26 March 2014

Filofax personal size as an organiser/wallet

I love trying to solve peoples problems, helping them see solutions with things they already own or can adapt to suit, I think people sometimes call this 'up-cycling'

I have been continuing my research (sounds like a 'white coat' science project) in to using a personal size Filofax organiser as a wallet and as an organiser. Could I even take this big leap, well may be.

This 'research' has been a pet topic of mine that I've been playing around with now for a couple of weeks. It hasn't cost anything apart from time. I have been playing around with all the ones I have already. Thinking it would have to have big rings, ten zillion card slots to satisfy everyones needs.

I love it though when the solution or one I that I liked the best had been staring me in the face all along... it will I hope make you smile when you see what I'm talking about. But let's not spoil a good story shall we.

I want to take you on the same journey I've been on this last couple of weeks.  So put on your lab coat and step this way.....

So in true lab experiment let us outline the problem we are looking to 'solve'

We want a Filofax that can hold a typical number of pages with our diary and all the usual pages in it. My own 'personal fill' including the various dividers and A-Z tabs measures about 21 mm in thickness. We also require the Filofax to carry a typical number of credit cards (how many? see later), coins, paper money, id documents, drivers licence, health documents, passport, a pen. I know some of you might have additional things, but that is bound to be the case.

So at first I thought the obvious answer to carrying coins was to use my Filofax change holder, it has two zip pockets and fits on to the rings. The main pocket is gusseted so you can fit a reasonable number of coins in it.

I found almost by accident that it's best to put this at the front of the organiser, with the zip side facing the inside front cover. This then leaves you a nice flat writing surface on the reverse side of the change holder to use instead of the lumps and bumps of the cards etc.

The leather on this is also quite stiff so I found it didn't really work on smaller 23 mm rings at all.

So then I tried it in a couple of 30 mm ring organisers, first my Cuban zip.

So plenty of capacity, secure in the sense of it has an all around zip, two pen loops, 7 card slots. The downside of using this particular model though is it is quite stiff and bulky too! But as long as I was never thinking of putting it in my pocket I would be ok. Well I do carry most things in a shoulder bag so that wouldn't always be too much of an issue for me. But I didn't stop there. 

Next I tried for full contents in the Cavendish, again 30 mm rings and a great internal layout. 

This felt more manageable and everything slots in ok. I was able to find pockets to keep everything and feel that is was secure and wouldn't fall out if I happened to turn the organiser over or mistakenly pick it up upside down.  The paper money is nice and secure in the smaller of the two back cover pockets. The coins are accessible in the shallow outside pocket too. 

So I thought that's improvement for sure on the Cuban, it also lays flat too. 

However,  one of the flaws of this solution and the Cuban to a lesser extent is that neither the Cuban Zip or the Cavendish are made any more, nor is the change holder, they stopped making those in the 1980's. It would be better if we could get this to work with a more recent model. 

When I was looking at the change holder in detail, I realised there might be a bit of a flaw in the design of it. The overall width is about 106 mm, of course a personal page is only 95mm in width, so the change holder is about the width of a tabbed divider.  This isn't too much of an issue with a typical personal size Filofax, but the modern day compacts and slimlines are slightly skinny on width, especially the compacts, try to put a pen in the pen loop and you find there can be conflicts with your tabs, unless the pen is quite thin. The change holder though doesn't bend out of the way like a thin tab. 

So if I was redesigning the change holder I would make it out of slightly thinner leather, and make the overall size slimmer too. say 93-94 mm that way is should stay clear of the pen in a compact. 

So at this point I reverted things in my set up back as they were, my wallet being my M2 and my organiser as my Gillio Amica. 

I wondered could I do away with the change holder all together. So I started looking at how many coins do you really need to carry. The variety and the numbers of each coin to make up different amounts. Now this will vary of course from currency to currency, country to country etc. But it is possible to reduce the number of coins to a minimum. Then if you can get these coins to lay as flat as possible, they take up less space. Reducing the number of coins also reduces the weight of course. 

