Make Your Own Planner: My Supplies

Make your own weekly planner with these free printable pages for 2017 - Half size pages that work perfectly in a junior size Arc notebook system

Planners are handy tools for keeping organized.  If you use them.  Funny thing, you have to keep writing in them for them to work good. Them darn planners.

But seriously, it’s frutrating when once again you discover you have a planner (maybe an expensive one!) that just doesn’t seem to fit your lifestyle or the way you think.  You start out with high hopes and then just slowly drift away from it, using it less and less.  Maybe that’s happened to you.  *Raising my hand over here – yup, it’s happened*

So this time around, in the hopes of staying productive and well organized and actually using my planner, I’m going to try something a little different.  I’m going to make my own planner so I can customize it more to my wants and needs. Basically I just want to write a daily To-Do list, I want to remember if I have to be somewhere at a certain time, and I want things to be clean and simple with enough open visual space that my eyes can easily spot what I’ve written.  With that in mind, I’ve been hard at work making my own printable planner pages, and I’ll be sharing those in the next post.  Click here for the free 2017 free printable planner pages

But first, I thought I would give some info on the supplies that I needed to buy to get myself set up with a system for my homemade planner pages.  I was excited to discover the Arc notebook system at Staples (and I’m not being paid by Staples, I just think this system is pretty cool!)  It’s a system with “discs” that keeps things together rather than being spiral bound.  This has the wonderful advantage of letting you take pages in and out and make changes as needed.  It allows for LOTS of customization which is just what I was looking for.

It's not that hard to make your own planner, but you'll need a few basic supplies to get started. Here are the tools I use to make my own planner.

Here are the supplies I bought so I could begin to make my own planner:
*Note: Amazon links are affiliate links

#1 – Arc Junior Size Notebook in Hibiscus Design

I like the smaller planners so I bought an Arc notebook in the “junior” size (6-3/8″ x 8-3/4″).  I couldn’t find any empty notebooks at my local store (just the cover and discs) so I bought the one with some lined paper in it and paid $7.99.  It holds paper that is 8.5″ x 5″.  This is “half-size” paper, which is great for making your own pages because it’s simply a standard sized 8.5×11 piece of paper that most of us have around the house for our printers, but cut in half.  (more about that in the next post on the printable pages).   The Arc notebooks also come in a larger size for a full sheet piece of paper.

How to make your own planner using the Arc notebook system

#2 – Paper Trimmer

I quickly learned that if I was going to make my own half size paper, I needed a good paper cutter! My scissors method that I started with just wasn’t giving me the nice clean edges that I wanted.

How to make your own planner - free printable planner pages!

The scrapbooking areas of craft stores are a great place to look for this tool.  I bought a nice paper trimmer at Hobby Lobby that’s been working perfectly.  It has a pull-out ruler so I can easily find the 5.5″ mark for cutting my paper in half, and a blade that slides up and down that works like a charm.  The paper trimmer I bought was regularly priced at $7.99 but was on a 50% off sale so my total was only $4.23. Several craft stores always have 40% off coupons too.

3 – Paper Punch

The disc bound systems have a special type of hole in the paper that makes them fit on the discs. If you’re going to make your own planner pages for a disc bound system, then you MUST have the right kind of paper punch.  This was almost a deal breaker for me as the standard Arc punch costs about $40.  I wasn’t ready to pay that much to get started with this system – I wasn’t even sure yet if I was going to like this system!

How to make your own planner - free printable planner pages!

So the cheapskate in me was happy when I noticed Staples had a compact punch I could buy for $14.99.  You can only punch one page at a time, but hey, us cheapskates are willing to do that. 🙂 The closest option to order online that I could find was this Levenger portable punch which looks to be the same type of thing.

4 – Heavier Paper (optional)

If you’re going to print your own planner pages back-to-back, then you might also want to get some paper that’s a little heavier so the print on the back side doesn’t show through quite as much. I purposely made my homemade planner pages in lighter colors to help a bit with this issue.  Paper that’s a heavier weight will also hold up to wear and tear a little better.

Make your own planner using the Arc notebook system

I hunted in several stores hoping to be able to buy some heavier paper in a small quantity, but came up empty handed.  I finally bought a ream (500 sheets) of 22 Lb paper at staples for $11.79.  If I could do it again, I think I would get something even heavier, perhaps the 24 Lb.  However the heavier the paper, the higher the price and once again, the cheapskate in me was resisting.

So the total for me to get started?
$7.99 planner + $4.23 paper trimmer + $14.99 paper punch = $27.21

Add in some heavier paper and the final total is $39

This is still cheaper than the price I paid for my planner last year – AND – now that I have all the basic supplies, I can make my own planner pages in the years to come and pay virtually nothing.

