2018 STARTplanner Fancy Pants

Okay folks–it’s time to get Fancy! This week I am reviewing the 2018 STARTplanner Fancy Pants binder system. Let’s begin with a dive into this company’s history, mission, and growth!

STARTplanner was founded in May 2015 by two friends who lived across the county from one another–Kristy in Cumming, Georgia and Jenny in Portland, Oregon. These ladies combined their business savvy and graphics talent to create a planner that could empower people to “live with organized intention.” They did their research by releasing 250 beta copies of their original Hustle Daily Planner before their polished 2016 planner launched. Their small business has only grown since then.

The philosophy behind this brand is that it provides a comprehensive, business approach to managing your most important resources: time, money, and energy. As they say on their website:

We needed a planner that was small, efficient and helpful for planning real life and the available options were minimal. Not only did we want a tool to help organize “to-dos” and events, but we wanted to achieve a healthier “us” from both a financial and well-being standpoint. We combined all of these features and more into STARTplanner.

STARTplanner offers several choices. There are three distinct lines: (1) Hustle (in daily and weekly), (2) Fancy Pants (in daily and weekly), (3) and Legit, a weekly academic planner. Each planner has its pros and cons, indeed fans of STARTplanner often have trouble choosing which one to go with, so much so that Kristy & Jenny made a quiz to guide you there! For this post, I will be reviewing the Fancy Pants Daily Planner, which is their A5 binder option.

Function

The Fancy Pants planner is an A5 binder planner, which means that the inserts are hole punched to fit an A5 binder. STARTplanner offers two options for purchasing Fancy Pants. You can buy just the inserts, punched or unpunched, or you can buy the entire system, which includes a binder. The inserts are $64, and the entire binder system is $98. This may seem like a lot of money to pay for a planner, but with the binder system, you are essentially getting a binder for only $34, which is a steal for what STARTplanner provides–a quality vegan leather binder. The inserts are comparatively expensive to other brands, however they offer full daily planning on both Saturday and Sunday. This, plus the goal setting and plans section at the beginning of the planner, means that you get 526 pages of planner. That’s a lot.

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The binder comes in six different colors: plum purple, ocean blue, blush pink, chestnut, stone gray, and nautical navy. The inside of the binder is lined with gray vegan leather with colorful stitching and gold rings. There are two pockets, a secretarial pocket in the front with smaller slit pockets and a zipper pocket, and a slip pocket in the back.

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The planner begins with a nameplate page and then a letter of introduction from Jenny and Kristy. This is followed by the quote that gave this planner company their name: “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”

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Then you have a mock-up of what using a daily page might look like. STARTplanner includes three “front” tabs before you get to your calendar pages: Goals, Plans, and 2018. Each section has an introduction–the STARTplanner team doesn’t leave you floundering.

First, you are prompted to set BIG goals. You are given a page to write down Lifetime goals, a section for creating a Vision Board, and a two-page spread for writing down This year I am going to plans, promises, and goals. STARTplanner separates them into sections for you: home life, relationships, spiritual, physical, financial, professional, education/continuing education, and travel.

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Then you actually set your goals. There is space for six goals where you can write in the goal itself, if it’s with someone, the due date for your goal, action steps with due dates, and then you’ve completed your goal. This helps you break down your big, scary goals into actionable steps.

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STARTplanner has a holistic approach to their planning philosophy. They want to help you tackle all aspects of a busy life, including financials and health. So they provide a year’s work of financial planning pages where you can keep track of your savings and expenses.

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At the end of the Goals section is an accountability page where you can write down who your accountability partners are for different areas in your life. Then it’s on to the Plans tab, where STARTplanner provides pages for charity, cleaning, projects, medical expenses, entertainment, vacation, holidays, and a password page.

The Keepin’ it Clean pages are meticulously designed and include tasks based on frequency (daily, weekly, yearly) and season (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall).

The Projects section includes an example of how to use the provided structure. Much like the goals, the Projects section has space for all the necessities: what, with whom, goal date, action steps, etc. but also includes why, budget, and actual $. There are 11 project spaces, plus a link to download printables on the STARTplanner website.

