Updated on 08.04.08

My Material Weakness – And My Battle to Overcome It

Trent Hamm

Every once in a while, I’ll go through a short phase where I become obsessive about books, particularly ones not found at my local library. I’ll hit PaperBackSwap hard and sometimes even splurge at the bookstore, picking up several books in a short period. This actually happened fairly recently, thankfully fueled by gift certificates and coupons at Borders.

Yet, as I sit here, I think about books I’d like to read. I’d love to have The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao on my reading pile, but the wait list at the library is nearly infinitely long. I also have this big pile of books right here that seem equally compelling. Yet there’s this whisper in my ear. It’s only $11.20 at Amazon. You can easily afford it. Just order it.

Why do I feel compelled to do this? I usually have a small mountain of books at home waiting to be read. Right now, my “to-be-read” pile is enormous – it would easily take me three or four months of sustained reading to get through the pile. It occupies an entire shelf and part of a second shelf in my office.

When will I have enough books? What is enough?

your money or your lifeIn Your Money or Your Life, Joe Dominguez hits upon the idea perfectly on page 27 with his description of a “gazingus pin”: “A gazingus pin is any item that you just can’t pass by without buying. Everybody has them. They run the gamut from pocket calculators and tiny screwdrivers to pens and chocolate kisses.”

For me, it’s books. Although I’ve found creative ways to really stretch my book dollars (relying on willpower, avoiding bookstores, using PaperBackSwap, routinely emptying out my book collection, and so on), I still have this incessant desire to pick up books.

It’s time to face facts. It’s an addiction. One that creates a slow leak from my wallet.

And, with any addiction, there’s no time like the present to stand up and do something about it.

Starting today, August 5, I will not buy any books for one year, excepting gifts for others. Not a dime on books of any kind. Instead, I’ll get through the books I have to fuel my reading habit and also rely on my local library and any other sources I have for free books.

This is going to be rather hard for me, considering that books are by far my biggest remaining splurge item. But time after time, they feel like a splurge that’s out of my control, one that just keeps sucking away money.

Here are some of the tactics I’m going to use.

First, a moratorium on bookstores. I’m going to stop going to bookstores entirely, even though I love browsing through them. Why? Every time I go in, I always seem to leave with a purchase or two.

Second, a commitment to reading through what I have saved up before acquiring or even checking out any more books. I have a giant pile of books to read on my own bookshelf. No more new books until I’ve run through all of those.

Third, a “want-to-read” list that I don’t act on until next August 5. I usually jot down books I want to read on my pocket notebook when I hear about them, then investigate them later on Amazon or at the library or bookstore. Instead, I’m just going to keep a list of them on my computer, not to be acted on until next August 5.

Now, let’s turn the tables.

What’s your little weakness, your “gazingus pin”? What thing can’t you help but buy? How much is it really costing you each month?

Even better, can you stand up alongside me and give that thing up for a year, too?

Let me know in the comments. I think both of our wallets will be better for it.

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  1. Brent says:

    I hate to say it but I think books are important enough to buy. I’m not talking about the latest best seller or what ever, but talking about solid proven classics. I understand wanting to cap your spending, but wouldn’t make more sense to setup a book budget? That is what I do. Set aside a small amount each paycheck. Of course I’m the type of person who will have something on my want list for a year or more before I finially buy it. I also use abebooks.com to get used books.

  2. Ian says:

    For me it was video games. There is an entire community devoted to finding discounts on games (cheapassgamer.com). I could not resist buying a game for $9.99 when I knew that just a couple months ago it retailed for $50.
    Well, then I discovered Goozex.com, which is basically the PaperBackSwap but for games. It works pretty much the same way. In just a couple of months I was able to get rid a bunch of old PC, Gameboy, and Playstation games, and in return get newer Wii games. It’s been great so far.

  3. Laura says:

    Office supplies… Even though I have at least 100 pens at home when I see a new one I have to have it. I will try to not buy any until next year!

  4. J.D. says:

    Wow. No books for a year. There’s no way I could do it. I’m not even going to try. Still, maybe I should. I own dozens (hundreds?) of books that I have not read…

  5. Jules says:

    I’m not really sure why you think books are such a problem to buy, IF (and that’s the kicker) you get a lot of mileage out of them. I usually read and re-read most of the books I buy. Even fiction books are helpful when gauging detail and pacing. I’m also pretty good at assessing which books I’ll read and which ones I won’t, though, so maybe that makes te difference.

  6. Pchan says:

    My gazingus pins are books and meals out (ESPECIALLY the ma-po tofu and egg drop soup at the Chinese place down the street from me–and I’ll even order in sometimes). I love to cook, the problem is I will get mad cravings to the point of distraction. I could ignore them, chew on a hubcap, and heat up some leftover chili or Chicken a la Roma and pasta. It’s just that. . .oh. . .GOD THEY MAKE THE BEST MA PO TOFU EVER!!1!!

  7. Sheila says:

    Thank goodness I live in an area with a great public library system. I haven’t bought books in over 5 years in spite of a voracious reading habit.

    My weakness – mp3’s. They’re only 99 cents (what a bargain!), but I’m game. No mp3’s until August 5, 2009.

  8. Pchan says:

    But you know what Trent? I will learn to make Ma Po Tofu and egg drop soup. And then I will have my neighbor (who I got to try it and is now just as addicted as I am) over for dinner.

  9. I can’t wait until you read/review Oscar Wao, it’s one of the best novels I’ve read since Middlesex.

  10. KC says:

    Trent, I know what your Christmas list will consist of …BOOKS! I hope you will allow yourself to receive books as gifts during your one year.

    Something I do with books is, first, try to get them from the library. If they aren’t available then I’ll consider buying used. However sometimes a book is so popular that the better deal is to buy the book new and then resell it on half.com. I frequently resell my books – very few books do I actually keep – only ones that I know will be difficult to find again or that I enjoy often (like 2Xs a year).

  11. Ro says:

    Books are a big one for me as well. I keep looking at Amazon at one that I’ve been on the wait list at the library for two months now. I keep saying, “It’s only $11.20” just like you! And I know I would read this book over and over. Well, I’ve not talked myself into stopping buying books for a year, but I’ve almost convinced myself to go buy it at Amazon! LOL!

  12. guinness416 says:

    The difficulty with books is that they’re very much an “acceptable” spendy habit among certain people. Food-snob consumables like whiskey and wine and cheese fall is another example. I bet you’ll get different comments here than if you were writing about your trading cards, or a motorbike, or tchotchkes for your house or something.

    But it’s fixable! I beat a pretty bad book-buying addiction. A combination of the library, borrowing from friends, not entering any book shops, and maybe slowing down your reading rather than galloping through it to meet a random goal may help. Good luck!

    We’re bad on groceries. I see budgets posted online for entire families that are a fraction of what we spend for two. We like our food (and drink) and spend a lot to eat well.

  13. jake says:

    the funny thing is that I am staring at a pile of books all of which you have reviewed. Lets rephrase that and say all of which I bought, because you reviewed. I’ve gone through about maybe 5 books lol

  14. Jesse says:

    I just wanted to say good luck! And I’m now shorting AMZN :)

  15. Shanel Yang says:

    Restaurants and movies. I’m going to commit to the Neanderthin diet and matinees/Netflix only for a month! Sorry, Trent, a year is too long for me to mentally commit to right now. But, if I make it for 30-days and I like the results, I’ll probably recommit to another 30-days and so on. : )

  16. I couldn’t do it.

  17. Liz says:

    T-shirts for my toddler. Now I am not talking about the necesity gotta keep him dressed kind, but the goofy silly have funny sayings on them kind. Sure they are only $5 at Walmart, but that all adds up…I don’t know if I can go a year (I will need to buy him a size up soon) but I can commit to 3 months without buying any. Maybe I will focus on organizing these fun shirts that he already has…

  18. JZ says:

    Instead of buying books I like to use an online book swapping service. Bookins.com is my favorite for it’s convenience and lack of rules, though there are others. It’s really easy, you just make a list of what you want and what you are willing to swap, and they make the connections for you. All you pay for is one-way shipping. Getting used books for nearly free is great. Now, Bookins doesn’t have the world’s largest selection, but I’ve found tons of mainstream books that I wanted to read, too. Plenty to keep me busy.

  19. MegB says:

    (Deep breath.) Okay, I’m in! I, too, have a large stash of books in my nightstand cabinet, PLUS a plastic tub full of paperbacks (down from two tubs that I used to have). Two and a half years ago, I promised my dear husband that I would work my way through all of those books and limit my book buying. But then I go into Half Price Books and just can’t help myself. I have plenty of good ones that I’m anxious to read, though, so I’ll make the commitment to tackle each one of them instead of adding to my collection.

    Thanks, Trent!

  20. writer dad says:

    My biggest vice was – without a doubt – DVD’s. It was ridiculous, stupid, and unrelenting. I would buy them on the day they came out, watch them once in a fever, then line them neatly on the shelf. It was a hard habit to ween, but I signed up for Netflix, and haven’t bought a DVD in over a year. Now, when someone gives me a DVD as a gift, it’s almost funny.

  21. Tana says:

    Knitters have those kinds of issues with yarn. And you hear about people on yarn diet’s (same thing you’re doing with books) all the time. My solution was a little different. First of all, my backlog of yarn was a pile of guilt. It was exciting when I bought it, but the longer it laid around, the more ridden with guilt I became. I decided what types of projects I enjoy most, the ones I want to have going all the time. Sweaters are something I enjoy making. At some point during the current sweater, I allow myself to buy yarn for the next sweater. The objective is to be no more than one project ahead of myself in terms of stash in each category. I made a list of all the yarn in my stash, got rid of what I wasn’t excited about knitting anymore, and between that and working up projects from my stash mixed in with new ones, my knitting life is so much more fun. I still get to buy yarn occasionally, but my stash is 25% of what it once was. I still get to make the latest projects, and I also am knitting stuff I always wanted to make but never had time to.

    So with books, I’d separate them into categories you love. Fiction. Self-help. Biography. Whatever. Decide how many you want to be reading at a time. Spread that out among your categories, if necessary (if you always want to read fiction but read biography only occasionally). Get rid of things in your stash that you no longer want to read (donate to your local library, and make that a part of your planned charitable donations). Then enjoy the books your reading, reading both from your stash and a new one here and there, and don’t read out of guilt. That would be the corollary to what I’ve done. It keeps pace with the actual amount of reading you do, so you don’t bit off more than you can chew. And it allows for the occasional splurge, the book you just have to read.