I settled on about 8 or 9 coins being the number I would need and started to play around with a few ideas to hold them in place. One idea I found was to take a piece of card and cut round holes in it to hold the coins in place. It sort of works, but I would need to improve on the card and cutting a bit to get it to work well. 

A week went by and I was still pondering on a few issues before I came to any conclusion. 

Then late one evening, it suddenly dawned on me as I was looking for something else looking through my 'collection' in the cupboard. I had pulled out a personal Malden. 

The Malden of course as a thin full height zip pocket, I've never really used it much in the past. But when I tried it with my selection of coins it is a perfect size for coins. The notepad pocket in the back cover will take a passport ok and other larger paper documents. 

The card slots take most of what I need on a daily basis. 

The bank notes might be better in a zipped envelope but I will see how they fair. 

Overall with everything in it, it's quite compact and whilst it is heavier than normal, if you discount the additional weight of the M2 that I was carrying, then it works even better and there's now additional space in my bag again! 

Now I know a few of you already Maldens and other similar personals as wallets, but have you come up with any better solutions for a combined wallet/organiser?


  1. I tried the combined planner/wallet for about one year; eventually decided it was inconvenient and a separate planner and wallet worked better for me. I used a Cavendish (excellent), a Malden (decent), a Kendal (not ideal). I also tried using a US half-letter size 7 ring binder (much too big!).

    I need to swipe my work ID card dozens of times a day, the easiest way to deal with this is to have it in my wallet in a trouser pocket so I can just bump my hip against the card reader to beep open the door. This way I can pass even with my hands full. Trying to juggle a personal size filofax along with the other stuff I inevitably end up carrying around at work was much too much trouble!

    Great post and photos!

  2. I combined my wallet and organiser into my Personal Malden for a while, and I thought it worked great. I'd love to try it with a Cavendish, but have heard the leather is rather thin (not good for someone as clumsy as I am!), and, of course, Cavendishes are rather expensive.

  3. This cavendish is so pretty!!!! I used my personal malden as a wallet in 2012 and it worked beautifully! This year I am using the A5, so I use the slots for the cards I dont use every day and have a normal small wallet (it is more like a card holder) for everyday errands.

  4. My Hampstead Personal has been my EDC for over a year now, and it works pretty well as a wallet substitute. On reflection, I think the Malden would make a better solution overall due to the suppleness of the leather (no place in the Hampstead for small change), but my setup is pretty much identical to what you've come up with here. I've only got three card slots inside the front cover, so I carry the rest of my considerable stash of plastic membership and other cards in plastic card holders which fit onto the rings towards the back of the binder. I do find, however, that they don't wear well with constant use, and several are up for replacement. I've foudn that having six overlapping card slots inside the front cover, as in the Cuban, leads to a very 'lumpy' effect, which is why I moved the diary to section 4 of my setup. The three cards inside the front cover of the Hampstead lie flat, and in a row, thus avoiding the problem.

    The only everyday thing I can't get in my Hampstead is keys, and I don't think there's a solution to that problem.........

  5. I too use a personal Malden (ochre) as my planner and purse. I have previously tried this with a Guildford zip and a pocket that had an external zip - that was some years ago and I can't remember the model. Neither of these really worked. With the Guildford I used a zip plastic wallet to house my money because the internal zipped pocket was actually pretty inaccessible. The Malden works really well - I had to slim down the number of cards I was carrying but its always good to have a clear out and focus on what you actually need to have with you all the time. I generally use the notepaper pocket at the back to house by Samsung Galaxy phone if, for example, I am just popping into the shop. As I like to take my filo with me absolutely everywhere this means when I don't want to bother with a bag I can just have my planner rather than juggling my planner, purse and phone because everything I need fits in (except my lipstick which did used to fit really well in my 30mm Guildford zip rings - sadly it won't fit in the 23mm.)

  6. I found that my pocket Chameleon gives me everything I need in a wallet. And people are so fascinated (and jealous) when they see how well it works. All my id cards, shopping discount cards, medical/dental, etc. cards are neatly tucked into credit card pages (four to a page.) My passport is tucked in the left side. The right side has a large coin pocket, and my dollar bills and receipts go in the big pocket in the back. The Malden coin pocket is too small for me. The Piazza had a nice size coin pocket but no back pocket for dollar bills.

    1. In conclusion, I do not like to mix my money with my Personal planner. I carry both in my purse.

  7. This little exercise has certainly started making me look at the interiors of personal size organisers with a new view... I will be doing the 'Philofaxy Wallet/Organiser' test in future!

  8. I am waiting for an etsy shop to reopen - I think she's the sewing sloth or something like that. She makes coin purses for FF. I'm planning to add one of those to my wallet!

  9. I use my Malden as my personal organizer, but my Calypso Compact as my wallet. In it I keep only the cash, cards, checkbook, shopping lists, financial sheets, and a small calendar.

  10. I used to use my personal Portland as a planner/wallet combo. It has a lovely big zip pocket inside the front cover, and it took notes and coins both. Inside the back cover there's tons of card slots. It worked really well, and I love love love my Portland, but it didn't fit in my smaller handbag. I also have too much life for one life one binder, most of which never needs to leave the house. I now use a mini as a wallet and satellite planner (I sync the bare essentials) and the rest lives in an FC Classic. Or three ;)

  11. So here goes - I have used a Personal Sized Filofax for more years than I care to admit to (!) as a wallet. I can't even remember the name of the first two but the original one just wore out completely (sometime in the early 1980's) and was replaced by my parents one Christmas with an identical new replica. I then wore that one out too and had a lovely Finchley that was brilliant smooth calf leather but had to be kept together with an elastic band (not very professional looking!) as for some reason Filofax stopped putting a closure on the compact ring style of personal size. Very irritating.
    More recently I succumbed to a Violet Temperley and I am so happy with that I suspect it too will get to wear out stage before it is replaced!
    As well as making use of the various pockets and zipped compartments for drivers licence, small change and bank notes, the contents are always the same. A strong transparent fly sheet at the front with a big paperclip onto which I pop receipts for credit card transactions, a zipped wallet with precious family pics, some white paper for notes and then four credit card holder sheets which hold all the various cards I have (24 and counting!). There’s a pen loop for a small pen/stylus and all in all it is perfect. It gets a bit bashed about in my bag but is standing up to that treatment very well and is often commented on at supermarket checkouts and when paying for something in a shop as a brilliant format. Well it works for me!

  12. I almost choked up when I saw a filofax change holder-i have never seen it before, and I thought I've seen everything already!

    Filofax company-PLEASE-make Cavendish and this change holder! Please!!! You have a BIG waiting for it crowd right here, on philofaxy blog and facebook!!!!

  13. I tried using a personal malden as a wallet planner but found the covers too floppy when paying for merchandise. I loved the zipped Holborn but eventually got annoyed at the zipper and the larger size. I am currently using a VDS because it seems smaller to hold but it does not have a spot for change. Actually just did a YouTube on this. I find the problem is not having enough space in the personal for everything once the plastic sleeves are used for store cards and business cards. I was thinking of using a smaller type A5 as a wallet/planner combo but it really is too heavy and bulky to carry. Would love a perfect solution but, for me, it is not the malden as pretty as they are because holding the planner in one hand while fishing for change in the zipped pocket is just to floppy.

  14. I tried using a compact patent to use as both a wallet and planner, but I ended up with two separate planners. I have a mini sized (non-Filofax) planner that I use as a wallet. It has a zip pocket insert that I use for coins and I fold my paper money and tuck it in the back pocket of the binder. All my essential cards that I need access to fit in there as well as a Filofax monthly calendar for quick reference. I can then use my personal size planner for more in-depth planning with a weekly diary as well as lists and budget information. The nice thing about this system is that even when I don't want to take my whole handbag with me, I have access to a calendar if someone asks if my schedule is free.

  15. I don't use a planner as a wallet. I have thought about it many times because I like the idea of it. In the end, though, I need to keep my wallet and planner separate. I'd be lost if I lost either of these items, and if they were lost together as one unit, I'd be beside myself.

    With that said, I have a response to your issue of coins. I pay for everything with dollar bills. My husband and I both do, as we collect the change and put it in a change jar. When the jar is full, we cash it in at the bank and use this money for something fun (we bought our bikes this way as well as many other things). So IF I were to use a planner as a wallet, I would probably only keep bills in there, and whatever coins I collected would be put in the jar upon arriving home. I don't spend a lot of cash during any given day, so that would probably only amount to a few coins at a time. This way I wouldn't have to worry about what type of coin or how many I would need to carry.

    Just sharing my two cents (pun intended). :)

    1. But where would you put the coins until you got home? :)

  16. I use a personal sized Metropol as both wallet and planner. I put the cards in the slots on the inside front cover, and those I use all the time (2 debit cards and my drivers' license) in a 3-slot business card sleeve near the front of the planner. I use a zip sleeve for cash. I do not keep change in it though - too bumpy! This works great for me so far - it's been about 2 months.

  17. Ive been using holborn presonal compact as wallet and diary for over a year now. Due to increased workload ive moved to A5 and ff time management professional. I thought i could drop the compact. The habit had stuck. though so i now have the nuisance of keeping wotp and moop on compact and dotp plus month on page on the A5.

  18. I've been in my Malden as a wallet/organizer for almost three years now. Until I get my hands on a Cavendish, that's where I'll be until the thing falls apart :)

  19. I have two personal size Filofaxes that I use as a wallet and organiser in one. My favourite is my rose Finchley. I love the mesh pocket at the back for coins, and there are certainly more than enough card slots for my necessary card carries. I have clear cheque book holder which I use for notes. Passport fits happily in the front full length pocket and there's still room for a WTAP diary, to do's, etc. Love it. I switch out to my personal Regency only when black is called for. It lacks the mesh pocket for coins, so a coin purse is employed .. but for me, my personal Finchley is the bomb!! I never really got comfortable with the personal Malden... I found the coin pocket at the front to hard to get in and out of, and its overall bulk too much to carry in comfort. From time to time I switch out of the personals and go into pocket Holborns... they are the perfect wallet, but I don't enjoy my planner at pocket size so it never lasts long.

  20. I use two Guilldfords, as my needs arise, as a wallet and planner together. With my Personal, I use the six card slots for ID, credit cards, insurance, etc. I carry cash very conveniently in the mesh zip pocket on the right side, and stash receipts in a top opening envelope insert that opens directly across from the cash.

    If I'm traveling, I take a Guildford Pocket Extra Slim. In this one, two card slots for debit card and ID, a selection of other cards in a card-carrier insert which buffers the fill on the right side. Cash is folded into the right side pocket. Receipts I'll stash behind the flap pocket on the left side.

    The problem I have going forward is the same one noted in the post - I'm relying on a model that isn't available anymore. I have ordered a Fusion to see if it will work similarly. What keeps me "in" Filofax is carrying a paper calendar, which make me an anachronism but seems to be the only to work for me.

  21. I just started using a Pennybridge compact as my wallet and I love it. It is perfect for me. I have spent so much time looking for wallets that would work and they were always just okay, but not really what I felt I needed. It only just recently occurred to me to use my planner as a wallet. Of course, I am new to using planners, but oh so glad I have found them and this web site. Thank you so much for having this site available.

  22. I use my Personal Malden as a combination wallet/organizer, and I absolutely love it! I keep my most commonly-used cards in the front slots, and added several (four, in my case) credit card sheets for the cards I use less often but still want to carry with me, and filed them at the back behind the organizer. The whole setup works perfectly, and I much prefer it to trying to carry my A5 with me.