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32 Bullet Journal Budget Ideas to Help You Reach Your Financial Goals

Are you looking to get more organized and track your finances through a budgeting system, but not sure where to start? A bullet journal can be an effective tool for managing budgeting goals and tracking your expenses. The flexibility of a bullet journal can help you keep on top of your financial needs without having to rely on complex software or apps. In this post, we’ll explore some creative and strategic ideas for creating a successful bullet journal budget that will empower you to take control of the numbers in your life.

Bullet journal budget ideas: text overlay on two images of a woman budgeting and journaling

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What Is a Bullet Journal?

Have you ever wanted to take a more organized, creative approach to to-dos and daily tasks? Welcome to the magic of bullet journaling! Perfect for anyone looking to get on top of their life, this trend combines to-do lists, reminders, notes, ideas and brain dumps into a handy notebook.

Traditional planners usually have pre-set spaces to fill out, leaving creative geniuses confined to the world’s typed box—not so with bullet journaling. Within your personalized bullet journal pages, you can set up weekly spreads to suit your unique lifestyle and habits, tackle your personal finances, and even manage your grocery shopping list.

Get ready to unlearn what you were taught about organizing tasks. With a bullet journal, you’ll be able to plan, track, and manage your short and long-term goals with speed and efficiency.

What is a Bullet Journal Budget Spread?

Have you ever felt like you had no control over your bank account or credit cards? A bullet journal budget spread could help put an end to your financial struggles. Not only can it provide structure to manage both your bank accounts and credit cards, but it also serves as a mindful way to track spending and stay on top of monthly financial goals.

By incorporating a financial spread or two into your bullet journal, you can take complete control of your money. Spreads such as category tracking sheets, savings targets, money management pages, and expense trackers give you the data and insight you need to keep track of your money. At a glance, you can see trends in your income, expenses, savings, debt, and goals and make decisions that help you improve your personal financial situation.

Here are some of the bullet journal ideas for managing your money:

  • Monthly budget tracker spread
  • Spending tracker
  • Monthly bills tracker
  • Financial goals spread
  • Credit card debt reduction tracker
  • Debt tracker

If you’ve ever been unsure about how much money you have left at the end of the month or what the balance on your savings account is, bullet journal financial spreads are a great way to regain financial control.

Benefits of Using a Bullet Journal for Budgeting

Tracking finances on a monthly basis can often be overwhelming and daunting. However, using a bullet journal for budgeting is the easiest way to stay organized and on top of it all. Not only are finance spreads one of the most efficient ways to track your money throughout an entire year, but they are also completely customizable based on personal preferences.

Bullet journals are an excellent way to stay organized when it comes to financial planning and will allow you to keep your finances in check with a few simple strokes of the pen.

Here are a few of my favorite things about bullet journal budget tracking. It:

  • Gives you better control of your finances. Knowledge is power. The more you are tuned into your financial situation, the easier it is to manage it. There are so many different ways to use a bullet journal for budgeting, but they all have the same result: better insight into your numbers and, therefore, a greater ability to control your monthly spending and savings.
  • Helps you reach your savings goals faster. Whether you are building an emergency fund or saving up for special occasions, it’s a good idea to keep track of your progress. A savings tracker is a powerful tool because it helps you see how close you are getting to your goal and motivates you to keep saving.
  • Ensures you don’t miss a due date. Many people use one of their bullet journal budget layouts to keep track of bills and their due dates. If you have any bills that aren’t on auto-pay, having a visual way to track their due dates is a great idea.
  • Helps you manage your variable expenses. While some of your expenses remain fixed each month, others are variable. These are the ones you have the best chance of getting control over, but only if you have a clear picture of what you’re currently spending. Keeping tabs on your daily spending is an effective way to spot opportunities to cut back.
  • Helps you uncover extra money you might be wasting. Likewise, you might be paying for things you don’t need. For example, you might have subscriptions you no longer use, or maybe you didn’t realize just how much you were spending on drive-thru coffee. Your money journal will help you identify any bad spending habits you’ve developed and offer insights on areas for potential improvement.
  • Creates a habit of monitoring your financial health on a regular basis. The most important thing about managing your money is knowing exactly what’s coming in and where it’s going. If you neglect this information for too long, a ton of pressure can build up until you find yourself in a situation that is very hard to get out of, like trying to balance student loans with credit cards and car payments that exceed your income. Even though it can be uncomfortable at first, getting intimate with your finances is the first step toward financial freedom.
  • Can see many months of data at a glance, making it easier to spot trends. Once you’ve been using bullet journal financial trackers for a while, it’s really nice to be able to look back through them and see how far you’ve come. Perhaps you’ve met your savings goals or paid off a credit card. You might also notice that the amount of money you’re spending on things like food or gas has increased. Being able to see all these numbers in one place gives you a better idea of how your finances are tracking over time. I recommend reviewing your progress at the end of each month as well as at the end of the year.
  • Can bring an element of simplicity to your life. I’m never one to eschew a spreadsheet—I couldn’t get through my days without them—but sometimes, I prefer to keep things simpler. Spreadsheets let me track mountains of data, manipulate it quickly, and get instant insights. But sometimes, all of that information is overwhelming. I just want to see the most essential information at a glance and I want it right in front of me. I want to see it, touch it, color it. There’s something about its tangibility that gives me comfort. I love how the spreads in my bullet journal keep me grounded and bring a much-needed element of simplicity into my life.

How to Set Up Your Bullet Journal for Budgeting

To get the most out of the bullet journal budget ideas below, you’ll want to take a few quick steps before setting up your own bullet journal for budgeting the first time.

1. Decide What Time Period(s) You Want to Track

Setting up your bullet journal for budgeting requires you to decide what time period you want to track. Do weekly spreads work better for your short-term goals, or are monthly spreads more effective for the long haul? Perhaps a hybrid of a weekly and monthly spread is in order.

The beauty of the bullet journal system is that it’s completely customizable—who you are and what your budgets entail will determine what works best for you. Find a combination of weekly and monthly spreads that is compatible with both your lifestyle and your budgeting needs to create an optimal setup.

2. Track Your Income and Expenses for the Month

Making a bullet journal expense tracker is a good way to begin budgeting. Start by tracking all of your monthly income and expenses for one month. Record each source of income, such as wages or gifts, and every expense you have from grocery bills, rent/mortgage payments, gas and maintenance for vehicles, etc.

Be sure to include as many details as possible about each transaction so that it is easier for you to analyze the data at the end of the month. This data can help you better understand your spending habits and create an effective budget for the upcoming months. It will also give you a better sense of the best bullet journal budgeting tools for your personal needs.

3. Categorize Your Expenses into Fixed and Variable Costs

When setting up your weekly spread, you will want to categorize expenses into fixed and variable costs. This can help you better understand how much money you spend each week on essential items like rent or bills, as well as track any additional costs that may crop up throughout the month. Use different colors for clarity if you find it helpful—marking fixed expenses in one color and variable costs in another

4. Evaluate Your Regular Expenses, Especially the Variable Ones

Evaluating and assessing your variable costs is a key part of setting up your bullet journal for budgeting. Keeping track of these types of expenses, such as groceries, transportation, and utilities, can be an easy way to determine where you might start scaling back.

There are many options available to help you save money in each of these areas such as eating out less frequently or canceling unnecessary subscriptions. Not only will this kind of assessment help you identify any potential savings, but you’ll also be more aware of how much money you’re spending throughout the month.

How to Use Your Bullet Journal for Long-Term Budgeting Success

Here are a few final tips for getting the most out of your bullet journal budgeting strategy in the long run.

Make It a Habit

Long-term budgeting success starts with dedicating yourself to keeping your bullet journal up-to-date. Consider when and how often you will review, adjust, and update your budgeting spreads.

Checking your journal daily can help you stay on top of small issues that could quickly become larger if left unchecked for long periods of time. You don’t have to be overly disciplined here, but making the habit of consistently tracking your budget is a surefire way to set up long-term financial success.

Make Sure to Set Up a System That Works for You

As long as you have an organized system, your bullet journal can become your go-to resource when it comes to monitoring spending and staying on top of debt. To start off, you need to set up a system that works with your lifestyle.

Use different colors to separate income from expenses and create individual collections that correspond to spending categories. For example, you might have one section for tracking your grocery budget, another for entertainment, etc. Additionally, set yourself goals that are achievable within the time frame stipulated and track your progress—you can even use pens or stickers to mark each milestone reached.

Ultimately, with effective organization and dedication, you’ll be able to reach your long-term budgeting goals by using your bullet journal.

