Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Erin Condren Life Planner - A Review

When I was resetting the blog, I re-posted my anticipatory post of the launch of the ECLP - Erin Condren Life Planner.  If you haven't, you can read that here.

Quick take - My excitement over the planner itself has waned since getting it.  I still like the concept of a paper planner, but in general, I think the ECLP is overrated.  There are alternatives that are essentially the same at a much better price point and going forward, I'll probably explore those options.

To give you a little more detail about why I feel that way - I ordered my planner on Launch Day.  I chose the Horizontal Layout in the Ready to Ship option ($55).  This meant that I did not get a personalized cover, but my planner would come with a coupon code for a free cover that I could order later (more on that in a minute).  I also chose to get the Party Pops markers ($10) and a set of Do-It-All Dots ($4).  I opted not to get the expedited processing (which is now $35, though I believe it was $20 at launch), but I did opt for FedEx Ground Shipping over USPS ($9.95 vs $7.95 - there are also 2 additional shipping choices: Fed Ex Express for $11.95 and FedEx Priority for $19.95).  After tax and shipping, my order total was $78.95.

I consider myself among the lucky few who received my order in the time quoted at checkout.  I placed my order on June 9 and received it on June 13 (3 days before my expected delivery date).  I did an unboxing video, so you can see my reactions to that...

Almost instantly after I placed my order, I had a little bit of regret.  I wish I would have gone with the vertical layout.  Horizontal was what I had always used and liked in college, but after seeing so many Plan With Me videos and fun layout images, I thought I would have enjoyed the vertical layout more.  I still feel that way.  I've finally gotten into a rhythm with my horizontal, but it took a minute to figure out how to organize it.  
Here's how the layouts differ:
Vertical (Source: Erin Condren)

Horizontal (Source: Erin Condren)
Besides the basic layout differences, there are some differences in the design of the two layouts as well.  The vertical planner has a bold, bright color scheme with the Party Pops design.  The horizontal layout has a more muted color scheme with the Prism design.  I really preferred the color scheme and design of the vertical, but was stuck on needing the horizontal layout when I ordered.  I kind of wish they had offered both color schemes in each layout.  

Also after ordering, I started reading various reviews from blogs, youtube videos, and on the EC facebook page that made me a bit wary.  I will say this - I did not personally experience any of the issues related to launch/customer service/credit cards.  BUT, if I had read these various posts/reviews prior to ordering, I never would have gone through with it - I would have looked into alternate solutions.  Because I didn't experience these issues myself, I don't feel right adding them to my review.  I will encourage you to go research for yourself and make a choice based on the knowledge you gain.  The option to leave a review has been removed from the EC facebook page (if that says anything...) so you would need to look at the "Posts to Page" section to get information.   A lot of the launch day stuff has quieted down, but if you went back just one month - you'd see a lot of it.

I did have a couple issues with my planner in general, however.  One was one of the major issues that came out of this launch.  My coil is not coiled properly - the ends are not finished.  You can see below that the ends should be tucked in at a 90 degree angle.  Mine are too long and barely bent, so the pages at one end or the other are constantly being uncoiled.  Then, because the ends are too long, the stress put on the pages is causing them to tear.  And finally, while I love my personalized cover - it's also starting to fall apart, again I believe, because of the stress from the coil.

My preferred solution to all of this would be to uncoil the whole thing and rebind - either by putting into a binder style planner cover or by ARCing my pages and using a disc bound system.  I really want to use the discs, but that would be an expensive fix to something I can live with.  Plus, by re-binding, I lose the use of my cover.

Speaking of the I said, I ordered the ready-to-ship version which came with a code for a free personalized cover.  Once I got it, I went online to choose and personalize my cover.  This is a really fun process because there are several designs to choose from, then you can customize the colors, the text, and even the layout for an additional fee.  Non-metallic, personalized covers using the default layouts are regularly $10.95.  But there's a catch!  Even with the free cover code, you still have to pay for shipping.  And the shipping costs are exactly the same as the planner (with $7.95 for USPS being the cheapest option).  Because my planner was my first order, I also got a generic $10 coupon.  When I tried to apply that to my cart, to cover the shipping cost, I could not - because EC does not allow you to stack coupons/codes.  So no matter what, I was going to be stuck with a cost of about $10 for my *free* cover.  Pro-tip: If you're going to order something with a code or a coupon, order as much as you can to save on shipping fees.  I will probably not end up using my $10 code because I don't want to get stuck paying $10 shipping on another $10 item.  And look, I get that shipping costs money.  There are supplies and postage and fees that businesses have to deal with and I'm totally in support of covering those costs if I have to.  Here's my problem though - it does NOT cost the same amount of money to send 2 laminated pieces of paper (cover - sent in a document mailer) and a 3-5 lb planner with accessories (sent in a fairly large box) - so charging me the same amount to send 2 very different items (with very different weights) feels like a rip-off.

All that goes back to my quick take - I like the idea of the ECLP, but the value vs. the cost just doesn't add up for me.  If you're looking for a paper planner and cost isn't a factor, please feel free to check Erin Condren out.  There are a lot of great products that I really would like to try. If you've never visited their site, you can earn $10 off any purchase, just by creating an account if you follow this link.  My understanding is that the referral credit works like a gift certificate not a coupon, so it can be combined with another offer (feel free to correct me in the comments if I'm wrong.  I signed up without a referral link and did not get ten free  Despite my luke warm review, you don't lose much by going to check things out for yourself, right?  

I'm already looking for my next planner (and finding that elusive planner peace).  I still have 16 months to go in this one, so I'm making the most of it...but planners gotta plan, amiright?  Some of the other planners I'm considering are The Happy Planner, Glam Planner, and the Plum Paper Planner.

Here's a few close-ups of the planner from the unboxing --

Next week I'll have a post about how I intended to use the planner vs how I actually use the planner - don't miss will be riveting.  Trust.

Until then...

Disclaimer - this review was not prompted by Erin Condren and I have not been compensated for writing it.  However, I do receive a $10 credit for everyone who signs up for an account at using my referral link.  All thoughts an opinions expressed on this post are my own.


  1. Of only there were a free searchable planner that was available where ever an internet connection was available it would be even nicer if the events in it could be sharable. Better yet make it free and include it in a mobile device so it is ultra portable. This service would eliminate all of your above problems I believe and its call Google calendar. If you don't like that look at one of the many apps that can do what you request.

  2. bahahahah at Chad's comment!
    I was talking about my planner the other day and Brent's response was "use your phone". It's not the same and I'm not even someone who does anything fancy in my planner!
    So glad I have my $10 one from amazon and didn't spring for the EC... I would definitely have buyers remorse.