bullet journal

Bullet Journaling on a Budget

We’ve all seen the pictures on Instagram and Pinterest.  We’ve oohed and ahhed at the beautiful spreads, the near-perfect brush lettering, and the bursts of creativity that comprise some of the most popular accounts dedicated to the bullet journal and its methodology.  And I’m willing to bet most of us have had at least a small twinge of jealousy, if we’re honest with ourselves.  If only I had a set of those Tombow Dual-Brush Pens, then my journal would be so pretty.  I’m stuck using a lined spiral notebook, but I covet that Leuchtturm 1917 or that new Scribbles That Matter A5 journal.

Even if we don’t have unlimited funding or access to the top-notch supplies, or the preferred supplies of the moment, our bullet journals can still become things of both usefulness and beauty.  The wonderful thing about the method is that there is no “one true way” to bullet journal.  It’s inherently customizable, and can be as simple or as artistic as you like.  And, if you’re willing to shop around, you can find standout supplies without paying exorbitant prices.

Shop Sales

Target is winding down it’s seasonal clearance as I type this.  There are many things that are perfect for journaling in the clearance areas.  $3 kits to make gift tags, which include several roles of washi in varying thickness and pattern were the first thing I noticed at my local Target.  There were at least 3 rolls of washi in the kits I saw.  3 rolls for $3 is a bargain if I ever saw one!  Target has many journaling supplies in their office section.  This evening, I saw blue Yoobi journals (80 lined pages) in the clearance section.  Certain patterns of Scotch brand washi are on clearance, marked down half price.  Art kits are down from $15 to $6 and change, giving you a chance to purchase markers, pencils, pens, etc, with which to bring a journal to life for a fraction of the cost of a set of Tombows.

Walmart in my area has a similar clearance going on, or that has just wrapped up, depending on which store I visit.  Planner stickers were over in the clearance section, as were different types of notebooks and kits.

Michaels has sales both in-store and online all the time.  Their Artist’s Loft brand is comparable to many of the high-end supplies the bullet journal enthusiasts adore.  The journals resemble Leuchtturm 1917 A5s, and are only $5.  The Create 365 brand has sale prices every other week, it seems.  Washi goes on sale regularly, too.  Sign up for their mailing list, and get coupons to further sweeten the deal.

For those who prefer the disc binder systems to the hardbound journals, Staples has some of their Martha Stewart brand planners on clearance.  They also have their own brand of disc binder supplies, which are less expensive than the brand name ones, and all the disc-bound systems I’ve seen – from Staples to Jo-Ann’s – all have the same spacing.  If disc-bound is your jam, a bit of comparison and sale shopping will give you plenty of choice for little money.

For accessories or pens, check the discount sections of the shops you frequent.  Target’s Spot is full of pretty post-its, gel pens, washi, and paper.  The $2 bins at Michaels are similarly stocked, and also include stamps and ink pads.  JoAnn Fabrics has discount bins as well, I’ve recently discovered, and they, too, include things that are perfect for journal embellishments.

Hit Up Those Discount Stores

Even though the closest town to me is relatively small, we have both a Tuesday Morning and a Marshalls.  I went into the Tuesday Morning for the first time a few weeks back, and I was delighted to find all sorts of journaling supplies, from pens to embellishments and everything in between.  Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and At Home have similar sections of stationery and office supplies, ready to peruse and enjoy.

Basics Won’t Steer You Wrong

When I first started my bullet journal back in September, I was using pens I already owned – a few colors of Uni-Ball pens I’d had in a drawer for I’m not sure how long, the washi I’d bought years back and hadn’t done much with, and some BiC ballpoint pens.  Biros.  I also used Crayola everything to add color – there is a reason Crayola is so well-known and regarded. The look of the first few months in my journal is very different to the look of my current spreads, but it isn’t ugly or useless.

Think back to being in school and picking out supplies for the year.  Even a cheap marbled composition book could become a masterpiece of art with enough doodling, coloring, or pasting on images to create a sweet collage on the cover.  Think of the doodles in the margins of your notes, or as part of your notes – scribbled in pencil, or in whatever pen you had on you.  Think of the color-coding you did with pencils or markers or highlighters, and the way you marked important text.  What was true then is still true now – form is lovely to look at, but functionality reigns supreme.

Overall, your bullet journal should be a way for you to organize your life in the way that works best for you.  That doesn’t just include the layout of the journal, or the types of collections to include.  The supplies you use can enhance the functionality of the journal, but not because they’re the “it” brand or because they cost as much as a week’s worth of Starbucks or a new video game.  Use what you have to hand, add to the supplies with careful shopping, and make your journal uniquely yours.  And if you feel like splurging on those Tombows or on that Scribbles that Matter journal, go for it!  Just remember that the supplies are not the end goal.  They’re tools, same as hammer and nails and glue gun, that help you to achieve your goal – organization and record/memory keeping.

Happy journaling!