Make a Budget for the Upcoming Month and Stick To It

Choosing the right budgeting model for your needs is essential to creating and sticking to a budget. While there are many models out there, three of the most popular ones are priority-based budgets, zero-based budgets, and pay-yourself-first budgeting. 

Priority-based budgets require you to categorize your expenses into three categories: needs, wants, and savings. Needs get prioritized first. These include any kind of required payment such as rent or utilities. Wants are items that you would like to have but don’t necessarily need. These might include entertainment or activities outside of the home. Finally, savings is money that you will set aside either for an emergency fund or for future investments. This type of budgeting helps put spending into perspective and encourages you to prioritize where your money goes.

Zero-based budgeting involves allocating every dollar that comes in toward an expense or savings goal so that at the end of each month your income minus expenses equals zero. This requires thorough tracking of your spending as well as setting saving goals in order to be successful. 

The pay-yourself-first budgeting model prioritizes savings first before making any other kind of purchases or payments. First, set aside a certain percentage (e.g., 10%) from each paycheck for investment accounts then work through the other categories on your list—before spending a single penny on anything else—including wants and needs. Doing so reinforces good habits around saving and investing for life’s future events such as retirement or college tuition payments for kids down the road. 

No matter what type of budgeting system you use it’s important to remember that it takes discipline and patience in order to make it work successfully over time. It’s also important to adjust your system as needed based on life changes such as getting married or having kids—so keep an open mind and experiment with budgeting different methods until you find one that works best for you.

Set Goals and Make Plans to Help You Achieve Them

Setting financial goals and creating a plan to achieve them is an essential step in managing your money better. Your bullet journal budget tracker can be an incredibly helpful tool when it comes to setting and reaching those goals.

For example, let’s say you want to save $200 a month. To do this, you can plan ahead by taking stock of all your necessary expenses like rent, groceries, utility bills, and so on. Then, identify areas where you can cut back on unnecessary spending. This could include switching to a cheaper cell phone plan, canceling a streaming service, or avoiding impulse purchases when shopping.

Once you’ve identified these potential opportunities for saving, use your bullet journal budget tracker to track spending and create a savings goal chart with milestones along the way. By breaking down your goal into smaller targets and monitoring progress over time, you’ll see the impact each small action has toward achieving your long-term goal of saving $200 per month.

In addition, having a written record of what has been saved can help increase motivation throughout the process. If you feel stuck or overwhelmed with your finances at any time, going back through these records can give valuable insights on how best to move forward toward achieving even bigger financial goals in the future.

Look for Opportunities to Make One-Time Investments to Save Money in the Long Run

Smart investments have the power to benefit you long after you make them. Two great examples are installing a programmable thermostat and getting a more energy-efficient car. These relatively small one-time investments can result in long-term savings.

With a programmable thermostat, you can regulate your home’s temperature to only heat or cool when you want it to, meaning you won’t be wasting energy unnecessarily. Additionally, investing in a car that is more fuel-efficient than its predecessor means spending less on gas money and reducing your carbon footprint at the same time. Saving money doesn’t always involve tremendous sacrifice—look for these hidden opportunities that bring dividends for years to come.

Bullet Journal Budget Trackers

Now that you have a fairly good idea of what you want to track and how you want to track it, let’s get inspired by some of the best bullet journal budget ideas out there.

Bullet Journal Monthly Expense Trackers

This monthly tracker spread shows a simple running list of expenses on one page with a series of spending rules and goals on the opposite page. This setup would be great for a no-spend month.

This monthly expense tracking spread is beautiful, efficient, and informative. The right-hand page shows her budget for each category using a symbolic cash-envelope system. The expense tracker on the left-hand side has one line for each date and a column for each category. This spread captures a lot of data without looking messy.

This is a very creative way to track spending. You have to zoom in to see it, but each of the horizontal books on the shelves represents a different category of spending or a certain type of account. This spread combines account management with expense tracking in a fun and unique design.

If you prefer to separate out your fixed and variable expenses, a two-table spread like this one is an easy way to do so.

Here’s another way to track fixed and variable spending for the month. This one uses a quadrant to break expenses down along two axes: mandatory vs. optional and variable vs. fixed. There’s a bit of math involved here with using a spreadsheet to calculate the value of each box on the sheet. Overall, the quadrant system seems helpful, and the tracking component could likely be simplified.

This one is quite simple, with expenses broken down into four categories. I’m not quite clear on how the individual expenses get tracked as there are no columns marked in, but you could easily add those to suit your purposes.

