Here are the 5 benefits that come from using a finance bullet journal – and how you can start today!

I am not alone when I tell you that I am a fan of the bullet journal! Now, I’m a new convert, but so far, I am loving all of the customizations, creativity, and endless possibilities that can come from using it.

I first started using it as a daily planner, habit tracker, and a place to sort out all the ideas jumbling around in my brain. Writing things out, even drawing them out, help me make things more straightforward. I get to flesh out ideas, give them an outline, see if they are ideas I want to move forward with, hold on, or dump completely.

It’s only a natural next step to use this fantastic tool with my passion, personal finance. Even though I love budget printables and budget planner notebooks, I know that they aren’t the right fit for everybody. That’s where the magic of the bullet journal comes in; you can create the exact layouts and pages you need to help you successfully manage your finances. So let’s dig into my new BFF, the finance bullet journal!

Making Money Management Motivating with a Finance Bullet Journal

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What is bullet journaling?

That’s the amazing part about BuJo’s; they can be precisely what you want and need them to be. They are part planner, diary, to-do list, journal, calendar, and more.  

They can evolve as you evolve, as you control the layout from one page to the next. You can express your entries in any way that you choose, words, drawings, songs, and more. Yes, there are some traditional formats, layouts, and symbols that you use to help make this the quick and easy answer to a busy woman’s life. But you can use to use them, tweak them or leave them, as you wish.

The creator of the bullet journal method, Ryder Carroll, says this method will help you live a more productive and meaningful life. In fact, Vogue calls it “KonMari for your racing thoughts.” And that sounds like a lifesaver, refreshingly so.

Newsweek reports that our brains average around 6,200 thoughts a day. No wonder we get overwhelmed, suffer decision fatigue and then default to avoidance. And that’s where the BuJo comes in. It helps you organize and plan out those thoughts in your life.

Bullet journal ideas for finance spreads

There are so many different ways you can use a BuJo for your finances, let’s go over some of the best bullet journal ideas for personal finance.

  • Monthly budget tracker
  • Expense tracker/ spending log
  • Savings tracker– use these to get some ideas
  • Financial Goal spread & bullet journal inspiration page
  • Bullet journal debt tracker
  • Monthly bill tracker/monthly expenses
  • Habit Tracker – spending habits (making own coffee, not eating out, etc)
  • Savings challenge spread
  • Emergency fund log
  • Income tracker

It may take a bit to initially set these bullet journal layout ideas up & running, but once you do it will be easy to maintain them. If you’re not quite sure which spread you need then start with the basic bullet journal budget tracker. But, if your goal is to spend less money then go for a spending tracker and a savings tracker. Then once you have those spreads nailed you can start layering other BuJo layouts in.

Now that we know what we can do with a bullet journal money tracker let’s go over a few basics to be sure we’re all on the same page.

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Bullet journalling basics

Writing by hand takes time, and your stream of consciousness doesn’t always make sense. Insert rapid logging, which is the language that you use in your BuJo. It’s how you capture thoughts in a more streamlined way.

Bullets are short-form sentences paired with symbols that visually categorize your entries into – Tasks, Events, or Notes. That’s the base of rapid logging.

I know that I struggle a bit when things are too “open for creativity” I like a starting structure, get to know that framework, practice a little, and then I can take off from there.

Framework of the BuJo

According to Good Housekeeping, which interviewed BuJo creator Ryder Carroll, “Every bullet journal should include these collections in the following order:

  • Index: This section is at the front of your notebook and serves as a table of contents with page numbers to different collections and a symbol key that you update as you go.
  • Future Log: This four-page spread is a year-at-a-glance calendar with future events, goals, and long-term tasks. Add birthdays, travel plans, and major holidays.
  • Monthly Log: This two-page spread includes a calendar with a bird’s-eye view of the month and a task page with things you want to tackle during the month.
  • Daily Log: This is your day-to-day to-do list.”

These are your backbone pages to your BuJo. You add in your financial tracking pages to this, in addition to pages like…

  • books to read
  • habit tracker
  • wish list
  • short term and long term goals
  • things you want to try – food, workouts, travel destinations
  • gratitude practice log
  • affirmations and inspiration
  • vision board

Symbols used in bullet journaling

As you fill up your pages, pick the layout and purpose, and then use symbols to log your entries. It’s faster, cleaner, and simpler to record, read and organize.

  • Tasks: •
  • Events: O
  • Notes (facts, ideas, and observations): 
  • Priority: *
  • Inspiration:  such as mantras, insights, and ideas- !

Bullet Journalling process

Writing out the initial pages sounds fine, but I became stuck with how it would all flow in the beginning. I understand the initial mechanics, but how would it work on an ongoing process. I love to see a process in action, so here are two great videos that show you how it all works.

