How I Conquered My Year Long Buying Ban (for the most part)

November 24, 2014 Discussion 64

At the beginning of this year I made myself one of the most impossible New Year’s resolutions a book blogger could make: I would go on the biggest buying ban you’d ever seen and by NO BOOKS until my birthday. Of course I didn’t stick to it 100%, but instead of buying six books every time I walked into a book store I’ve probably bought only 20 books this year so far. That’s a really good effort for me. (Not having time because of uni also helped)…

This technique is something I only came up with a few months ago and wish I’d thought of it sooner because it works really well! I’ve had a couple of people ask about it so I thought I’d share my secrets.

One of the parts of buying bans that makes them so hard to stick to is the fact that you’re not allowing yourself to buy books AT ALL. This makes it even more tempting to break and also makes you feel more guilty when you do. My approach does allow you to buy books… within reason. But it also stops you.

The main concept of this approach to a buying ban is you have to work for your books.


Everything I did, from study to exercise, to reading books from my massive TBR, had a monetary value. The things I really didn’t want to do were worth more than the things I did often. You could really earn money for anything you wanted. Try and stick away from things you do too often because that’s going to earn you too much too quickly and you’re supposed to be not buying books. But don’t be so harsh on yourself that it never feels like the value will never get high enough for you to buy even one book.

Things that could earn you money could be:

– study
– exercise
– conquering a fear
– going a day or a week or a month without an anxiety attack, or a cigarette, etc
– helping someone out
– reading a review book
– writing a blog post
– commenting on blogs
– writing a certain number of words of your novel
– so many other things!

And of course the best part of this ban is the spending. There are two ways you could spend the money you earn: let the amount accumulate over time and set a date when the ban ends and you can spend only what you’ve earned, or use this as a budget. 

I started this ban with the thought that I was going to splurge at the end of it. I could add the money I earned over the past few months to whatever I got for my birthday and buy ALL THE BOOKS!

However, due to changes in circumstance, I can’t spend this hypothetical money now. Which sucks because I was really looking forward to it. So next year I’m going to use this as a budget for buying things I want. Whenever I buy something I have to take its price off the total I’ve earned. This allows you to buy more books more often, but doesn’t allow you to go overboard. And if you did you’d be in the negatives and have to work your way back up.

In the few months I’ve trialled this method I’ve been so happy with how it works. I’m not tempted to spend as much because watching the numbers get higher and higher is so satisfying. I can’t wait to give it a try and see how it works over an entire year.

What do you guys think of this technique?
Want to try it?
Would it work for you?
How do you stick to your buying bans?

UPDATE: Just found out about this awesome challenge that may help you stick to your buying ban! I’ve signed up and can’t wait to beat it :D

64 Responses to “How I Conquered My Year Long Buying Ban (for the most part)”

  1. Alise

    As you know, I am a huge fan of this system and think it’s a great idea. I think if I started something like this, I really would stick to it. Which would be great, if I had money I could actually spend in the first place xD Ah, I need another job, le sigh. I do spend a lot of money towards food that I probably shouldn’t… maybe a fast food ban should be in my future.
    Alise recently posted…How I Conquered My Year Long Buying Ban (for the most part)

    • Bec

      Of course it’s a great idea. I came up with it :P Definitely give it a go! And you could just let the money build until you do find a second job!

      Meanwhile I barely buy any food and waste it all on books :/

  2. Eugenia @ Genie In A Book

    This sounds like a great way to conquer a book-buying ban (which as bookworms we can definitely find hard to keep). Just *saying* that you’re on a ban isn’t always enough to resist the temptation out there, and while there’s always a chance that we will trip up every now and then to splurge on a book that WE JUST COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT, this method sure sounds like a fantastic idea. Thanks for sharing Bec :)
    Eugenia @ Genie In A Book recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Summer TBR

    • Bec

      Book buying bans are so hard to stick to omg. I usually break them within a week of saying I’m on one.

      No worries :)

  3. Tabitha @ not yet read

    That is actually a pretty good method. However I don’t like the idea of banning myself from buying books because I love books and I love the idea of supporting authors and the industry but I do love the idea of controlling my outrageous spending habits on books so I think I will try to adopt your system for my book spending but more likely my crafting and art supplies instead since I spend more on those lately and I will be starting maternity leave soon and have a very limited budget what with the new child and being on medical leave.
    Tabitha @ not yet read recently posted…Review: Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake

    • Bec

      I do love supporting authors and the industry because they do support it for all their hard work! But when my bank account isn’t growing because I spend all my money on books as soon as I get it and I’m not reading books I already own… then an intervention is needed.

      One of the great things about this system is that it can be applied to all things! Next year I’m going to use this system to regulate my general spending because I’ll have to pay for rent and food and so many adult things!

