Books on a budget need not be an impossible feat. “Budget” isn’t a very joyful word, is it? It calls to mind scrimping and penny pinching. Cutting out the luxuries to afford the necessities. Books are one such necessity. The good news is, you needn’t break the bank to afford them. Even when your budget is tight, reading can still enrich your life.
How am I possibly an expert in this area? Financial reality my friends. A single-income family, living on a teacher’s salary will do that to you. Add those married years in university with our first two babies and voila! Ingenuity was required to meet many of our needs, especially to feed my reading habit.
Necessity, that mother of invention, has led me to many grand adventures. Affordable organic produce? My garden is where it’s at. Delicious bread? I learned how to bake. Personalized warm duds for the winter? Give me some yarn and needles, I can knit them up.
Books have been my map on how to make those things happen- usually on a shoestring budget. Here, then are the top two ways I’ve been able to afford a rich reading life.
Budget Book Haven #1
The library: a friend to us poor readers everywhere! One low annual fee grants you access to this all-you-can-read buffet. Kids cards are often free.
Why go to the library? Easy. For the best bargain in town you can read as much as you want. Go ahead, grab an armload. Along with sparing your wallet, the only thing you’ll expand here is you brain and arm muscles. Gorge yourself silly in this no calorie, no shame, reading feast!
Also, go regularly. That’s how you find the good stuff.
Someone else’s junk really can be your treasure.
Library book sales are the best budget option. Held once, maybe twice a year (check you local branch for details) these are my favourite way to fill my bookshelves. Steals of a deal are readily at hand, as the library tries to clear out old stock. You have to hunt, and you never know what you might find, but that’s half the fun! Out-of print favourites, rare finds and more. Costs less than a pizza.
Here’s one tip: go twice. First right at the start when they have the most selection. Near the end pickings are slim, but I like to come back. That’s when you scrounge up the loose change in your pockets. By then they just want to get rid off stuff, so prices are more flexible.
Failing a good library book sale, secondhand bookshops are best. You can find treasures at your local thrift store, but they’re less discerning than shops that specialize only in reading material. Always worth a look though.
Rule of Thumb
One word of warning though: thrifting can be heady stuff. Go hog wild at the library. If you find a few books there the stakes are lower. Simply return it and move on.
Not so with those thrifty finds. As I often remind Mr. Tilney at the grocery store “Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean we need to buy it.” He loves the irony of this when we go book shopping. Buyer’s remorse still happens, even if it cost a quarter. Here’s how I avoid it: regardless of price, only buy the books you love.
If you can’t find one specific treasure, it is worth paying full price. Online is then usually your best bet. Give it some time though, because you never know what you might find at any of these book budget havens.
Where’s your favourite place to find to hunt for new books? What was you best score? Books on a budget isn’t just good sense, it’s a sport. Bragging rights on the best find is also part of the fun.
Until next time, happy hunting to you all!