Creating a Journal for (Nearly) Free

Last November, I decided it was time to organize my life. My house was a mess, the houseplants were dying, and I was struggling to organize my freelance work. I heard tell of these bullet planners you could purchase through the Interwebs that would change your life. I scoped a few out on Amazon, discovered they cost $30 and up and said, “No way.” (The Boozy Gardener has a cheap streak. Look for future blogs about $3 Aldi wine and how I dumpster dove for much of my gardening supplies).

Knowing there are many craftier than I, I turned to Pinterest for ideas on creating my own bullet journal. Below, I walk you through how I have created mine.

#1: Start with an inexpensive notebook

I purchased this lovely, 200+ page, 9 x 6″ journal at Big Lots for $5. What other supplies will you need? Honestly? Just a pen and maybe a cheap ruler. As I show you pictures below, you will see that I use colored pencils and stickers to create my pages, but I already had that stuff around the house (buying additional supplies would have meant less money for wine, and the boozy gardener don’t play that). If you like to get creative, buy some cheap colored pencils and go for it; otherwise, keep things simple!


#2: Plan which sections you want.

I will show you the sections I chose in the steps below, but it helps to make a quick list on a piece of paper just so your pages are somewhat organized to start. The great thing about starting from a plain journal, though, is that you can constantly update the sections.

#3: Page 1: An Index

As your journal grows, you will need an index so you can quickly find information. For example, my 2018 garden plan is on page 50. By the time I actually need to look at it (in February), I will probably have filled at least 100 pages of my journal.

Set aside several pages at the beginning of your journal for your index. I recommend AT LEAST five pages.


#4: The sections I chose

As I said, if you get on Pinterest, you can find more journal ideas than you probably want, but here are the ones I chose. My goal was to have everything I wanted in one single notebook to eliminate the need for a million spreadsheets, iPhone notes, and notebooks. I hope you find them helpful!

When did I last…

As I mentioned, around November, things started to go to pot around my home, and I pride myself on keeping a neat house. I listed all the chores that I often forgot, wrote how often I would like them done, and then started checking off when I did them. I also use this list to create my chores list that I keep on my weekly snapshots page (see below).

When Did I

Good Habit Tracker

It takes 30 days to form a good habit (or a bad one), and I had five things in mind that I wanted to start doing daily. As you can see, I haven’t started on playing guitar yet, but I will as soon as I knock out the other four (after some experimentation, I’ve determined I don’t actually need to vacuum every day, but that’s another blog).

As you can see, I left plenty of room for adding habits in the future.


Stop Wasting Money & Savings Goals

One of my major goals this year is to save more money. I have been living paycheck-to-paycheck for a long time, and I’m ready to break free. I have given myself a couple weeks to ease into the new year (and pick up some side hustles–another future blog, I’m sure), but these are the templates for cutting spending and my various savings goals.

I currently have a budget on a spreadsheet to help with this. If you’re interested in seeing how I budget, comment below, and it can be a future blog.

Morning Mindfulness

If you are like me, you tend to “wake up, jump out of bed, run a comb across your head…” and then get straight to work (usually with a hangover). This is bad for your digestive tract and your mental health, so I created a better way to ease into the day that takes only 30 minutes. Feel free to use or ignore as hippie crap.


Weight Loss

Forgive me for not sharing pics, but the Boozy Gardener is entitled to some privacy (you all already know that I’m cheap and probably drink too much). But, I have a page dedicated to tracking my weight and measurements as I try to undo some of the damage done by craft beer (darn you, Swig).

Books to Read & Movies to Watch

People are constantly recommending books and movies to me, and I never remember the titles. Now I have no excuse.


2018 Bucket List

Pretty self-explanatory. I am constantly adding to this. In fact, I had a great thought upon waking this morning… that I promptly forgot. Hopefully, it comes back to me after some coffee.


2018 Snapshot

To be honest, I’m not sure this page was entirely necessary. It’s just a list of holidays and birthdays, both of which are already on my Google calendar.


Monthly Calendar

We are finally up to the actual calendar portion of the journal. This is where I keep track of all major events: my work schedule, holidays, birthdays, parties, and appointments with friends and family. I also keep a list of my goals for the month (since this was January, I also listed my major resolutions).


Weekly Calendar

I make my calendar for the following week every Sunday morning.

On the left, I put my schedule for the week (work schedule, major appointments, etc.). To the right of that, I write my chores for the week, goals, and put a brief snapshot of next week.

Then, on the right page, I put my daily calendar. I put a basic checklist of what I need to accomplish each day.


Other Items

As you may have noticed from my habit tracker, I also journal every day, so I write the entries after my weekly calendar. If there is nothing in particular I want to journal about, I look for prompts on Pinterest. Again, there are a lot of them!

As mentioned, I also have my garden planner in my journal, but as that is the subject of a future entry, I will leave you all in suspense for now.

Again, feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions.