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7 Money-Saving Hacks For Book Lovers

7 Money-Saving Hacks For Book Lovers

As a voracious reader and tremendous book lover, you probably frown at the end of the month when you look at your grand total spent on books. Reading is an awesome habit, but sadly books don’t come for free (though I believe they should!). However, by following these 7 hacks you can drastically cut down your book expenses at no time!

1.  Sign up for loyalty programs and memberships

These days most big name bookstores (regular and online) offer special significant discounts and other perks to their loyalty program members. For instance, Barnes and Nobles membership card that costs $25 per year gives you the next cool benefits:

  • 40% off listed price for bestseller books
  • You are eligible for Everyday Member discount, so you can grab new discounted books and other products every day.
  • Free express shipping (1-3 days)
  • $50 worth of coupons, special deals and discounts
  • Permanent extra discount of 10% for all items on sale and everything else.

Also, you get 10% discount for all foods and drinks at their coffee shop and unlimited free wi-fi access. Your card pays off after about fourth shipping, so it’s a terrific value for money deal.

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BAM (Books a Million) also have a great membership program that includes free shipping, 10% in-store discount, $100 in coupons and special deals, free unlimited wi-fi at their store and much more for just $25 per year.

If you prefer reading online, get a membership with Discount Book Sale. For about $20 per month you get unlimited online access to thousands of books, free shipping and up to 30% discounts.

2. Master couponing and never pay full price again

Why you should pay full price when you can pay less if you browse around the web a bit? There are numerous coupons and discount codes available for book purchases out there. Check out sites like Discontrue, BeFrugal and Coupon Chief to score some major discounts and even get cash backs for the books you’ve bought (so you could buy even more books, obviously!).

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3. Organize a book swap

If you’d like to declutter your house and get new books to read for free – a book swap is the best way to do it! You can either ask your friends, co-workers and family to take part and swap or trade books or reach out to other book lovers out there through the web. TitleTrader allows you to swap books and DVDs with other users. You earn points when you give away something and spend them for getting something new instead. PaperBackSwap allows you to swap books by mail. For each book you send (postage is for you to cover), you earn credit to receive a book.

4. Visit the local library

I think of public libraries as hugely underestimated caves of wonders where you can get your hands onto glossy Taschen books you couldn’t afford or flip pages of really rare editions that could only be found at flee markets (if you get lucky).

In France, even small cities have one or two public Médiathèques as they are now called where you can get a free membership to take books, magazines and movies home or just spend the whole day in a cozy chair reading for free. Some even have free wi-fi and vending machines with snacks. You can find all sorts of books there in different languages including English, Spanish, German and others.

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5. Buy directly from the author

Nowadays, most authors run their personal blogs or websites where they typically sell newly released books for lower price compared to those you can find at regular bookstores or online. Most authors even offer special discounts and additional bonuses if you connect with them.

For instance, Jeff Goins offered a special price and extra audio version of his new book to his newsletter subscribers. A lot of authors host giveways you can enter by tweeting about it or posting it on Facebook and get the book for half price or even free!

6. Find the classics online for free

I know for some of us it sounds cool to have hard copy editions of Shakespeare or Dickens proudly standing on the book shelve. But for a frugal type like me, who also happens to move pretty often, having a huge home library full of classics isn’t an option at all. That was when I discovered Project Gutenberg – a public domain library with over 46.000 ebooks to download for free. Good old classics mainly published before 1923, meaning the copyright law protecting them has expired.

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Another great website to get free books from is DailyLit. Each day they’ll send you bite-sized parts of books right into your inbox to read during your coffee break or morning commute. Just set up an account and choose books from a rather extensive library. Most books are free, while the newest editions may cost you a few dollars.

7. Make mindful purchases

Isn’t it a bit frustrating when you read a professionally written book description and plot summary, feel all so giddy with excitement and pay the full price for the book, to later realize the author has a damned great copywriter, but his own text are rather disappointing? You not only waste money, but your time!

To avoid this happening, I typically visit Amazon and pre-read a few pages (for free), screen the reviews there and on Goodreads. Also, if the author runs a blog, you can typically download a chapter or few for free.

Also, loads of authors host read meetings, webinars and interviews (online and offline) where they talk about their new book and often read or quote some parts. Attending all of them is another great way to have a free sneak-peak inside the book and connect with the author. Typically, if I like how the person speaks and expresses their opinion, their writing turns to be highly delightful as well.

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Elena Prokopets

Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Published on January 17, 2020

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget (The Definitive Guide)

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget (The Definitive Guide)

Have you ever looked at health gurus and wondered how on earth they can afford all that health food? Or maybe you’ve tried multiple times to start eating healthy only to find the $600 monthly budget overwhelming?

If you’re anything like me, you know exactly what I’m talking about! I absolutely understand the sinking feeling of looking back over a grocery budget and finding you went way over what you intended. And besides that, it can be hard to justify buying a tiny $5 bag of carrot chips while a $1 mound of potato chips is sitting right next door.

