All too often someone will say to me, "I want to be a witch/pagan/whatever, but I don't have any money to buy supplies!" Good news - all you really need is you. Yeah, sounds kinda cheesy, right? It's true, though. There are many things you can do that don't really require any money. You can learn to meditate, visualize, cook/eat mindfully, spirit journey, pray, and a whole host of other things, all without spending money on special items.
That said, tools and various other ritual items, while not necessary, are often nice to have, and can be useful aids in your practice. So how do you go about getting these things when you're on a tight budget?
Usually second hand stores, pawn shops, some antique stores, and even the occasional yard sale can bring about a good number of items, for little cost. These sorts of places have tons of little bowls, plates, and other bits - as well as nice stemware that can be used as a ritual cup. Small decorative daggers and letter openers can serve as a fine ritual knife. Such items generally need a good cleansing and blessing before use, but that's something many do for all their tools before use, anyway.
An all too often overlooked source is nature itself. You can go right out and pick up a whole bunch of useful odds and ends for free. Wood from a local tree could easily be made into a wand. Some people even like to carve ritual knives from wood. Herbs, stones, wood for charms, etc. can all be found right outside for a number of people.
Maybe not everyone has the means to do this, but a lot of people who do still seem to overlook it. Last summer I was chatting with a beginner, and she was telling me how she had no money, and so she could not buy herbs or stones, and so she could not practice at all. This person was from a somewhat rural town in New Hampshire, very similar to the one I'd grown up in, and I can assure you if there's one thing we've got plenty of in New Hampshire, it's plants and rocks. For whatever reason, many people just don't consider what's outside, they want something from a shop, or online. The "real" magic sort of stuff.
Sure, you're not likely to go out and find quartz points or tumbled gemstones lying around, but the things you will find are no less powerful or interesting, and they have the potential to become as personal and meaningful, if not more so, than something you just picked up in a shop.
To the left are some examples of some things I've found for myself outdoors. At the top is a stick of lilac wood, which could easily be made into something like a wand, or a part cut off to make a charm. Below that, at the left, is a small horse charm. Not natural, no, but found while out walking anyway. Next, a stone with a cross through it, a symbol of the earth and protection. A chunk of granite, half black and half white, balance. Sea glass and a shell from a trip to the beach, feathers from the woods, teaberries and birch bark right from the yard.
There are many plants and trees which can be easily identified with a little research, and can have many uses. Many people are already familiar with some of the more commonly found things, such as maple trees, acorns, pine cones, and dandelions.
Even something as abundant as dirt has a place in ritual and spellwork! Dirt from specific locations is often used in spellwork in hoodoo, for example. Dirt from a hospital yard for healing, or dirt from outside a courthouse for help in legal matters. (For more on that topic, see this post.)
It's also good to take a look around your own home. You want to purify yourself before a ritual, but no sage to smudge? How about soap? Yes, really. Soap gets you nice and clean, right? So there's no reason a good scrub down in the shower can't get you ritually clean, if you put the intent into it. Want to cleanse a space? Bet you've got some salt in the house, so put a little sprinkle of blessed salt into some water, and sprinkle that around the area you'd like to cleanse. What else have you got? Maybe some sugar, flour, pepper, honey or maple syrup, some basic dried herbs or spices (like cinnamon, red pepper flake, oregano)? Find out how you can use them, because you can.
When it comes to offerings, you can always offer a bit from your own plate, or even something as simple as a cup of water, so long as you are truly sincere about it.
You don't need a bunch of expensive tools and fancy items to practice witchcraft, or to be a pagan. There's nothing wrong with saving up for a really nice tool, if that's what you'd like to do, but likewise there's also nothing wrong with using what's at hand or what you can forage and dig up, either. Don't put off practicing until you have a perfect collection of every item you could ever need, don't let it become an excuse. If you want to practice, do it! You may have to think outside the '101 book' item list, get a little creative, really get your mind working - but you can absolutely practice without going broke.