#BulletJournal: Seven million beautiful ways to save money

By Victoria Park, Business reporter
BBC News

image copyright@isabelhoops

Many of us might not have heard of bullet journals but they are at the heart of a trend that has been growing significantly over the past year.

Essentially, these journals are financial trackers which have been hand-drawn in a notebook and decorated with amazing illustrations. Photos of them are then uploaded to Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and YouTube.

It's mainly young people from North America, Asia and Europe who are creating them, and they are incredibly beautiful and detailed. Indeed, type in the hashtags #bulletjournal or #bujo on Instagram and you'll now see seven million photos of them.

So just how are people making money from them?

image copyright@isabelhoops

What is a bullet journal?

  • It is a plain notebook decorated with illustrations, designs and charts, using coloured pens, stickers, highlighters and tape - with bullet points as a core structure
  • The system, created by New York designer Ryder Carroll, is meant to help you track the past, organize the present and plan for the future
  • Short-form sentences are paired with symbols - categorizing entries into Tasks, Events, or Notes
  • Tasks are represented by a dot "•", Events by a circle "O" and Notes by a dash "-"
  • People use a "daily log", "monthly log" or "future log" to make plans
  • Page designs were initially fairly simple but can now be far more lavish - partly to gain "likes" on Instagram from the bullet journal community
image copyright@suzanjournals
image copyright@dearannart
image copyright@plan.tful
image copyright@swissmedicstudent

Who uses bullet journals?

  • Bullet journals are really good for you if you love tracking your finances, planning, stationery - and beautiful pens
  • "I prefer combining the artist in me with organisation," says Nadia, in Birmingham
  • "It helps me to get a bit of artistic energy out," says Martin, in Switzerland
  • "It's a great self-therapy," says Nita, in Malaysia
  • "I saw pictures on Pinterest and videos on Youtube and got really inspired. So I bought a notebook," says Suzan, in the Netherlands.
image copyright@nita.draws
image copyright@suzanjournals

How do you save money by using them?

  • By writing down what they spend, bullet journalists say they are able to keep better control of their finances
  • "I love having expense trackers to help me save for a big event I want to go to," says Nadia
  • "It lets me know when I've spent more than my budget", says Anna, from Estonia
  • Instagram holds people accountable for their money-making and career goals: "It makes me more productive on a daily basis" says Syskia, from Indonesia
  • "It's made me more aware of my spending," says Simone, from Manchester
  • Emily from Suffolk says she saves £300 a month by writing down her spending
  • "You have all your finances together in one place," says Martin from Switzerland explaining why he finds it more useful than online tracking
image copyright@journalby_gal
image copyright@rachelmayplans

'I bought a house thanks to my bullet journal'

Rachel from Lancaster, UK, bought her first house with her boyfriend in December 2018. "Two years ago I wouldn't have been to afford it. It was all thanks to my bullet journal," she says.

She says tracking her finances using her bullet journal has contributed towards buying the house.

media caption"I bought a house thanks to my bullet journal"

"I write down brunch and coffee on my monthly tracker. I'll do a weekly tracker where I tick off money that I've spent that day." She has a tracker to mark off days when she hasn't spent anything.

Rachel also gets requests from the Instagram community of bullet journalists for financial logs, which helps her remain focused on her savings goals.

image copyright@emilyz_bujo
image copyright@cianelis

How do you make money from your bullet journal?

  • Bullet journalists are using Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and YouTube to their advantage, to make money from their illustrations
  • In posting their illustrations online they are publicising their work, and firms ask to buy their images or commission something specific
  • Susanne, in Germany, came across bullet journaling via a Facebook group: "I wasn't even aware that you could earn money with this"
  • "Job offers started rolling in. I love working with businesses that sell planners and art supplies" said Susanne
  • Nadia is hoping to become a children's illustrator and is using the hashtags on Instagram to showcase her talent
  • Christina, 41, in Germany, said bullet journaling helps with her beekeeping job
  • Clarissa, in Indonesia, said bullet journaling helped her find an extra source of income and "changed her life"

So, are bullet journals glorified to-do lists, or are they an extremely clever way to save and make money?