Sunday, February 4, 2018

My First Month on a Book Budget

Going on a $25/month book budget has been a brand new experience for me. It has really made me realize how much of a habit I am in of just buying books willy-nilly. I am fully aware I am fortunate and privileged to be able to buy books at all, but you guys, sticking to $25 was still hard! I only went over by a little bit -- and I had a LOT of cushion this month -- so I am acutely aware this was likely the easiest month of the whole year -- and I still struggled!

So why am I calling this month easy? Well, I had a $25 Christmas Amazon gift card, $13 and change in credit card points to spend at Amazon, a $20 Target gift card as a bonus gift for purchasing a bunch of baby necessities, and I redeemed $31 of Ibotta rebate cash (referral link here!). All of those fall under my exceptions -- and I spent all of them. I more than quadrupled my budget for the month...and still went over by $5.57. I may get all (or most) of that $5.57 back because my credit card does a 60-day price match thingy and a book I pre-ordered on Amazon never dropped from full list price before it shipped. I highly doubt it's not going to be discounted soon -- I mean, this is Amazon we're talking about! But still, there is absolutely no guarantee I will get a price difference refund and I feel like I'm entering slippery slope territory here.

So with a full month under my belt, I've come to a few conclusions...

1. I really hate counting $1-$3 Audible deals and Kindle cookbook deals toward my budget
2. I really hate counting $0.50-$1 library discards toward my budget
3. #1 and #2 add up more quickly than you'd think when you're on a budget!
4. I'm still counting #1 and #2 toward my budget, but will admit that if I go over by those small amounts, I'm not going to sweat it.
5. I decided early on that if/when I do go over for a month, I'm not counting the deficit against the following month.
6. #5 makes it really tempting to make an "oh what the heck!" purchase at the end of the month, knowing I'm going to get to start over on the 1st.
7. I'm really good at making excuses and exceptions. My ibotta cash redemption helped balance my budget, but only after I had already gone over (and by more than the final $5.57!)

As ironic as this might sound, I think having those extra gift cards made this first month harder in some ways. First of all, they prompt me to browse and shop because I know I can. And secondly, I hate to waste any of that gift card money (or budget money) by paying shipping fees, so if I have a $20 Target gift card, but need to spend $35 for free shipping, I'm going to spend the extra $15 to avoid the $6 shipping fee. So if I round out an order here, and round out an order there, all of a sudden I'm chipping away at my budget more quickly than you'd think.

If I want to make this easier on myself, I really, really, need to work on my book browsing habits. When I'm tired and my concentration is poor, I fall into cruising book sites way too easily. And as a mood reader, it's far too easy to get caught up in hearing about a book and deciding THAT is the book I really want to read next -- despite my shelves overflowing with options. And if it feels like a particular book will be a "keeper," I prefer not to borrow it from the library. I'm completely spoiled, I know I am. But if I want to be serious about this going forward, I'm going to need to buckle down and work on replacing some bad habits with better uses of my time. If I'm honest with myself, the time I spend (sometimes half-consciously!) browsing book sites is really going to waste, even if I discover some wonderful books. And even if I'm tired and can't concentrate on more important things, I need to come up with a better default, low-brain-capacity activity to fall back on -- suggestions welcome!

* * * * *

I'm not sure my updates will always be monthly, but I'm going to keep posting my progress here to help keep me accountable -- I need all the help I can get! Have you ever done a book budget? I’d love to hear about it!


  1. Trying not to buy too many books right now, as I have accumulated so many I have not yet read. But if I can get one at a Second-hand store for between 50 cents and 1.00, I will get it if I really want it.

    1. That sounds like a really good plan Jamie! Those cheapies are hard to pass up!

  2. Those library discards do add up very quickly! Best of luck to you as you continue working towards this goal. You can do it! :)

  3. Cheap ebooks on Amazon really get me! At the time it is only like 2.99, but those add up. Good luck with month two. You got this!

    1. Thanks Kay! Month two I definitely went over, but I'll just keep trying to improve :) It is amazing how they add up!


I'd love to hear what you think :)