Bullet Journaling on a Budget with Minimal Supplies

Is Bullet Journaling For Me, Though?

The bullet journal or bujo is there to take any and all those numerous thoughts, tasks and put it into one convenient spot. Use it for freewriting, creative thinking, or track your favorite shows. You’d be surprised how much we are actively doing which is another benefit to having it all down.

Too busy to get complicated with your journaling but need a reliable way to organize your life in a way that’s specifically tailored to your needs? Do it!  Don’t want to get jiggy with multiple colors and stencils? No need! Use as much or as little as you have time for.

If you’re busy, minimalist, don’t like scrapbooking, whatever – there’s a bullet journal concept out there with your name on it that you wrote yourself.

What Can I Use It For?

ANYTHING. But seriously, if you think about it just about anything can go in here and I bet you there’s a very good chance it can be organized to boot. From free-thoughts to meticulous details in our daily lives – get it in there.

I Have Nothing To Use It For

Want to bullet journal but feel like you don’t do much every day to warrant it? Yes, you do! It doesn’t have to just be tasks or daily duties or the grand plan, start slow and simple.

Well! Let’s not waste any more time and let’s get into it!

Choose Your “Journal”

Choosing a bullet journal to start organizing

What is the ‘journal’ in bullet journaling and is it necessary to purchase one? You can, but there are other options available to you as well. Let’s look at a few together. Time to buy, print, or magically manifest your journal out of thin air.


Journals and notebooks alike can come in dotted, lined, graphed, or blank paper prints.

Dotted/Bullet Journal

The most popular choice currently for bullet journals is dotted. It’s because the dots are small and unobtrusive, but still, allow you to have that freedom to keep lines uniform.

Travel Journals

For those wanting more a compact and portable form in their bullet journals, there’s no better choice than a travel journal. The great thing about journals with kraft brown paper covers is they are blank and easily personalized.

Grab an easy set of 6 Travel Journals to start!

Printed Journal

Google Sheets/PDFs

Make templates in Google Sheets and print them out as PDFs! It might take a bit of know-how and tinkering around to get it the way you want, but it doesn’t get more budget-friendly than this. And what’s more? It’s always accessible and can be easily updated or changed in case you have better ideas or layouts.

Dotted, Lined, & Graph Paper

Head on over to somewhere like Printable Paper and you can pretty much make your own customized bullet journal from scratch using a ridiculous amount of options.

Tip: Save even more by checking your local library. For students, check your campus libraries as you may have a semester stipend for printing. Take advantage!

Lined Paper

Already have lined paper somewhere and want to put it to good use? Most of us have some sort of lined paper lying around in the form of loose leaf, composition notebooks. For old notebooks, you don’t want to waste, consider cutting out the used portion (to save on the side) and turning what’s left into a journal.

You can also turn your lined paper into dotted paper without a ruler by following this process:

Choose Your “Weapon”

Picking a writing utensil to start your bullet journal journey

If you do not care for what writing or drawing instrument you use, then grab the nearest one in your home and get cracking. If you have neither, then I worry, but I also have a lot of great suggestions! Oh no, I thought this was simple and minimal? It is, but we could only cut out so much before our only advice is “pen and paper”.

And hey, if you’re going to start with the basics, start with will make you feel great about starting this journey in journaling.

Local Options First

Before delving into online options for supplies, I would consider checking out your local options. You’d be surprised at some of the quality pickups that are on sale or marked down.

  • Grocery stores – Many grocery stores have a small stationery section, located usually further into the back of the store or off to the side near the pots and Tupperware sections.
  • Deli/Bodega – Quickly grab the goods and grab a snack on the way out while you’re at it (I mean, pay for it first).
  • 99c store – Tip: Hidden gems can be found here, and if it doesn’t work well you’re only out 99c.
  • Pharmacy/Drug store – These kinds of stores are notorious for constant sales, especially right after school starts. Be sure to head in and snag some bulk saves.


