Bullet Journal On a Budget (DUPES!)

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One of the biggest misconceptions I hear about bullet journaling is that you can’t do it without spending a lot of money on a nice journal and lots of expensive supplies. Well, that’s not true. Really, the only thing you need to bullet journal are any notebook, any pen and maybe a ruler. ANY notebook will do, even a ruled notebook that you can find at the dollar store. I will admit that having a dot or square grid makes things easier (for me) plus, it does look nicer. But you don’t have to spend $20-30 bucks on a Leuchtturm1917 or a Moleskin journal.  Thanks to the popularity of bullet journaling, there are many affordable options for journals as well as inexpensive pens and markers. Since I’m always using my bullet journal, my kids wanted to join in on the fun but I also didn’t want to spend $40 on just journals alone. Luckily I found them some great journals and pens and markers which are just as good as the products I use. (PS-my kids love bullet journaling and it’s fun seeing them come up with kid layouts. It gets them away from the tv and helps them feed their creative side since they also doodle and write in their journals.)

Bullet Journaling On a Budget:

This journal by Essentials Matrix Notebook really gives the Leuchtturm1917 a run for its money and it’s only about $10 bucks! They have a dot grid and square grid version available depending on your preference. The pages and nice and thick and creamy and they don’t bleed and hold up so well against ghosting. Like the LT, this journal has 192 pages, an elastic band to keep it closed, a back pocket to hold important papers and a ribbon bookmark. The only difference I can think of is that this is only available in black (on Amazon, I believe you can find more colors on their website) and that it has one ribbon bookmark instead of two.

Fineliners (which are basically fine tipped markers) are a popular supply when it comes to bullet journaling. The most popular brands of fineliners are Staedlars or Stabilo pens, which both run pretty pricey. I personally have the Staedlars (36 pack) and I love them. But I find myself only using about 5 colors only and the knock off markers I bought my kids work exactly the same! There are so many more affordable options on Amazon, this 12-pack from Vivid Colors is only $4.99.

When it comes to markers, everyone raves about the Zebra Mildliners and the Tombow Dual Brush pens. Unfortunately both products are pricey. I started hearing about these Crayola Supertips being a dupe for the Zebra Mildliners so I bought those for my kids and I wish I knew about them before I bought my Mildliners. You can find a 20 pack at any Walmart or Target for about $4-5 bucks.
Sargent Art 22-1581 50-Count Fine Tip Washable Marker PacksAnother dupe is the Sargent Fine Tip Markers which come in a 50 pack for about $5. You can get a thick or thin line with both these products depending on how you use it and I’ve seen people do calligraphy with them.
Westcott Stainless Steel Office Ruler with Non Slip Cork Base, 6-Inch (10414)

Finally, any ruler will do. I prefer a non-slip ruler so this one with a cork back is the one I have and it was only $2 at Michael’s.


As you can see, you don’t have to spend a ton of money if you’re interested in bullet journaling. Like I said before, any notebook/pen/marker will work. I’ve actually unfollowed a lot of popular instagram/youtube bullet journal accounts because they only rave about the super expensive/hyped products. And, you do not have to be a good artist to bullet journal, I don’t draw at all in my journal and I love it that way.

My other bullet journal related posts:

Bullet Journal 101 & the Basics
How I track my health & fitness in my bullet journal
How I track my books and reading in my bullet journal
How I use my bullet journal to keep track of…everything!
Bullet Journal Style Book Reviews
February Bullet Journal Spreads
March Bullet Journal Spreads
April Bullet Journal Spreads
May Memories BuJo Style
2016 Book Favorites Bujo Style
Using Your Bullet Journal For Travel Planning

What are your planner/bullet journal supplies? Have you tried bullet journaling yet? Let me know in the comments!

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Nereyda is a 31 year-old mother of two girls with addiction to Friends, fashion, books, Pinterest, Netflix, the color black and a little bit of everything else. Also, the world's worst texter...
  • I think I commented on one of your posts before saying that I suck at Bullet Journalling! haha I think it’s the fact that I have a hard time thinking what to write on there! I feel like it is a time issue for me, though rather than the lack of materials.