As a bonus, here’s a beautiful yearly budget tracker spread that lets you see all your categorized spending for the year at a glance.

Weekly Bullet Journal Expense Trackers

Sometimes it’s easier to track your expenses on a weekly basis. If that’s more your style, you might like a spread like this that breaks expenses down into four weekly buckets. One drawback to this spread, which is super cute, is that it doesn’t allow for very many expenses each week. This might be good if you’re just tracking high-level categories if you have very few expenses, but if you spend money every day, this might not be detailed enough.

The spread on the left-on side, however, is really helpful. It gives a quick breakdown of income, expenses, giving, savings, and debt and allows you to give yourself a financial grade for the month. It also uses a thermometer to track monthly savings.

Here’s a weekly expense tracking spread that allows you to fit more expenses and also slot them into categories.

Bullet Journal Savings Trackers

There are some really creative ways to track savings using a bullet journal. A common method is to write a bunch of small-ish random numbers on squares (the numbers should all add up to equal a savings goal). Each week, pick one of the numbers and transfer that amount to your savings account. At the end of a certain time period (usually a year), you will have reached your goal.

Here are some examples:

Another way to track your savings in your bullet journal is to use symbols to represent a certain fixed amount and then color one symbol every time you save that amount. Tying in your symbols to your goal can be a fun way to keep yourself motivated. A savings tracker can be used to save up for a big purchase like a car, a holiday, or even for special occasions like Christmas or birthdays.

You can also create visuals to show how your savings accumulate over time.

Bullet Journal Bill Payment Trackers

If you want to keep track of your bill payment dates, this spread offers a great visual way to do that. The spread covers one month with mini stickers used to indicate each payment date. The facing spread lists account balances and income.

This two-page bill tracking spread lets you track up to five bills over the course of a year.

This efficient spread lets you track many bills over the course of the year. It even has room on the facing page for a Save-opoly savings tracker spread.

This bill tracker combines bill payments and savings over a six-month period.

Bullet Journal Debt Trackers

Paying down debts and keeping them paid off is a critical part of tackling your finances. These bullet journal spreads will help you stay on top of your debt payments so you can meet your goals sooner.

Who said getting out of debt has to be boring? With a fun credit card payment racetrack spread, tracking debt payments is more fun than shopping.

This Game of Loans debt tracker works with any kind of loan. Each shield is 1% of the total goal. Divide the total debt by 100 to figure out the value of each shield. Celebrate as you pass the built-in milestones.

Other Ways to Use a Bullet Journal for Personal Finance

Subscriptions Tracker

Use a subscriptions tracker to keep track of your monthly subscriptions, how much they cost, and how much you use them. Subscriptions have a sneaky way of building up without us realizing it. This can often be a great place to cut back on expenses.

No-Spend Challenge

Kick start your savings plan with a no-spend challenge. Set aside a month and challenge yourself to spend as little as possible. Set your parameters up front and then track your spending for a month to see how well you do. You might even want to do this a few times a year and see if you can beat your previous record each time.

Net Worth Tracker

When you’re building up your assets, it can be very inspiring to have a visual representation of that growth.

Missional Budget

If your goal is to prioritize giving, a bullet journal spread that puts charitable contributions at the forefront can help you get there.

Bullet Journal Supplies

If you’re just getting started with bullet journaling, you will need a few supplies, but probably not as many as you think. You can start small and add additional supplies as you go. At a minimum, you will need a journal and some pens. I like to have black pens in a variety of thicknesses as well as dual-tipped watercolor pens for coloring.

You could stop there, or you might want to step it up a notch and add a ruler, some washi tape, and a pack of planner stickers.

I’ve linked to a few of my favorite items below, or you can click here to see all my bullet journal recommendations on Amazon.

LEUCHTTURM1917 Dotted Hardcover Notebook

Primrosia 60 Dual Tip Marker Pens

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen Pack of 8

Journal Your Way to Financial Control

Bullet journals are a great way to track your budget because they allow for customization and flexibility. You can design your bullet journal to fit your unique needs and goals, which is especially helpful when it comes to finances.

In this post, we’ve shared some tips on how to set up your bullet journal for budgeting as well as examples of different budget trackers you can use. We hope that you find these bullet journal budget ideas helpful and that they help you meet your financial goals. What’s your biggest financial goal you want to track in your bullet journal? Let me know in the comments below!