Bullet Journal On A Budget: Bujo Supplies That Are Rad and Cheap

You might have heard of bullet journals on Facebook, BuzzFeed, or from your favorite highly-organized person. I am not an organized person. Not naturally, anyway–I tend to have that constant state of creative disorganization, where I roughly know what’s happening and where things are, but you would never call this feat of juggling “organized.” This was fine when I was 25, but almost ten years later, we have a mortgage and shit. I need to be some semblance of organized and on time.

Enter the bullet journal, or “bujo” for short. It’s a system wherein you take a blank notebook and fashion your own planner. You can make it as fancy or as plain as you like–I tend toward the plain, though I like to make a grid calendar for the month, which is a little fancy for a system that is mostly based on lists. Many people do whole big layouts (or “spreads”) with lots of boxes and elements, habit trackers that let you keep tabs on whether you’re doing the things you want to do as often as you want to do them, ongoing lists for things like books you’ve read or projects you’ve completed or things you want to buy, tracking goals such as saving money or going to the gym–the idea is that, because the notebook is blank, it is flexible for the things you need it to do. (Get a more coherent overview at the bullet journal site and prepare to fall down a rabbit hole of wanting to be more productive.)

My bullet journal is pretty plain, honestly. I have a calendar for the month and my daily lists of things to do. I use the opposite page for a running to-do list and sometimes meal planning. I find that it helps me a lot, though. I have issue with executive dysfunction–aka, my brain is not always good at arranging things into do-able steps so that I can then do the things–so a space to write down what I want to do corrects for some of that.

If you’re familiar with bullet journals at all, you know that people get really into them. Like really-really. The feature image for this post says that you can get all the supplies in the photo for $22; some people spend that on one notebook. I’m certain that it’s a fabulous notebook, but I do not have that kind of spare income for a notebook. Bare minimum, you could always get started with just a plain notebook and a pen and spend literally just a couple of dollars; however, I found a few supplies that are both enjoyable and inexpensive, which I think gives me a good cross between value and fun-itude (that’s … not even close to a word, I’m sorry).

image from DickBlick.com

Fabriano EcoQua Dot Glued Notebook, $4.79

A lot of serious bullet journalers use the dot notebooks from Moleskine and Leuchtturm. These notebooks are great, but they also come with heavier price tags. I found the Fabriano EcoQua at Blick’s (where I actually bought all of these things in person, so I didn’t factor in shipping costs). I liked that it was dotted, bright yellow, smaller than the composition book I used for my first bullet journal, and that it was around five bucks. I didn’t love the fact that the covers are not glued all the way on; I worried that, with regular use, pages might start to fall out without the spine reinforcing it. That hasn’t happened yet, though, and I’ve been using it almost daily since January.

It also comes in red, green, orange, black, and gray, in case bright yellow is not as exciting for you as it is for me.

image from DickBlick.com

Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners, $0.85

I love this pen. I love it more than the Staedtler fineliners, and that’s practically blasphemy among the bullet journal crowd. I have four different colors of these that I use for my bullet journal. You really only need one, but at less than a dollar a pen, I could afford to have a couple of different colors. I use black for my actual content (hence why I have a spare), purple to write down what day it is and to note special things in my calendar, blue to mark lines between days, and aqua/turquoise to note special things in my daily logs (eg, if I had lunch with a friend, I mark it with a heart and their name in aqua; if I ordered something online, I mark the day I ordered it so I can remember to expect it; etc). These pens work great, don’t bleed in the Fabriano notebook, and I like that they’re orange and hex-shaped.

6″ Ruler, $2.47. I just like having a ruler to make grids and lines. I inevitably forget that my finger has mass and ruin at least one line in my calendar every month, but that’s here nor there; this ruler is good because it’s small enough for my pencil pouch and has cork on the back to prevent slippage.

image from DickBlick.com

Tombow Brush Pens, $2.36 (Very Optional)

I admit it: I only even bought a brush pen so I could have a chartreuse pen. I don’t even really use the gray one in the feature image up there. I used it a bit when I first bought it, but I mainly now just use the green one for highlighting or making the lettering on my monthly calendar look . . . well, “pretty” is a strong word. I suck at lettering.

image from Blue Q

Recycled Art Supplies Pouch from Blue Q, $5.99

I saw this at the last minute by the checkout when buying my bullet journal supplies, and I did the heart-eyes face in real life. Sure, there are certainly less expensive pencil pouches if you want to go super-budget, but if you decide or are able to splurge a little, Blue Q pouches support the Nature Conservancy. They also have lots more rad designs if that particular one doesn’t blow your bubble.

That’s it. That’s my whole bullet journal rig (plus two brush pens I honestly barely use) for $22. Got your own bullet journal secrets? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear!

Coloring Gear Review: LJY 5-Pack Assorted Floral Pen Holder/Pencil Pouch for Coloring

I bought some adorable pencil pouches on Amazon for $7.99. Were they too cheap to be good? Let’s find out.

I was not paid to review these. Any reviews may contain affiliate links in which I make money for sharing if you buy a thing but in which you do not pay any extra for goods.

I bought these pencil pouches from the AMZ for $7.99 (you can find them right here) because I am a sucker for floral patterned anything. 100% of the dresses I own–well, besides that one polka dot one I didn’t return in time and I’m stuck with–are floral print dresses. I would have a lot more floral prints in the house, but I live with two men* and there’s only so far I can push my luck.

*I’m only married to one of them. The other is my brother-in-law. Nothing** kinky happening here.

**Nothing insofar as living with two guys, anyway. I won’t confirm or deny anything else.

I also bought these because I wanted more storage for coloring media. I had been using a Verizon case that I got free at an event to hold my gel pens; this case 1) is really uggo and 2) spills pens everywhere every time I open it, so it wasn’t going to be a good long term solution. I also wanted to take my colored pencils out of the plastic clamshell accordion case they came in, because it, too, threatens to spill out pencils if I’m not very diligent in making sure I open it the right way.

I made a short video review if you want to hear my thoughts on these pouches. I will also continue my text review below.

In case you didn’t or can’t watch the video, here are the highlights:

  • About as cheaply made as you’d expect at 5 for $7.99, but sturdy enough. Zippers a little flimsy but not the flimsiest.
  • Pens fit nicely. Pencils? Not so much; the pencils have to be jammed in a bit. They’re just a little short for full-length colored pencils; I would be worried about the tips grinding or breaking. I tried both cheap and expensive brands and none fit that great.
  • How many pens fit? For the cheap gel pens I had–the kind that come in big, inexpensive sets–I could fit in exactly 19. I tried 20 but the 20th pen was pushed out when I closed the zipper. Also, shout-out to my uggo Verizon case that made an appearance at the very end.

Verdict: Cute, good for travel and pens, not so good for a colored pencil collection (unless they’re unusually short or very used).

This is also my first post! So hello! you might know me from other sites such as Book Riot or Insatiable Booksluts; you might not know me at all and that’s fine, because we’re meeting now. My plans for this space are some product reviews, some DIY tutorials, some quick tips, and whatever else I can dream up that I think people might like.  If you have any requests, holler at me.

Also, if you like coloring? I made a Books and Tea coloring page recently at Book Riot that you can totally print out for free. Click right here for a page that all my friends said didn’t suck at all.