    Thanks for these tips! I hope to see more Bullet Journal posts, Nereyda!

  • I need to get into my Bullet Journal again. I was doing it a little during the spring, but I was so cought up to make it perfect and I wanted to make it so pretty with nice drawings and stuff I see on Instagram. I was stressing out cause I couldn’t do it as nice I wanted it to be, so I just put it away :-/ If I can only stay on the track and limit myself and not look what everyone else are doing, I think I can manage to start with my bujo again 🙂 http://latteandabook.com

    • Same here. When I first started I tried drawing and doodling in mine and I just spent too much time trying to make it ‘pretty’ and it was intimidating messing up. Now, I use a more minimalist look and I only use black, gray and pink in my journal and I love it!

  • it’s great your kids enjoy it as well! I remember journalling as a kid.. wish I had some guideline like the bujo system back then. but better late than never 🙂

    • They like to try anything they see me doing, which always makes me happy to see them into all that creative stuff 🙂

  • Ha. I just picked up a pack of the Crayola SuperTips. I haven’t had much of a chance to play around with them yet, but I’m excited. I’ve actually been working on putting together a reading journal of a sort. It’s sort of a combination of Bullet Journal Collections, and paper crafting and I’m loving it. Once it’s all set up I want to share it on my blog.

    • I hope you like them, I find myself using my kids crayola super tips because they work so well. Oh fun, I can’t wait to see it. I love collections in my journal 🙂

  • oh I just love this post here. Its true you don’t need to use a lot of money, unless you want to. I did buy the Steadtler on Amazon, bought some nice but affordable pens, and a ruler and that is all I need. I love how adaptable bullet journals are. They can fit any type of lifestyle or needs.

  • It’s easy to get caught up in buying all the things everyone talks about when it comes to your Bujo. I found making smart purchases are best. I write mostly in black so I invest in good black ink pens and a decent journal so the ink doesn’t bleed. Everything else? That’s the cheap stuff I’ve found and it’s working just fine for me.

    • Same here. I have a LT, which Iove but I only got it cause I want the color options. I have a $10 fountain pen I love and I use a $20 ink on it. I also use some cheap pens and they work just as good 🙂

  • Amanda @ Vivalabooks

    I started bullet journaling a year ago, and I love it! I use a dotted Leuchtturm1917 and I think it’s worth the investment because of the quality & the dots help me keep everything aligned. These are great cheaper alternatives!

    • That’s what I love too and I love it, but I also agree that you don’t NEED that brand if you want to bullet journal. Yay for cheaper alternatives 🙂

  • Hi Nereyda! I was able to keep up with my journal until May and then abandoned it. I’m not sure if I should pick it up or try a planner or even a printable planner. I wish I could find a way to have ONE place to keep all my notes, appointments and lists for work, personal, boys, blog and church stuff. Any ideas?

    • I use my bullet journal to keep track of all that stuff and more 🙂
      Maybe you should try a planner or a planner that has some blank journal pages? Or if you still want to give this a shot, minimalist spreads may be the way to go. That’s how I do mine now so they don’t take up too much time.

  • I’ve been wanting to try a bullet journal for a while now, even if it’s just acting like a diary. I just can’t get over the thought of feeling like I would mess it up. Plus, I’m pretty fond of my Erin Condren planner. Whenever I see bullet journals on Instagram, I go all heart eyes.

    • I mess up all the time! Honestly, it doesn’t even bother me anymore. Most of the time I don’t notice I mess up until later. I used to be really paranoid when I first started about messing up, but eventually I just got over it.

  • Oh my gosh, your kids bullet journal with you? That is the purest, sweetest thing I’ve heard all week! I’m going to snag that Essentials Matrix notebook — even though I don’t bullet journal (yet) it looks like the perfect notebook for writing my reviews!

    • I love it, sometimes we all sit around the table and use our journals. Most of the time they just draw in their or make lists (favorite movies, books, stuffed animals, best friends haha) but I love that they like it.