I wouldn’t consider bullet journaling to be expensive, but I need to acknowledge that I already had most of the stationery supplies that I use and paying £15 every 6 to 12 months for a new notebook is not a huge expense to me. But I know that some people won’t feel the same way. So today I want to share some ways that you can bullet journal on a budget.
I know that personal circumstances will change how much money you have to spend on bullet journaling. I also know that stationery supplies can vary in price depending on where you live. For this post, I’ve tried to give some tips based on my experience and how I try to save money when bullet journaling. But I’m sure there may be other ways to save money that I haven’t thought of. So here are some tips on how to bullet journal on a budget.
How To Bullet Journal On A Budget
Starting A Bullet Journal
One of the things I love about bullet journaling is how little you need to get started. You don’t need to go out and buy a fancy planner. You can get started with whatever you have at hand. Though there is a book which teaches you how to start a bullet journal. The bullet journal website will also teach you how to start your bullet journal. Since I blog about bullet journals I will also mention the many bloggers and YouTubers who are more than happy to teach you how to bullet journal for free.
I know one of the first things people tend to do when starting a bullet journal is go out and immediately buy a notebook. I would recommend not doing this. When I first started bullet journaling, I set up my first bullet journal in the current notebook I was using. I think this is a really good way to get started. Mainly so you can decide if bullet journaling is right for you. I know bullet journals are popular, but there is a chance you prefer planners to bullet journals.
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Starting in a notebook you already have also allows you to learn how to set up a bullet journal and play around with page layouts. This can help because you can figure out how you want to use your bullet journal. The other reason I say this is because if you’re like me and have a habit of hoarding stationery supplies. There is a chance you already have something which will work as a bullet journal.
Go through all your stuff and see if you have a notebook which will work to get started. You might be surprised by what you find. Okay so you probably won’t have an A5 dotted notebook, but it’s only very recently that it has become more common for shops to sell notebooks with dot grid paper. This has been influenced I’m sure by the growing popularity of bullet journaling.
Buying A Notebook
At some point, you’re probably going to want to buy a notebook to use as a bullet journal. This is one of the most expensive parts of bullet journaling. The type of notebook you buy can depend on the type of paper you want. Grid and dot grid paper is the best for bullet journaling, the grid makes it easy to set up your pages. However, though you can get a dot grid Leuchtturm notebook, these can be quite expensive at around £12-14 a notebook. Though I don’t mind paying this for a notebook you might not feel the same if you’re trying to bullet journal on a budget.
It’s quite rare to come across very cheap dot grid notebooks, though they are becoming more popular, you’re not likely to come across many in stationery shops. I know that Paperchase has recently released their version of an A5 dot grid notebook at £10, I’ve used the Agenzio notebooks in the past and liked them. But you don’t get as many colour choices compared to the Leuchtturm.
One of the best places to get cheap notebooks is Muji. Muji makes some nice grid and dot grid notebooks. These can be found for around £3 to £4. One of the big downsides of Muji is that they don’t have many shops in the UK. I try to avoid ordering online when I can, so stock up on Muji stationery when I’m in London.
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There are a few other shops in the UK which sell cheap notebooks. Flying Tiger regularly changes their stock throughout the year. But some cheap notebooks can be found in their stationery section. I’ve never tried the Tiger notebooks so I can’t comment on their quality. I know that Hema is also a great place to get cheap notebooks, again though, most shops are in England so I’ve never actually been able to see their full stationery section.
Another great place to search for notebooks can be supermarkets. The stationery selection can vary depending on the size of the supermarket. But buying ringbound Pukka pads was almost a yearly ritual before the start of my school years. Pukka pads are great, I’ve used many over the years. I know you can buy dotted Pukka Pads online, whether you can find them in stores just depends on the store. If you can’t get the dotted paper, the grid Pukka pads are just as good.
Pens & Pencils
You can’t use a bullet journal if you don’t have something to write with. Again, if you want to bullet journal on a budget my first piece of advice would be to see what you already have. When it comes to writing implements you probably have a pen or pencil lying around. Of course, it might not be the “perfect” writing instrument. But when it comes to bullet journaling, if it works it’s fine.
I’ve already mentioned Muji in this post. I love the Muji gel pens. I think when we’re talking about pens something we need to acknowledge is that they create a lot of plastic waste. Muji is one shop which makes it easy to buy refills for all their pens. If you visit an actual Muji shop they have refills available for all of their pens. I know it won’t completely stop the waste which comes from buying a pen, but cutting down even just a little is better than doing nothing.
