Here's a really cheap layout....
Background paper (came free with the album which was a gift)
3 x patterned papers (half a cm strips) $0.30
3 x plain papers $0.90
Letters (left over from other projects) $1.50
Some ink $0.10
This layout was really quick and easy to do. I wanted the background in white even though I had some great water effect papers because I wanted to have this stamped title really "pop" from the page. I love using stamped titles because they're cheap but to get that "pop" of colour you need to get the stamping on white paper. So I'll often stamp the title and then cut around each letter but this time I wanted the title on the page. I'm also a big fan of bulk paper packs as these bring down the cost of your papers dramatically.
I know you have to think harder because you don't have the ease of walking around a shop with your photos in your hand and matching them perfectly to the paper. But I think that helps your creativity.... It certainly helps mine. Problem solving... mmm I need a pink paper in a shade I don't have.... how about if I stamp onto a lighter pink paper to create a patterned paper that goes perfectly with my theme?