  22. Monica says:

    Books for me too, and kitchen gadgets, boy do I have lots of those! We like to cook and read. Though we often get lots of miles out of our books, then donate them to our local library (we live in a VERY small town) and they are happy to get them for others to check out. I would be less inclined to buy books if we had access to a larger library, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Though you know, the look and smell and feel of a new book……(sigh) Best of luck to you, I know you’ll do great!!

  23. cici says:

    I’m with you… I buy way too many books. I don’t think most of the books I buy a “good investment”– but there are exceptions. I find myself buying books I can’t find at the library and are not listed on paper back swap. Our library system is not as good as other cities I’ve lived. Plus, I have a hard time resisting the 40% off coupons I get every month. I have a stack of books that I haven’t read so I’m also going to read those books first, go to the library for books I can find and want to read, and not buy any new books until Aug. 5, 2009. That should keep me busy for a year.

  24. Miranda says:

    I, too, have a book addiction. My husband keeps trying to have me sell or donate books I only read once, or books I don’t like. But books are where my pack-rat tendencies come out as well. It is almost physically painful for me to part from my books.

    And this is on top of weekly trips to the library to borrow books.

    Thank you for sharing your story with the rest of us. It’s inspired me to take a first step of getting rid of some of my books — and maybe I’ll see about only buying books that I’ve read first — and liked a lot.

  25. cv says:

    So, does PaperBackSwap count as buying books, since you have to pay for postage? It’s much cheaper than buying new, it’s true, but it’s still spending a buck or two per book.

  26. I sometimes refer to myself (fondly) as a “book whore.” You and I are kindred spirits. The catch for me is that I am an Instructional Designer and a professional life coach. As an Instructional Designer, I find ideas and inspiration from the books on my bookshelf (most of which are on business, psychology, self-help, graphic design, organizing principles, creativity, entrepreneurship…you get the idea), so when I come across a newly published book or one that relates to whatever topic I’m developing into a workshop, I am drawn to it like a magnet is drawn to metal. As a professional life coach, I am always looking for new ideas and techniques for helping people see themselves differently and to engage in meaningful, life-affirming action. I’m sort of addicted to information…and I love it. Last year I discovered the joys of re-selling my old or unneeded books, which definitely eased the financial strain of the books I’ve bought and will be buying. Thank you for your post!

  27. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “So, does PaperBackSwap count as buying books, since you have to pay for postage? It’s much cheaper than buying new, it’s true, but it’s still spending a buck or two per book.”

    I’m going to continue sending out books (to keep the clutter under control), but I won’t be ordering any for myself. I’m just going to let the credits build. I will probably order some books for close friends and family, though.

  28. Isabel says:

    LOVE this entry. I used to have a book-buying habit too, and had hundreds (or more?) books that I kept lugging around. Each move was excruciating. And I hadn’t even gotten around to reading about 50% of my books!!

    I finally came to my senses, sold a lot of them on half.com, and stopped entering bookstores. Occasionally — but not that often — I will pick up a book at Goodwill or Amazon. But it’s not an addiction for me anymore, and I am glad I got out of that cycle. Books are great, but even great things can be approached in an unhealthy manner.

    My current gazingus pin is much more detrimental, though. It’s fast food. (I know – ugh.) A year is a bit too long for me to commit to, but I think I can start with a month, and take it from there.

    Thanks again for a great post!

  29. beloml says:

    You could do what Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom does and have a wish list at Amazon on your site.

  30. Nathan says:

    My weakness is iTunes…oh my- me and music are best friends. New music especially…I tend to “wear out” music pretty quickly as an artist because it plays in the background on repeat while I am working…and to be honest I am not sure how to conquer this, or if I want to.

    I guess for me the quality that music brings to my life is worth the money I spend on it each year.

    Something worth pondering….

  31. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I don’t think buying books is inherently bad. However, buying books when you’re acquiring two or three for every one you read over an extended period of time is a problem.

    After this year, I hope to have my shelf largely empty and some control over the book buying binges.

  32. Jon says:

    For anyone not going so far as to declare themselves off limits to book purchases, I’ve found a system that’s working out great for me so far.. I buy titles at yard sales, almost without consideration of what they are, pick out the ones that interest me and trade the rest in for books I want at the used book store. It is by no means free, but thus far has proven to cost me less out of pocket than buying them new or even used without the trade ins.

    My own gazingus pins include going out to eat (which isn’t always avoidable but has become a treat in our house over the last few months while saving for our wedding) and movies which I put the brakes to about 2 or 3 years ago and really haven’t missed. I rent regularly for $1.50 a night and rarely go to theaters anymore.

  33. Kathy says:

    Yes, books would be what I would have to give up-I do rely heavily on the library. I teach second grade and try very hard to instill a love for reading in the kids hearts because I find reading so enjoyable. I had a mother come to me because her daughter was reading 3 books at one time and wondered if she should be worried. I had to laugh because I always have 3 or 4 books going at a time. Maybe a year without buying new books would give us a chance to reread some old favorites. :) Should we not buy your new book when it comes out???

  34. Eden says:

    I know what you mean about a ‘book problem’. Like many have pointed out, there is nothing wrong with books. However, I have the same tendencies. I already have a pile of unread books at home, yet I constantly buy more. I wouldn’t mind so much if I actually read all the books that I have, but I have books at home that have been in my ‘waiting to read’ pile for more than a year! In fact, I just gave away a number of books I had purchased new and never looked at.

    All that being said, I think the cold turkey approach might be too tough. Why not 1 book per month or something? Enough so you can ease your way out of the habit but not go crazy one day after restricting yourself to nothing for 6 months.

    Best of luck to you, I’ll be curious to see how this goes.

  35. Ellie says:

    If you want books on the cheap, go to your local library (public or part of a university) and see when they plan on having a book sale. They may have an ongoing one, as my university’s library does. Every book is a dollar. I’ve gotten a nice stack, 10 books for 10 bucks, less than I would have paid for one of them. And you’ll be surprised at what you find. I found a 1939 edition of Mein Kampf. A lot of the books in the booksale aren’t being purged from the shelves, they are actually from people’s home and they get donated to the library, so they are in pretty good shape.

    For those of you with a book addiction, donate your “used” books to your local library! You will know they are going to a good cause, and you can “visit” them any time you want.

  36. Eden says:

    And to answer the post question, my current gazingus pins would probably be tech gadgets. I was good for a while but recently purchased an Amazon Kindle and a MacBook Pro and iPod Touch (the Touch was free with a rebate, but still not something I *needed*).

  37. Bob says:

    I went on a book diet in 2007. Started Jan 1. I did not buy a book for a year until I used Christmas money. I forced myself to get through my unread books. It is tough; but, it does feel good when you reach your goal.

  38. DivaJean says:

    My big area of restriction is fabric buying/obtaining.

    I have gotten TONS of fabric twice a year from an uncle in law in the home design/upholstery biz. Literally a carload each time he visits my mother in law- and we split it up- with the rejects going to the high school for home ec, art and stage show needs.

    However, I always seem to find a reason why I “need” a bought piece to coordinate or accentuate what I have, rather than just using what I have more creatively.

    I have already put a moratorium on bringing home more of Uncle Louie’s fabrics and buying more. My sewing room overflow-eth already! I am now planning that in the next 5 years, I need to be out of the sewing room altogether- to allow for my eldest to have a room of her own and not have to share with a sister 7 years younger than her. High school is hard enough without a baby sis tagging along and getting into everything- so for my daughter’s sake, I am taking my resolve seriously!

  39. Troy says:

    To each their own, I guess, but this isn’t controlling your spending, this is eliminating it.

    Seems to me the pendulum swung too far in the spending direction, now it seems your are swinging it just as far in the overreaction direction.

    Why not simply control your spending. That is the point isn’t it.

  40. Joanna says:

    I would understand it if you kept buying books and not read them but you seem to love both things. This may be an addiction but a noble one in contemporary world :) The number of people reading/buying books decreases constantly and I see no point in punishing yourself that way. Limiting the purchase to one book a month or a certain amount of money is understandable but what you do sends a message: “buying (footnote: reading) books is a bad, bad habit and we all should work hard on stopping it”.

    I too have a large pile books waiting on the shelf and twice as much on a wish list. After my graduation I have a 6-month book-reading pleasure time planned. I have been waiting for this for over a year and now I read about limiting the purchases – shame on you and no way! :)

  41. Hello Newman says:

    Books is it alright. We have a great library so nowadays its the first place I turn when I hear about a book I want to read. At any given time I will have 10-30 books in the queue. Fallback position is Amazon, where books are tax free, usually discounted, & freight free (Amazon Prime). If I DISCOVER a book in a local bookstore I BUY the book in a local bookstore, despite the typically higher price, as it doesn’t seem scrupulous to prospect for books locally & buy remotely. I think my book spending has dropped from $300 +- monthly to $40 +- monthly. The Gazingus Pin now is eating out. Thinking about it… thanks for the post.

  42. Val says:

    My addiction is going to the movies. I love the experience, the smell of popcorn, everything! I have found ways to reduce my spending when I go (share popcorn with friends, go to early shows to get cheaper tickets, etc), but I don’t think that I can give it up for a year…

  43. iDave says:

    I think this is great – a worthwhile project in the same spirit as Ben Franklin’s experiments. “See if I can do such-and-such for so long.” I’ve tried quitting coffee, going vegetarian, and acting in a theater production, just to see if I could do it. The trip is the worthwhile part.

    My pins are music and Apple stuff. Music used to be a big thing, when CDs were still cool, but I’ve cut back dramatically on them now that I’m budgeting. And I’m not suffering.

    Apple stuff is just hard. eBay and e-waste drives are like candystores, but I’m learning to cut back on those, too. How many Macs do I need, after all?

    You go, Trent. And lots of luck.

  44. Tabletoo says:

    Just a word of encouragement about using the libraries. I did beat the book buying problem and rely on the library (although I am still fighting some gazingus pins!) I even have a ton of trade credit at a local used book store and haven’t felt compelled to use it. If your library is internet accessible, then you can probably put in book requests, book buying suggestions, and inter-library loan requests from home. Even when the reserve lists are really long, the book does eventually come to you. I’ve had great luck with libraries buying the books that I suggest unless they are too esoteric or expensive.

  45. Katy McKenna says:

    Trent, I just hope your own book isn’t slated to come out inside of the coming year. Because from what I understand from my author friends, one of their chief joys is seeing their own books on the shelf in the store! You wouldn’t want to miss out on THAT, would you??? :)

  46. mjukr says:

    “What thing can’t you help but buy?”

    -Food, in the form of ethnic restaurants

    “Even better, can you stand up alongside me and give that thing up for a year, too?”

    -No way. It’s my greatest pleasure in life!

