my 2008 financial resolution

lookoutbunny Over at Cash Money Life Patrick is going to be hosting the first Carnival of Financial Goals next Wednesday (December 5th). To get it started, he’s asked people to write blog posts related to their 2008 financial resolutions. The kicker is that you will also be entered in a contest to win an iPod. The goal has to be SMART – see my resolution below and you’ll understand what that means.

Here is my resolution and how I intend to accomplish it:

I will average $1000 per month in alternative income in 2008.

* Specific – I’m going to expand my alternative income through this blog, through writing freelance articles, through my investments (although those will be reinvested) and through my other blogs.

* Measurable – In December I will look back, take the total of my non-wage income for 2008, and divide by 12. That number will be higher than $1000.

* Actionable – I’m already started on this goal – this blog is earning nearly $0.03 per day, I have some dividend-and-interest-producing investments, and I have started submitting a few freelance articles here and there. I just need to increase the intensity of all of these actions!

* Realistic – If you’ve read this blog for a while you know I believe that just setting a goal down to (figurative) paper means that you can achieve it, but even without that belief I’m sure that if I work hard enough at 10 different income streams I can manage to generate that much, or more, if I make it a resolution.

* Timely – I will have a good idea if I’m headed in the right direction by February 1, but even if I earn $10 in January it just means I have to average $1090 for the next 11 months. I’ll have a moving target each month, and I’ll know on December 31 if I hit my goal or not.

I am positive that this new Carnival is going to be a good one – it’s a great idea and honestly the only bad thing I could say about it is that I wish I had thought of it first! Write up your resolution, submit to the carnival, and visit Cash Money Life!

Image by flattop341

how to lead a mysterious life

Are you the type of person who likes to know how a movie ends in the first five minutes? Do you keep asking “are we there yet?” If so, jump to the end of this post – it’s not for you.

I am a person of routine. I really enjoy waking up at the same time, eating the same breakfast, keeping to a set schedule. Yet at the same time I have noticed that increasingly the routine doesn’t bring me as much satisfaction as it did in the past. I spent some time (actually a lot of time) reading about the ways in which you can increase your happiness, and while a change in routine does not lead to a permanent increase in happiness, the act of changing itself DOES increase happiness.

What does that mean? If you eat toast for breakfast every day, you are happy. You have food, it tastes nice, it meets your needs. One day you switch to eating an apple. Wow! Something new and exciting. You enjoy the change. The next day you eat an apple, and the next and the next. Soon it’s a new routine and while it doesn’t make you LESS happy than when you were eating toast, it’s no better, either.

So what can you do to add some change? Try a mysterious life! This is a phrase I came across that seemed to be a neat concept. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Change your diet. You may eat a typical western diet. Try reading about what other cultures eat and adopting that for a while. In Fujian province in southeastern China, breakfast may include rice porridge and side dishes like pickled vegetables and century eggs (a Chinese cuisine ingredient made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime, and rice straw for several weeks to several months).
  2. Change your commute. For most people, the commute to and from work becomes a clockwork activity. Try taking a different route. Try leaving earlier or staying later. Stop halfway through and get off the train or out of your car and buy a cup of coffee (I know about the Latte Factor, but it’s OK once in a blue moon).
  3. Take a break. Try taking a nap in the afternoon. If you eat at your desk everyday, go for a walk. If you can’t leave the building, walk around a different floor. Go to a local park and watch squirrels. You don’t have to work as if you’re chained to a desk.
  4. Exercise differently. Do you run usually? Go swimming. Lift weights? Do a spin class. Do nothing? Try getting off the subway a stop early, or parking your car at the furthest possible edge of the parking lot. Take the stairs.
  5. Read a book. Not one you like or think you’ll like, though. Always thought you hated mystery novels? Try reading one. Not a big fan of romance novels? Give it a shot.
  6. Wear some different clothes. Don’t buy new clothes, but you can probably find something you haven’t worn in a while. If you work in a business casual office, wear a tie. If you normally wear a suit, wear a t-shirt to work (change in the bathroom once you arrive if you must). You’ll feel the world in a different way.
  7. Change your sleep. If you have always felt rushed and harried in the mornings, try waking up 15 minutes earlier. If you feel groggy, try sleeping 15 minutes later. Stay up late, or go to bed at 8 pm. So many people think they have discovered THE pattern for their sleep when they are 25. They don’t realize that their biology shifts when they are 30 and they need a totally new pattern.
  8. Do the unexpected. Cook a new type of food. Call up your college roommate. Pick up trash on the side of the road.
  9. Make eye contact. Don’t freak anybody out, of course, but try looking at people in the eye during the day. Smile. Don’t act like a stalker, but try to send out a friendly vibe, even if it’s just to the person taking your cash at the checkout lane.
  10. Don’t be shy. Shyness is a frame of mind. There is no physical condition or disease called “shyitis”. Decide not to be shy today. Say “hi” to people in the hall. Make chitchat with the bus driver, or the people on the elevator. Most people are happy that you’ve chosen to break the monotony, too.

