Skip to content


leaving iReconcile and moving to YNAB

ireconcile to ynab

Latest thing I’m into: a software called YNAB (You Need A Budget).

Previously I keep track of my budget with an iPhone app called iReconcile. I loved the app enough to pay a yearly subscription to get their online syncing service. That was two years ago.

But over the two years I’ve been using the app I’ve been experiencing annoyances large and small. Sometimes the sync would corrupt my data and I would have to contact customer service to roll back my data. Which is okay, if they would only respond to my emails. I’m supposedly paying for this service after all. Lately the app is starting to get bogged down with the sheer number of transactions and I had to clear out data before it starts moving again.

They had also advertised a web app to allow tracking and entering of data from your desktop. When I first got iReconcile this web service was next to useless and there hasn’t been any update since.

A few weeks ago I decided to email them directly to see if any updates to either the iOS or the webservice were in the pipeline. No response.

That was also when my iOS app decided to cough on me again – most likely as a way of prompting me to delete old transactions (one at a time, mind you) again.

That was the end of it for me; I didn’t see the need to keep paying for non-existent customer service for an aging app.

Google helped me discover YNAB.

It is everything iReconcile is supposed to be but wasn’t.

Image Source:
Image Source:

YNAB (You Need A Budget) is a desktop budgeting system with an iOS/Android app to facilitate tracking.

I love doing the actual budgeting on the desktop instead of fiddling with the mobile apps. Some people might want more functionality on the iOS app (the Boy certainly does, but then he’s resistant to any changes – it took months for me to get him used to iReconcile), but I highly recommend giving the system a go anyway. Being able to use the number pad on my physical keyboard just make the whole budgeting process so much quicker.

A word of note, YNAB is not like, it doesn’t pull your transaction from your bank automatically, you have to enter your expenditure manually. I’ve been doing that with iReconcile, so this is not an issue for me, but it might be for others.

The desktop version does have an importing feature though which allows you to manually import your transaction history (OFX file) from your bank.

This is great for finding those transactions that might have slipped the gaps and is great when you’re reconciling your accounts.

Image Source:
Image Source:

Now what about the mobile apps?

Let me say this up front, in the YNAB system, the mobile app is used only for tracking your daily income and expenses (and your bank transfers, eg. ATM withdrawals). You can’t change your budget, and you can’t look at your reports.

But realistically, why would you want to?

The YNAB system is built around budgeting by categories instead of by accounts, which is how I’ve always budgeted but never had a system which supported it. iReconcile kind of did it, but when the budget page takes ages to load, you’re just not going to use it.

Both the desktop and mobile apps are really slick to use and pretty to look at. It uses Dropbox to sync the data between devices, and I haven’t any any issues with conflicting versions of information being synced.

It’s a one off payment of $60 for the desktop app (the mobile apps are free, but you must have the desktop app for them to work), and this one license allows you to share the software between everyone in your immediate family.

One thing I must mention is that YNAB also has a very substantial database of support files, and a comprehensive series of live classes teaching people how to budget and use the YNAB program properly. Even if you don’t buy the YNAB software, you should still go through those videos and articles; they are just chock full of tips on how to budget better.

Before I sign off, I want to point out a couple of review articles I would highly recommend reading if you want to know more about the YNAB software. I really love the apps, but have only skimmed the surface of the features available. These blogs have done a fantastic job walking through each part of the program:

It’s Your Money!

Jamie Flarity

Do you budget? Are you using a budgeting program? Are you an iReconcile or YNAB user? Comment below on your budgeting experiences, I would love to know.

forgot to mention the RSS feed address

Thanks Steve for pointing this out to me, but I forgot to mention what my RSS feed address is.

For those using Feedly or Bloglovin, I believe you only need to enter in the URL and the reader would automatically extract the RSS feed address.

For those more tech-savy, my RSS feed address is:

welcome to the new site

Happy New Year Everyone!

Most, if not all, of you would have come here from my old blogger blog

As I have mentioned in my old blog, with the new year, I am revamping the site and moving it here.

I hope the new domain name would be easier to remember (and type).

A little housekeeping

The old blog would remain, but new blog posts would not show up there. So if you are using any type of RSS feeder, please add the new URL to get the latest update. (If you don’t know what a RSS feeder is or what it does, you might want to read this article. I personally like Feedly.)

Also I’ve extracted all the old blog posts to the new site, but I think some of the links may have been broken in the process. I am currently going through each post and checking the links, but if you find something that is not working, please let me know by commenting, and I would get on it asap.

Moving Forward

I’m still fiddling with the layout and design of the new blog, so if you have any feedback or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

the baroque… is here… (wait, what?)

Yes, within three months of my first Filofax (well two, considering I received my Filofax FR package nearly a month ago), I have gotten myself a second one.

Awhile back, I read this entry and thought to myself, “I want a Baroque Personal Filofax!”

I was going to write a series of entries about pros and cons of buying another Filofax, whether I would find a use for it, whether I would neglect my A5 Finsbury… But somehow along the way… before I even got one word written, I managed to get my SO to buy it for me for my birthday (and yes, my birthday is not for another two months).


Looks pretty plain from the outside

Now what was my original justification for purchasing another Filofax?

Well, I wasn’t planning on using it as my personal Filofax, I had my Finsbury for that – and I wanted to keep my work and my personal life in one Filofax.

No, I wanted to use the Baroque to help plan my trip to Europe later this year. A month-long vacation can go very badly if it’s not organised properly, and who would want to carry an A5 Filofax across Europe?


But the detail on the inside…

Also, I saw these really interesting Travel Journal inserts from Filofax UK (available in either Personal or Pocket size only), and I just had to try them! (Yes, you can see which is the prominent reason for getting the Filofax…)

So… an order was placed on Filofax UK and Filofax FR and the waiting game commenced. I received the Baroque in 7 days, the Travel Journal Pack in 2 weeks.

Btw, did you know that Filofax FR provides tracking IDs and Filofax UK don’t? Considering how most inserts in the FR site are multi-lingual and Euro is cheaper than GBP, I may just source my future Filo products from France…


I’m not going to do a play by play of the individual parts of the Baroque, not because I don’t love my Filo to bits, but because I don’t think I could do a better job than Lime Tree. Her entry has a lot of pretty pictures, and I highly recommend going to her blog to drool over the Baroque.

The moment I laid my hands on the Baroque and felt just how soft the leather was, I fell in love. Out flew all my plans of using this Filo just for the Europe trip, I want the Baroque with me all the time.

Before I knew it, I had copied all my personal appointments from my A5 Finsbury into the Baroque and had created a miniturised GTD system for my personal life to go in it as well.

The smaller page sizes doesn’t inspire me to write pages and pages of journal entries as the A5 does, but it’s not too bad. I’m even considering leaving the A5 at the office, since I don’t have to worry about leaving personal details at work, but then I feel guilty for kind of abandoning the Finsbury so quickly.

For those of you with more than one Filofaxes (I’m beginning to feel that there’s no Filofax owners out there who only has one Filofax), how do you assuage your guilt for turning to a new love?

in search of the perfect diary insert – Philofaxy DIY diary inserts

So the vertical W2P Filofax diary insert didn’t work, the Outlook print-out had no personality, what else could I do?

What else could any Filofax-loving-obsessive-compulsive person do? Visit Philofaxy to look for answers of course!

Is it neccessary for me to explain to people what Philofaxy is? Is it possible that there any Filofax fans out there, who’ve stumbled upon my humble blog, and don’t know about Philofaxy?

You have no idea what you’re missing…


A quick search on Philofaxy resulted in my downloading and slightly tweaking their Time Management Week Per View diary insert (version 2).


I swapped the left and right pages around – which took more work that you’d think!

It’s messy, but I like it.

On the right page I have plenty of room to write my appointments and the left page allows me to write tasks that must be done on a given day. These are mainly shopping lists or home-related tasks. All my work-related stuff are filed behind GTD action tabs.

I especially like the “Coming Up” section on the bottom of the left page; I have a tendency of looking only at what’s on this week’s page and this “coming up” section allows me to remind myself of any upcoming events in the following week that I need to keep track of.

It seems that for now I can relax in my search for the perfect diary insert. After fiddling with the printer setting and mail merge settings for what seem like an age, I managed to print out a year’s worth of pages. Time will tell how these inserts will fare.

To what extent have you gone to find your perfect insert, and what are you currently using?

in search of the perfect diary insert – outlook printed diary inserts

So, outlook printed diary inserts…

I was having issues with my vertical W2P and decided to try having Outlook print out my diary inserts for me.

Not liking how the appointment layout results in many empty gaps and lack of non-working hour space, I choose the “Weekly Agenda Style” in Outlook 2010.

I used them in conjunction with my vertical W2P just to see how they compared side by side.


Good points

  1. There’s no “empty gap” issue that you get with appointment based layout
  2. Since I’m printing directly from my work outlook account, I don’t need to copy my work appointments again
  3. Outlook would organise and list the appointment by time for me.

But I didn’t like them.

I don’t know why.

It could be because I got used to the appointment-based layout.

With the outlook pages I can’t see, visually, the length of meetings I need to attend or the amount of time I have in between meetings.

I also don’t like how lifeless the page looks; there’s no emphasis placed on particular appointments by a slightly larger font or the last minute meeting denoted by cramped handwriting squished between two neatly written meetings. It’s so sterile.

The Outlook pages didn’t even last two weeks (and that’s only because I printed out two weeks to try out)

So back to the drawing board it is…

(Next entry will be on one of the free diary insert templates available from Philofaxy)

in search of the perfect diary insert – making the W2P vertical work

I wanted to write about this a little while back, but I never actually gotten around to it…

I’m not sure whether every A5 Filofax comes with the same type of diary inserts, but my Finsbury came with vertical week on two pages inserts.

I never liked this type of insert because I never feel like I have enough room to write my appointments.

The appointment format is good for work or school where the bulk of their appointments are during the day, but I use my Outlook calendar for work and there’s not enough room for night-time “social” events.

However, since the inserts were included for free, I decided to give it a go.


As you can see, I did try, I even re-wrote some of my work appointments into the Filofax (otherwise I’d end up with a lot of blank spaces, another thing I don’t like about appointment format inserts).

I was using the Finsbury as my personal and work Filofax (yes, past tense, I have since bought another Filo, but we’ll talk about that another time) and as expected, the format works for my work appointment, but I barely have room to write my dinner plans and the space left for Saturday and Sunday is ridiculous.


In trying to increase the amount of “time” represented, I tried ruling a line down the middle of each day, to have an “AM” half and a “PM” half. This was disastrous, as now I have even less space to write my appointment in. So I quickly scrapped that idea.

But now I still have a diary insert with big swarthe of empty spaces with most of my appointments crammed into the bottom of each page, not to mention my having to copy my Outlook work appointments into my Filofax.

Then it hit me, why not have Outlook print out my diary pages

(I’ll be starting a series of articles related to diary inserts, so watch this space!)

my A5 finsbury setup / GTD

Looking through the Filofax blogosphere, it seems everyone is talking about GTD-slash-Filofax setups. Not surprisingly, I had a half-written entry on my GTD setup saved in my draft folder. So what better time than now to finish it off and publish it?

I mentioned in a previous post that I have a GTD setup in my Filofax. After using my Filo for two months, I think it’s about time to do a review of what worked and what didn’t.

GTD setup

My tabs are as follows:


Yes, I’ve used this pic before

If you can’t see properly in the picture above, here is a breakdown of the tabs and sub-tabs

  1. Next Action
    1. Work
    2. Phone – in this day and age, “Phone” and “Computer” could really be merged into one, don’t you think?
    3. Computer
    4. Home
    5. Errands
    6. Any – this is a list of items that I could do wherever and whenever I have time
    7. Projects
      1. Personal
      2. Archived
      3. Agenda
      4. Waiting
      5. Someday
      6. {Diary Inserts} – no tab to mark the section, but a transparent flyleaf marks the current week
      7. Reference
        1. A-Z tabs

After two months of using this setup, I realise that I rarely put any of my “next actions” behind their relevant context (for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, I would highly suggest reading up on David Allen’s Getting-Things-Done system – I’ve provided a few links at the end of this post to get you started).


I had to blur out some of the work related tasks

For tasks that I do during my work day, I file them all behind the “Work” tab; work related items are written in black, personal stuff in blue. Things I need to ask people (Agenda) and tasks I’ve delegated {Waiting} are also written on the same to-do list, each of those tasks leading with the name of the task owner in brackets.

Tasks that are done outside of work hours (stuff done at home, or things I need to buy) are usually recorded in the diary inserts.

There was a time when I tried to write things down according to their context, but I found that since I have my iPhone with me everywhere, all items recorded under “Phone”, “Computer” and “Any” could really be lumped into one. Then when I find that I frequently mix my work and personal tasks throughout the day, having them all on one page makes it easier to reference. It also makes it easier to note down dependencies, by having arrows drawn between them.

Diary Inserts

This section was originally set at the front of the Filo, but I have since moved it behind the task lists. I find I like having a lot of “buffer pages” on either side when I’m writing in my appointments.

