

Every month section in this organizer comes with a pocket. The perfect place to store bills and letters impacting your finances. Those are even more useful when at the end of the year you need to review your situation and have easily accessible those important documents.

Considering its size, it is ideal to leave it at home or in the car.

Finally, some users report having a Christmas section, while others have properly gotten the same section labeled as Holiday budgeting. So, be sure you ask for the one you like the most with your order.

GoGirl Budget Planner [Best for taking it in a purse]

This planner has most of the great advantages of the Best for beginners planner reviewed previously. It is slightly more affordable but sacrifices some useful features. On its own, it is a great organizer even if it does not have such big guidance.

It comes in 2 sizes, A5 (5.7″ x 8.5″) and Compact (5.3″ x 7.7″) in 11 colors.If you prefer the small size to fit in your purse, remember you would need small wording.

What we like

  • 2 bookmarks
  • Easy to use
  • Enables you to set financial goals and helps you to achieve them
  • Expense categories to keep you more organized
  • Monthly budget review to identify how to progress
  • Expense tracker useful to identify bad spending habits
  • Small and lightweight
  • 91 stickers
  • Inner pocket for bills but flimsy
  • Good refund policy promised if the planner is not working

What we don’t like

  • 4 pages to track expenses for 1 year
  • Lack recurring expenses
  • Limit of 5 savings

How could you enjoy it?

As most planners in this review, this is composed of thick, no-bleed, 120gsm paper, so you can use your favorite pens and highlighters without damaging the next page.

It is undated, so you can start at any time you want. It has templates for 12 months. Each one with calendar layout. That is convenient to mark special financial events like payday or bills. Also, there is a monthly budget plan. There is the perfect place to define your goals for the month, your income sources, how much you will plan to spend vs how much you actually spent. So, you can later identify how much you managed to save.

The notes section next to every monthly budget review lets you add important lessons from the month. Even other insightful events you want to record to improve your finances or just to not forget something. And next to them, a dedicated space for upcoming purchases and bills reminds you what planned expenses are coming. They can be car maintenance, a gift for a friend, clothes or shoes you planned to buy. Writing them down is a good way to not be caught off-guard financially and not destroy your budget.

It has many trackers: expenses, debt, savings, and holiday planning. As with other planners, the expenses tracker is the perfect section to identify bad spending habits. It offers pre-defined expense category groups while letting you define individual categories. Once the month ends, the monthly budget review is the perfect section to define how to improve.

While other planners mention “Christmas budgeting”, here it is laid out as “Holiday planning”. Something appealing to non-Christians. In general, everyone can use it to plan for other events like honeymoons, a big trip or gifts for anniversaries.

If you have more than 5 saving goals, then you will find this planner limited. Unless you group a few goals into categories to fit into the 5 available slots for savings.

A5 (5.8″ x 8.3″) Bonus 3 cash envelopes (6 colors), 220 stickers

Here we review the newer version of the Go Girl envelope. This newer one inherits most of the advantages of the previous version, so we will highlight just the differences.

What we like

  • 3 water and tear-resistants cash envelopes
  • 220+ stickers
  • Yearly review
  • Dedicated bill tracker pages
  • Goals and strategy section

What we don’t like

  • Contradiction either 1 or 3 bookmarks included

How could you enjoy it?

The yearly review is one of the big additions to this version. It shows you how you did through the year, decomposed by month. You will see how your income, savings, and budget vs actual expenses evolved through the year.

Unlike the previous version, the dedicated bill tracker pages let you monitor in a monthly view how your bills evolved through the months. The perfect place to identify new unused subscriptions and unnecessary recurrent payments.

There is a new section called goals and strategy to stay focused throughout the year. Not only goals for a specific month as in the previous version. Also, it has space to define how to achieve those goals with the strategy section.

Legend Budget Planner

This planner has most of the great benefits from others plus a dedicated section for financial life planning we highly appreciate. It comes in only 1 size A5 (5.5” x 8.3”) and 12 colors.

What we like

  • Thick no-bleed through pages
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Sturdy with a nice embossed cover
  • Free expense categories definition
  • 109 financial stickers
  • Elastic closure
  • Includes good guidance
  • Original financial life planning

What we don’t like

  • Limited to 4 debts to track
  • Not enough space for notes and bills

How could you enjoy it?

The Financial Like Planning section is what characterized this planner. By age range, you can define your financial goals considering your income, assets, and passive income expected. It is ideal for decade planning: 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-.

The Financial Goals section will be a place to check when you feel discouraged or need some motivation to stay on track and progress.

As with most planners, they promise a refund policy no questions asked in case you find the planner does not help.

Many users appreciate the faux leather cover as it feels like a well-loved book. Such a feature is common in many other planners.

