In reviewing my Quicken spending comparison report last night (I have a Quicken report addiction too) I see that we are making progress in our year to date spending. One category that stood out to me was the “Books and Music” category. We’re down $158 (54%) over the same period last year.
There are two things that help me fight to keep this category managable:
1. Requesting Barnes and Noble or Borders gift cards when my family asks what I want for my birthday/Christmas.
2. Using my public library’s hold feature.
Number 1 is pretty self explanatory. Here’s how I use #2. In the past when I saw a book in the newspaper or on TV that sounded interesting I would head to Amazon.com to check it out and then hit the “add to shopping cart” button if I decided I wanted to read it. Now I still head to Amazon, but instead of buying the book there if I want to read it I head to my local library’s website and do a search. If they have the book or it is on order, I place a hold using my library card number and request that it be sent to my closest branch when it’s available.
Last night’s case in point: I saw the tail end of an interview with Caitlin Flanagan on Tucker Carlson’s MSNBC show. Caitlin, a columnist for New Yorker Magazine, has a new book out, To Hell With All That, Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife. It sounded interesting to me so this morning I checked out my library’s website and discovered that the book is on order (it’s brand new) and that I’m number 14 in line for it when it comes in. I can live with that.
A quick check of my previous hold requests tell me that I’m next in line for Confessions of a Slacker Mom, 2nd in line for The Tipping Point, and 22nd in line for Live Your Life for Half the Price. Cool. It sometimes takes a while for books to become available, but while I wait I get emails that other books I previously requested are available for pickup. This system ensures that I almost always have something interesting to read.
Of course if it’s something that I just can’t wait to read or that I’m sure I want to own, I’ll use my gift certificates or order it off Amazon. But that rarely happens anymore. The result is that my spending in this category is down, I have less book clutter at my house, and the books that I do own are ones that I really, really love. Win/win/win.