I’ve been through various types of diary inserts, but I’m currently using ones that Philofaxy published (with a slight change). I’ll talk about my process of choosing diary inserts in another post.


Another GTD section, this area is subdivided by the A to Z dividers and is where I write down miscellaneous information that I may need to refer to at a later date (ie. website addresses, names of recommended bands or make up brand eg.).

I really like GTD’s system of putting things into labelled boxes (or in my case, Filofax sections), even though it is a fairly simplistic filing method, it really frees up your mind from all the little facts that you keep track of. This allows you to truly focus on the task at hand or to completely enjoy the moment.

Even if you don’t follow the complete GTD system, I highly recommend just writing down every single thing that is cluttering your mind, whether it is reminder to pick up the dry cleaning to Googling what the One Direction looks like to see what the big deal is (yes, I wrote that one down in the car after hearing about One Direction on the radio non-stop for three weeks in a row). And it’s just so satisfying crossing items off your list as you do them!

GTD Links

This is a great overview of the system:

I personally read 43 Folders first when I was researching on GTD. This site is a treasure trove of productivity-related information:

This is from the official GTD website and it has a number of free articles that you could download:

uni style fit meister review

Yesterday I tested out the new multi-pens I ordered from a week ago which just arrived (shipped from Hong Kong).

I purchased the Uni Style Fit Meister 3 in 1 multi-pen and the 5 in 1 version. Both in pink (I’m surprised at myself too!) to match my A5 Finsbury.

When I unwrapped and picked up the 3-in-1 I remembered that I don’t like metallic pens – they don’t have a good grip and feels like they are forever slipping while you’re writing.

Luckily, although the 3 in 1 has a metallic barrel, the 5 in 1 has a plastic one. I had originally ordered the 3 in 1 to store my staple colours, (red, black and blue) whilst the 5 in 1 was for the fun colours together with the mechanical pencil.

However, if the metallic barrel keeps slipping in my grip, I may need to re-organise the colours and use the plastic one as my main instead.


I sometimes handwrite the draft of my blog entries

When ordering the pens, I had accepted that the 5 in 1 would be too thick to fit in the pen holder in my Filofax; I had assumed I’d just clip the pen to the holder instead. However it would seem that the 3 in 1 is a bit too thick as well. I could get the pen in and out with a little force and I’ve heard that leather pen loops would loosen over time, but I’m afraid that I’d tear the stitching if I tried. So both pens are now clipped to my Filofax instead. Which isn’t too much of an issue for me.

I also had an issue with the ink refills. Don’t get me wrong, I love the variety of colours available and how smoothly it writes (except for the light blue one – that took a few try to get the ink flowing).

However, I’ve only written about one A4 page of text using the dark blue ink and already you could see a significant decrease in ink levels. I write a lot, and I have a feeling I could finish one refill within a couple of weeks (one week if I was writing my draft blog entries as well).


I really prefer gel ink over ballpoint (who doesn’t?), but replacing refills frequently can get pricey.

Lastly, and this is not a deal breaker, but it does leave me scratching my head, is that the 3 in 1 doesn’t have a naturally “retracted” mode.

With the 5 in 1 you just half press any of the other colours that you’re not using and the pen you’re using will be retracted and you wouldn’t have to worry about the pen accidentally leaving marks on things when you’re carrying it.

With the 3 in 1 however, it doesn’t naturally allowed this. The pen doesn’t have any buttons, instead you twist the top half of the pen to select the colour you want. Normally when a cartridge is selected, there is a slight “click” to lock the cartridge in place. But there is no lock for retracted mode, you have to just half turn the top half of the pen until it is roughly between two colours (ie. so none of the cartridges are protruding from the barrel).

As there is no lock for “retracted mode”, there have been a few times when the cartridge has accidentally out twisted and I end up marking myself or my clothes. As I said, not a complete deal breaker but can be annoying.

Regardless of the number of “negatives” that I’ve pointed out I still love the number of ink colour choices and how the pens write. The pen nib doesn’t move around when I write, which is something I’ve found to happen with some multi-pens, and the pen barrels (both metal and plastic) are nicely made.

These pens are thicker than the Filofax pen loops (the leather ones anyway), so you’ll need to use the pen clips to attach them to the Filofax, but that’s not to much of a problem for me – all the pens I like have fairly thick barrels and won’t fit in the loop anyway.


So there’s my review of the uni style fit multi-pens. When I’ve had a chance to use them more, I’ll come back with a follow-up review.

