By the way, this is for the US, specifically areas that have Hobby Lobby or Michaels or other retailers that accept coupons. I'm sorry, I can't say whether international local retailers accept them or what their prices are.
Keeping it simple, here's what you need to do it:
Simplest form = binder, core kit, pocket pages, photos, pen. That's IT. If you prefer rounded corners, you'll want to add a corner rounder.
Here's how to keep this cheap:
For the products - use a 40% discount coupon at Hobby Lobby (or I believe Michaels when they roll theirs out, though I don't want to stay for certain they'll take a coupon. But HL does). Go back multiple days if you have the ability (if they're close to you). This means:
Binder - regularly $19.99 is now $11.99
Core kit - regularly $29.99 is now $17.99
Pages - regularly $29.99 is now $17.99
Total cost of specific Project Life brand products = $47.97. This can be per year, this can be for MANY years of photos. It totally depends on your manner of scrapping.
For the pens, I love my American Crafts Precision Pens, which are the same as the Project Life brand ones. AC pens on Amazon are currently $12.43 with free Prime shipping for a 5 pack. The 3 pack at Hobby Lobby is $6.99, and if you use a coupon they're $4.19 for the pack. So you can get really great journaling pens for less than $5. (Or you can also just use a ballpoint if you prefer that, there's no rules here).
For prints - there are so many places you can print. I like Walgreens if I print out of the house because they don't have a service charge for small orders (weekly orders of 7ish prints was costing me $1.50 surcharge at CVS). at 19 cents a print, with about 364 photos in a year long album, prints come to $69.16.
If you can live with them not being perfect 4x6 size, Shutterfly quite often has free print specials, and they also have prepaid plans where you can purchase $400 photos for around $44, which could cover you for the year as well. I've found their shipping charges to be a bit high though, just being honest. And the non 4x6 size really bothers me.
Of course, you may find better pricing at your local place - Walmart or Costco, etc. I don't know their specials or pricing. Also, there are always specials at Walgreens and CVS too, so pay attention, and stock up when those run and you'll save even more.
All in all, you can do Project Life simply for one year by spending approximately $121. Or you can put in a dozen years worth of pictures of specific events (all depending on how many photos you take) for the same price. I know I could catch up on my entire prior-to-wedding scrapbooking for the $121.
Anyway, I'm sure many of you know this or have found ways to keep it simple. I wanted to post this for the newbies, the ones who are looking at all the embellishments and fluff and going "oh my goodness I can't afford to buy all that stuff" and show you that you don't need to. You can keep it simple. :)