Budget · Planning

Planning With A Budget

This month is my one year anniversary of my first planner sticker purchase on Etsy. My first purchase was countdown stickers; specifically Christmas countdown stickers and with that purchase down the rabbit hole I went. Etsy has so many options available for planner stickers. Whether you want functional stickers, a weekly or monthly sticker kit, or fun countdown stickers, you will be able to find something you like. I am not even going to get started on the planner accessories you can purchase.

I love Etsy because you know you are supporting small businesses and you’re supporting other Planner Girls who are living their dreams of creating. That first sticker sheet cost me just $5 including shipping, so I thought Etsy stickers were going to be a cheap way to decorate and make my planner fun. This was back when I was using my Whitney English Day Designer and I considered coloured pens and Dollar Store holiday stickers the extent of decorative planning. I was also just learning what that pretty patterned tape I always saw in Michaels was. Since then my planner supplies have modestly grown and I have learned that this hobby us planner girls have isn’t cheap. I love supporting the Etsy sellers but my bank account has noticed the difference since I started this hobby.

For this reason and others I switch back and forth between Etsy kits and washi tape spreads. In a previous post I talk about how I create a budget friendly planner spread using just washi. See that post here –>  Creating A No Sticker Planner Spread (Budget Friendly Planning)

But what happens if you have a budget but still want to be able to use Etsy planner stickers? Thus the reason for this post. I want to give you my tips and tricks for creating planner spreads on a budget but still look pretty. Will you be able to do a full no white space spread 52 weeks out of year on a tight budget? Probably not. But by taking a bit more time planning your weekly spreads you can get the best of both worlds. And who knows maybe you will be like me and actually like the white space.

Read below to find my 10 tips for creating planner spreads with a budget.

Let’s first start off with a disclaimer: I don’t create budgets with pen and paper. I don’t sit down at any point in the month plan how much money I have for groceries, bills, fun, or any other section of my life. I wish I could. The Recollections Budget book I have pictured above does not work for me. I am sure my bank account would love if I did this, however it just isn’t my style. So when I say I have tips for how I budget myself when planning know that I don’t work off a strict pen to paper budget.

So how do I budget myself when planning.

1.Weekly Costs– Well first off I pay attention to the costs of kits. Most kits I have seen on Etsy range from approx. 15-30 dollars (reminder I am a Canadian so I am talking Canadian pricing). But even those prices depend on a few variables, size of the kit, the shop, the quality, etc. I have never paid more the $20 for a kit and I only do that if I know I can get more than one use out of it (I’ll explain this in a minute). However for the most part I try to spend no more then $15 a week for a Etsy kit. If you are trying to create a budget for yourself, even if you are like me and don’t write one down, break it down monthly or even weekly to what you want/can afford to spend.

2. Shipping Costs– Another thing to take into consideration is the shipping costs from the shop. I am always looking for shops that have cheaper shipping costs and for that reason I order from Canadian and overseas shops more than shops from the US. I don’t want to spend anymore then $5 on shipping and a lot of the US shops charge to Canada $12 and up. I can’t justify paying more in shipping then I do on the kit. If I see a kit I love but the shipping is out of my budget, I will search Etsy for another similar kit. Tip: Often shops use similar clip art, so just because one shop has a pattern you like doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find it in another shop. With that being said some shops do create thier on unique clip art.

3. Sales & Promo Codes– This is something I didn’t know about when I placed my first Etsy order. I didn’t realize how often shops run promos. Now not all shops do, but a good place to find out if a shop does is to head to Instagram. If you go to the shop’s Instagram profile sometimes some shops have codes for if you follow them on Instagram. Also if you scroll through some of their photos you can see if they have sales or promotions. Some shops have $2 Tuesday or Thursday deals. Also around holidays many shops have promo codes out so definitely follow them on Instagram to make sure you stay in the loop. You might be able to find referral codes as well. Some shops have promo girls who have discount codes on their IG. Instagram is also a great place to look at shop owners and other planner girl’s spreads and get ideas for your own.

4. Instagram– Since we are on the topic of Instagram, it is easy to go on Instagram and look at all the beautiful spreads and get caught up with the idea that to have a beautiful spread you need to use a no whitespace planner kit. I love spending time looking through different Instagram accounts and finding beautiful spreads but I also know that I don’t want to spend the amount of money it takes to make no white spreads every single week. I am not saying it is impossible to make no white space spreads on a budget but if you are buying the kits at regular price they can get expensive. I started doing white space planning to save money on kits, but I actually find white space more functional for me. There are many, many planners who do beautiful white space planning, so try not to get stuck on one type of planning just because it is more popular.