    Sorry, you’re on your own on this one. But I’ll gladly not buy any books for a year (easy because I never do that anyway ;) )

  47. Natasha says:

    Oh my CRAP we are exactly alike. (Thanks for friending me on Facebook, btw). This is BY FAR by BIGGEST weakness. And we’re talking, weak, heroin-addiction weakness. Books. Oh, how I salivate thinking of them. I love the smell, the feel, the feeling of my eyes over a page, the images cranking in my mind, the endless connections and patterns and tears and giggles and sighs of contentment and admiration and jealousy-over-others’-genius. Books. My first love, before country, husband, hearth, self…BOOKS. (I know I’m not making things easier for you). If I were to undertake this goal, it would be INSANE. IMPOSSIBLE. I live in Seattle, three of the best bookstores in the UNIVERSE are all one block away from me in either direction. I buy books constantly, books I never read, books I re-read, books I only look at, books I read once. I am pretty good at purging the excess every once in a while, but never doth the new shelf space stay empty for long. I even utilize free books on dailylit.com, LibriVox and at the library. I think I would need some parameters or a safety net in order to dive into this goal, but the idea is too good to ignore, to necessary, perhaps, to the wellbeing of my pocketbook and living space, and mental health, too, because no amount of rationalization should allow for the acceptance of what is very clearly an addiction. Maybe one book a month, or an allowance (like say I buy two books used, and sell them back, the difference of books bought and sold would have to be within a certain window), could at least wean me to no books at all. Pep-talk, anyone?

  48. Sue says:

    Hey Trent

    I’ll bet my addiction is worse than your addiction :-)

    I don’t have a single unread book in my collection, simply because when I pick up a book, I HAVE to read it through. Meals, sleep, everything and anything takes a backseat when I have a book in my hand. I’ve been known to rub raw, bloodshot eyes at 4am to coax them into reading just a few more pages…until the book literally falls out of my hand and I fall off the couch.

    Kicking the habit was much more painful for me – I’m in my third week of not reading anything that isn’t directly related to work or other important areas. But I don’t think I’ll last much longer…too bad we don’t have an AA for book addicts!

  49. Tony says:

    I liken this behavior to a person who starts to do very well with their weight, but then develops unhealthy eating disorders and becomes anarexic.

    You LIKE books. They make you smarter. They make it easier to do your job. But you’ve become sick with this frugality and are now eliminating things that are good for you and bring you simple guilt-free pleasure. Much like the person who develops eating disorders won’t even eat an apple anymore.

  50. Joanna says:

    One more thing to add: yes, I too am a book addict, be them from library or bookstore – doesn’t matter. But what I do is have a budged for “treaties” apart from the regular expenses and if I buy too many books I just don’t purchase other things I like.

  51. BonzoGal says:

    Wine. I really have to stay out of wine shops, and stop buying wine as gifts because then I buy myself a couple of bottles “because it’s a good deal” or something nice is on sale, or… because it’s there. My husband and I have neither the storage space nor the need to consume so much wine. It’s a luxury, not a need… so I’ll force us to drink what we have acquired already, and stay away from the shops, tastings and trips to Sonoma/Napa for a while!

  52. L says:

    I hear you on the book buying- I challenged myself to stop buying books and magazines for a year last December. As a result I have become a very frequent library visitor. I place all my requests online and just wait for them to be available, when it takes a long time it’s like a surprise when they arrive.
    It’s also really good to test my patience- I do not need to read *insert author’s name here*’s latest book the moment it hits the shelves- I will enjoy it just as much two months down the line.

  53. Amy says:

    I pondered this, and I think I’m going to follow your lead. I’m going to give up buying ultralight camping gear for a year. I already have enough to outfit five people. I’ll have to still buy some consumables like water treatment chemicals and maps. But no new backpack, sleeping bag, tent, etc for me until next year.

  54. Laura In Atlanta says:

    My weakness is also books. Big time. And actually, ready for this? In my house right now, there are more UNREAD books, than books I have read. THAT is how behind I am. I looooooooooooove books. Especially history books. And I too spent way too much $ on them. My compromise is, I will no longer buy NEW books. And for about a year, I have done that. I use the used book section at Amazon and I have a couple of really good USED bookstores in Atlanta that I can hit. I’ve also found a couple of books that I have been lusting after for only a couple bucks at the local Goodwill. I’m good to trade out books I have read, but no longer want to own, for credit for more used books. And lately I have been putting books on ebay with nice results. (I need to try half.com!) But wow . . . good luck with your challenge to yourself. I dont think I could give up browsing though . . . nothing I love more than a rainy afternoon, browsing in a bookstore.

  55. LC says:

    BonzoGal, thank you for posting, I don’t feel so alone! I was thinking how completely sensible and scholarly everyone here is, they all have book addictions. (which I used to buy all of the time, but get FREE at work now). So, while BonzoGal loves to buy wines, my gazingus pin is shoes. My excuse is always that I need some professional ones for my administrative position, some casual, some for going out, etc. I get them cheap (Payless BOGO, Ebay, etc), but when I recently moved, I was embarrassed at the boxes they filled. I thought I was more sensible than that. I’m not sure I can hold off for a whole year on not buying any more, but I need to cut WAY back.
    I’m surprised there aren’t any other readers who have the same gazingus pin: shoes.

  56. Marty Williams says:

    I feel your pain. I too am a book addict. However, why don’t you give this a try: http://www.bookmooch.com/

    It’s similar to paperbackswap.

  57. Elizabeth says:

    Books is a weakness for me too. I also put a moratorium on bookstores (and book shelves at thrift shops) and that helped for about 2 years but now I’m back in the clutches of the addiction! I’m inspired to try again. I have so many books still unread on my shelves, and so many borrowed.

  58. Niles Gibbs says:

    I hear you. I accept your challenge. No buying books until August 5th, 2009.

    Having moved recently, I realized how many books I actually have. I think it’s time to start culling the stack.

    I suppose I could say the same for DVDs as well.

    I’m finding free e/audio books more convenient these days anyway.

  59. Amanda says:

    I cheat. I don’t buy too many books – but my mom/aunt have been passing books that *they* buy back and forth since I was a kid and I’m now in that rotation. My sister has also joined the buy/pass around circuit. Plus my husband does buy books regularly that I’ll read (without having to wait for the family pass-alongs).

    Note: Full names go in books that they eventually want back in their collection, and initialled to remind them they’ve read it, but don’t want it back.

  60. MB says:

    My weakness used to be books, but I kicked that habit. I go to the library about once a week. Sometimes I don’t even check anything out, i just browse and enjoy observing all the possibilities of books. It sounds crazy, but that’s where I’m at.

    My current weakness is buying a soda at the checkout when I go to the store. I’m not sure I can promise a year without that, so I’ll promise not to do that again until October 1. At that point, I’ll go from there.

  61. Aryn says:

    My TBR pile just ballooned from 14 to 34 (but they were all free). I’ve only bought one or two books in the last year, and only because they were written by friends.

    Instead, I put myself on the infinitely long waiting lists at the library. Then it’s like a surprise when I finally get the email that it’s coming. You’d be surprised how quickly infinity can pass! I got on the list for In Defense of Food at number 252 (or so), and now a mere four months later, it’s waiting for me to pick it up.

  62. Steve says:

    I don’t know what my gazingus pin is. It’s definitely not books (which I get from the library, and only read one or two a month of anyways). Is the best way to tell to track my spending for 2 weeks or a month?

  63. anna says:

    This was funny to read. Because I don’t get why you buy so many books that you don’t read. I didn’t realise this addiction existed, it seems strange to me. Good luck to you all!

  64. Sonya says:

    This is great! I am doing pretty decent on my buying of books but my big thing is checking out way to many from the library. right now I probably have about 12 from the library and another 15 or so to read, which is alot for me with school and work. My goal is going to be to read all the ones I have before I acquire any more, buying or loaning. Then we’ll see about the next goal!

  65. Stacy says:

    Starbucks. I wish my gazingus pin were something more cultured, like books or wine or ethnic foods. But it’s Starbucks. I’ll try a month without…

  66. Dave says:

    I’m always getting bananas, apples, etc. My friends go to Wawa (like 7-11) for coffee and donuts; I grab a banana.

    I’m giving up fruit for a year!

  67. Leisureguy says:

    I have the book problem, too. My recommendation is that you get a good-sized bookcase and limit yourself to the books that fit within the bookcase. Otherwise, you’ll end up like me, with 17 bookcases full of books and now facing the reality of having to get rid of all of them. (I’m 68, so it’s time to clear some things out.) I find that, once retired, my reading is mostly from the library in any case: they quickly get the new books that are prominently reviewed, and with the on-line catalog I can place holds from home.

  68. David says:

    If I have no other reason to smile today, I have still smiled my quota after reading Natasha’s confession. Made me proud to be a book lover.

    My gazingus pin, for the whole world to see (well, at least those savvy enough to read Trent’s items): Monster cookies from the vending machine. $1. Until 8/5/09–no mas. My wallet and waistline will be heavier and lighter, respectively.

  69. Kate says:

    If it makes you feel any better, Trent, you are not alone.
    I have also just started a book moratorium (except for school textbooks) since my bookstore discount card expired on July 31.
    I am in school and textbooks are so expensive, I have to cut back somewhere. I can get a used textbook for one class I have for $135 (new costs $180).
    There are so many books on my must-read-someday list that if I want to do fun reading, I will just see if I can find the title through my library, at least until I get out of school.
    Good luck!!

  70. M-Jay says:

    My obsession is Ebay. I have so many searches for bargain items, from shoes to clothes to yarn. It’s really bad for me. So, I’ll join you. No eBaying for myself until August 5, 2008.

    This just might kill me.

  71. j says:

    Just thought I’d pop in with something I’ve discovered about the library (luckily I live in a big city with LOTS of ’em). I have a horrible book problem as well. But I’ve found that going to the library, browsing hundreds of books and dvds, and leaving with a HUGE stack actually gives me the same thrill as BUYING NEW STUFF. The catch is that the library is FREE. So while I avoid splurging on clothes and almost never buy books, I still get the same thrill. And once the “newness” wears off, I just return them, free of charge.

    I am getting a rush just thinking about it! I’ll have to hit up the library later today :)

  72. Sally says:

    Yarn is my “Gazingus Pin.” And knitting related items. I recently started spinning as well, so fiber is part of it.

    I don’t think I could give it up for a year. I have cut down. And I focus on quality over quantity now. But I know I don’t have to participate in every yarn sale, and I save up for yarn “binges.” I find it more satisfying to buy a lot at once (usually on sale or on a trip.) This goes against what most people recommend, but it works for me. I save on a skein here and a skein there, and I don’t rack up debt.

    Recently I’ve been saving my $$$ for a yarn crawl to Houston, where we’re going to visit a bunch of yarn shops I’ve never been to.

    It does create the same problem as the “to read” list. People talk about having more yarn than they can knit in a lifetime. But when times are lean, I can get some satisfaction by finding something nice to use in mt stash.

    Also, I can honestly say I need more fiber! I’m running out of stuff to spin fast.

    But I think a total moratorium for that long wouldn’t last, and I’d probably fall off the wagon worse than before.

    Do you get a tax write off for buying books related to the Simple Dollar, since it’s a work expense? (I know it still makes more sense to go to the library when you can.)

  73. Christine says:

    ooooh, a challenge. I love challenges. Normally the best way to get me to do something is to tell me that I can’t.

    But… ummmm… give up buying stitching supplies? For a YEAR? Despite the fact that I have a backlog of patterns and the fabric/specialty threads for at least 25 projects? Ummm… hmmmm… But I LOVE shopping for patterns & ‘stuff’ to do!! It’s the only kind of shopping I enjoy!

    K – here’s my ‘mid year resolve’.
    – I will only purchase the items that I currently have on order at my favorite store (custom order – no backtracking).
    – I will not buy any new threads, fabrics or patterns until the two projects currently on the go are complete.
    – When BOTH projects are complete, I will only by the ‘plain’ threads that I don’t have already in my stash that will be necessary to do the next one. **if at all possible, I will chose a ‘next project’ from the stash that does not even require this kind of purchase**
    – I’m still allowed to go to retreat/stitch-in days because I’m signed up for (& paid for!) many of them… but NO BUYING DESPITE 20% OFF!

    Oy. Trent – you will be updating us, right? LOL

  74. Jeff says:

    Have you heard of BookCrossing? It’s different than Paperback Swap because you’re giving away books by leaving them in odd locations and seeing who picks them up.


  75. Brendan says:

    My gazingus pin is soda/iced tea/drinks other than water and milk. I very rarely buy anything material, but this is one place I spend way too much money. I’m in and will try give this habit up for the next year.
    Can we expect updates at 3, 6, 9, 12 months or so? I wouldn’t mind some points along the way to shoot for…

  76. Todd says:

    Books are my weakness also. Here’s what I do: If a book is by an established or well-known author, heavily promoted by the New York press, I get it from the library or from paperbackswap; however, if it’s a new author or a small press (both probably struggling to survive against the corporate giants) I buy the book and consider it support for the profession of writing. Of course, this depends on my hard-earned ability to stick with my budget and not charge up the Amazon credit card. I learned that lesson the hard way.

  77. luvleftovers says:

    BOOKS! Yum, I love books! I put them on my wish list at Amazon and paperbackbookswap. If I can’t get them at swap, I look for used copies. I will usually find a book for half price or less. If it’s a book I know that I’ll keep – classics, American History, then I’ll splurge and buy a new copy – sometimes even a hardcover!

    Then, I resell them, or send them to soldiers overseas. The guys and girls out there really need reading material.

  78. Greg says:

    I have been think about this off and on myself. I have whittled down my personal libray to rougly 375 volumes. (like the man siad, it’s an addiction) My main reason for swearing off would be simply to force myself through a number of books I’ve bought and never gotten to, because a shiny new one, or dusty old one, got in the way.

    Thanks Trent, I may add this to my 101 in 1001.

  79. Robyn says:

    We live in a country where we are brainwashed into believing that we don’t have a good life if we live in a 2 bedroom apartment. What the heck?

    You can be happy anywhere.

    Restaurant Coupons, Freebies and More.

  80. Jacinda says:

    I have an issue with buying craft items and books. I tend to buy pretty papers, ribbons, paints, etc on sale or clearance with the impression that I might just make something with them some day. A lot of it went unused so I got rid of it.

    I tend to buy my books at Goodwill. I check-out from my library when I can, but they don’t seem to own the books I really want to read. I won’t give up buying books for a year, but I had planned on reading a large amount of what I have purchased before I decide to buy more. My neighbors have a book buying obsession and they said that I’m free to read what they have. I plan on taking them up on their offer.

  81. O says:

    Trent, great post. I agree with J above that “shopping” my library is as much fun as shopping a bookstore. Imagine my glee when I waitlisted the last Harry Potter book (long before release), waltzed into my library on the day the book was launched and spent the rest of the day reading my FREE book. You rock Enoch Pratt Free Library! I’m evaluating my spending habits to identify my gazingus pin – probably impulse bought candy (isn’t most candy impulse-bought?).

  82. MsEllenT says:

    I don’t see the point in giving up yet another thing you love to save a few bucks, Trent. You’ve already sacrificed your other hobbies to pick up “less expensive” ones; don’t remove any more enjoyment from your life. Hit your used bookstore instead or raid your friends’ and family’s stashes. I love books too, and because I love books, there is no way in heck I would stop buying them. Doing something you love is more important, IMO, than dropping a few more coins in the piggy bank.

  83. Mary Beth says:

    My books are my weakness, specifically personal finance books. Fortunately I have gotten better and better about buying them. I just cannot justify buying something I am not sure that I will like. What I usually do is request a book from the library. If I read it and really like it and know that I would read it again, then and only then will I buy it with a gift certificate, on e-bay, half.com etc. It has cut my book buying down to about 6 a year. I absolutely love interlibrary loan. Our county library system is all computerized and I can go on-line and request such a wide variety of books that I never lack for something interesting to read. I read easily 2 – 4 books a week, depending upon whether they are fiction or non-fiction. I have no problem with waiting for a book. It is like a wonderful surprise when a book I have really been wanting to read suddenly shows up because it is available. My other weakness is craft supplies, but more specifically fabric. I love to sew and quilt, although I never seem to really have enough time. I could go into fabric stores and just browse for hours looking at all the wonderful fabrics and threads and quilting accessories. I have finally gotten myself (or been forced by my current lack of funds) to browse, rather than buy. I already have a big stash at home so unless I need something for a specific project and don’t have anything that will work, I only browse. Even when I do buy, I try to make sure I wait for sales, use 40% off coupons or gift certificates. Still, I could window shop in book stores or fabric stores for hours and literally drool over some of the merchandise. I doubt either type of store would appreciate the drool!

  84. Louise says:

    I love your blog. This post was great. That is exactly my problem. I love books and I’m addicted to Amazon. I’m going to start doing what you suggested.

  85. Dawn says:

    Mine is wine as well. It’s so easy to buy it even though we have plenty, and since I don’t buget for it, it always ruins my budget. I don’t think I have enough for a year, though, so I’ll commit to buying no wine before January 1, 2009 unless its for gifts. Gulp. It will be the toughest on the wine bus tour my husband organizes for our friends each September, but I think I can do it.

  86. Jeff R. says:

    Books are one of my triggers, but I can easily control the buying aspect. I could never give up going into bookstores and browsing. My wife and I have often gone into a book store and spent hours there. One Saturday evening on the way to the movies we stopped by a Borders Books and never made it to the movies.

    Part of my book problem stems from the fact that until I got to college, I was a reluctant reader and then at college the doors opened and I couldn’t get enough. I love to learn new things so I don’t read a lot of fiction, but when I do I have to be convinced it is a great read.

    Did you ever read the Power of One by Bryce Courtenay? It was one of the best books I have ever read; better than Pillars of the Earth although that was a good one as well.

    What about the books you review? Do you need to buy those or are they sent to you to review? It would be tough for all of us not to have those books coming in. So to paraphrase Fiddler on the Roof, “Just because you have a book problem, why should we suffer?”

    Well, I think you hit a raw nerve with this post! – Good Post – [ Jeff ]

  87. Heather says:

    My gazingus pin used to be books. I can read a book in a day, on a completely free day – I can read two. I used to buy tons and tons of books. But, in the last year, I’ve purchased only two books. I knew I’d want to have them in my collection.

    For me, the library is an OK solution, but I usually ended up racking up late fees. A couple years ago I found this site that’s basically netflix for books, and I’ve never looked back. For $16/month, I get 4 books at a time. It’s not the CHEAPEST solution, but it’s the solution that works the best for me. I absolutely spent more than $200 on books before, so it’s still a savings – both in $ and clutter for me. And better yet, I’ve told all my friends and family about it – earning credits towards when I really want to keep a book. http://www.booksfree.com/

  88. Natasha says:

    @David: Yay! Booklovers of the World, Unite and Take Over! I am very glad to make others smile, because deep down, I know I love my mal-addiction.

  89. Nicola says:

    I have a serious book addiction, two. I buy a couple of paperbacks a month because I believe in using money to develop my tastes and interests to a certain extent. BUT I never buy hardbacks. Nice blog, Trent.

  90. MegB says:

    Several commenters have noted that Trent seems to be “giving up” his hobby or depriving himself of something that brings him a lot of pleasure. I don’t think that’s the case. He is obviously going to continue to read voraciously as he’s done in the past. (It sounds like he’s got plenty of material to keep him occupied!) He’s just being smart about it by reading all of the books that he already has as opposed to continuing to accumulate new ones. It’s basically the same thing he mentioned that he does when he thinks about buying a new DVD or video game. Instead of feeding the urge to buy something, he takes a good hard look at what he has and decides that he already has plenty of games or DVDs that he hasn’t used yet or hasn’t finished yet. If he has a year’s worth of reading materials, I don’t see that he’s depriving himself of his favorite hobby at all. The only way he might be depriving himself is if he gets great pleasure out of the experience of being in the bookstore, something I know most book lovers can relate to.

  91. Nicola says:

    Aaargh! Please amend that ‘two’ to ‘too’. Nicola

  92. Awesome Mom says:

    Yarn is a weakness of mine. It used to be books but somehow I got over that. I think I will try Tana’s version of cutting back on yarn purchases. I will give up buying yarn for a year that is not going to be used as a gift for someone else or is a gift to me from someone else. It will be easy to give up going to yarn shops with all those pesky yarn fumes since there is not one very near by.

  93. I had a pretty bad book habit for many years too. Know what I did? I got a job at a bookstore. It paid very little, but I could afford to take a low paying job then. I got tons of books totally free, both ARC’s and finished copies. Then, if there was something else I wanted to read, the bookstore functioned like a library to full-time employees. There was an agreement that we could take any book out and read it so long as we brought it back in pristine condition within two weeks. If there was *still* a book we absolutely had to have, we got a 35% discount on the purchase.

    These days, I hit the library and use the inter-library loan system heavily. There have been a very few reference books I’ve bought in the past few years after evaluating them by checking them out of the library. I haven’t bought any fiction at all though, only reference books I’ll want to return to again and again. It’s cut my book budget down to nearly nothing (certainly less than $100 per year). And I’ve also let it be known that a Powell’s gift card is my preferred gift for any occasion.

  94. Megan says:

    I actually stated a few weeks ago that I was not buying any more books for the year. I also use PBS and have acquired a ridiculous pile (read: box) of unread books. I must get through all of those before I can think about buying a new book. I’m also trying to not request new books through the swap sites as well.

  95. NZ Chick says:

    Interesting Post! I too am pretty addicted to books but since I was introduced to e-books this has saved a lot of space and money. I’ve found I can get pretty much any book I’m after (apart from NZ ones and new releases) free downloaded from the net. These are brilliant.
    Other than not taking up space, I find my PDA which I read them on to be much more practical. I now take it everywhere with me so if I’m waiting for even a few minutes I can turn it on and read. Its also brilliant for reading in bed – I HAVE to read before I go to sleep but with normal books I always had the problem of falling asleep and losing the page. With my PDA it turns itself off automatically after 2minutes idle and never loses my page!
    In fact – I’m now reading much more than with normal books because of the convenience. Could be something to look into if you haven’t already?

  96. Pete in Atlanta says:

    Good goals.

    I would amend them to remove the “keep a list” item.

    Generally, you should NOT keep lists for things to buy (other than a grocery list). If you really want it, you’ll remember it without the list. If you don’t and you forget, you’re no worst off.

  97. Heather says:

    I’d say my “gazingus” is McDonald’s Iced Coffee’s. Anytime I’m out… if I can just scrounge up $1.81 I’ll swing through the drive-thru to enjoy one. The only problem… is that I often don’t have the cash on hand and so I’ll debit it, but who in their right mind wants to debit just one item under $2.00? So, I’ll usually add a few other items to the tab. I’ve recently discovered that I can actually create my own Iced Coffee’s at home, for a fraction of the cost… plus… I don’t have to find an excuse to “run on an errand” to have one! Thanks for your blog… I’ll join you on not indulging for 1 year on my weakness. (crossing fingers) let’s hope I can really do this!!

  98. Luis says:

    This post made me feel a little better since after some deep thoughts in the matter I realized that I have no “gazingus pin” or at least not one that represents a big problem.

    I always feel the urge to get Design Magazines, but just a couple of specific titles that are bimonthly, thats about $11 bucks every two months. Also I always try to stock on film rolls but the ones I use are rare (Slide Film) and unexpensive (Around 5 bucks each) so I ususally just get one or two per month.

  99. Alicia says:

    Yes, eBooks are great. I am really into virtual things such as books or online stock exchange. There’s a lot of info out there, but not enough time see it all.


  100. Laura says:

    Trent! You suggested a book buying moratorium but what about your book??

  101. J.E.D. says:

    Thank you for this post! I’ve always been a bookworm. I worked at a Barnes and Noble for a year while living with my folks after college so I could save up to move to LA and put my film degree to use. It was like an alcoholic working in a liquor store. I came home every week with piles of books to add to my collection. I was able to move to LA, but I moved with more books than money (yes, I shipped BOXES of books to the west coast. For my first year in LA I had two suitcases worth of clothing and about 350 books – probably a quarter of which I’d actually read). It’s been five years since I worked at a book store, yet my collection still grows. I’ve just recently pulled all of the titles that I KNOW I’m never going to read again (or at all) to donate to Goodwill. I’ve put a shelf in my office where all of the books I want to read, or have started to read but got distracted, sit and wait their turn. It’s daunting to look at. Yet, I still buy – my last purchase was at the airport last week. I had two New Yorkers in my carry-on and still felt the need to buy a paperback that caught my eye in the airport. I think I’m going to join you and put my energy towards reading those books I’ve been dying to finish. THANK YOU.

  102. TParkerson says:

    Boy, Trent, you have beat the bibliophiles into a frenzy today!! I wish you luck on your quest…I know about the subtle, slimy power of addictions! Mine is clothes (well, books too!)…DH will say that I have enough clothing to cover small countries, like Russia. LOL:) I have been known to forget clothing at the cleaners for months at a time, not from forgetfulness, but because I have so damn many!! So, earlier this spring, I put myself on much the same “fast”…unless my unmentionables needed replacing, NO CLOTHES for at least a year. So far, so good…

    @Kate – I too have worked in a bigbox bookstore and have had the privilege of my own personal 25K square foot lending library!! HEAVEN! Trent, the thing you will miss the most is the smell of the bookstore…that visceral connection that says “I am home” to a bibliophile!

    To all of you who love the printed word and support your library system, I would encourage you to inquire about a “friends” program…our library has a fundraisinig branch called “Friends of the Library” that always accepts books to sell for books and improvements to our library. This is a great way to clear off your shelves and make room for the new stuff you want to get later, when you have tamed your boook addiction!

    Have a great day and read something fabulous!! Time’

  103. Amanda says:

    clothes. yes. i will give up clothes purchasing for a year. sigh. even if i have to MAKE something (horrors! but only because i can’t sew). ;)

  104. wow, it’s like you read my very mind. Books are definitely my gazingus pin. I’ve managed to get myself down to four boxes of books (I just moved so this is my current counting method), but still find myself wanting to pick up new books. I’ve got enough half-read ones lying about to keep my busy for at least a month. I’ve been trying to think of what I ought to do about the book issue, as I call it. I am going to take up your challenge and limit book spending to $0 for one full year. This is going to be an interesting challenge!

  105. Kate says:

    I agree with your first two tactics to reduce book buying, but can’t figure out why you’d create a “want to read” list that you’d essentially ignore for a year. As long as you can get the book free from your local library – what’s the harm in acting on it? The due dates usually do a fairly good job, for me anyway, of making me read the books reasonably quickly so I don’t get a backlong. And since it’s from the library…it’s free.

    I tend to go to bookstores with a piece of paper and a pen. If I let myself have free rein, I’d walk out with a dozen books because they just look so good, but instead I write down the titles and the authors and then go home and put them on my library’s waiting list. It allows me to have that feeling of being surrounded by books in the store and choosing as many of them as I want; I just don’t get to take them home and read them that night but instead have to wait a few days or weeks.

  106. Maureen says:

    My pin is makeup. All the pretty colors!! If I happen to be at the drugstore, and there is something on a Buy One Get One Free sales (and there is ALWAYS something), I just can’t resist!!

    I know I couldn’t commit to not buying any for a year, I would never make it…

  107. Kelsey says:

    Books are my thing too. I’ve been clearing out my collection pretty aggressively lately and relying on the library for all of my new reading material.

    Also, I’m using Good Reads to track the books I’ve read and my “To-Read” list. It’s easy, electronic, and helps me to part with books since I’ll still have a record of reading them. I’m thinking of reading as collecting experiences instead of collecting clutter. Amazing concept.

    Good luck with your challenge!

  108. Joey says:

    My only vice/weakness at this point is eating out….and I have tried to break it. I have curbed it quite a bit and its not “hurting” me at this point, but I would love to cut it down considerably more. I won’t even bother saying I will commit to a year of no eating out, but your giving up something you love in books for a year motivates me to try harder. Thanks for the motivation as always.

  109. Kevin says:

    Hmmm, I don’t think I really have a serious issue with buying anything. My wife and I have cut down eating out to about twice a week, but that is one thing we budget for and we enjoy getting house on Friday nights after working all week…kinda like a date I guess.

    I guess getting coffee from Starbucks or even McDonald’s iced coffee is a “weakness” but even then I only get it twice a week or three times at the very most. I could probably cut back on that or soda but it’s one little thing I use to treat myself, so I’ll probably keep doing it.

    I have eliminated soda for a few months at a time in the past couple years, but going a year without is quite a feat. Sorry guys, but I’m sitting this one out.

  110. J. says:

    Not books.
    Anything but books.
    I’ve really curbed my book buying habits over the past months (I go to the library and do a lot re-reading), but there is no way I’m going stop buying them altogether. Right now I’m trying to stick to the rule that I have to sell some before I buy one again, but that’s as far as I’m prepared to go!

  111. Salve Regina says:

    Ohhhnooo! Not my books! A whole year, eh…? Except for books for the kids–required texts for classes only–I’m in. I easily have a year’s worth of unread books as well–almost entirely non-fiction, alas. Guess I better go pay off the fines at the library…it’s about time, anyway. giggle.

    And I love the idea of letting the PBS credits rack up! It has been a good exercise in self-denial to mail those puppies off every few days. I have to force myself to wrap each one. I don’t DARE look and see how to cancel a transaction! Thanks for ANOTHER great post!

  112. Good for you! Being frugal to the core, I don’t really have a grazingus(or whatever it’s called!). At least, I don’t think I do. I’ll have to ponder that.

  113. rob says:

    Books are my gazingus pin too, I spend a lot of money on them. But in the long run, they turn out to be pretty good investments, primarily for the knowledge gained, and for stimulating the imagination and creativity.

    Which is why I think it might be counterproductive so set a rule of “no books for one year”, as you might come across that one book in the bookstore that will lead to an idea or habit that will greatly expand your life, and not buying it results in a major missed opportunity.

  114. Rex says:

    Trent, Do you have an Amazon.com wish list? What is I want to buy you a book for all of the wonderful advice you have shared?

  115. sylrayj says:

    Yarn is my addiction. I knit and crochet, and it brings me such peace that I am striving to always have a ‘car project’ and to always find some time in my day to craft something. I have boxes of it, though, and bags of it. I’m not just one project ahead; I could quite conceivably make a full sweater/toque/scarf/mitts/legwarmers/socks set for all four of us, and still have enough to do blankies for my cat and rabbit. I have over a dozen unfinished projects, and dreams to do dozens more.

    I don’t allow myself to buy any more yarn than I’ve already used up. If I finish off a ball of yarn, I can consider finding another one (on sale) and I have to have a general idea in mind and not already have a dozen of that yarn on hand. The good thing is most of the ‘on sale’ yarn isn’t as cheap as I want, isn’t something I don’t already have, doesn’t have a purpose I can see when looking at it, etc.

    Still. I need to knit really fast and get through some of my stash!

  116. BonzoGal says:

    @LC, comment #42: My boss has six boxes from Zappos sitting in her office right now! She gets at least one box of shoes from buying online every week. She can afford it no problem, but I really wonder what her closet looks like, lol…

    Okay, everyone who is curtaling book-buying, we have a loophole: if Trent publishes a book before Aug. 5, 2009, we all have to purchase a copy as a way to say “Thanks for all the tips/advice/inspiration!” ;)

  117. Jean says:

    Excellent post. My gazingas pin is fabric…and yarn…and books. I’ve found free ways to get them though. I go on-line at Kijiji, or Full Circles, or Freecycle, and pick up what people are getting rid of. I’ve made some incredible hauls the last year doing it that way. Still…buying books at a discount is a real issue for me…I just have to say ‘no’! Recently I’ve discovered e-books. I see a problem looming…


  118. michael says:

    Cigars! I only smoke one or 2 a week, but have an ever-growing collection of a hundred or more in the humidor (actually, a big cooler now). Not unlike books, there are just too many great deals online. A $15 smoke for $5 each if I buy 10 of them? Sure!! (Fortunately come Xmas, they make great gifts for my smoking buddies — and for the troops.)

  119. bunny says:

    my gazingus pins are pens (and office supplies in general, especially if they’re on clearance) and cosmetics (lip gloss especially).
    i accumulate pens like water in a drain pipe. it’s really ridiculous.
    the cosmetics issue is really annoying because i used to work for a major cosmetics retailer and have tons of cosmetics (that were mostly free) as a result. but if i see a buy one get one or 50% off offer somewhere, i can’t help myself! i did go a year without buying (unless i legitimately ran out of something), but that was several years ago now. i keep thinking about doing it again, maybe i should.

  120. Josh Adams says:

    Books are a weakness of mine too, one I’m completely unwilling to give up. I also have a ‘want to read’ list, but I keep it on my main Amazon Wish List. I then have a routine I go through every couple of months that involves buying every book on my list that’s under $5. For one thing, I run a technology company and have to keep our bookshelves stocked. For another, I love books with every fiber of my being and wish to amass an enormous library. When I read a book, it becomes a piece of me and I can’t imagine parting with it. I need margins in a book, and I need them to be full of my impressions.

  121. Katy says:

    Is this frugality for frugality’s sake?

    How much do you actually spend on books, Trent (an absolute number or percentage of total spending)?

    If you are on track (or ahead) with debt reduction and all savings goals, why not spend money on something you enjoy?

  122. CarrieK says:

    wow…this really struck a chord with me today!!

    im a book lover also…obsessively, joyfully, addict-level in LOVE with books (yes i smell them)

    i recently have been on a binge of buying…three deliveries today alone!! i was starting to feel a little guilty about it. of course this was COMPOUNDED when i read your post!!

    my heart stopped when you said ONE YEAR. truthfully, even more than reading the books i love the BUYING of books…and i work in customer service for an online book seller!!! so really, i shop ALL DAY (truly pathetic).

    so all of that rambling to say what you’re doing is courageous and practically impossible for me. but THANK YOU for giving me a challenge and i will try my best…tomorrow is day one…

  123. antiSWer says:

    Good luck on your quest. Let us know what the withdrawal is like. ;)

    As for me, mine has to do with food. So going cold turkey on that one is probably not a good idea. I’ll try to narrow it down and get back to you to see if I can participate…

  124. PetMom says:

    My pets are my raison d’etre, and my gazingus pin is whatever I think will improve the quality of their lives. They have enough beds, toys, perches, and bowls to outfit a small animal shelter. Even the hamsters had 3-story cages with solid-tred wheels (not those wire things).

    A benefit of using money management software is knowing how much you spend on stuff. The down side is knowing how much you spend on stuff!!! Over the years I’ve averaged $200/month on pet-related expenses and that is built into my monthly budget. I know that’s a luxury many can’t afford, and I’m thankful I’m in a position to be able to. But I’m willing to give up a lot of other stuff (dinners out, fancy clothes, tech gadgets, Starbucks, vacations) in order to pay for my passion.

  125. Bobby Eff says:

    I too like entertainment – Cd’s, DVD’s, books, and in the last year have found our library system awesome. I am continually amazed that 80% of the time the exact item I am looking for is at the library. Books come pretty quickly, music Cd’s really quickly and DVD’s are slow but worth the wait as by the time I get it I really want to see it. I have not bought a book in over a year, my next goal is CD’s. Thanks Trent.

  126. Barbara says:

    My “Gazingus pin” is anything I can wear – clothes, makeup, shoes, jewelry, and so on. I pledge, starting today, August 5, not to buy any more of these items for one calendar year.

  127. Dime says:

    Mine is whatever I can buy with whatever money I have left. If I have a dollar I buy a dollars worth of the first thing I like. Useful things, but none the less things I don’t need. If I have $5 its a mocha at the first drive-thru I see (seattleite) If its $10, lunch. If its $20 going to the movies, more… whatever, the $$ gone. I buy and buy. I cant go anywhere with money in my pocket and walk out empty handed. Well, okay, sometimes I can, like when I’m broke, or when I know the money I have absolutely needs to be put in my gas tank. Oh, well. That’s why I read this site…

  128. Reta Davis says:

    As far as Amazon goes, just remember that they still sell foie gras. You are an animal lover, right? Think of that whenever you really want a book (I have this addiction, too)–they are supporting one of the most cruel methods of producing a “food.” (Like who really NEEDS to eat fatted, diseased duck/goose liver?) I find this ever so helpful in holding myself back, negative as it is.

  129. Frances says:

    Maybe you could do what I did and get a casual job in a library! Huge to-read pile now and all free :) (secret, staff can get new books first, shhh, well, in my libratry anyways…)

  130. Dani in NC says:

    If a gazingus pin has to be something that you pay for, then I don’t have one. Spending money is something that I fret over so much, that I don’t have an item that is a must-buy. I have to hem and haw and research to buy a $5 paperback :-).

    Free stuff is a weakness for me. I have tons of free game demos on my hard drive that I have never played. I have handbags that my neighbor has given me and I rarely change bags. If someone is giving something away, I take it!

  131. Sarah G says:

    Put another tick in the book-gazingus pin column! I completely understand the feeling. I can’t walk in the tiny mall near our house without “stopping by” the tiny bookstore there. And once I’m in there…I don’t think I’ve ever left without a bag clutched in my hand.

    And nothing beats the feeling of finding a brown box on my doorstep straight from Amazon and knowing what treats are inside! I have it bad.

    I think I can go a year without spending any money on books – I have a collection large enough that it partially dictates our home decorating. :-) But unlike Trent, I may have to abandon my “To Read” list – 99 books and growing each week – all potential opportunities to fork over cash. Every time I look at it, the cravings to spend (and the visits to Amazon.com) start all over. I think I can remember enough of the titles and request those from the library without having to consult the list.

    For anyone who hasn’t tried the library, it is wonderful. I have saved tons of money reading books that I desperately wanted to purchase, only to find I didn’t even enjoy them that much. The only book I have ever checked out and then had to buy a copy for myself was Cold Mountain – and then I happened to pick up a first addition for $1 at the library book sale.

    I’m throwing my hat in! Here’s to 08-05-09!

  132. Ryan says:

    Great post, and a very interesting because I’ve just imposed the same rule on myself (slightly modified). I’ve challenged myself not to buy anything “non-essential” for the month of August (to start). I’m hoping that this will really encourage me to think before I whip out that ING direct debit card (which is awesome by the way). I say, way to go. Also, I hope that your exercise goals are tracking just as well. Although I’ve never met you, I must admit that I am quite proud of you. I will allow myself one purchase however, YOUR BOOK WHEN IT HITS THE SHELVES!!! Keep up the good work! I always enjoy visiting your page.

    P.S. If you are going to be spending more time at the library, you should befriend a librarian. I’ve found that they are incredibly interesting and frequently under utilized/appreciated geniuses.

  133. Don’t forget to look online for free downloadable books; there are plenty available, though you’ll have to sort the wheat from the chaff. Also, you can also find great short stories, updated regularly and in any genre you enjoy, in webzines. Good luck!

  134. Erica says:

    Mine is definitely stationary/pens. I have so many blank journals laying around that have a single page (or none!) written in them. I am proposing that I will not buy any further stationary or pens for a year, barring one of two circumstances:

    1. My Moleskine for my purse gets entirely filled up (it’s the only notebook that fits in there, and I lose ideas without it). In that case, I will replace it with an empty one.
    2. I somehow fill up ALL of the blank journals I have laying around before next August 6.

    I find the first much more likely than the second, and I think it’s a fair compromise.

    Pens are a dime a dozen. If I really need a pen and there are none in evidence, I’ll request one as a gift from my husband.

  135. paula d. says:

    Yarn of all types are my downfall. And I work in a yarn store. It’s tough. I’ve already decided this is the year that I knit from my stash. It’s kind of like reading all the books on your night stand, only it takes longer.

    Good luck Trent on your “book diet” and I wish you much success.

  136. ville says:

    I used to buy DVDs, but since I no longer have a DVD player (my house was burgled), there’s much less temptation to waste money on those. For books, I mostly rely on the library.

  137. Marcy says:

    Trent, I hear you on the books–and Erica–I too am addicted to stationery and pens/pencils. I’ve now been exposed!

    I will try the book diet with you Trent (right after I purchase “How to Cook Everything” this weekend) but I will request gift cards for my birthday and Christmas. I don’t know how successful I will be at dropping the stationery/pen passion for a year. Our local Target is now selling Papyrus cards and the PS Paperie stationery store may be having a sale soon on Cranes/Kate Spade stationery. Plus, I’m addicted to beautiful stickers that I use to decorate the stationery (especially letters to children.)

    I will do my best!

  138. reulte says:

    Another booklover here with a TBR stack of books yea-high (climbing on ladder and waving had above head). BUT . . . I had my book-boying moratorium about 7 years ago and haven’t bought myself a new book (except 2 text-books) since then. Good luck on your gazingas non-buying! It can be hard, but there are always ways of getting new books to read.

    I’ve gone through libraries, yard sales, Good Will/Salvation Army, Bookcrossing.com, Paperbackswap.com, lending/borrowing with friends, free literature/ebooks on the internet and reviewing books. I have promised myself that I will never buy a new fiction book full-price at a bookstore again.

    You notice that leaves me a lot of leeway.

    You should be in a position to request books to review/ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) from publishers, particularly books in the personal finance and management genres. Have you considered submitting your reviews to various publications or local print journals/newspapers? You’d probably have to shorten your reviews since there’s often a 500-word maximum.

  139. Asav Patel says:

    try this….

    this is the story that i have never published in physical form.

  140. Mary Beth says:

    Boy, I’m in good company. Books and yarn. I’ve got so many unread books that I don’t know what to do with all of them. Someone went to so much work to put those words on paper that it’s disrespectful to sell or give them away without reading them.

    The yarn stash I can deal with since I crochet on a daily basis. I’ll go on the book diet for a year but Amazon and B&N are going to have to file bankruptcy.

  141. Alexia says:

    Mine is also office supplies! Back in the day when I worked everyone would give me the stuff they were about to throw out to dig through! I almost had a coronary one time… :)
    I’ll give it up after the back to school sales are over. Oh, yeah that sounds like an addiction! Later! I’ll give it up later! lol

    Good luck!

  142. Carol Wills says:

    And not only books and office supplies, but art supplies that I collect and never use. It’s because I want to think of myself as a well-read artist that I buy all this stuff, but I’m too exhausted from working two jobs to pay for all of it to enjoy it.

  143. girty says:

    Yarn… definitely yarn. My stash isn’t as huge as some I’ve seen but I have quite a bit. I primarily make amigurumi’s so fortunately the yarn is cheap and it only takes a little to make what I make but I have quite a bit stashed up.
    My daughter laughs at me when we pass yarn in a store, “control yourself, Momma…”
    I’ve gotten much better since I lost my job. I will strive to only replace colors I’ve used up or only buy yarn for specific projects (I make all my Christmas presents- which I strongly recommend as it kills several birds. My friends/family get nice Xmas presents, I’m entertained making them, and it’s much less expensive and means more to both the giver and receiver)

  144. Misty says:

    I believe you can never have enough books, but I also have a very pared down collection- and most have been read at least 1 time. It is such a waste to have books that aren’t read! Good for you on making sure that they are read.
    I am a huge fan of paperbackswap and the library (when i was a kid, I would regularly check out the max that was allotted to children…do they still do that?) My husband and I used to go to bookstores to sit and read magazines, I finally told him that it was like being a kid in a candy store. However, I resist the temptation because I know I can get them much cheaper somewhere else.
    I check paperbackswap first and then the used book offerings on Amazon. Amazon supplied me with almost all my college schoolbooks (I was an english major)- i also sold them back when i was done for almost the same amount. Pretty good deal considering how much the campus bookstores gouge students.

  145. Jessica says:

    I think I am going to do this challenge with you also. I have a ton of unread books. More than I could read in a year…yet Amazon always taunts me. Thanks for the inspiration to quit buying. My bank account could use an amazon break too.

  146. Reader says:

    No fast food french fries until Aug 5, 2009!!

  147. Michael says:

    What exactly is the point of having money, if you can’t spend money on books?

    “Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity… we cherish books even if unread, their mere presence exudes comfort, their ready access, reassurance”
    (A.E. Newton, attrib.)

  148. Rhi says:

    Wow, this is a popular post!! I also have a weakness for books (almost entirely used books, fortunately, from the local YMCA thrift store) but my worst weakness is for outdoor gear. I’m an avid outdoorswoman, and spend FAR more money than I should on hiking/trail running/climbing gear. I’ve managed to get this under control for the most part these days, but http://www.steepandcheap.com is still a problem for me…

  149. SueDoc says:

    I’m joining you on this one. I’m in exactly the same boat — the compulsive desire to buy books, even if you only buy really awesome and cheap ones, is not healthy. Especially if books purchased > books you are physically capable of reading. I definitely have more than enough unread books to keep me busy for the next year (and I’m on track to read 75-100 books in 2008).

  150. Donna says:

    I can totally relate to this post.

    One of the things I got out of reading Your Money Or Your Life is to help identify what is really important in your life, and to look at how you’re spending your money in relationship to that. Eliminate the spending that doesn’t fit into your core values/energy.

    So for me, I elminated things like magazine subscriptions, food waste, eating out as often, etc.

    My book buying became much more conscious, but it was one of the things that really fit my life energy/values, so I have decided that this is one thing that I will not eliminate.

    I do, however, use Paperbackswap.com, sell used books on Amazon.com, to try to keep the expenses down as low as i can.

  151. Michecox says:

    Books are my thing too- and I would much rather own them than borrow them. My mom used to let us get a book a month as a treat because it was something affordable and educational. Now they have a library of probably 400+ volumes, and I’ve read almost all of them. I think if you’re going to spend money, books are probably a worthwhile thing, but if I went and added up all the books I bought used last month, it would probably be over $100… So I have to finish all the books I have before I buy any more.

  152. Kimmie says:

    I agree with the whole buying new books. Your money can be better spent. Recently I’ve been garage saleing on the weekends, it’s crazy the books, especially childrens books, you can purchase for .25 or .50 cents. Most of the time the books are brand new. I vowed to never to buy new books again. I’ve already started a collection for my future grandchildren.

  153. Dominique says:

    I so agree with you. I am joining your moratorium. I have already spent roughly $1100 on books this year. I have 14 books on my to read list but yet I still surf amazon.com. Every week, I find a new subject I want to explore and so I will buy more books. I try to purge but I hold on to each book like it is a dear friend. I rationlize my addiction by saying “I am educating myself.” but I am stopping right now.

  154. Red says:

    Awesome, high 5!

    This is something I do need to think about. The biggest problem would be getting technical books or nolo books, which I have trouble finding elsewhere.

  155. ruth says:

    Trent…I think this whole thing is rather silly. You are a writer and your tools of the trade are books! Why in the world would you consider this an addiction? I am a pianist and have never played all the music that I have, but why should that stop me from investing in my career? Your book purchases are probably tax-deductible and the more you read, the better you will write. don’t sweat it…life is too short to eliminate such a necessary joy from your life. There are plenty af ways to cut down expenses than not buying any more books. Books are going to be a thing of the past someday…so enjoy them while you can.

  156. Red says:

    Ok, comment #16 is hilarious, given the site he links to…

  157. Susan in CA says:

    Hi Trent,

    When I hear about a book I want, I put it in my Amazon.com wish list. Then when I have the time to read, I look up a book from my wish list on the county library website. If the book isn’t in my local library, I can put it on “hold” and they send it between libraries so I can pick it up from my local library. The online method is great and I rarely have to buy a book. This is a great way to decide if you want to actually buy the book, too, as I’ve done with a cookbook or two.

  158. Denelle says:

    Hi, My weakness is paper. I am a papercrafter and I love to browse new paper at stores like Archiver’s. It is impossible for me to resist. A piece of paper could be as cheap as 50 cents and it is so hards to resist… it’s only 50 cents. I have so much paper. I should use what I have and then consider buying more :) but it will be hard!!!

  159. colleen c says:

    Cookbooks are my weakness. I love them, and all the great possibilities they represent. Borrowing them from the library is stressful because I never want to return them. What helped me break this habit is the wonderful online recipe sites. AllRecipes is wonderful and it is FREE and I also enjoy the recipes on FoodNetwork.com. The internet has made cookbooks unnecessary for me.

  160. missy says:

    My weakness is scrapbooking materials. I am starting a business where I make instant scrapbooks for people (basically they just insert their pictures and story), so I am ALWAYS looking for a bargain. And I have such a hard time passing up a $5 scrapbook or a $8 pack of paper because my mind thinks of how many projects I “could” create with that paper. AH! I have made a commitment to use what I have now (which is a LOT) before purchasing anything additional for projects in the future.

  161. Donna says:

    Makeup is my gazinga pin. Although I’m addicted to reading, I’ll read almost anything, so between my collection of books, the library, newspapers at work, and the internet, I have plenty of available reading material. But makeup….well, there’s always some new little twist, or style, or color, or let’s face it…some new little promise out there. Remember getting (or wanting) the 64 box of Crayolas when you were a kid? That’s makeup for me. Hi-end, low-end, and everything in between is of interest to me.

    But, in the interest of financial self-preservation, I shall take up Trent’s Simple Dollar challenge. No more purchases (with the exception of replacing mascara tubes as they run dry; my promise is to not add to my collection, not to forego wearing makeup altogether)until August 6, 2009.

  162. Bobbi says:

    I will jump on board with you. I love books and have collected 1st editions for a while now. Most of them are signed by the author (in person). I am going to go through all of them and decide which ones I really want to keep & sell the rest on Ebay! I haven’t even read some of them and that is just a shame! So that is my commitment!
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  163. Lenore says:

    OMG, Shoes! I was always buying shoes I didn’t really need just because they were cheap and cute. I’ve saved money and storage space by limiting myself to just a few more versatile and durable pairs.

    On the other hand, the person posting about tofu has convinced me to hit a Chinese buffet for lunch. I know I spend way too much eating out and going to the movies. Maybe I’ll try a moratorium on those someday.

  164. Pamela Gustafson says:

    My addiction is diet pepsi. During the school year I drink two cans a day and in the summer I drink three cans a day. It has been an addiction for a long time and I have decreased my intake from five cans a day to the current 2 or 3 cans a day. I am thinking about your challenge.

  165. Droidy says:

    My big weakness is books too. I am becoming pretty sensible with other stuff, but with books it’s a lot harder, though I have been improving slightly. Most of the time I manage not to buy new books, but second-hand book markets are irresistible. I won’t promise not to buy books for a year, but I will attempt to resist harder and consider the big book pile already at home.

    Reading this article reminded me about honya budo, the martial art of visiting bookstores but not buying books, that a friend of mine came up with: http://liw.iki.fi/liw/log/2007-01.html#20070116b

    Good luck with gaining levels to all you fellow book lovers out there :-D

  166. Jane says:

    Never could I GIVE up books. My grandson whom I homeschooled for 5 1/2 years, started public school the last half of his 6th grade. He ended up being number 1 in his class in reading for the last half of the school year and number 3 for the whole year. He is a reader, and I have a nice size library of books for him, as well as for the rest of the family. He will read newspapers, magazines (I order Popular Machanics and Popular Science just for him), and gets good grades in school. I believe that the fact that he has always had books available, learned to use the library at a very young age, and had many books read to him even after he could read is the reason he gets the good grades. I have many books that I are keeping for him. Good luck to you, but no I could never give up my books. I do tend to stay out of bookstores, but my addiction is garage sales. I have cut down my garage sale buying. Only buy if it is something that I will use immediately.

  167. Rachel says:

    I do pretty well with both DVD’s and books. I would buy up to three of each every single week! Thanks to a local shop that purchases used DVD’s and a work-sponsored charity book sale, I have managed to really cull down my collections. I went from 3 bookshelves to 1, and from an entire WALL of movies down to one drawer in my living room. Plus, I can get both of these through the library.

    I actually have to thank Trent for the inspiration to clear out the extras. Many of his posts have helped me to reassess and unclutter my home.

    Unfortunately, I seem to have rebounded with Scrapbook Paper!!! I just can’t seem to pass it up, and I work at a Scrapping shop! Between the paper and the new stamps that seem to come out every single week, I pretty much pay the owner of the shop to let me hang out and play with the new things! I’ll have to decide which one is more realistic to give up… the stamps or the papers. Can’t really stop buying paper completely… what if I need specific cardstock to finish a project? :)

  168. Alice says:

    Books are definitely my gazingus pins, too. Thank goodness I’m a book reviewer so I get tons of them for free and the rest come from paperback swap. I haven’t bought a new book in years!