Endless choices here. Endless. And it’s for you to decide. Pick a pen to put to paper pick a word to write with pen. Say that fast ten times. Or start picking:

Gel Pens

There have been some heated discussions over which is the reigning black gel pen to write with. It’s time for you to find your favorite! It sounds odd, but having a favorite staple to write with can bring a lot of joy and creativity to the process.

My pick: I am personally a huge fan of the Pilot G2 in Ultra Fine (.38mm) as the superior gel pen of all gen pens. The thin lines are smooth and crisp with legibility I don’t get with other pens. At $11.19 for 12, they’ll last a long time (don’t lose them like me).

For color: With value in mind, I’d go with this pack of 36 Color Gel Pens for $9.99. Great bang for your buck and the color palette covers a lot of ground for any kind of ideas you can whip up.

Drawing Pens

Drawing pens can be a bit pricier depending on which route you go as they are made to have crisp, smooth lines for more consistent drawing. Black drawing pens, in particular, tend to come in various tip widths and shapes.

For budget: These Sakura Pigma pens are a good entry level buy into the world of drawing pen sets with a pen width range of .22mm/.25mm/.30mm/.45mm/.50mm respectively.

For color: Fine Point Colored Pens in 18 colors to get those colorfully creative juices flowin’.

Marker/Brush Pens

If you’re going to only use to black markers, I highly recommend only using ones that don’t bleed through the paper.

For all the color, this Brush Calligraphy Marker set are really the best of both coloring worlds as it provides both the brush portion of the marker on one side and a fine pointed tip on the other. It comes in a pack of 18, so that’s 36 tips!


writing instruments for bullet journaling

Mechanical or wooden, whatever you do we highly recommend purchasing a separate eraser. The Pentel Clic eraser is my personal favorite for precise erasing and they last forever.


Mechanical pencils are amazing. Everyone should own one because that’s all you need and refilling is dirt cheap. Here are all lead refill sizes for $4.99.

Mechanical pencils can have small differences between them but generally, the end product is exactly the same. There are two choices here to choose from:

You can either find your absolute favorite and invest a little more in quality to last long OR pick the best budget option wherever you can find it as they are still a little more resilient than your average pencil.


If you plan to buy basic wooden pencils they are indeed the most budget friendly and there’s no better than Ticonderoga’s. The usability over time from tip thickness changes and getting straight lines can be tricky, so remember to sharpen… and buy a sharpener too.

Simple Concept with Big Potential

There are multiple components to a bullet journal, but the main point here is to keep it simple and minimal. The most important aspect of a bullet journal is the index.


f I could recommend you add anything to your bullet journal, it’d be to always add an index. The index is indispensable in keeping track of every page in your bullet journal and what the contents of that page are.

It is essentially the table of contents at the front of your book, rather that’s exactly what it is. Be sure to give it an average of 5 pages of space (depending on book page length) before starting the rest of your journal.

Anything else added is up to you.

Basic Ideas to Start You Off

If you want more than a basic index and want some direction or ideas on where to take your bullet journal adventure, then here are some simple picks with easy setups!

Dude’s Bullet Journal

Get down and to the point with the Dude’s Bullet Journal by Matthew Kent. This bullet journal is really clean. It’s got a lot of elements that are used in bullet journals presented in a way that makes it a really good first journal idea.

Super Simple Bullet Journal

It doesn’t get any more simple then this Bullet Journal by Emily Bland. This setup is easy and straightforward for those wanting to start really small. (P.S. Bullet journal layout starts at 3:36.)

Simple & Easy Minimalist Bullet Journal

If you want to get down with the daily details, then these log ideas from Melissa Kolb are ready to make their way onto your journal pages. Start logging your days in an easily digestible manner so you can more easily keep on top of what matters.

Do It & Do It All

Whatever you choose, remember that passed the basic concepts of bullet journaling, this is entirely a YOU project.

The entire point of bullet journaling is for organizing, budgeting, logging, tracking, and anything else you could possibly want or need – and that’s the whole point! There’s no need to spend extravagant amounts of time, creative effort, and money to get yourself started and reap the benefits of a life well organized. Do it!