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A Muji gel pen costs £1.50, which is maybe a little more expensive than a Biro but is still pretty cheap. The refills cost £0.95 each. One of the big problems with Muji is the lack of stores in the UK, if you happen to be close to a store I’d recommend checking them out, or order online if you don’t mind paying extra for postage.
Pencils are a similar situation. They can usually be bought pretty cheaply. I use a mechanical pencil which means I just have to buy lead refills for the pencil. These tend to last quite a while, I honestly don’t remember the last time I bought a pencil. Aside from my very expensive Blackwing Palomino pencils which I don’t recommend if you are trying to bullet journal on a budget. It’s hard to recommend a specific place because these very basic stationery supplies are things I buy from the art shop at my university. Pencils are cheap and because they are so cheap there’s no point worrying too much about quality. If you can write with it, it works.
How to save money on markers
The Tombow markers are very popular to use when bullet journaling. I don’t use mine so much in my bullet journal now but I know others do. They can also be quite expensive, working out at around £2 per pen. It is possible to buy sets of Tombow markers but these range anywhere from £20 to £200 for a set. I would try to avoid buying these sets if at all possible.
One of the ways you can get around this is by buying pens individually. This is just a general piece of advice if you want to bullet journal on a budget. If you’re going for an illustrative style then, of course, you can buy a whole set of colour markers. But there is no need. I get along perfectly fine with red, yellow, blue and grey.
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Like many things, this all depends on what shops you can visit. Some online art stores will allow you to buy marker pens and pencils individually but you have to work in the postage price for these things. If you have an art store close by I would highly recommend checking it out. Usually, art stores will sell pens and pencils individually. The exact brands they stock will just depend on the store.
If you are in the UK some of the bigger shops like Cass Art and London Graphics will sell a range of marker pens and pencils. Cass Art is the place I bought my Tombow markers for. These are around £2 for a pen depending on any deals on. Some of the larger Paperchase stores also have an art section, if you’re ever in Glasgow check out the massive Paperchase shop on Buchanan Street. It’s amazing.
Some stationery supplies can be bought very cheaply. A 60p eraser works pretty much as well as a £3 eraser. Though having a ruler can be very handy, this can be as cheap as you like, so long as you have a straight edge it doesn’t matter what the ruler looks like. It could be a plastic ruler or the edge of a book.
Washi tape is something else which is very popular for bullet journaling. I know some people have huge collections of washi tape, I used to be one of those people. But over the last few years, I got rid of most of my washi tape, there are only three colours of tape which I use regularly in my bullet journal now. Buying washi tape online can be quite expensive as you usually have to buy it in sets. I prefer buying my washi tape in person because most shops sell them individually. This probably means you will want to buy fewer colours too. Realistically you don’t need many different washi patterns. If you ask me a neon pink will work in any bullet journal spread.
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Stickers can also be quite expensive depending on where you buy them from. You can get stickers from Etsy quite cheap, but it can depend on the type of sticker you’re looking for. Functional stickers are a great way to save time when bullet journaling, but postage can add up if you’re buying from lots of different Etsy sellers. I’ve bought cheap stickers on AliExpress quite cheaply but again, the postage can add up.
Like other stationery items I’ve mentioned in this post, some of the cheapest places to get stickers are Paperchase and Hobbycraft. Paperchase has quite cheap stickers, a sheet costing around £1.50. Hobbycraft has a wider selection of stickers but can also be more expensive. Though it’s always a good idea to check Hobbycraft if you have one close by. I’ve managed to get some nice stickers at a discount.
I hope this gave you a better idea of how to bullet journal on a budget. I know looking at all the images of lovely bullet journals online it can be tempting to spend lots of money on stationery supplies for bullet journaling. But there is no need to do this. There are ways to buy what you need for bullet journaling without breaking the bank.
Using what you already have and shopping around to find the best and cheapest notebooks can help. Pens don’t have to be expensive and there are ways to save money on art markers. When it comes to saving money what you have to remember is only buy things you’re sure you’ll use. There is no point spending money on a notebook for it to sit on a shelf, the same with other stationery supplies.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve found other ways to bullet journal on a budget. I would love to learn more ways to save money on stationery supplies.