(Almost) Free Monthly Planner!

Happy October! We ended last month with a quick trip to the Bahamas with friends.

It was splendid.

If you ever stop in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, you must rent a car and go to Gold Rock Beach! It is the closest thing I’ve ever found to Paradise (see first two photos above).

Now that it’s back to reality, I decided it was time to get more organized (before the craziness of the holiday season begins!)

When it comes to daily/monthly tasks and reminders, iPhones and iPads and Outlook calendars are nice and do a great job for many people, but sometimes you just want to write things down. It’s easier for me to jot things down by hand and have everything laid out right in front of me, vs having to open up a program on a device and thumb through what you need to find. There’s also something satisfying about crossing things off a list by hand—it gives a sense of accomplishment.

But the method I was using wasn’t so organized. I was using a random stack of notepaper to haphazardly write down notes/ideas/lists wherever I had space.

It was time for a new approach.

Have you all heard of these Erin Condren planners that are all the rage right now? They are packed with features and an equally hefty price tag (IMO), starting at around $50/ea.

I liked the idea but didn’t need all the fancy extras, wasn’t willing to fork out the cash, and figured I could just make my own. And then decided I could offer it as a free download for you guys too!

I spent a couple mornings designing a basic layout and adding seasonally appropriate colors for each month.

Each month has two pages, double sided, for a total of 4: 1) Cover page, 2) Sun–Weds, 3) Thurs–Sat, and 4) Notes. I added a few extra pages for Notes at the very end as well.

It was actually quite an enjoyable project and I was excited to start using it. After double checking all of my dates and details, I was ready for assembly.

Step 1: Choose your paper

The type of paper you choose is really a matter of preference, but I wanted something a bit thicker so you wouldn’t see the design or my writing from the back side of the paper. I didn’t have much I could use lying around at home, so I went to Office Max.

I settled on this 67lb weight cover stock for $13:

It’s somewhere between plain paper and cardstock thickness with a matte texture (but you can certainly go for something coated or maybe even semigloss, but I would stay away from gloss photo paper).

The package came with 250 sheets, but I only used 34 total (plus a few extras for mistakes). You might be able to find a 50 pack of similar paper somewhere else cheaper and that should be plenty.

Step 2: Print your design

The file is built to a standard 7×9″ size which fits nicely on an 8.5×11″ sheet of paper.

I printed one page at a time, double sided, in the order that they would appear in the planner. This requires a decent enough printer to be able to line everything up perfectly.

If your printer isn’t so accurate, you can either

a) print them out on separate pages and attach them (I’d suggest spray mount/adhesive), or

b) consult your local printer/office supply store (I like Office Max and Office Depot) to see if they can print everything for you—I’m fairly certain they can print double sided and do a good job. If anyone does this, please comment and I’ll update the post with the verdict!

Once my double sided sheets were printed, I trimmed them using my rotary trimmer:

But you can also use an Xacto knife and cutting board (which is probably the most accurate method):

This process took a good couple hours, but it was worth it to have clean edges.

Here’s my stack of completed pages, ready to go:

The cover reads 2012/2013 because I decided to design the last few months of this year (I couldn’t wait until January to be organized!) so my planner goes from October 2012–December 2013. The pages are all separate so you can use/print/reprint whichever ones you need.

Step 3: Take to office supply store for lamination & binding

I went back to Office Max and handed over my stack of papers. I asked them to laminate the front and back covers and spiral bind the pages together. 10 minutes later it was ready to go!

Laminating both covers cost $2.20, and spiral binding was $2.99, for a total of $5.56 with tax. Can’t beat that!

Two days into October and it already has plenty of use…

And there it is! My super duper cheap planner. If you have a few hours and $18 to spare (or extra paper lying around and $5), you can have yourself one as well.

I’ve made the PDF available for download here (Click the photo below to preview the file, and select File>Download to save to your computer). Disclaimer: Excuse any errors you may come across—I did my best to double check but didn’t spend more than a few hours on the design so I apologize if anything is missing/incorrect/misspelled!

