How to save money on books – Books are great but don’t buy them

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I hang out with some smart people. Or at least people who read a lot of books. But I also like my early retirement, so learning how to save money on books is actually pretty important.

You’ll usually find me with a book on the go, but my friends’ reading pace is insane. I don’t know how they do it when they’re not even retired. But want to know the crazy part? They spend a lot of money to keep up that hobby.

It’s worth it for sure but whether their book is paper, digital, or audio, they pay for every single one. I want to show you that you don’t need to spend that money anymore. Libraries are great and can help your FIRE journey.

Libraries are really cool now!

Today I will show you:

  • Why books are great
  • How much money they cost you
  • You can get all your books for free
  • Libraries are actually cool
  • Side benefit: keeping your house uncluttered too!

It’s good for you

An easy way to save money on books is to just not read, but that’s a bad idea. Reading is good for you, everyone knows that. Did you know twitter doesn’t really count? Neither does reading the news, it sucks too. When people talk about how good reading is they mean books. The big lumps of paper that can sit in your lap.

There are a lot of reasons for it but to name a few:

  1. Reading quality information makes you smarter. Books usually represent really high-quality information because they have a lot of content and are organized nicely…unlike wandering a facebook comment section.
  2. Good books will teach you about something. Learning is obviously good and, bonus, it fights off dementia. Yay! I still don’t know where my keys are though.
  3. It’s calming to read. It’s not a phone with alerts everywhere and your brain can relax a bit. This is why it’s good to read (something calming) before bed.
  4. It makes you a better writer by showing you good writing and increasing your vocabulary. It might even come in handy at work or if you ever start up your own blog someday.

Seriously you should read way more

All the most impressive people in the world read a lot and they credit much of their success to it. If you want to be a super successful person (who doesn’t, right?!?) then you should join the ranks and become a voracious reader. Warren Buffet sums up the benefits best with his amazing quote:

Warren Buffet reads a lot (image link)

Read 500 pages like this every day [points at a book]. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it. – Warren Buffet

He reckons knowledge is like compound interest. As long as you keep consuming it, over time you build up a lot and become a genius. It makes sense and it’s true.

He also says he spends his time reading educational books and facts, not opinion pieces or facebook conversations. Those don’t count.

Seriously, this is a trend amongst the super-successful types of the world.

  • Warren Buffet = 500 pages a day
  • Bill Gates = 1 book every week
  • Mark Zuckerberg = 1 book every 2 weeks
  • Mark Cuban = 3 hours reading per day
  • Elon Musk used to read for 10 hours a day and finished 2 books a day (I can’t believe that, but Elon is a brain god, so maybe it’s true).
  • Oprah says she reads A LOT.

Wait how much will becoming a Billionaire cost me?!

If you work that out though, that adds up! A book costs $20 and if you read 1 a week it’s about $1000 a year. Sur you could try to save some dollars but toss in a husband that reads and a kid or two and you get a few thousand dollars of extra expenses a year. Saving is important and extra costs certainly don’t help.

Some early retirees aim for a $100K+ FatFIRE where they can roll around in caviar all day and those folks won’t care too much about a few books.

If you’re like us though spending around $50,000 a year, then spending an extra $2000 adds up. It won’t end the world but it’s at least money we won’t spend in places I would prefer.

So I will show you how to save money on books.

Don’t buy them!

No, don’t use your money, keeeep your precious money

How to save money on books – Remember libraries?

Books are noble. Books lead to learning and growth. Books inspire. But for those of us who like to read, books can be an expense that really adds up. And yet somehow we’ve all somehow completely forgotten about that magical place you went as a kid. The library!

What comes to mind when you think of the library?

Usually we think of it as either a place for old people or for kids. Not for millennials like us. We think of the central library with tomes of references that we had to visit in school and never plan to look at again. We think of a “shhh” place where people go to study – although that’s hardly even true anymore. (Not bitter… at all…high school kids these days have it so easy).

Maybe a dingy run-down place full of little kids and old people. Certainly not the modern Barnes and Noble where everything is laid out perfectly just inviting you to pick it up and take a look.

These days, bookstores are an experience. Even the dingy used bookstores go with it and put out their own vibe. Know what, the libraries upped their game too!

This one is near my house. It’s beautiful. Like an architect’s wet dream. I would live here if they would let me.

Seriously, how amazing does this look? (TPL)

Libraries are cool now. Maybe not if you are in high school and really jiggy with it but as an adult it’s amaaazing.

But I’m a millennial!

I don’t want to read books on dieting from the 80s. I want to read modern stuff, like Marie Kondo and Cryptocurrency things.