My husband and I recently ran into that struggle. We got married this past year and soon found ourselves trying to balance 12 hour work-days with keeping our relationship strong and trying to keep our personal businesses afloat. Granted, our budget was the one thing that took a hit! After we started tracking our spending, we were shocked to see we were spending over $1000 a month just on food! A little planning cleared that right up.

So, how to eat healthy on a budget?

Here’re the top tips I learned that helped us shave over $600 monthly off of our food budget so we could reinvest that in the areas that really mattered to us![1]

1. Meal Plan

You’ve probably heard the saying “Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail” right? Well, this saying couldn’t be any more true than in the area of healthy budgeting! The fact is, most healthy foods don’t actually cost that much… the pre-made time saving ones do!

If you go about creating a healthy meal plan within your budget, you could easily cut costs down to around the same price you are paying for junk food.

Meal planning is as simple as working in foods you already have in your fridge/freezer, adding in several meals with simple ingredients and seasonal veggies, and breaking it down into a shopping list.

Often, finding a few meals to make in big batches will save you the most money in the long run, which leads me to my next point.

2. Cook in Bulk

Not only will cooking in bulk save you a whole lot of time, it will save you a whole lot of money too! Believe it or not, if you find meals to make with similar ingredients, you can easily save more money than when you were eating unhealthy.

Don’t believe me? Just look at a $4 frozen pasta dinner. Now, sub that with a veggie pasta dinner. 5 zuchinni ($3), Pasta sauce ($2.50), and chicken ($5) could last you a full 5 meals which adds up to a whopping total of just over $1 per meal!

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That’s not even digging in to all the money you will save from fast-food. Trust me, a little $10 spent here and there add up! You’ll be saving a whopping amount from all the meal prep you will do!

3. Cook all Your Meals in One Day

The science behind this is 2-fold.

Number one, if you have lots of meals to grab and go, you will be far less likely to binge on pricier food when you get hungry. Let’s be real, you’re not going to spend 1 hour cooking when hub-n’-grub is at your bekon-call!

Number 2, meal prepping ahead of time will help you stick to your meal plan better when you’re not in the mood. Let’s face it, we’re all going to have days when protein and veggies doesn’t exactly sound appealing. But, if you have a full meal that’s quick to grab in the fridge, it will be easier for you to fill up on the good stuff rather than spending money on what you don’t really need.

4. Cut Back on Snacks and Specialty Items

I can almost hear you from across the screen. “But, I thought snacks were good for me!” Here’s the deal: Snacks are expensive! And healthy snacks, oh my goodness, say goodbye to your paycheck!

Look, I’m definitely not saying that healthy snacks are bad. Quite frankly, I would much rather you chow down on Halo Top than a triple-butterfinger-fudge sundae. It’s just that… healthy snacks are why eating healthy gets a bad rap for being expensive.

Look at it this way: You could either buy a week’s worth of groceries full of chicken, fish, beans, veggies, and fruits for $30. Or, you can spend that $30 on six snacks that will leave you hungry for more.

What’s more, the ingredients for gluten-free baked goods, sugar free substitutes, or protein powders alone will add up to you eating a full week’s budget in one sitting. By all means, if you want to work some yummy items into your budget, do it! But don’t confuse that extra monthly $300 of delicacies as a necessity. Your body and budget will thank you!

5. Satisfy Yourself with Your Favorite Subs

We all have an emotional tie to food. Maybe pasta reminds you of home! Or maybe a fresh-baked pizza is what gives you a feeling of comfort. Whatever you favorite food, find a way to work it into your budget in the best way.

We’re only human, and depriving ourselves of what we love will never end well. More often than not actually, it ends in take-out or a pricey-premade substitute.

Instead of finding yourself in this situation, find a way to make your favorite foods fit your budget. Zuchinni noodle pasta might just give you that feeling of home without breaking the bank. Or maybe you could google a healthy pizza alternative you would like that you could make at home. Often, something similar to your craving will be enough to give you a sense of satisfaction.

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Or, just buy your cheat meal and save it for a special day. That’s okay too!

6. Stick to the Cheaper Proteins

Okay, I know we all love steak. Unfortunately, buying pre-cooked or expensive cuts of meat are one of the easiest ways to drain a budget.

Instead of purchasing those, try buying frozen chicken or eggs. A 5 lb bag of frozen chicken can be as cheap as $5, and you can buy a whole weeks worth of eggs for just over $1. You could even try going vegetarian for a few meals if you really want to cut down on costs!

7. Buy Frozen Fruits and Veggies

I know, we all love our fresh fruits and veggies! However, sometimes frozen might be the way to go if you’re looking to cut costs!

Fruits and veggies are easiest to ship when frozen, making them a much cheaper option. Contrary to popular belief, scientists have actually found that frozen might be better for you too![2]

The reason is, frozen produce is picked at its prime and shipped immediately. Fresh fruit tends to be picked much earlier so it will ripen while being shipped. Not only does this make it less nutrient dense, but sometimes the fruits are actually pumped with artificial flavors to make up for the lack of real nutrients.