The Christmas budgeting section might not be convenient for non-Christians. Nevertheless, it could be used for any holiday.

Smart Budget Planner [Best many useful pages option]

A good alternative to other planners. This one has 176 pages with most of the great financial templates previously described. But is the one that has the most pages among those reviewed. It comes in one single size, A5 (8.6″ x 5.7″), and has 12 colors to choose from.

What we like

  • Elastic strap closure
  • Pen loop
  • 3 satin bookmark
  • Vegan leather cover
  • Much free space for new expense categories
  • 20 pages for notes
  • Investment contributions tracking
  • Great debt tracking snowball paying method

What we don’t like

  • Many fixed expense categories

How could you enjoy it?

It is the only planner among those reviewed that include an investment tracking section.

Besides the beneficial templates to track your debt, expenses, budget, and savings, it acknowledges the importance of investing. It is not a replacement for others advanced investing tracking tools but does a good job summarizing how much money you have allocated for investing. Something that other tools sometimes forget as they focus on investments’ current value. It could be invaluable to know how much you are putting into investments versus how much is actually worth your investment portfolio. So, it is perfect to track your investment contributions using its pie charts to be colored according to your portfolio asset allocation.

Many planners have debt tracking but this one excels at using the debt snowball method. This is the only one among those reviewed that explicitly shows interest. It means you can keep it in mind to prioritize debt payment accordingly.

Finally, its 20 pages are the perfect place to describe in detail your mind map, goals strategy and tactics, and other notes you want to track.

Erin Condren Petite Financial Planner [Best for inspiration]

Its size is 5.7″ x 8.25″ available in 4 different designs (with 2 different inspirational phrases or 2 sober designs)

What we like

  • Colorful budget planner with inspirational quotes
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Bill-tracking spreadsheets
  • Checklists for your spending
  • A sheet of financial stickers
  • A stylish book that makes you want to budget
  • Built-in pocket
  • Great for beginners

What we don’t like

  • Might become unavailable soon
  • No monthly calendar
  • Small 5.7 x 8.25
  • Expense categories are set and too little space for new ones
  • Does not lay flat
  • Too basic

How could you enjoy it?

With an inspirational quote and refreshing colorful cover, this is the best budget planner for beginners as it helps you start controlling your bad spending habits and have more control over your life. Nevertheless, the risk of it becoming unavailable makes it be placed at the end of our review, almost in ignored section.

Reviewed but ignored

Many of these options are reviewed on other websites so we took some time to analyze them. They are ignored mainly because they are no anymore available:

What to consider to buy the best budget planner for you

Keep in mind how are you planning to use your budget and how do you prefer it to be. Consider the items below to choose the best for you.

Portability

First of all, consider how frequent you want it with you:

  • If you want to take it with you everywhere to track daily expenses then you might opt for a compact size one.
  • You could also track everyday expenses at the end of the day peacefully at your home. In such cases, you can opt for a bigger size to add special notes

Customization

Then, decide the customization you want. There are options whose covers are available in more than 10 colors, others having dozens or even hundreds of stickers.

Special options

Which special options are vital for you? Do you need a calendar included?

Most planners have no-bleed paper, so using a highlighter on one page will not damage the next one. But ask you how vital feature that is to not get discouraged using your planner.

Is it undated or linked to a specific year? Undated ones are more flexible and let you start whenever you want. The important is to keep using it to track your progress.

Controversial features

Are you not a Christian and would not appreciate a “Christmas holiday expense” planning section?

Beware of planners with rings to hold sheets. They can stay conveniently fully flat to easily write. Nevertheless, a few planners might make the rings too broad and sheets can escape easily.

Motivation to use it

Keep in mind that motivation is the key to success in the long run. The previous underlined items help to ease the frequent use of your budget planner. A few items can have a dedicated motivation section/inspirational quotes/affirmations/financial goals. All that is designed to remind you of your WHY. A few are even keener about tracking your progress towards your financial goals.

At the end of the day, the best for you is the one you frequently use and helps you reach your goals by enjoying the ride. So, you need to make budgeting a habit. Consider what Ph.D. Susan Weinschenk states:

“The best way to change a habit is to create a new one to replace it”

Ph.D. Susan Weinschenk

If you have a bad spending habit you could start budgeting and make it a habit to replace it.

Feature comparison

To facilitate the comparison, we have created a spreadsheet with the products we reviewed. Use it to quickly compare sizes, tracker types, guidance, and many others.

Conclusion

If you need the smallest size one without losing features check Clever Fox Budget Book 2.0. But if you want the biggest possible to keep it at home, check Your Balanced Budget.

If you want the best option overall, check Clever Fox Budget Planner. It has great guidance for beginners and a wide range of templates for tracking finances and detailed actions to improve your financial situation.

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