  169. Kathy says:

    books, my biggest addiction. Anyway, what I do is keep a wishlist on amazon.com and purge once a month. So, if I got a recommendation off of a blog, for instance “oscar wao” I would put it on my wish list. The next month I will re-evaluate the list. If I am still interested then it stays on the list, if not I hit the delete button. If a book stays on my wish list for more than 6 months to one year that tells me I should absolutely get it. Especially if I have not found it at a library or a used bookstore. I also like to check reviews at Shelfari.com before investing.

  170. Caroline says:

    Books, but I’ve already cut down so much, and I only buy them used from Friends of the Library… Except I’m honestly considering buying the fancy new J.K. Rowling $100 book!!! Good thing it doesn’t come out til Decemeber. I’ll have plenty of time to think about that one…

  171. Jeanie says:

    I quit buying books when I quit my job last August 2007. I have been getting my books from the library free. I have been on the list forever it feels like for “Sunset” by Karen Kingsbury series. I was number 20 the last time I had them check at the library. But when I check out the price, coupons or not I will wait.

  172. Kate says:

    I’m reading Oscar Wao right now. So far, it’s interesting. Wait for it though. Find other books to tide you over, and then when it’s your turn on the Wao, you’ll be all “oh that book! yay!” – no money spent.

    This is my rule with buying books (and I’ve only bought maybe 3 in the past 6 months because i had a gift card): If it’s something you’ll want on hand to lend to your friends, buy a copy. I see other people mentioned library book sales – GREAT. Cheap books ($1/hardcovers at my library!) and you’re supporting the library.

  173. Reeny! says:

    Me too Trent! I have a book buying addiction and I love to read, but lately my “to read” pile has been growing like crazy and I haven’t had time to touch it at all but I keep buying, I’m going to stop buying pleasure books like crazy off ebay for a year like you as well (or at least until I finish all the books that I have in my to read pile). Thanks for the inspiration! =]


  174. Sandy says:

    I’ll admit I too have this thing about books. Living on a military base where great books are aplenty and very cheaply too, I was spending huge amounts of money. I used to buy all kinds of great books not found here and spent thousands of dollars doing so. I have only bought one book this year at retail price, “The Tipping Point”. It’s great reading material and very insightful. I stumbled upon a great site recently, Project Gutenberg which has free ebooks to download, most of the literarure is old english but there are so many other books and topics to choose from.
    I’ll take that challenge with you. I marked it on my calendar and already have a list of books I would like to read.

  175. alasdare says:

    Hi Trent. I did the same thing you are doing. One day I looked at my overflowing bookshelves and realised where a lot of my money was going. I stopped going to bookstores and went to the library whenever I had the urge to browse. The first few months were hard, but eventually the craving to buy books went away. I’ve gone from buying three or four books a month to three or four a year, and I still read about one book a week. Now I just need to find a way to do the same thing with eating out.:)

  176. Roger says:

    At first, I would have said that my gazingus pin was books (which seems to be a rather popular opinion around here), most especially manga (Japanese style comic books). But, I’ve come to think that perhaps my DVD and video game collections are more appropriately considered gazingus pins. I have managed to accumulate a healthy pile that I’ve yet to watch or finish playing.

    “Even better, can you stand up alongside me and give that thing up for a year, too?”

    Well, I will certainly try to do my best. At least, I’ve made the resolution to not buy any more DVDs or video games until I’ve watched or played all I currently own. It’s a start, at least.

    P.S. Am I the only one to think of Harry Potter when I read the phrase ‘gazingus pin’ (especially in correlation to books)?

  177. Carolina Little says:

    i try to buy books cheap, then resell them back for money or credit.
    also, try asking for specific books or book store gift cards for your birthday, christmas or any holiday or ocassion where you are expected to receive a gift.

  178. Kevin says:

    Trent –

    My wife and I have decided to join you in your challenge and try not to drink any soda for a year. It’s going to be hard for sure, but we are looking to the $$ savings and health benefits as a big motivator. We also plan on using the “chain” motivation method to help us along by marking every day we are successful on the calendar in our kitchen. Thanks for giving us the kick in the butt we need to get going.


  179. Inyx says:

    Thanks for the info on Paperbackswap! I joined after reading about it here, and love it! I’ve already listed a ton of books and found some titles that I’ve been wanting to read, or add to my collection. Now if only media mail wasn’t so slow…

    (I also mentioned TSD when I signed up, since they ask where you found out about the site.)

  180. Paula says:

    I just categorised my spending for the last two months and discovered that 20% of my student income is spent on extra food. While some of this money went towards supplementing the household pantry, I’m guessing that most of this spending was unnecessary.

    I’m going to cap my weekly spending on extra food and work harder at taking snacks from home. A little forward-thinking might save me a lot of cash!

  181. Nicole says:

    Fear not – this is doable. My weakness is clothing and shoes. Since graduating from law school six years ago, I’ve spent $1000 to $3000 few thousand dollars a year on clothes and shoes. My New Year’s resolution for 2008 was not to buy any clothes or shoes for one year. I have made it to Mid-August and have stuck to my resolution. One thing that happened was I was forced to wear clothes that had been benched for a few years, but were still sitting in my closet. Likewise, this may inspire you to read any books that have been gathering dust on your shelves (I know i have plenty of those too).

  182. Bruce says:

    I have the same addiction. Over 2000 books and (the size) finally got my attention…I calculated that if I read two books a week I would have 20+ years of reading.

    So I’ve tried a few things. One is “Book parity”. This helps on the size of the collection, not so much on the $$$ spent. Simple: one book comes in, one must leave.

    The best thing was to use the phrase “store it at the store” as a mantra, and not just for books. Anything I want (vice need)? Store it at the store until the day or minute I need it. For books, that means I have a very long wish list at Amazon. OK. I can look at it and prune off things that were faddish. Nice.

    Finally, the other thing that led to this (and I don’t recall reading a post about it) was “satiability”. So I had a lot of books that I would troll the ‘stores for. Then I found abebooks.com. And bought everything I ever wanted in the way of used books. Pretty cheap, and way cool. But then I realized — was it enough? What was enough? It helped me realize that I had a more general problem: if you don’t know when “enough” is, you have a problem, and it ain’t a money one.

    I’m still “recovering”…but more books leave than come in (by 3:1 ratio), and I focus on READING what I have…not just skimming or caressing.

  183. tobie says:

    My family has taken much inspiration from Trent and the Simple Dollar. Last month we rented out our 3000+ sq. ft. home and are renting an 850 sq. ft. apt. I no longer have to mow the lawn or clean 4 different stories. We also make a monthly income for someone else paying our mortgage.
    Our goal: not to buy any non-food items for the next year! I know that we have at least a year supply of cleaning products, laundry detergent, all haircare products, gifts (I stock up on items when on sale and buy in advance). I would like to see how empty my cupboards can get in the next year. Next year we’ll be leaving the country to teach English while our children are still young. We hope to show them the world without all the materials we consume in America.

  184. Kelly says:

    I too am a book addict, but I consider that a good thing. In a world of shoe addicts, clothing addicts, meth addicts etc, what could be better than a habit of books? I hit used bookstores, yard sales and thrift stores and buy new books only occasionally. Go a year without buying a book? No way.

  185. Sarah G says:

    I’m adding ITunes to my no books for a year pledge. When this was first posted, I took a look at my ITunes library – yikes! All those 99 cent songs really add up – and I’m not one to wander around all day with my white earbuds in place – I only ocassionally use my IPod for walking the dog. So far,so good, but quitting ITunes cold turkey has been much harder than not buying a book – although I have been tempted by both several times already.

  186. Shannyn says:

    My weakness is stationary. I find that you can purchase really cute stationary for cheap (sometimes a dollar!) and I have over a shoe box full.

  187. jacqueline says:

    im also a bookworm! i cannot imagine myself not buying any books but since i sell used books online, maybe i could also sell some of my personal collection? :(

  188. mstump says:

    Books, electronic parts for projects I want to build but never have time and eating out are my vices. I’ve declared a moratorium on electronics until I finish a couple projects and have been going to the library more often. As for eating out we traded down to Trader Joe’s frozen foods for times when we are too tired or too busy to cook ($6 vs $25+).

    Some of the other commentators have mentioned library sales which in my experience have been very good investments. I collect rare books written by Victorian era explorers/adventurers and have found several rare books worth upwards of $30k at the local library fundraising sale.

  189. Kathryn says:

    Gazingus pin – what a great term, I may have to stick it on all my boxes of hoarded Fabric and Yarn.

    I’m going to pick up the challenge. Here is what I will do:

    No Craft or Yarn stores. No shopping the Goodwill outlet store -with out a minder. I’ll knit, crochet, tat, spin and sew for the year with only supplies on hand. Materials or things I make that I can not use will be first sold, then traded, and failing that donated. I will keep the receipt and actually use them for my taxes this year. I will not pay for any new patterns or books in order to use my materials effectively. I will use the tools and free information at hand.

  190. Screwdriver says:

    Super site! I am loving it! Will surely come back again – taking your feeds also, Thanks.

  191. Lise says:

    How has the year without buying books gone for you, Trent?

  192. Steve says:

    My weakness is coffee “stuff” . . . Coffeemakers, roasters, grinders, beans – green or roasted. Books also, but I manage tha addiction pretty well.

  193. anca says:

    i understand you so well, i also put a stop on buying books. i did it because it is very hard to move when i have so many books, i don’t own a home and don’t want one ever and besides that i can get a lot of information on a domain and very fast from the internet. i still have books to rid of but didn’t buy some since half a year which is a lot for me.

  194. Mike says:

    Also curious, did you make the year?

    I usually get my pleasure reading books from the racks outside or clearance area of Half Price or at the bi-annual Library book sale.

  195. Karen says:

    I take the pledge! One year without buying a single book. OUCH! Trent, how about a check-in, just a brief comment on how it’s going for you, say once a week? I know it would help me to walk this talk if I know you’re sticking with it!

  196. Dana says:

    Black purses. It’s utterly ridiculous. I keep hoping for the “perfect” one that will allow me to be the most organized woman alive on the planet, I suppose. I’ll spend $2.30 on them at Goodwill, $15 at Walmart, $40 at a department store, or $100 occasionally if I find the (yet again) absolutely perfect one. I put a complete stop to it a few days ago. I mean, good grief! A huge box of black purses went to Goodwill, and I am done! Going to keep using the one I have whether I like it or not for at LEAST a year. Gazingus pin. I love the term. Going to remember that one anytime I’m walking past the accessories department at a store. *hanging head and shuffling feet*

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