Then you have the medical expenses section, which allows you to keep track of medical costs for multiple people. This is followed by the entertainment section where you can write down movies, books, and restaurants you want to try, as well as events you would like to attend. There are checkboxes to tick off once you’ve seen/read/eaten at/gone to your intended movie/book/restaurant/event. 😉

The vacation planner is intense. It includes a page for writing down information about flights, hotels, cars, and trips to and from the airport. Then there is a page for writing down what you’d like to do and buy while on vacation, and a place to note restaurants you would like to try and attractions you’d like to check out. Then there are two more pages, a suitcase packing list, carry on packing life, and reminders to take care of mail/newspaper, pets, and house and garden stuff while you’re away.

The holiday planner includes a holiday budget, a to do & schedule page, a holiday menu, a groceries list, and a page for planning out your gift giving.

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Now we move to the calendar section! Each monthly tab takes you to a month on two pages spread. Because there are so many extras, the monthly spread doesn’t have any bells & whistles. The boxes are a tad longer than you might usually find in a planner, and if there is a holiday then it’s depicted in a bold sans-serif font. The numbered days are at the bottom of each daily box, as well.

Each monthly section includes a Staying on Track section, which has space for mini goals (3 of them), a health check in, a punch list, cards & gifts for the month, a budget for the month, a notes page, meal planning, and weekly groceries. (Sorry for the weird photo–the original one I took was impossibly blurry and I didn’t realize it until the last moment.)

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The daily pages are equally intense. They have the day and date, a schedule from 6am–9pm (there are small dots that you can use for half-hour increments but I don’t think they’re super functional in that capacity–you’d really have the write small and squeeze it in), a prioritize box numbered 1, 2, and 3 and a little heart icon to remind you about self-care. There is also a to-do column with checkboxes (they are set at a low opacity so you can write over them if you don’t want to use them), a small section for writing down dinner with a space to record how much you spent if you ate out, a space for ideas, and a space for thoughts, notes, etc. Then you have a health bar on the righthand side of the page with a place to indicate whether or not you worked out that day, whether you took vitamins/medicine in the AM and PM, 8 water drops for keeping track of your daily water intake, and a space to write calories in and calories out.

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The last few pages of the planner include a rather ingenious 2019 four-page spread where you get a small box for each day of the year to write in important appointments to remember. Then there is one contacts page at the very end with a simple line for name and address–the goal of this contacts page is to serve as a quick placeholder for a new address before you are able to add it to your “Master List.”

The Fancy Pants binder is designed to hold up to four months of daily pages plus all tabs and the beginning “meat” section of the planner. The rings are 1.25″ in diameter which makes them pretty sizeable. Personally, I like the bulk of the planer when I just use three months of daily pages plus some notes pages. The binder itself is 9″ wide x 7.5″ and individual pages are 5.5″ x 8.5″.

Aesthetics/Design

STARTplanner has a very minimal but packed aesthetic. They fit a lot onto a page with this planner but use varying tones of gray to make the design a little easier on the eyes. The binder itself (as I mentioned earlier) comes in several colors, which change with each launch, and is made from vegan leather. The vegan leather feels pebbly but plush and I’m impressed with the overall quality of this binder.

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My Fancy Pants arrived with two thick plastic dashboards that I put in my binder as front and back covers. I could easily see adhering sticky notes or washi to this plastic board, whether as decoration or as a functional dashboard.

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The paper is 70# and bright white. The tabs are charcoal gray with white text.

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The STARTplanner logo is designed in a script font, the “S” of which appears in gold on the closure of the binder.

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Daily pages are packed with information. The aesthetic of this planner is clean, but a little crowded. There is an intention for every inch of space, but the design still remains open enough to accommodate differing uses. For instance, the use of icons (the speech bubble, meal plate, lightbulb) makes the space they occupy ambiguous, up to interpretation. While there are clear intentions outlined for these icons, you can change how you want to use them without feeling like you are going against the design of the planner.

I think that the daily health check-in section fits a huge amount of information in a small space very well. Use it if you want, but if it’s a little too intense for you then you can easily cover it up with washi to add a pop of color to your planner. That being said, there isn’t much room for decorating. The STARTplanner is designed to be a productivity machine. If you want pops of color, then using colorful pens is probably your best bet.