      Eep that’s exciting! I have been told children are expensive. Good luck with it all :D

  4. Amber @ YA Indulgences

    This sounds like an awesome technique. And definitely my kind of thing. ;) Rewarding myself with books for doing things I don’t want to do (exactly). I did a post on book buying bans a few weeks ago and I never thought of giving myself a dollar amount for doing things though. I definitely want to try this in the new year! Haha, yes, after December is over. ;)

    I don’t really go on book buying bans, so there’s an irony to me writing a post about them, but anyway, I have the problem of spending too much. I suppose it’s a good thing I have a limited amount of funds, but then a bad thing because all the funds goes to books (it seems like) and then I have no money, so I’m on a sort of book buying ban that way.

    This was a great post and so useful. Thanks. :)
    Amber @ YA Indulgences recently posted…Musical Monday – – Spring Awakening

    • Bec

      Thanks! Haha it is pretty strange to think about rewarding yourself for not buying books with buying books XD I wish you luck when you try it :D

      That is the exact problem I used to have! And I didn’t have a limited amount of funds at the time so it became a major problem.

  5. Laura Plus Books

    This is such a cool technique! I’d definitely do it for buying anything I want since just books is a little too restricting for me. Although I feel like I would get too lazy to set goals and then I’ll spend all my money anyway LOL! :P
    Laura Plus Books recently posted…Am I in a Reading Slump?

    • Bec

      Books is what I buy most of so it’s what fit best for me. But this can be applied to anything really!

      Haha yeah, it might be hard to stick in that little budget… And it would also be hard to not give yourself some extra rewards sometimes :/

  6. Nara

    Woah that sounds like an awesome technique! Not gonna lie, it probably wouldn’t work for me because my parents fund my book buying habits (thank you, parents!), and I’m pretty much allowed free reign on whatever books I want, and so find it really hard to go on book bans. But if I ever do need to go on one for some reason, I’ll definitely keep this technique in mind!
    Nara recently posted…Sci-Fi Month: First Lines Quiz

    • Bec

      What beautiful parents you have! They used to be my book fund but then I kept getting in trouble for buying too many books and had to change my ways…

    • Bec

      That’s another really good way to stop yourself buying too many books! I really need to start utilizing my local library again :)

    • Bec

      You keep that streak up! Right now here it’s summer and uni is finished so it’s very tempting to buy ALL The BOOKS!

      I wish I could get my earned books :( Circumstances have changed and now I need to save that money for more important things :/ Might still buy one or two new books though XD

  7. Anatea

    I think this is one of the best ideas I’ve seen in a while! Actually, as soon as I finish commenting on this post, I will make my own list on how to earn money for books! Not only is this idea great because it keeps me from spending so much money on books, but it also makes me do things like exercise and study to buy books. You’re a genius, you know?
    Anatea recently posted…Review ~ On the Edge by Allison van Diepen

  8. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Oh I LOVE this ^^ the past couple of years, since I went to BEA I’ve ended up on pretty harsh book buying bans. I mean, I allow myself some room to buy books once and a while, but seeing as I’m poor, I haven’t cheated much. This system of yours though. Without feeling completely cut off I could EARN buying books :D Genius. And yeah, I think I’d use the system as a budget, in case I end up broke when I’ve finally EARNED the right to splurge hehe Thanks for sharing this Bec!! xx
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Stacking the Shelves *41*

    • Bec

      Not having money really does help you stick to those buying bans, as I will experience next year!

      Oh man, that would suck being broke on the date you set to splurge :/ But then I guess more time to earn more money haha!

      No worries :D

    • Bec

      Nah, you’re not weird. You just know how to save money!

      I have this thing where I don’t really like buying second hand books for some reason so I find it hard to get cheap books… 99cents though is a great bargain! And I bet you could find some good books out there for that price!

    • Bec

      Allowing yourself to earn money towards books makes the ban less… depressing? Bleak? I don’t know.

      You have a good week too :)

  9. Jess @My Reading Dress

    I think I got goosebumps from just the title alone. Is that being dramatic hahaha?

    But I actually really like your system and I think I may have to give it a go. I mean, I haul ass out of bed for the gym and I’m getting nothing out of it (except well…I suppose results but lol let’s not), so this will be a great way to motivate me! And not to mention, I could use with a bit of motivation in order to tackle NG LOL that ratio of mine is HORRENDOUS I DON’T EVEN LOOK AT IT ANYMORE HAHA
    Jess @My Reading Dress recently posted…Why Am I So Eloquent In Negative Reviews?

    • Bec

      Nah, that’s not too dramatic. I’m just glad you like the title because this post took forever for me to name :)

      My NG ratio was the reason I started this. I needed something to encourage me to cut that TBR pile down! And what better than the promise of new books in the future?

      I hope this works for you if you do try it!

  10. Ebony @ Daring Damsels

    Wow, this is really fantastic and actually very helpful for me. While I can go crazy and splurge on books, when I know I have things coming up that I need money for, I am good and don’t spend anything more than what I can afford. However, with starting uni next year, I’m definitely going to have to set up a reward system similar to this for books. Not that I’m going to have a lot of spare cash floating around anyway. Thanks for sharing, Bec. :)
    Ebony @ Daring Damsels recently posted…Daring Damsels’ Travelling Book (2)

    • Bec

      Oh yep, uni will drain your bank account heaps. But you can still scrimp and save and it will feel great to reward yourself after completing the year!

