Buying a Custom Planner

by Zsuzsa Kiss at Plancademy

April 2017

A Filofax or almost any ring bound planner is expensive enough, why would you pay for an other planner more? 


If you are new in the planner world, don’t do it! You don’t have to buy a custom planner. Start with something cheaper, and get experiences for what your preferences are.

But if you are an experienced planner user, here are my arguments:

  • you deserve a luxury piece – the planner keeps your life, it is always with you, you have to love it
  • a custom planner is unique and can express your personality
  • a custom planner can fulfill (almost) all of your needs in a planner

How To?

There are certainly other companies, but I am most familiar with Van der Spek – go to their site and check out the custom planners.

You can be excited, but you have to keep yourself back. Falling in love with colors can push you to order immediately. Don’t do this. You want to buy the perfect planner. (If not, then why would you buy a custom planner?) Slow down. Think. What do you want?

  • Do you already know with which size are you comfortable? If not, wait a year 🙂
  • What colors are your favourites? Do they match to the use? If you are working in a business you might want to avoid vibrant colors. Go for something sophisticated.
  • Order leather samples to know how the colors look like in real life and how the leather feels.
  • In the meantime, you can start the research for the layout: search for pictures in the chosen size. Think of the following: what do you miss/never use in your current planner? What are the things you always keep (or want to) with you? What size pockets do those things need? What is the purpose of the planner? Just a planner? Maybe also wallet?

Parts of a Planner to Consider

  • Ring size – bigger rings makes the planner bulkier – can you work with that? Smaller rings cannot hold so much paper. The back pocket can be generous if you have personal or smaller size and you can possibly keep bigger papers there (but this makes the planner also bulkier).
  • Outer pocket – you can access what you keep here very easily without opening the planner. Makes the planner bulkier.
  • Zippered pocket – keeping smaller bits and pieces in your planner, like coins, clips, etc., is very useful. The zipper can add a lot to the bulk. You can use also a zipped insert if you like, or a zippered flyleaf.
  • Normal pocket vs secretarial: the “normal” is sewn in 3 sides. The secretarial is sewn down only two sides and open at the top. That makes it a lot easier to access what you keep here. I’m for that. But the “normal” one keeps things more secure. If the pocket is gusseted, you can keep more in the pocket and can access the stuff easier.
  • Card slots – many planners have a lot of card slots. Do you need so many? Do you keep credit cards, ID, etc., in your planner? If not, you might want to change to deeper/wider pockets. Take a look at what you have in your planner. Stickers? Stencils? Sticky notes? Choose the size of the pockets matching to your items. How many do you need? Where do you want them? Left or right side?
  • Consider if you want more layers, bearing in mind that it will bulk up your planner. You can have pockets on the top of a secretarial pocket for instance.
  • Slit or sewn pockets – The slit pocket is more flat, one layer of leather with slits in it, with the inner pockets made from a different material. With sewn pockets, every pocket has its own leather layer (that is visible – under the pocket is also a thinner material). This adds to the bulkiness.
  • Penloops –  one, two or none?
  • Clasp – you can go also without! If you have a clasp, do you need a longer one? If you will stuff your planner you might need a longer clasp.

I wish you happy planner designing! 🙂

You can read my journey for designing and buying a VDS planner. And here can you find a lot of pictures of my finished planner

Zsuzsa is a busy mom with 3 kids and ADD living in a foreign country – not a good constellation :). She is trying to find peace and balance using planners and loves to learn about anything – like planning and sharing her experiences with the world in person and also on her blog  and YouTube channel. You can find also Zsuzsa on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Etsy.

One thought on “Buying a Custom Planner

  • April 16, 2017 at 9:21 PM

    I’ve had my VDS planner for a couple of years now. I LOVE it and have gotten many compliments on it.

    It’s worth it if you love to paper plan or use as a home binder.


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