Recipes and Tips for Healthier Living and Smarter Budgeting

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Budget Saver Tip #37: Paperback Swap

It's been ages since I wrote a budget saver tip! This tip is something I've been enjoying the last several months but first learned of years ago. (And if you're not a bookworm, like I am, this tip won't do you much good. Although, you could always pass it along to someone else...)

My family has always been a regular patron of the local library and I hardly ever bought books until recently. Now my library is farther away and often doesn't have the books I need right on the shelves--and I don't always plan ahead to order in what I want (because sometimes it's fun just to browse). It's been a bit frustrating. However, my city also has a lot more yard sales than where I've lived previously--and better quality yard sales--so I've been picking up books in great condition that I already know are excellent to add to my family's collection. I've found many, many great books this way for 25 cents to $1 (I don't typically buy them if they're more than that) and often use them as Christmas and birthday presents. Now, I'm not one for collecting things and I regularly purge our house of things we haven't used/worn/missed for the past year, but books are my exception. Because books bring me such pleasure, can be read with other family members (which equals quality time), and can be read over and over, I consider them an investment, not something that just takes up space.

So here's where Paperback Swap comes in. At the aforementioned yard sales, I've started my family's collection of some of my favorite series. But I can't always find every book in the series at the same time. So I joined Paperback Swap to see if they had some of the ones I was missing. They did! And they have a system set up so you can add books to your wish list and then when they show up, you get an email notification so you can order it while it's available. Slowly but surely I'm completing our collection of a few different series (as well as other well-desired books).

For those of us on a tight budget, here's the nice thing: There is no charge for joining Paperback Swap. All you have to do is offer 10 books on the system--and most books are accepted as long as they're in good condition. When my mom and I scrounged around for books we had but didn't want or need anymore, we easily came up with enough to get me started. Once you've posted your 10 books, you get two free book credits to use immediately. And one book credit is good for one free book! By the way, Paperback Swap also has textbooks, audiobooks, and DVDs, and they have hardback books as well as paperbacks. So if your experience is like mine, you'll post your 10 books online, request two free books to be sent to you, and while you're waiting for them, other members will start requesting the books you've posted. Then, you just have to package those books, take them to the post office, and pay postage (which is usually under $3 each). Once the recipients receive the books you sent, you receive one credit per book and can order more books! It's a wonderful cycle that I have had a lot of fun with, and from a monetary standpoint it has been worth it for me to be part of.

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