For now, please let me know your Filofax pens and leave a comment with a link to your Filofax-related blog posts!


new filofax obsession

Yes, I have to admit that I haven’t been art journaling recently. As many of you would understand, everyday life can get quite hectic and the first thing to go would be the hobby (and I mean the term in the nicest way possible).

This entry isn’t going to be about art journaling but I think would appeal to many art journalers. I’ll be talking about Filofaxes!

It’s funny how things work out, because I was never a fan of Filofaxes. My one and only exposure to the product (prior to the events leading up to this post) was back in Uni when a long-time friend started carrying this tiny ringbound PVC-leather notebook everywhere.

I was using a Palm at the time so it was with amusement and then increasing annoyance that I watch him write his appointments down in miniscule letters on a cramped weekly planner page and record each and every expenditure on a note page which then needs to be manually calculated. It also didn’t help to see that the ridiculously large rings (in comparison) was in the way everytime he wanted to right on the left page (he was right handed).

When I finally asked him what he was using, he proudly told me that it was his mini Filofax. I have had a aversion to the brand ever since.

A few weeks back I realised the yearly calendar at my workplace needed replacing. I went from looking at commercially printed calendars to online printing services. Then I started looking at free online templates to create my own. In the process, I stumbled across DIY Planner and from there I was gone.

I started with just printing A5 pages to be put into a 2 D-ring Binder.


It was a good start, inexpensive, and allowed me to see whether a ring bound planner was going to work.

I printed out different types of weekly planner, to-do lists and GTD-related pages to see what would be “my” setup.

And it would have been all good and well…if I didn’t then started browsing blogs on planner systems.

Just some among the few which I browsed until wee hours of the morning, flicking through images of fancy looking planners that looked nothing like the tiny plastic-y notebook I remember my friend carrying.

I was hooked. All the pretty pictures and articles on how to customise your own planner made me want to get one… immediately.

I’m not a patient person, when I really want something, I had to get it NOW. Last time this happened, I purchased an iPad 2 within two days of deciding I wanted one. Time before that I went to five different districts in Hong Kong trying to find an English copy of Lineage 2 (which I couldn’t find, so I ended up getting Guild Wars).

This time round I ordered from an online store located within Melbourne and selected “same day delivery”.

Yes I’ve joined the craze and is now in possession of a Filofax – an A5 Finsbury in Antique Rose to be exact.


A5 Finsbury in Antique Rose I’ve always been into productivity gadgets though I haven’t talked about it much. Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad 2 very much and I use it at work everyday, but there’s something satisfying about writing with pen and paper – and much quicker; I can’t really be turning on my iPad and opening the Notes Plus app when a colleague comes up to me with things to do. In case you’re wondering why I do that, I’m trying out David Allen’s GTD (or re-attempting the system), but I’ll talk more about that later.


This photo was taken about a week into using it and you can see it’s full (not to bursting as I’ve seen elsewhere, but I’ve already had to take out some diary/planner pages out to fit my GTD setup).


I’m not using my Filofax as a wallet – I don’t think an A5 should be used for such a purpose – so I don’t have my cards stored in the slots in the cover. But I do have receipts and ticket stubs (both movie and transport) wedged behind the rings. There’s also a pack of cute stickers that I plan to use to add whimsical elements to my pages (yes, I might go so far as to do zentangles and art journaling pages in my Filofax).


Filofax only has side tabs that I know of, but I’ve read a few articles on making your own dividers/tabs. Although I did not exactly follow their instructions, I did manage to create a few more dividers for my GTD context folders.


My tabs are quite plain at the moment; I do plan to decorate them and make them “mine” as I use them.

The tab labels were all printed using a Dymo labeller which unfortunately uses a wider tape than the tabs have space for. I tried cutting them down to the right size freehand, but ended up with wonky tabs that weren’t centered. So I selected the “border” style around the text so I would have a guide line to cut around. I read it on blog about Filofax hacks but I can’t remember which one.

If you are the owner of said wonderful blog entry, please let me know so I could give credit where credit’s due. (note: found the blog, it’s Ray Blake’s My Life All in One Place blog.)


I have a feeling that this would not be my only Filofax-related post – I actually have a few ideas for future entries already floating around in my head (well they’re written in my Filofax). I think a Filofax is a great tool for creative people to have – it’s a customisable system for people to jot down every single creative idea that they come up with.

I’m quite curious to know; how many people here already use Filofaxes, or paper-based organisers for their creative work?