Simply Scrapping: Scrapbooking on a College Budget

Since I’m currently a poor college student, I don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on scrapbooking.  But I don’t let that stop me!  I’m really good at finding deals, reusing things (and buying things I can reuse), and limiting what I buy.  I did receive a Silhouette Cameo die cutting machine (a pretty expensive, outside my college budget scrapbooking tool.  Thanks Mom and Dad!) for my birthday that I use pretty often, but I’m going to show you some ways to create great pages without breaking your budget.  I have lots of ideas on this topic, so I’m going to split this into a couple posts.  This first one is about figuring out what you really need, and letting the rest go.

Here are the scrapbooking essentials, and some tips for ways to get them on sale:

02Patterned Paper – Subscribe to JoAnn’s mailing list and Michael’s, they’ll often give out 40-50% off coupon, and you can then buy a pack of up to 180 sheets of patterned paper for $10-$12.  They’re typically $20.  I have never spent more than $12 on a stack of patterned paper and I have several packs that I love.  The nice thing about buying it in packs is the patterns all coordinate pretty well, so it’s easy to combine different patterns.

*  Another tip – buy paper packs in store because it’s easier to see what you’re getting.  I once bought a pack of paper that I loved online, but when it came in the mail it had metallic elements I wasn’t a fan of.  Had I seen that pack in the store I wouldn’t have bought it because I prefer plain paper without metallic embellishments.

03Paper Trimmer – This makes it way easier to trim down images (which I do with almost every image) and patterned paper to the correct size and still have 90 degree edges.  They’re around $20 typically and if you’re looking to buy one, shop different prices, and look for coupons at craft stores.  Also consider about what size you’ll need.  (If you buy a lot of 12″ by 12″ paper that you want to cut smaller, you’ll want a trimmer that can cut 12″.  Mine only cuts 9″ so I usually have to pre-trim my paper.)

01Journaling Pens – Micron makes great ones (that are acid-free and photo safe) and Stabilo makes colored pens in a great variety of colors.  I recommend buying an assorted color pack with a coupon.  Pens are a good investment and I also recommend a few good fine-tip black pens (the color packs often include black).

04Album – Again, shop sales/coupons for these.  I like Pioneer brand albums because you can buy and add unlimited refill pages.

Photos – I will have a whole separate post for photo-printing tips!

Adhesives – Pretty inexpensive, make sure anything you buy is acid-free or it can ruin your photos.  I recommend photo squares, roller adhesive, and glue sticks.

That’s really all you need!  It isn’t a lot, and if you spread out your shopping you can find a lot of these items on sale or use coupons to minimize the cost.  With one-time purchase these items will go a long way, so it’s worth the initial investment.  Also keep in mind that Joann’s will let you use multiple coupons at once (unless there are restrictions on the coupon).   Other stores like Michaels limit you to one coupon per person per day (at least the Michaels I shop at).


Finding Inspiration

If you’re making a scrapbook page, you may be having trouble getting started.  You’ve printed your pictures, you have a box full of embellishments and a million pieces of patterned paper but you can’t figure out how you want your page to look.  Here’s a couple tips if you’re stuck with pictures and no idea what to do with them.

First, I recommend following Scrapbooking blogs.  I love, and  Look at their different layouts and  make note of what sticks out in the ones you like.  Maybe one has embellishments you love, a different one has a great title, and another has a great combination of colors.  When you recognize what you like in other’s layouts you can start to incorporate those design ideas into your own page.


Architecture Bookjacket Covers


Mosaic Art

Another way is to become a collector of inspiration: take pictures of things you find that you love.  On the left is a mosaic art piece I saw that I loved because of how it reflected light onto the wall next to it.  I also literally collect things I love, the picture on the right is a stack of book sleeves the architecture library was giving away.  I took home armfuls of bookjackets to be used in a future scrapbook layout or collage, or just because I liked how they were laid out.

Finally, you have to put that inspiration to good use.  Here’s a pillow I saw once when I was online:

I loved the cute design on it, so I turned it into the border of this scrapbook page.  Find something you love, put a new spin on it, and put it in your scrapbook!  But don’t overthink it.  Sometimes we let lack of inspiration get in the way of scrapbooking our memories, but if you keep track of the inspiration you see everyday, you’ll be documenting your life in no time.