The straightforward way to bullet journal

This video comes straight from the official Bullet Journal Company, so it’s safe to say this was the original intention on how to do it. Yet, it’s very basic (no insult intended); it’s just very straightforward and simple. WHICH may be precisely what you need to get everything out of your brain and organized. If this isn’t your jam, then no worries, the 2nd video will probably be your style.

BuJoing for the creative mind

Now, this is where we get to have a lot of fun with bullet journaling. The video is from 2019, but everything is applicable no matter the year. I love her creativity and the multitude of ways that she uses it!

Making your BuJo fit YOU

As every avid bullet journalist knows, you need to make it “yours”. That means making it to your style. Use your favorite colors, fill it with money affirmations and budgeting quotes to inspire you! Get a bunch of stickers, and some nice pens (see below for cool examples), get some stencils, etc. Just do something to make it fit your personality & style (this way you’ll be more likely to use it)!

Bullet journal supplies

Now that you’re all pumped up to get organized and be the most productive you ever, you need to get your tools together. You don’t need a lot of fancy things, just a journal and a pen to start. You may find you want to get the extras to let your personality shine and ideas flow in the way you want them to.

Now that we’ve gone through the fundamentals of bullet journalling, let’s dig into how we can use it to help us organize, plan, track and overall kick butt with our finances!

 5 Massive benefits of a finance bullet journal

One of the main reasons that I love the idea of having a finance bullet journal spread in your everyday BuJo is that it’s front and center, right along with all the other information that’s important to you. I want to clarify, it’s not its own journal, it’s part of your regular BuJo, and that’s key!

1. It keeps your finances front and center

When you look at something daily, you begin to see trends, and you become more involved. As the saying goes, “where consciousness is, action follows.” And since ignoring our finances is a common problem for people, this is a great way to encourage yourself to become more involved.

Where conciousness is, action follows

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2. Bullet journal finance tracker makes your finances simpler

If you get easily overwhelmed when looking at financial papers, then a BuJo can be a game-changer. You only put information on there that is key to you. Now, you can’t just leave out the actual hard numbers (aka your debt figures). You can, however, leave out small details or change the layout so that the info makes more sense to you.

3. Using a BuJo for your finances makes managing your money more fun

When you BuJo, marking up the pages with colorful markers, using stickers and washi tape is all part of the process. You get to let your creative side mix in with more traditionally boring topics (i.e., math). Now, I think running numbers is fun, but I know that I’m in the minority. So anything that makes it more fun for you and gets you to interact with it in a more positive way is a huge win! It doesn’t matter if it’s a bullet journal bill tracker, a money challenge, or a savings goal spread. If you like it, you’ll use it!

4. You can see your whole financial life in one spot with a finance BuJo

When you manage your finances, you have to look in many different places to find the info you need. Your bank accounts, your credit card statements, your retirement accounts, your goal planner, etc. All that work takes time, and it becomes tedious.

When you use a BuJo for a financial tracker, you compile all that info into one spot, so you can quickly see your complete financial profile. Seeing the whole picture vs. scattered sections clarifies where you should focus, maybe see trends that you wouldn’t otherwise notice.

5. Writing things down in your finance Bullet Journal makes it more real to you

It’s not news that writing something down (vs. just looking at information or even typing it), you remember it better. When you write something, you are engraining it on a deeper level in your brain (consciously and subconsciously).  

Forbes reports that “Handwriting increases neural activity in certain sections of the brain, similar to meditation” It stimulates creativity and reinforces the feel-good receptors. It creates neural pathways to what you’re writing and your subconscious. So if you’ve previously had a hard time remembering money details, then this is an excellent tactic for you to try!

What if using a bullet journal just isn’t for me?

I hear ya, sometimes the pressure to be creative is too much. If you like the idea of a budget planner but want one that’s already structured then check out 15 of the Best Budget Planners to Help You Build Your Financial Empire. These are all preformatted budgeting binders that can do the same thing as a BuJo. There are lots of options so be sure to read the pros & cons for each ones.

At the end of the day

Managing your money should make you excited, and I know that standard financial papers can be as exciting as plain instant oats for breakfast. Yes, it’s good for you, but you’re never excited to eat it.

Using a bullet journal for your finances brings the two sides of your brain, the creative and the analytical, together. This makes managing your money more fun, and when you have fun, you’re more likely to look at your finances more often, and when you look at the information more often, you think about how to do things better/differently… and on and on and the cycle continues… 

Soon everyone will be dreaming about managing their money! #nerdsunite

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What are you going to put in your finance BuJo?