Update: If you would prefer to use just the 2013 months, I’ve added a 2013 cover here.

Move over Erin Condren, the Jenna Sue planner is in town.

Enjoy! 🙂

53 thoughts on “(Almost) Free Monthly Planner!

  1. This is actually great !
    I was just out shopping for an agenda with notes on the side of each week. I really prefer this with the full months ! SO USEFUL ! Thanks so much !!

  2. This is awesome! I had an Erin Condren this year (with a Living Social special), and I really discovered I'm not a daily planner kind of girl. Love, love, love the monthly planner!

  3. I'm seriously in love! Thank you so much for taking the time and also for starting now. I've seen so many nice planners but they start in January or on occasion December. I'm the kind of girl who hates to shop for a bating suit in February, if you know what I mean! I'm stopping at OfficeMax on my way home and getting paper 😀

  4. You should sell these in your shop! I know you make it sound super easy to make, but people like me (haha!) would sometimes rather purchase it from creative people like you!
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing!! I sat down at my computer last week with the intention of making myself a planner, but it was too much for me to take on. Yours is way cuter than mine would have been!!

  6. This is very cool! And so nice if you to post it for everyone to use. I love the monthly view – it's what I always default to. Thanks!

  7. I am so excited to make this! I work full time, am treasurer of the PTA, do my brothers books, run my own photography business…..I'm busy…..and this is going to be perfect and most importantly…..PRETTY!!!!! Thank you!! I love your blog!

  8. I'm stuck on bed rest for the next week (last week of pregnancy!!!), so I will definitely be making this – I prefer the monthly calendar to weekly/daily, so this calendar is perfect! Thank you for sharing it! I'm having the local copy shop print everything off for me, so I'll update and let you know how that went.

  9. I find your idea great.
    I will wish to make me one but rather a weekly and I do not know how.
    What software you use to do this?
    I love your blog to.

  10. thank you for the information. But I do not think Maybook is a solution for me, because I live in France … I'll see for Adobe Illustrator. Thank,


  11. Good morning Jenna and thank you for your generous offering of the beautiful planner. It's lovely and you are so right, writing lists and having a tangible and handy reference guide for “to dos” is wonderfully efficient (at least for me). Thank you again for your thoughtfulness.

  12. Funny story: I was at the vet last week and pulled out my planner and she said that her coworkers called her archaic because she used a planner and didn't use something more technologically savvy. I said they don't know the fun they're missing out on!
    With that being said, thank you for the free download. I am a monthly planner (weekly and daily are not my style) type of gal. I also hate spending $$$ every year on a planner that has too many extras and does not fit my needs!
    This is simple, cute, perfect, and it even has room for all of my lists! =) Thanks again, and here's to being archaic! =)

  13. Thanks, Jenna! I made mine and LOVE it! I even blogged about it on my small personal blog so my friends/family can learn about it, too. Too good not to share! Thanks again!

  14. That's so funny because I, too, wanted one of the Erin planners, but figured I could make it myself (I have lots of printers and Cinch)…that's how I found you…Pintrest and printable calendars! Thank you!

  15. LOVE this! Thank you so much! I recently bought a planner at Target bc I loved that it was notebook sized + hardcover, but it doesn't start until April 2013! LOL So I printed from now until then and am going to add it to it.. This one is great! And it helps that it's pretty 🙂 Makes me want to be more organized!

  16. OMG!!!! Just found your great blog today and this planner is B-E-A-utiful!!! Do you think you could make a blank month so someone could fill in their own dates? Thanks for your great work.

  17. Yes, I'm ready for 2014, too (pretty please)!! Trying to get ahead of schedule before the holidays come around and life gets even busier!

  18. Just want to echo my enthusiasm for a 2014 calendar! I've enjoyed using the 12-13 version. The calendar squares are the perfect size, the extra notes pages are crazy convenient, and the overall form factor is perfect: it is thin and carries easily. 🙂

    And congratulations on the move! I'm only 3 hours away from my family, and sometimes that seems like too much.

  19. Just wanted to say thank you for your time and for making these free. I LOVE your colors and design!

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