14 February 2013

Guest Post - Ashlene - Tracking my Finances with a Filofax.

Thank you to Ashlene for this Guest Post, we often read/hear people say 'I use my Filofax for Tracking Finances' or other things in our every day life, but quite often a brief description doesn't often help us to try out these ideas, so seeing an actual example is great! Thank you Ashlene for sharing this with us and for the great photos too.  

For a while now I have been trying to make a Filofax work for me as a wallet/purse in order to keep a track of my finances. I've tried pocket and mini sizes and even incorporating my cards and cash into my everyday personal Filofax, but nothing works for me. Then a few weeks ago I began to think that I was maybe trying to make the Filofax work too hard for me. I'm very fussy when it comes to wallets/purses and none of my Filofax experiments lived up to my expectations of what a wallet should do. I wanted a Filofax that would hold cash, cards and coins and most Filofaxes just are not designed to do that. So I came up with a happy medium that has been serving me well for the last few weeks and has also been helping me keep track of my finances. This is one of my goals for this year as I am notoriously bad with money and my boyfriend has recently started talking about buying a house together, so it's time to stop spending and start saving.

Meet my compact Holborn in Wine. I picked this up in Easons (an Irish stationery chain) a few weeks ago. When I first laid eyes on it I knew it was going to work perfectly as my new 'Financial' Filofax. It's thin enough to fit in my handbag but had loads of pockets for receipts, bills, pay slips, etc. Let's take a tour

The credit card pockets on the inside cover hold my credit card and store cards. Most of these are paid off but my aim this year is to clear the credit card and Debenham's card. None of these cards get spent on and I keep them here so I can find them easily when I want to make a payment.

Receipts for recent purchases also get kept in this pocket until I have time to record them on my Finance pages which are kept further on into the Filofax.

At the front of the Filofax, I keep a tabbed month on two pages diary for recording when bills and payments need to be made. I highlight each bill so I can see them easily and I put a little tick beside each once it's been paid. I also record each time I fill my car up with fuel and how many miles I got out of the last fill up.

After the diary, I have a few sheets of Filofax Finance pages. I use some of these to track any daily spending on my debit card (although I'm trying to minimise this) and I also have a sheet for my Debenham's card and credit card so I can see at a glance how much I still owe and track my repayments, interest, etc.

I keep all my reward cards in the Holborn in credit card holders. It's easy to find the card I'm looking for and they are also easily accessible.

Now we come to the back of the Holborn (and my favourite part!). Here, I keep 10 top opening envelopes which are used to budget my money each month. This envelope system is quite popular in America and involves breaking your monthly salary into the the main categories you spend in and putting a certain amount of money into envelopes labeled with each category. Once you have spent all the money in a certain envelope, you cannot spend any more money in that category until you get paid again. I have always liked this budgeting method but this is the first time I have really got it to work for me. My 10 categories are:

- Fuel
- Luxuries (getting my nails and hair done, etc)
- Entertainment (cinema, etc)
- Cosmetics (make up, shampoo, moisturiser, etc)
- Savings (the money which needs to go into my savings account)
- Gifts (used for any month when I have to but birthday gifts, etc)

My monthly food budget is then divided roughly across 4 envelopes. One for each week:

- Week 1
- Week 2
- Week 3
- Week 4

Finally, at the back of the Holborn, I keep my most recent pay slip and my Credit Union book which I need for lodging my savings. The pocket beside the pen loop houses any bills which need to paid which then get filed away once the payment is made.

So that's my set up, but you may be wondering where I keep my loose change. That's kept  in my cute little Kipling wallet along with my debit card, my three most frequently used reward cards (Tescos, Sainsburys and Easons) and my driver's licence. Each week I move my weekly food budget from the Holborn into my Kipling wallet. This means I don't have to carry the Holborn around with me all the time and this stops me impulse buying because all of my cards are in the Holborn. I was never going to be happy carrying loose change in a Filofax and I don't like having a gigantic purse either so this is my happy medium - a tiny wallet of essentials and my compact Holborn for everything else and keeping track of my finances. This set up is working really well for me so far and I hope you have enjoyed this tour around my Financial Filofax .

Thank you Ashlene, and of course if you would like to share anything Filofax or ring bound organiser related with us as a guest post please get in touch philofaxy at gmail dot com


  1. Ashlene, this is a great system and, as someone whose work life involves seeing a lot of people in debt, it always makes me happy to see people using a filofax (or any system) to get their finances in order. Personally I love the neatness of this highly organised filofax and I am sure that having something so beautiful will only help you establish your good habits which hopefully will lead to an equally beautiful house sometime soon.

