How to Start a Bullet Journal on a Budget

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 journal with paper clips, green pencil and colorful tabs with title text reading How to Start a Bullet Journal on a Budget

Have you thought about giving bullet journaling a try but are intimidated by the steep price tag? Like many things on Instagram and Pinterest, you have probably seen the social image-worthy (and often highly expensive) versions of bullet journals. But bullet journaling can be just as effective whether you spend a dollar or well, way more. I have been using bullet journals for years and I can tell you that you really can start a bullet journal on a budget. In fact, I recommend that you do start your bullet journal on a budget to determine your personal preferences before you begin investing in the high-end products that are available.

Bullet journaling is so effective and fun that you can easily get sucked into the world of more and more bullet journal supplies. While I personally use a bullet journal and recommend it since it is so easily personalized and such an effective productivity tool, a bullet journal obsession can push your budget beyond its limit with the multitude of journals and supplies available. And believe me, they are plentiful, fancy, tempting and can be expensive.

Before you know it, you can find yourself digging deeper into your pocket. If you have the budget to support a bullet journal addiction, you can invest in these nice supplies and have a lot of fun creating your bullet journal. However, if you don’t have much budget, you can still enjoy bullet journaling on a budget.

How to Start a Bullet Journal on a Budget

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The Purpose of a Bullet Journal

The first thing to remember is that the purpose of your bullet journal is to keep you productive and organized and to be a creative outlet. The purpose of a bullet journal is not to have the most supplies or the most expensive supplies. The longer you bullet journal, you’ll find what you like and what works for you.

The minimalist bullet journaling community is just as passionate as the more elaborate bullet journalers. You’ll find what works best fro you and if living and bullet journaling on a budget is it, then know that there’s an entire community of  people bullet journaling on a budget. I’ve personally found that a journal in the medium to lower price range is my preference and my favorite pens are very inexpensive. I don’t use most of the other supplies that many bullet journalers use and that keeps my bullet journal budget fairly low. 

Go Easy on the Notebook

Naturally, you will want to try the best notebook you can find. I suggest that you go easy on this and buy something that is within your price range. If your budget allows, you should ensure that the journal you choose is of good quality, to avoid messy disappointments later. Ideally, you’d like the paper quality to be high enough to prevent bleeding and ghosting of the pens and highlighters you use. If you can afford a dot grid journal, it can make your journaling life a little bit easier.

However, I’ve used a $1 journal to bullet journal successfully. I shared my tips for using an inexpensive journal in:

Pens, Pencils and Markers

These are fundamental supplies as they will be used time and time again in your journal. While there are many high-end pen options available and many bullet journalers feel passionate about their pen choice, you should go with what you feel comfortable with. Personally, I prefer Papermate Ink Joy pens and they are very reasonably priced. Most crayons, colored pencils and markers on the market will do just fine.


Highlighters are used heavily by many bullet journalers and for good cause. They allow you to mark important tasks, draw boundaries adn lines for your calendar or charts and can just make the journal look pretty.

Many bullet journalers recommend Stabilo highligters, but any highlighter you already have in your drawer will work perfectly well. 

Other supplies

Many bullet journalers are big fans of washi tape. It come in different colors, textures, patterns, and sizes to suit whatever needs you may have. You can use washi tape to create boundaries for your grids and to highlight tasks. I use washi tape to create tabs on pages I want to be able to quickly reference. You can also use washi tape to simply decorate your pages. Washi tape comes in a wide range of prices and you if you exercise restraint, you should be able to find washi tape you like and stay within your budget. 

Sticky Notes can also be very useful in a bullet journal. Sticky notes can be used to jot information that you do not want permanently record in your journal yet. They can also be used to tab or flag certain pages of your journal. You can purchase inexpensive sticky notes or use ones you already have at home. 

Correction tools are important in the event you make a mistake writing something in your journal. I like to keep correction tape on-hand for mistakes. But you can use erasers or stickers that you already have at home.

You will also need a ruler to measure your calendars and spread and to keep everything neat. You can use a ruler designed for bullet journaling or one you already have at home. 

While I’m big fan of bullet journaling, I’m also a big fan of starting a bullet journal on a budget. There is a learning curve with a using a bullet journal. You’ll need to learn about the bullet journal and how to make it work for you, your time and your budget. You’ll need to learn if a bullet journal is for you and your lifestyle. Once you’ve figure that out, you can invest in higher quality supplies, if you’d like. But it certainly isn’t necessary. You can have a beautiful and fully functional bullet journal on a budget. Really!

For more simple and powerful productivity tips, hacks and printables, see the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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  1. I like the idea of using washi tape for tabs. That would look really pretty, and also help you find what section you’re looking for.

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