Well, I browse through a couple of books a month, and I’ve only bought 2 in the past 2 years because the library has such great content. Libraries these days don’t just have old gross books like you remember from high school. They have all the awesome stuff you really want to read and are up-to-date with the latest books. You’re not stuck reading about Benjamin Franklin when everyone else is talking about Becoming.

They’ll even make special orders for you if you ask, and they offer digital and audio copies too if you are too modern to want to touch a physical book.

Check it out! My library even carries up to date Japanese Mangas! I don’t know if that’s hip or not but Leif thinks it’s pretty freaking cool.

how to save money on books - comics

It’s even better with kids

One of the worst parts of having kids is all the stuff they come with. It costs money and it clogs up your house like a fat person’s arteries. I love my kids but damn they have a lot of stuff.

Know what libraries have?

Kids stuff you can borrow for free! Kids books in particular.

Kids have an overwhelming number of books. If you have kids, you want to save money on their stuff and books are a big one – there are never enough and I can borrow as many as I want. How to save money on books for kids? Yeah, use the library. They have you covered.

Related: How to save money on daycare and why cheap daycare is great for stay at home parents.

The best part is they don’t permanently clutter my house. I just give them back. Hello Marie Kondo! Plus, with that wide selection, our toddler has managed to learn to count to ocho in Spanish!

I’m not biased! What are you talking about?!

But I like owning my books

Why? So you can look at your bookshelf like a stack of accomplishments? So you can reference them later? So you can relish in them over many months? So you can show them off?

I kind of get how you feel, but honestly, you get over it pretty quickly. One mindset shift that has helped us – is if we want to recall something in the book, we can always get it back from the library. And truly, if I was really so so so in love with a book, I could always buy it. But this way I get to “date it” first.

Also, having a deadline forces us to commit to the book and finish it, and not let it meander around for months on end. (Although we have been notorious ‘renew’ procrastinators too.)

This used to be me once upon a time (link)

Seriously, I never even thought of my ‘how to save money on books’ as a money hack until I realized that I’m saving a few thousand dollars a year compared to my smart friends. The ones who look up money hacks like this one! Now who’s smart?

TL;DR – How to save money on books

  • You should read a lot of books
  • They will make you a better person
  • Buying books is for suckers
  • Libraries will almost always have the books you want
  • They are cool now, they even have comic books
  • Libraries are actually nice to hang out in

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6 thoughts on “How to save money on books – Books are great but don’t buy them”

  1. Agree, libraries are awesome. I also use interlibrary loan a lot, where for a low fee I can get access to pretty much any book or movie my local library system doesn’t have. I also sometimes use the Amazon Prime Kindle Owners’ library, which allows you to check out one free book a month.

    • Oh wow, I’ve never used a super library network but I will look into that! They almost always have what I’m looking for anyways.
      Also a neat tip for the kindle prime library. I’m not a kindle person but Prime gives you so much, it’s unbelievable.
      Nice site by the way.

  2. Great ideas on using the local library more! Any tips on retaining the knowlesge you have read in a borrowed book? Do you take detailed notes of the books you read so that you can have reference to them later?

    • Interesting question! I actually take notes on all the educational books I read. My goal is always to try to write down the interesting bits so that I don’t have to go back to the book unless I need to get



      I do it that way because if you write too many notes it takes forever and is no fun. Just a few notes usually gets me the concepts and my memory is good enough to fill in the blanks if it isn’t ultra critical 😛

      I think I’ve only gone back to reference a few books in my life :O

  3. My county library totally sucks and almost never has the books I want. So, I read the sample on Kindle and only if it really grabs me by the throat, do I buy it. Usually on Amazon. Sometimes Barnes and Noble where I have a discount of 20% for being a homeschooling mom. (Educator card! Free!)

    Then I sell it in Like New condition on Amazon. I’ve only lost a couple of bucks on each purchase.

    I once realized after tracking my spending for ages that books make me happier than any other thing, and that budgeting $20 a month for them gave me an outsized pleasure.

    Plus book quotes and tips give me fodder for blog posts and Facebook lives that I do daily. So it’s almost a business expense.

    • Ha, your reading habit being a business expense is hilarious. 😛
      It sucks that your local library is no good. Is there an extended inter-library loaning service around? One other commenter mentioned it and I discovered that my library has access to other libraries’ books as well.
      You seem to have the monetary part of buying and selling books down pat, but then you have to spend time selling them. I passionately avoid anything that sucks up my time so I’ll stick to the library even if it is just to avoid the minimal-time spent packing the book back up and giving it back to Amazon. #ProbablyTooTimeSensitive


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