Over the past couple years as a university student it’s no surprise I began to think more about my finances. As a book blogger especially, who reads and reviews books every year, it’s even less of a surprise that over 4 years later I’m considering and questioning how much is being spent on buying books.
To give a bit of background, I’d never been much of a book buyer growing up, but when I discovered my love for Young Adult fiction in about 2012, slowly the number of books being added to my personal library began to grow little by little. Now, as the weight of my 100+ collection slowly began taking root in my mind, it was clear I had to think more about my spending habits.
In late 2018 I discovered Readwithcindy’s booktube video ‘Why I Only Own 4 Books 💸 A Chat On Booktube Consumerism’ and more specifically this video ‘how much money i saved on books| 2018 stats.’ There’s a particular idea I took from both of them that has forever changed the way I think about my bookish spending. As someone whose reading is about 80-95% through the library not once did it ever cross my mind to track those savings, until I watched Cindy’s videos!
Now for all of 2019 and 2020 I’ve created spreadsheets / lists of books I’ve checked out from the library comparing with hypothetical prices if I were to buy them (with some discounts) via Barnes & Noble, Book Outlet, or The Book Depository. There’s something rewarding about seeing the amount of dollars saved in black and white, just by writing it down. Now, I’m trying my best to limit spending as much as I can in the new year (especially as being inside more during 2020 has without a doubt caused me to splurge a bit more online). I’m fortunate to have access to a great library system and this year has put into perspective how I can do more to utilize it and save money on my reading. Especially when I’m sure many can relate that we buy books here and there, only to set them aside for months at a time and end up reading something else.
Writing down those figures, tracking the expenses, and preparing new goals for the upcoming year has made me especially conscious of my habits to save more where I can, and this is not a surprise…Now for a bit of psychology! According to Forbes, the neuroscience involved in simply jotting down goals helps with external storage and encoding to help you accomplish them. Essentially it’s best summed up by this quote, “Study after study shows you will remember things better when you write them down.” That includes storing them within your long-term memory and identifying the “Generational Effect” which basically means you remember information more when you’ve personally generated it for yourself.
Something as simple as writing down the number of books being borrowed from the library has made a big impact on how I’m calculating spending. For a majority of 2020 I’ve followed the Japanese budgeting method of Kakeibo and it completely changed the way I not only think about, but also view finances. All year the journal that’s been by my side, Kakeibo: The Japanese Art Of Saving Money, has made it easy to jot down month by month, how many dollars have gone towards my book-buying habits. Although it faltered now towards the latter half of this year, there was never a moment I forgot about this concept with each purchase I made. Writing these numbers by hand has created much more awareness as to where it’s going and how I can personally do more to save what’s already there.
From Thomas Oppong in The Ladders, this article breaks down the essential questions that Kakeibo asks with each monthly budget: How much money do you have available, How much would you like to save, How much are you spending, and How can you improve?
Created by Japan’s first female journalist, Hani Motoko had another idea to keep in mind too: “saving money is about spending it well.”
So if your struggling with saving money on books, don’t be afraid to just start writing these numbers down and see where you can reduce your spending. There’s also the underlying (very nuanced) topic of consumerism, even how we are propelled to pick up the newest releases more and more because of our access to various platforms, etc.! We’re often unintentionally encouraged by seeing other bookish creators on other platforms with their monthly hauls, overflowing bookshelves, and passionate recommendations to find a way to access those books as well. This is amazing as a community that we encourage each other to discover new reads, however when it comes to finances and access, it may not always be possible for everyone.
I’m not sure I have the time to delve into this topic too much here, but perhaps I’ll save this for another post if your interested? In which I can talk more about consumerism in the community, minimalism, and how that can be impacted by book influencers.
To sum up, I think tracking how much money I’ve contributed to my book buying hobby has really helped me put it into perspective. This not only applies to the amount of spending, but where I can start saving as well, which I plan to continue for years to come!
What are your thoughts on this discussion? Do you track your book spending? Any tips you personally use to save money? OR any websites you recommend for book buying on a budget? 📚✨