While I’m all for fresh fruits and veggies, don’t feel guilty if you opt for frozen foods due to a budget.

8. Bump up the Calories with Rice and Beans

The problem some people find when trying to eat healthy is that it can be hard to get the amount of calories you need without relying on expensive “specialty” items. Instead of stocking up on pricey gluten-free breads and pasta, I say stick to simple rice and beans as the bulk of your meals.

Brown Rice is very cheap and easy to use as a base for bowls and dishes. Likewise, beans can add a bit of fiber making you feel full and satisfied without having to spend a lot of money.

If you are trying to cut on body fat, use extra veggies as the bulk of your meal and add in rice and beans as a filler.

9. Try Acai Bowls

Acai Bowls can be a really cheap and satisfying meal as long as you do it right.

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You can find cheap fruits at most stores or just freeze your fresh fruits before it goes bad.

Making your own granola can save you a lot of money as well. The total cost for this delicious meal should only add up to a few dollars compared to triple that price if you were to buy one pre-made.

10. Make Your Own Meal Kits

Do you like your meals freshly cooked? Sending meal kits to your doorstep is an easy way to drain your budget. Instead, try making your meal kit at home! Not only is it fun, you will easily get a delicious taste.

Simply find a few simple meal cards or print some out and fill a ziplock with the ingredients for each specific day. Don’t know what recipe to make? Another option is to order one month of meal kits and recycle the recipe into ingredients for the upcoming months with ingredients you picked up from the store.

11. Don’t Drink Your Calories

A few dollars spent here and there can really add up! Just as with specialty items, healthy drinks can be a blackhole for you. An energy drink and kombucha and coffee each day could easily have you spending and extra $300 each month!

I you really need a special drink fix, try making your favorites at home. Bring a coffee in, make kombucha, or even try making lemonade with stevia or a healthy soda. You’ll be surprised w hat a big difference such a small change can make on your budget!

12. Buy Cheap Online

Just like anything else, it pays to be prepared. Buying foods from online retailers can be a really affordable way to save money as long as you’re prepared.

Plan ahead for those more expensive specialty items you can’t live without. It will save you tons of money compared to having to buy food from a specialty store.

13. Don’t Fret about the Clean Fifteen

One of the huge things that can mess with a person’s budget is eating organic. For the record, I am 110% all for eating organic whenever you can. However, for some people, it can be hard to make organic food fit into a budget.

Instead of scratching healthy eating for a smaller budget, try to buy meat and the dirty dozen organic, and don’t go crazy about the rest. The clean fifteen are the fifteen safest foods to buy that aren’t organic! Meanwhile, the dirty dozen is the most worthwhile avoiding. According to Produce Retailer, these are the dirty dozens:[3]

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

14. Pay Attention to Storage

Keeping the food you have is just as important as how much food is in the first place. Try to stay on top of how much produce you can actually use before it goes bad. It might not be a bad idea to pencil an extra shopping trip in the middle of the week to keep food fresh.

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Investing in good food storage containers could go a long way in saving you in the long run as well.

15. Freeze Food Before it Goes Bad

Instead of getting mad at yourself at the end of the week for all the wilted produce you need to throw out, try freezing it before you get to that point.

Most frozen veggies will taste delicious in stir fries and soups. You can freeze fruits to make sorbet or smoothies. Frozen greens can be chopped up and tossed into just about anything for a nutrient boost!

16. Consider Ditching Most Supplements and Powders

I have nothing against superfood powders and supplements. However, if your budget is tight, it can be hard to fit supplements and powders in.

Instead of adding in powders, add extra nutrients to you food. Add lots of greens and veggies to all your meals to meet your nutrient needs. If you need a specific supplement, you can find great deals online as well!

17. Use Budget App

There are so many great apps you can download for free. One of my current favorite is HoneyDue because you can track your budget easily with your spouse. There are many options available, just find the one that you’re most likely to use. The ones that download your spendings automatically are often the easiest and will give you a more accurate number.

My husband and I use the same app, but have a separate budget for each of our weekly food plan and for our additional snacks. Keeping things separate can often be helpful to know exactly where your money is going. Plus, it can help hold you accountable if you have a significant other you are sharing money with.

18. Use What you Have

Most people have unused protein powders lying around in their cabinets. Instead of letting that go to waste, work them into your meal plan. Protein powders can make amazing doughnuts, pastries, or pancakes!

19. Enjoy the Process!

Finding ways to enjoy your new lifestyle will be helpful in sticking to it long term. Find fun in seeing how much you can save each month. Make a competition with someone to see who can stick to the lowest budget and create something fun to do for the winner with some of the money saved! Blast some music in the kitchen while cooking your new recipes.

Budgeting and health doesn’t have to be a drag. Make it fun and you’ll enjoy your new lifestyle long-term!

Featured photo credit: kevin laminto via unsplash.com

Reference

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