5. Mixing It Up– When I realized how expensive planning could be I started mixing up my planning style. I love planning with a kit but it does get expensive. So to save costs I mix it up. I pick a couple kits to use throughout the month and the other weeks I use washi tape and left overs from sticker kits. It really helps that I find white space planning more productive.

This is a mini kit from Planning Roses ($13). I added the silver washi and the fence (both from the Dollar Store) If you buy mini kits you can add elements such as stickers and washi tape to fill up the spread.


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This is a no kit spread. All washi except the orange sparkle washi came from Michaels. I got all three of them for under $5. The stickers and orange glitter washi came from the Dollar Store.

6. Left Overs– I hate being wasteful, and even though I have a tall pile of sticker sheets some with only one or two stickers on them, I refuse to be wasteful and throw them out. This is also how I create my spreads when I am in between using a full kit. When using a kit I will often have washi pieces, icons, half boxes, etc left over so I use those elements along with regular washi tape, stickers from the Dollar Store or that I have gotten on sale to create my spreads. I have even done this for my monthly layout. I plan to post more on my planning process with both a kit and left overs soon.

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This kit is from ItsJustPaperCo. I purchased this kit for $12 on one of her two dollar sheet deals. I decided to buy the whole kit because as you can see, I used the kit for this week and still have a lot of left over stickers.

The above monthly spread is one I made form left over stickers and washi from an Allycat’s Shop kit. As you can see I used stickers and still have more left over. I carry those with me throughout the month for when I need to add something in. 

7. Picking Stickers– It is easy to get swept up with ordering full kits since they offer such a variety of stickers in them, however once you learn your planning style you can possibly spend less. I myself don’t tend to use fullbox check lists (ex. ombre heart checklists) I much prefer just the strip of check boxes. So when I am ordering a kit if it has the option to order the pages separate I will usually choose to do this. Yes if you add the pages up it is cheaper to buy the whole kit then it is to buy all the separate pages, but why order a page I am not going to use. Also depending on the format of the kit pages I will usually forgo the little things sheet or the sidebar sheets. It is a learning process to know what sheets you use the most of. Buying mini kits or individual sheets you can always use left over stickers from other kits that match, or washi tape to fill in your spread.

8. Non Kit Stickers– There are tons of stickers that don’t come as a kit. You can buy a page of headers, or specific icon stickers like paydays, weekend banners, and many fun icon stickers. I love these stickers because I can add them to washi tape spreads to add fun and make the spread look pretty. I tend to buy my stickers in shades of pinks, purples, turquoise because those are the colours I tend to plan with. I made the mistake of loading up on bill due stickers and appointment stickers and hardly use them because I often will have similar stickers left over from other kits.  You will learn what stickers you like to use the most. For me I need each spread to have a to-do list, so I often buy header stickers.

9. Monthly Planning– Planning out your weekly spreads monthly will help you from overspending. Because I am a seasonal gal I usually plan my spreads around holiday/seasonal kits. For example there are four full weeks in December. I know that the week of Christmas I am going to want to use a Christmas Kit. So I know that is at least one kit I am going to buy. I usually use two kits a month so I will pick another Christmas related kit,  however because it is the month of Christmas I may even choose to buy three kits, but I know not to buy six Christmas kits. Before doing this process I ended up with more fall kits then I could use. I have learned my mistakes and am in the process of trying to use up some of the kits I have bought before I used started using this process. However I still limit myself to a couple kits a month.

10. No Stickers, No Washi– Don’t underestimate the ability to make a beautiful spread without stickers and washi. When I first started planning I did it completely with colour coding pens. I would pick two colours for each week and use them to separate my work and home. Although I don’t use the colour pens anymore, I do use pen to create planner elements. I will draw boxes, headers, flags. Yes you have to bit more creative for this, but it can turn out really pretty. If you think sticker planner spreads are pretty, check out planner spreads made with stamps.

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This is the first half of my current spread. I used marker and colour pencil to create header boxes for Work and Home. The majority of these stickers came from left over kits.

When I started this post, I didn’t plan for it to be this long, so if you are still with me thanks for checking out my tips for planning on a budget. Let me know in the comments any tips and tricks you have for planning with a tight budget.






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