Font choice is a consistent sans serif (I think it’s Raleway but don’t quote me on that) with a modern touch. Notes and messages from the STARTplanner team look clean with this font, and in the daily pages, the font is in all caps to promote a structured and crisp aesthetic.

Fit

Do you identify with Amy Santiago from Brooklyn 99 and her binders? Then this planner will be everything you ever wished for in an organizational tool.

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There is more content in this planner than in any. other. planner. I feel confident saying that. This planner will help you level up your organization, and help you feel like you have a little more control over your life.

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This planner would be a good fit for anyone who has to manage multiple people–spouse, kids, etc. There are tools in this planner that allow you to keep track of multiple people, like the medical expenses section which has room for four names. Are you a homeowner trying to manage a family and keeping your house together? This planner is for you, whether you are a stay-at-home-mom, boss lady, or house-spouse looking to keep everything running smoothly. There are a lot of good tips in this planner for what to clean/check/update in your home and when to do it.

Are you someone who wants it all in one place? Then this planner is for you. You may not get to carry every day of the year with you at one time, but if you’re okay with using monthly layouts to write down upcoming appointments that you then transfer to daily pages, the four-month capacity of the Fancy Pants won’t bother you. This planner can handle all of your: meal planning, appointments, schedules, to-dos, gift planning, holiday planning, financial planning, health planning, goal setting, project planning, and more. All in one neat and pretty binder. If you abhor the idea of using multiple planners but need your one planner to carry your world, then STARTplanner is for you.

If you are a student, I recommend checking out STARTplanner’s Legit planner (2017-2018 one is on sale right now for $42), but you can also purchase School add-on inserts ($12) for the Fancy Pants to help you plan assignments and stay on top of a busy schedule. I especially recommend this for graduate students who have a family to manage as well as a graduate school career.

If you feel like your life is spiraling out of control and you want a tool that will set the world aright again, then the Fancy Pants is for you. If you want all this and you want your planner to be portable, look no further.

If you don’t care that much about decorating and consider yourself a purely functional planner babe, then the STARTplanner might be for you.

Loves

I love that STARTplanner empowers you to tackle big projects & goals and does all the design work to break down your days for maximum productivity. I love that Kristy & Jenny listen to their customers and make changes based on feedback (evaluation is only helpful when you are willing to implement what you’ve learned from it, so snaps for Kristy & Jenny!)

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I love the super functional design of STARTplanner. There really is everything included in this planner. Kristy & Jenny have tried to give you as much structure as possible for living with “organized intention.” Their thoughtfulness is obvious in the density of what they offer, and I truly have not seen any other planner quite as full of content as this one. I love that STARTplanner is a hefty planner–y’all know I love thick planners.

Nopes

The STARTplanner can contain an overwhelming amount of content. I purchased a 2017 daily Hustle planner and felt like it wasn’t meant for me because I was in a place where I didn’t need to manage anything other than myself in grad school. I ended up gifting it to one of my friends who is a mother and has her cute little toddler daughter to also plan for and manage. She loved it.

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The tabs aren’t even–some are shorter than others or don’t have a rounded edge when others do. It’s not a huge deal but is a little aesthetically nettlesome. Lastly, I love the inclusion of the pen loop but find that when the binder is closed the pen smooshes into the tabs.


There you have it! My review of the 2018 STARTplanner Fancy Pants system! There is a lot of content in this planner and my review, as detailed as I tried to make it, probably only scratched the surface. If there are any questions you have, please leave a comment! I would love to hear from you. 🙂

xo
Ara

2017 FRANK Daily Planner

It’s a week of Frank! First my husband Frank’s #plannermatch post and now a review of the 2017 FRANK Daily Planner. 🙂

FRANK is a small company based in New Zealand (they do ship internationally!), founded in 2012 by couple Jason and Jess. This company was founded on a mission, which I pulled from their website:

Sometimes life feels like an unrelenting list of jobs to do and appointments to make, our authenticity and humanness pushed aside to make way for survival mode. We find ourselves simply functioning day to day.

We created FRANK as a to return to authenticity through the chaos of a busy a life.

When we are truly ourselves, we can make a meaningful difference in the world around us.