So yes, I’m excited to begin using this system AND I’m excited to share my free printable planner pages and calendars with you too. Click here to check them out – – > 2017 Free (half size) printable planner pages



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    1. About the only time I’ve noticed this problem is when I have my Arc notebook filled quite full with papers. The 3/4″ discs can usually hold about 100 sheets of paper. You can try going up to the 1″ disc if you need room for more papers.

  1. My cheapskate option is to print in B&W into Draft mode on colored paper, which is usually 24lbs. I’ve gotten good deals on the paper, plus using the coupons from returning ink cartridges. ::-)

    1. That’s an interesting option I had not thought of! Thanks for sharing your idea so others can perhaps try your frugal strategy too. 🙂

  2. Hi! I’m brazilian and I want so much to buy a paper punch, but the delivery is really expensive, so I’m looking for the cheapest hahah. This Staples punch is the smallest and cheapest that I could find, but as you’ve said, I can’t find on the internet. Considering this post was posted in 2016, nowadays, do you know some site that sells this punch and delivery to Brazil? I would be really happy with your answer!

    1. There is a compatible small Levenger brand punch that you can purchase on Amazon and I believe Amazon does ship to Brazil. But I don’t know how much that shipping is! One other thought is that you might be able to just 3-hole punch these half size planner pages and put them in a small 3-ring binder (the 8.5″ x 5.5″ size). Those supplies might be available somewhere to you in Brazil.

  3. Hi! I found your post through Pinterest! You are so creative! I am a teacher and didntcwamt to shell out the cost of a pre-made teacher planner so I have made my own. My question is what did you do if it keeps coming apart? Lol! My cover was printed on card stick and I laminated it to make it sturdier. However the from and back seems to come off very easily! This is frustrating me! I did the regular full size planner and ordered the disks off of Amazon from the Happy Planner company. Maybe they are too big? Help!

    1. Sometimes if there are lots of pages and your planner is thick, perhaps that can happen, but they do make larger discs to accommodate thicker planners. What I did was buy an Arc notebook (it came with lined paper in it) and then I just took all the lined paper out and put my own planner pages in there. But that at least gave me a good cover and the rings that came with it to get started. So if you keep having the problem of the covers coming off, perhaps you could try that approach. Buy a notebook with the cover and the rings (so you know it is a set that goes together), take out the papers, and then use it as you want.

  4. Wow! Simply wow!!! I’m in love with the ARC planner system and the inserts you designed are exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much for sharing. I also got the full page planner (letter size). Did you make inserts for it? Is there a way to make the ones you made into that size? (that would be incredibly helpful for me.)Thanks again!!

    1. I love the Arc notebooks too! Right now I only have the half-size pages, but I will add a full size page to my list of possible designs to add to the group. 🙂

  5. for a paper punch I was like you I couldn’t deal out 40$ for one but I discovered that the happy planner punch from michaels works to its justi hole longer than the arc system which doesn’t matter to me asi wont use that one and I got it for about 12$ with a coupon also I got the huge discs from there to make my system big enough for both home and work and I love your simple design its just what iv been looking for thanks

    1. Thanks for sharing that Beth! That’s good to know the craft store is a possibility for buying punches too because like you said, you can use those coupons.

  6. This is wonderful! Thank you so much. I had the same idea but no clue how to do it myself. Curious, do you have the last few months of 2016 by any chance? Or how to make the month dividers?

  7. Thank you soooo much for this. You helped me make a critical decision in my planning while I was in staples. I like the fact that you made it free without having to sign-up with my email. I am so excited to try this. That I took back all the other ideas I had to make my own planner immediately after purchasing the ARC supplies. I did buy the 24 pound at Staples for $13-$14. I then found the same bright white paper 24pound at Walmart for $6.94. Glad I didn’t open it. There are both 500 pack. Thanks again. Do have any Calendars (horizontal) with skinny lines or how can I adjust yours so it can work for me. I need to see lines.

  8. This is very creative of you, Bev. I look forward to seeing the final product. Thanks for sharing all of this stuff you come up with; my favorite part is you even share the trials that don’t work out. It’s inspiring.

    1. Thanks Judith! I hope others will find the DIY planner helpful. I think it’s important to share the stuff that doesn’t work so great too. It’s how we learn!

  9. Bev, I’m so excited for this whole idea of customized planners & calendars! Made my own calendar 2 yrs ago & never looked back, but mine isn’t bound & is hard to keep up with. Also NEED someway to organize what goes in & out of my big upright freezer – that thing has become a nightmare.
    Thanks for all that you give us!

    1. You might want to try the Arc notebooks Charlotte – they’re a great way to keep your homemade pages together in a “book” format.