    I currently have my financial pages spread across my A5 Osterley ( which is also a journal) and my pocket chameleon which is my wallet. But I wonder about using my compact Regency now I have read this. It would free up space in my journal and make better use of the compact. although it woudl be one more thing to carry... hmmmm....Isn't that the fun of filofax that you can get so many 'new' products by switching around wthout actually spending anything?!

  2. It's a great set-up. My only concern would be having so much personal information in one place. You have credit cards, bills (with full names and addresses, etc), pay slips (with NI number, name, employer, etc), savings book and cash all in one place. That is a lot of information to hand over to someone should it get lost (especially if you carry it around with you). At the very least I would consider removing personal information (name, address, NI number, etc) from the paperwork you carry.

    But it's a nice system and keeps everything in one place and easy to refer to. I'd just be wary about taking it out and about!

  3. This is very helpful thank you Ashlene. When I was growing up talking about money was considered 'crass' and therefore I never really learnt to budget and manage money properly. My parents did it behind closed doors in secret. We did get told that as a family we couldn't afford things, (my parent were never 'well off') but the mechanisms for managing it all and how much was being earnt were secret.

    I love that these days people are more open about these things - I even read recently that they are thinking of adding financial management to the school curriculum which I think would be a great idea. I have managed to slither though life without as much financial management as I should have done, so really enjoy reviewing everyone's systems.

    One of the best things I did some years ago was to draw out a specific amount each week to live on, so food etc would be paid for in cash. It's a good lesson to really feel what something costs instead of using plastic, and it can help to budget because you only have so much in your purse.

    I can understand Babs comment about security, but I'm sure this method can be adjusted to suit everyone's comfort zone in that department.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thank you for posting this lovely, lovely idea about using a Filofax for financial planning. I, too, use a Holborn personal as m wallet and I like your idea of the top loading pockets for specific spending areas. I do have a question about your Holborn credit card pockets. In your picture, your cards are side loading....in my Holborn they are top loading....I wonder why the difference?

    1. I wonder if it is because Ashlene's binder is a compact and yours is a standard personal? The website does not show the interior of the compact so it is hard to say.

  5. Interesting that Filofax do no budget end compact binders and only one slimline these days - the rest are all premium leather ones.

    1. Filofax UK has Metropol compact binders. You have to type compact into the search bar to see the compacts, then click View all 12 Personal Organisers to see them. They sure don't make them easy to find!

    2. Thanks Laurie - I searched on 'compact' but it just showed the leather ones. I didn't think to click on View All!

    3. Why they wouldn't just show all of them on the search result page is beyond me!

  6. Excellent idea! very helpful :-)

  7. Great idea, I'm doing something similar in my a5 home binder, but maybe I can put a compact to use. Thanks for sharing :-)

  8. I just love reading posts like this about how people use their binders. I wish I more dedicated to tracking my finances. I also love your envelope system. I've read about it here in the US, but never considered using a Filofax for it.

  9. Hi everyone!

    Thank you so much for all your nice comments. I'm very excited about this setup and its really helping stay on top pf my finances :-)

    @Babs - security was a big issue for me when devising this system and its the reason why I decided to have a seperate small purse. This means I don't actually carry this Filofax around with me all the time. It only really comes with me once a week when I go to do my shopping for the week. The rest of the time, I just take my Kipling purse with money from any relevant envelopes inside it. I try to plan what shops I'm going to visit and what I'm going to buy to stop me impulse buying. This means I can also plan which reward cards or coupons to bring with me on any given day while the Holborn sits safely on my bookshelf at home.

    @Joseph and Alison - Yes this is a Compact Holborn which has a different credit card slot layout to the personal Holborn (I have one of those as well).

    1. Thank you. I have never seen a compact in person. I have an A5 Cuban and a personal Holborn. I am looking to purchase a new A5 and am torn between an Ochre Malden or a black Holborn.

  10. Your system is really interesting, because my system for using filofax to manage my finances is completely different - I log everything I spend, and I divide my monthly income into weekly batches.

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  12. The timing of Ashlene's post is really helpful. I have been using a Raspberry A5 Finsbury as my only binder, and I have a finances section in it...but I just purchased a personal Aston in Orchid to use as a wallet. I'm not sure it will work for me, but you've given me some ideas about potential tweaks to my system. SYou gave a concise (but thorough) description of your system, and I always enjoy seeing someone who discovered what works for their lifestyle.

    Kudos to paying down your credit cards, by the way!

  13. Here is another great example of a budget planner http://www.abowlfulloflemons.net/2013/01/budget-planner.html

  14. Never thought of using a compact Filo as a wallet - great ideas!!


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