So with this in mind, we donate schoolbook to a child in need with every purchase.

FRANK has both weekly and daily options for their book-bound planners. I purchased the 2017 Daily edition at a discount in March and am completely pleased with the bang for my buck. The Daily planners cost $35 NZD ($24.37 USD with the current exchange rate) and ship internationally for $15 NZD or $10.44 USD. Weekly planners cost $30 NZD–$20.89 USD. This makes the FRANK planner a relatively affordable option, even with international shipping!

The FRANK planner is designed in A5 Portrait size (145mmW x 216mmH X 30mmD or 5.70866 in x 8.50394 in and a depth of 1.1811 in.) This planner weights about 1.54 lbs.

The 2018 daily planner has two cover options: gray and white or black with gold foiling. The weekly planner has three: pink, kraft brown, or navy with gold foiling. I am reviewing the 2017 Daily Planner in white and gray.

The planner begins with a message from FRANK:

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Function

The nice thing about the planner is that its format is flexible. You could use this as a travel planner, a diary, a productivity planner, a gratitude journal, and more. The system builds in reflections and self-assessments at the end of each month and focus goals at the beginning.

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The planner’s first pages include a 2017 year at a glance in a clean sans-serif font. Great use of white space and margins on this page.

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This is followed by a page dedicated to helpful tips on How to Be More Present, the theme of the 2017 planner. I love their suggestions for slowing down and taking a moment to enjoy the moment you’re in. They are great reminders to return to throughout the year.

Then there is a New Opportunities page where you can check off areas where you want to grow during the year. As you can see, I checked off Career, Mindfulness, Finance, Health, Fitness, and Reading. You can check as few or as many as you like! Then there is a space to write down more specifics or to simply write out the options you chose. It’s kept open so that you can use it however you like. You can then turn these areas into specific goals.

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FRANK includes a list of important dates for the year. It’s worth noting here that FRANK is a New Zealand company so most of their important dates are for New Zealand, although they do include important staples like Halloween, New Year’s, etc.

The beginning of each month has a gray intro page with an inspirational quote. Although the months are not tabbed in his bound book, the solid gray pages clearly delineate the start of a new month.

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Each month’s pages end with a Month Review section, where you can reflect on what you were trying to focus on that month, write down your favorite moment, and check off an adjective or three that describe the month you had. These reflection pages are helpful for keeping you focused on a specific goal and for easily and quickly taking five or ten minutes to jot down some gratitude before moving on to the next month.

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The monthly spread is simple and clean, leaving lots of room for notes. I found the boxes to be rather small, so in using this planner I only really kept track of big, important things on the monthly spread. Important dates are carefully included where relevant. There is a goodly amount of space at the bottom of the monthly spread and a lined sidebar on the righthand side for lists or important to-dos for the month.

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The beginning of each month includes a space to write down your focus for the month, a motivational quote, and a blank box space to write in Things to Look Forward to This Month. This section might be good for important dates, birthdays, trips, etc. If you are a student you could use this space to write in assignment due-dates. You could also use this space for gratitude–forward has two meanings, then. You could look forward towards scheduled stuff, or you could look forward to spending time with visiting family, your children’s first day of school, a fun event you are attending, etc.

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The daily pages are laid out in two formats. Monday–Thursday get a day per page, while the weekend is grouped into Friday–Sunday. The first half of the full-page day includes the day and date as well as a lined section with the prompt “Today I am thankful for”. Then comes a large blank space for whatever you like–writing out your schedule, to-dos, assignments, reminders, etc. At the bottom of the daily page is a section for tracking your productivity. FRANK prompts you with “Productivity Scale/How awesome were you today?” You can circle one of the three answers below: What’s the opposite of awesome?, Middle of the road, and I nailed it! After that comes a space for “Quote of the Day/What did you learn today?” This could be used for writing in an inspirational quote or jotting down something you learned, remembered, etc.

The weekend page includes just the lined sections with the “Today I am thankful for” prompt. Friday gets half the page while Saturday and Sunday share the other half.

Aesthetics/Design

FRANK has some gorgeous, minimalist designs. Their covers usually have gold foiling in clean geometric patterns. This particular version of their planner is half white and half light gray with a continuous gold foiling pattern of geometric lines. “Twenty Seventeen” is on the cover in bold, large text and a smaller “Daily Planner” sits beneath it. Both are in gold foiling. There is a thick white elastic band for keeping your planner closed and together. The cover material is matte and has a satiny feel to it.

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The gold foiling geometric designs also continue to the inside cover, both front and back. This is a nice surprise when you first open the planner and looks gorgeous.

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The back of the planner includes their logo and their mission stamped in gold foiling: “You buy one, we give one. Giving school books to children in need.” Their website is also included. This book-bound planner also has a white ribbon for marking your spot–definitely, a Design Do in a thick book like this!

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The planner also includes a pocket folder adhered to the inside back cover to store notes, stickers, receipts, or whatever else you need.

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The back of the planner has space to writing down Music to download and/or listen to, general Notes, Movies to Watch, and Places to Go. This is a great section for brain dumping all those tidbits of information that might not have a specific date, or even month, attributed to them but nonetheless need to be remembered.

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Overall the aesthetic of the FRANK planner is clean and minimalist. The delicate gold foiling and the sans-serif font choice (which is consistent throughout the planner) make this book simple with a touch of class. The paper is an off-white creamy color and much of the text is actually a dark gray. While easy on the eyes, it does take away from the crispness of the planner pages a bit. The binding does lay flat but you really have to press down on it.

Fit

This planner is a great size for carrying around. While it is a bit thick–and thus a little heavy–it is still compact enough to serve anyone who wants a beautiful daily planner that can travel on the go with them.

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I personally used this planner as a diary. I did not write in it consistently (still working on that!) but I did have it nearby when I wanted to reflect on my day or write down something important that happened. Building a diary habit is one of my goals for 2018 and a beautiful book like FRANK’s planner is a great way to combine daily writing with tracking mindfulness and productivity. As a diary, I think this is a great option. However, it might not work for someone who wants unbounded space to write as much as they want each day. The grouping of Friday–Sunday makes it hard to write much for the weekend days, as well.

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Otherwise, I think this planner would be a great fit for someone who wants a beautiful, simple book for tracking daily goals, progress, and gratitude. It would be a great option for someone who is traveling, backpacking, and/or hostel-hopping and wanting to write down and keep track of their adventures and experiences. The blank space on each daily page could be used for gluing in photos, collages, ticket-stubs, etc. Its portability makes it a great choice for students who want something to throw into their backpack every day that can keep them on track with a busy Monday–Thursday schedule of classes, exams, and extracurriculars.

This planner would also be a good fit if you are looking for a gratitude journal that will keep you on track. The “Today I am thankful for” prompts on each page are a great way to start the flow of words. Another option would be using this planner to track your productivity for a specific project or rolling projects. I could see it working if you are writing a thesis, dissertation, remodeling your home, consulting for a business, etc.

Loves

I love that this small company is so generous with their community. For every planner they sell, FRANK donates a school workbook to a child in poverty. I am also a fan of the FRANK blog, which has positive messages and overviews of their products. The flexibility of their layout provides a lot of options and opportunities for using this planner however might work best for you. I also love the simple designs from FRANK–their delicate gold foiling and smooth, simple covers are just gorgeous. I like a thick planner so the compact bulkiness of this book is a win for me. I’m also a huge fan of the tips at the beginning of the planner and the consistent reinforcement of mindfulness throughout the monthly reviews.

Nopes

I wish that the monthly spreads made more use of the page space. I don’t like the big blank gap underneath the monthly spread and would rather have roomier boxes for each day of the month. While I like the thankful-focused prompt on each page for journaling purposes, I think it might get in the way of more functional uses for that space. (NOTE: They removed this for the 2018 edition.) I would also like to see more space of the Quote of the Day section at the bottom of each page–there is barely room to write anything.


There you have it! My review of the 2017 FRANK Daily Planner. I assure you that the 2018 design is almost identical, so if you were using this review to research procuring the 2018 version, it should still be helpful. 🙂 Thank you, as always, for reading!

Do you have any questions about using the FRANK planner? Something I missed that you would like to know more about? Leave a comment! Frankly, I would love to hear from you. 😉

xo
Ara