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Bullet Journaling Your Way Toward a Budget

Most of us have tried at least once to set a budget and stick to it. For many, apps on their phone or spreadsheets on the computer help them achieve this task. But for those with a more creative side, these types of tools may not work. That’s where bullet journaling comes in. What is it exactly? Bullet journaling is simply an organized system that helps people kickstart their to-do lists, stay on track with goals and, you guessed it, switch up their approach to keeping their personal finances in order.

How Does Bullet Journaling Work?

Bullet journals can look like basic line writing, or you can add color and design elements to make it fun and attractive. Whatever works best for you, it's just important to make your journal exciting enough to stick with. People work in different ways, meaning your bullet journal should be customized to your liking in order to help you meet your goals.

How Can Bullet Journaling Help You Reach Your Goals?

Bullet journals are an all-in-one way to keep track of your expenses and reach your goals. It allows you to keep a record of:

  • Your financial goals
  • Your spending habits
  • Miscellaneous observations you have made about your money habits

Being able to actually see everything in writing and holding yourself accountable makes it much easier to keep track of how much you're spending, what types of items you're buying and how other factors (like your mood) could be affecting your money habits.

How to Use Bullet Journaling For Finances

While bullet journaling can be used for anything from tracking sleep patterns to weight loss, dream journaling or tackling your daily to-do list, here are a few ways to bullet journal your way towards a better budget.

Plan for Upcoming Purchases or Trips

If you've been wanting to make a big purchase or splurge on an upcoming event, use your journal to keep track of how much you need to save.

Have you been dreaming about your next vacation? Find out the cost of flights, hotels, food, etc. and start putting aside money for that. Drawing a visual representation of what you’re saving for can help make your goals feel more tangible. Or, as you set money aside, have something in your journal that you can color in to visually show how much is saved.

Track your Monthly Expenses

According to a recent survey, only 14 percent of respondents used cash to pay for everyday purchases.1 While it’s clear we’re all moving towards a more cashless world, that can add an extra challenge when it comes to budgeting. Paying for purchases with a credit card, debit card or virtually (think Apple Pay or Google Pay) makes it way too easy to lose track of how much is being spent.

At the end of the month (or sooner), use your bullet journal to track your expenses. You can simply list out what the money was spent on and how much, or you could get creative and draw graphs symbolizing certain categories (like food, gas, eating out, entertainment, etc.).

Again, having a tool to visualize what you’re spending in comparison to what you’re saving can be an eye-opening way to reassess your budget.

Pair it With Your Favorite Financial App

If you’re still interested in using a budget tracking app, you could always pair your bullet journal with an app like Mint or YNAB. Apps can be more useful in immediately alerting you to overspending, helping you budget in real-time. While journaling is still great for reflecting on your spending later down the line, or revisiting over and over again as needed, an app can help keep you more accountable upfront.

Bullet journaling is a simple way to get your finances in order, and it can make staying on track much easier. You can outline what needs to be done in order to accomplish your goals, which allows you to constantly remain mindful of your expenses. 

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