Stop buying books to save money, save space, and actually read more - The Bossy House

Stop buying books to save money, save space, and actually read more

kids at library


Last summer, I pledged to stop buying books. No more modern novels, no more beautiful picture books, and no more impulse buys at the Costco book section. 

A year later, here's my report!

The Results: 4 books purchased

four books

So I didn't quite meet my goal, but I did only buy four books. 

The year prior, I probably bought thirty books between new novels, cookbooks, children's books, and books for work. So these four-- a victory! 

Here are the four books I bought and WHY I bought them. 


The first book I bought was Circe. Honestly, I bought this book because a dear friend suggested it while we were on vacation and I forgot I had stopped buying books. WOOPS! It was worth it though because this book is so beautiful and amazing, it's a keeper in the permanent collection. 

Next up I bought Ani Difranco's No Walls and the Recurring Dream. I bought this one as a part of the ticket price to see Ani Difranco speak, and I actually didn't even know it included the book. Lucky me! Ultimately, I'm glad I have this book because Ani is one of my heroes and the soundtrack to my whole life since age 18.. I'll keep it in the permanent collection even though I probably won't read it again. 

Four Walls and the Recurring Dream
The Obesity Code

I bought the Obesity Code because I checked it out from the library and pretty quickly I knew that I'd need it as a resource while I figured out this intermittent fasting thing I have been trying. It's something I go back to again to look up protocols and nutrition information, so it's a keeper. 

Finally, I bought The Floor is Lava because the library didn't have this one and I knew I'd want it to refer to over and over again. This is a wonderful collection of playful games that need no materials and can be used to keep things light and kill time when you need an activity in a pinch. 

The Floor is Lava

Why We Stopped Buying Books

If you're going to stop buying books, the first step is to start with why. 

I wanted to limit my book purchasing to put a check on unnecessary spending since reading a book once and giving it to Goodwill wasn't worth $12. 

Also, I wanted to curb our book-buying because I'm trying to create more space in our home and minimize the amount of stuff we have.

I pledged to only buy books that were reference books I would refer to multiple times, and only if there was not way to get the book from the library. 

How to Stop Buying Books

If you want to stop buying books, here's how we did it.

After identifying why you want to stop buying books, now you purge your bookshelves. Getting rid of books you don't need is a great way to start off-- take action in the right direction!

Then, pick a location where you'll store your books, and commit to not expand your collection beyond those boundaries. You need a clear limit for yourself and a visual reminder of why you don't need any more books!

Then, get a library card AND the library app for your phone. Every time you want to purchase a book, use the phone app to "buy" the book. It's surprising how similar it feels to actually making the purchase. 

Sticking with the Decision

Once I made the decision to stop buying books and start using the local library, it was easy to stick with it. 

Visiting our library once a week became something we loved, and we quickly developed routines around checking out books that made it easier to stick with. 

Routines for the Library

  • Identify a special "book bag" that will ONLY be used for this purpose. Hang it where you will always know where it is. (We hang ours in the bedroom where we keep our library books)
  • Put your library card in a luggage tag and strap it onto the book bag. This way, any member of the family can take the book bag to the library and have the card at their fingertips. 
  • Pick one day a week you'll always go to the library, and plan your schedule around it.
  • Keep the library books in one place in the house. Ours are by the bed for nighttime reading. 
  • Decide on a number of books you will always check out at the library. In our house, each of us can check out 6 books. This reduces the guess work when you're trying to locate library books around the house.  

With these routines, sticking with our decision to stop buying books was easy! 

I'm a huge fan of getting all the adults on the same page so we can easily get stuff done.

It's hard at first, but after a while my daughter understood the logic of keeping the library books in one place (as in, not mixed with all of our other books) and helped me stick to this routine. 

I especially suggest attaching the library card to the book bag-- that way the babysitter can take your kids to the library without needing to think twice about it! 

library bag book with card attached

Attach your library card to the bag and it's easy for anyone to take kids and books to the library.

Setting Goals for the Year

Every year, I set goals to shift some major areas of my life in the right direction. Last year, I was minimizing in some areas and maximizing in others. 

In general I'm working to buy less and use public resources more, and using the library has been such a delight I can't believe I waited this long to really use it. 

Going to the library is a reminder that we pay taxes for services that benefit the public good. Enjoying those services makes us citizens in a new way.

I like knowing that the books we pick out are used by so many people, not just sitting on a shelf wasting money. And it's great to see my daughter taking good care of these books so that others can enjoy them too! 

We're Reading More Books

girl going to the library

Visiting the library can be such a fun weekend routine!

And of course we're reading more books!

My daughter is getting access to a huge variety of books, and gets to pick them out and develop her own preferences. 

She keep checking out Rotten Ralph Feels Rotten JUST to hear me almost gag when I have to read the list of gross things Ralph has eaten. "Squishy squid" and "chunky chocolate milk" OMG. 

As for me, I'm actually reading books before I move on to new books. I still read SO few books in a month compared to my childless reading habits, but I am finishing more books than ever.

All in all, pledging to quit buying books was a great idea for our family, and has had far-reaching benefits beyond saving money and space. 

Drop me a comment if you're minimizing your collection too!

Some favorite sites for minimizing spending on stuff: 

Spend Your Values: This family stopped buying books to align to their values. 

Stop Buying Stuff You Don't Need: Tips for minimizing your spending

How to Program Your Mind to Stop Buying Stuff You Don't need: Nuff said.