      Good luck with it all next year :)

    • Bec

      Yep, I have done the same thing many times. I don’t just break bans a little bit, I break band big time.

      I hope it is successful for you too!

    • Bec

      There have been many a times I have asked people to take away my various cards and I try not to have cash in my wallet. But now my paypal account has saved my details… Resisting is the hardest part.

      Thanks :)

  11. Renee Bookboyfriends

    That sounds like a great idea! omg especially when I needed to study! Although then I just didn’t think about books at all and pretty much went on a reading ban so I wouldn’t spend all my time reading rather than studying and yay it paid off! I was very happy with my marks!

    Although adding money will probably be a good idea for year 12, with the exception of The Ruby Circle, because it has been my tradition to pre-order it and get it two days after it comes out every time.

    Thanks for this post and the great idea!
    Renee Bookboyfriends recently posted…bookphile:


    In honor of reaching a follower…

    • Bec

      Study not giving you time to even think about books is also an effective method XD It is nice to add money so you can reward yourself once all the hard work is done though!

      No worries :)

  12. Celine

    That’s a really clever system. I’ve tried to ban myself from buying more books until I’ve read every single book I already have. And then I walk past a book shop and – oh look! There’s now a new book in my handbag (by that I don’t mean that I shoplift them, I buy them ;) ) It’s never ending.

    I like your money earning system though, it’s a bit like weightwatchers points isn’t it? What’s the first book you’ll buy with your budget?
    Celine recently posted…First go at WIPpet Wednesday

    • Bec


      That is exactly how my TBR shelf has become so full there’s no more space on it.

      I’m not too sure how weight watchers works because I’ve never known anyone who uses it, but I suppose it would be a similar system.

      I actually just used all that money today at Supanova Pop Culture Convention :D Bought three books which weren’t ones I was dying for but that I’ve been wanting for a while!

  13. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    Most of the books I buy are some kind of present/treat to myself, so in some way I use such a system. I just can’t stop myself from buying them by setting rules for myself, but I think it’s a good idea if you can work with it :D!
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Debut-a-thon 2014.

    • Bec

      It is similar! If I did that I don’t know if I could stop myself from buying six books at a time O_O Having a straight ban with ridiculous rules just makes me feel even more guilty when I break it. This way I have a little leeway but I can’t go overboard!

  14. christine

    Oh, that’s a great idea! Personally, a student with little money does the trick to prevent me from buying books most of the time xD But I love this idea! I can definitely see it working with me – I desperately need to get off my lazy ass and do something productive. Did you buy any books with your new budget yet?
    christine recently posted…Top Ten Books I’m Looking Forward To In 2015

    • Bec

      That is also a great method to stop yourself buying books haha!

      I ended up spending my budget at Supanova (a big pop culture convention). Bought three books and a few other things :D

  15. Rose

    I love this idea! So glad you decided to join our No Book Buying Challenge. I get what others are saying about why on earth would one want to voluntarily put themselves under a book buying ban, but the truth is I own over 100 books I have NEVER EVEN READ! I am all for supporting authors and I can do that! By actually reading the books they wrote and reviewing them on my blog… How can I gush about how awesome some author’s book is if I do not in fact READ the book??? Unless the cover is super pretty… ‘suppose I can gush then… anywho, so glad to have you join us! LOVE LOVE LOVE this book budget idea. I think I need to have one of these, but I need consequences for wasting my time, too. Like, walk the dog +$0.10. Did not walk the dog but sat on my lazy tired behind and watched tv while stuffing puppy’s and my face with cheese-its, -$0.10. hahaha
    Rose recently posted…10 Reasons why I will rate a book 2 stars

    • Bec

      Thanks! Your challenge sounds awesome and gives me extra motivation to stick with my ban!

      YES! There’s at least 150 unread books on my shelf I haven’t read! And it feels like such a waste to me. As you said it’s a lot easier to recommend and support books if you’ve read them!

      I never thought about adding consequences to take money off but it’s certainly another good idea!

    • Bec

      You are a terrible person to be friends with when I’m on a buying ban :P I knew I wasn’t going to be able to not stick to it 100% though. I mean, I’m me. But this certainly saved me a lot of money this year and hopefully will next year too!

  16. AlyssaZ

    I absolutely LOVE this idea! I was already toying around with the idea of staying away from Netgalley and my other review sites til at least June AND doing a complete book ban. I’m definetly going to contemplate doing a copycat, if you don’t mind of course!
    AlyssaZ recently posted…Obsidian Mirror Review

    • Bec

      Thanks! Feel free to use this technique to, especially if it will help encourage you to sticking to that ban :)

      (P.S. Sorry this reply is so late. I didn’t see it until now!)

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