Most of these things seem pretty silly, but there’s a lot of power in breaking up your routine. See what happens if you change your routine. You never know, it might just make you a little bit happier, and every little bit counts. You probably have similar feelings when you do something new or out of the ordinary. Make breaking your routine a part of your routine!

guest post: working parents are not a bad thing

A few weeks ago I ran a couple of posts, rich mom, poor mom and the myth of the parent that NEEDS to work that inspired a fair amount of comments. Most of the comments were in agreement, but a few people did take exception with my reasoning and I decided that it would be a good idea to let some of the arguments in favor of working parents be heard. I asked plonkee of plonkee money to write a response based on a comment she left, and fortunately she agreed. She has a terrific blog of her own (here is the feed) and it’s well worth checking out for an English perspective on personal finance. Let us know what you think!

A little while ago brip blap posted a couple of times, with a very positive view of one parent in a two parent family not working outside the home.

Based on my own childhood experiences, I’m not sure that I can agree with the blanket assertion that one parent (either one) staying at home is always a good thing.

When I was young, my mum stayed at home and didn’t work; in our neighbourhood, this was pretty normal. My closest siblings and I had a very happy childhood and we’ve all grown up to be well-adjusted and successful adults.

However, I have some other siblings who are quite a bit younger. By the time they were born, my mother had gone back to work and they were left in the care of a childminder (family daycare) as very small children. They have had a happy childhood and have grown up to be well-adjusted and successful adults.

What is the difference between our childhoods? From our point of view, almost nothing. From the point of view of my mother, her experiences are worlds apart. She didn’t enjoy staying at home and looking after us, craving non-child related adult company, and a professional life. This didn’t affect us but she was much, much happier when she went back to work.

Now, it is true that my dad could have stayed at home instead. Aside from probably not enjoying subverting stereotypes, I’m pretty certain that, although he loves us dearly, he would have enjoyed it even less than my mum.

I’m pretty sure that my parents aren’t the only people with kids who don’t or wouldn’t enjoy staying at home full-time. And there are lots of adults now went to daycare as kids without adverse affects.

Being a stay at home parent works well if that is what you want and makes you happy. If it doesn’t, then it’s not a good choice. After all, parents’ happiness matters too.


read me at www.plonkee.com

wrapping up the holiday weekend

Long holiday weekends are nice, aren’t they?  No work responsibilities (if you’re lucky), nothing but friends and family and free time.  I find these weekends – more than the normal too-short two-day weekends, remind me of what my ideal life is and will be – the freedom to pursue my interests independent of worries about commuting or corporate politics or buying "work clothes" just to keep up with the corporate co-worker Joneses.

I thought I would add to the earlier post today and mention that a month ago I was thankful for 10,000 visitors and 20,000 page views.  Today, just three weeks later, I’m approaching 35,000 and 70,000, with almost 300 subscribers.   

To everyone who reads, I’m grateful that you find what I’m writing interesting enough to spend your valuable time reading it!

Love him or hate him, Anthony Robbins has many inspirational thoughts, including this one:  “When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears."  That’s how I feel today – so thanks to you for that!

Some posts from the past:

what lies before us

"An individual’s life is made up not only of experiences and events but also of ideas, dreams and possibilities."

I came across this great quote in an odd place:  a review of "Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten" on the New York Times.

Does this make sense?  Is it going to provide some sort of deep insight?  Is it OK to get inspiration from an online newspaper’s movie reviews?  Yes, yes and yes.

Many people have life goals expressed in terms of experiences and events.  I have said for years and years that one of my life goals is to visit China.  Oddly enough, I’ve never been there – I’ve been to several other countries in Asia, but never China itself.  I want to take my kids to Europe.  I want to see my children have children of their own.  You could probably start listing a millions goals under the "experiences" and "events" tags.

But the ideas, dreams and unrealized possibilities in your life can be just as important for your own happiness.  I read The Lord of the Rings over and over again as a kid.  I understood that I would never visit the Shire, or see the Misty Mountain, or stay in Rivendell.  But the storm that book set off in my imagination and in my dreams is as much a part of my life – or more – than many of the ‘real’ events in my life.  My own dreams, realized or not, have created a large part of my character, both good and bad.  The ideas you have weave the threads of your daily life together.  You are not a machine, driven by action-reaction.  The original thoughts that you have create a world in your mind that affects how you act.

If that doesn’t make any sense, think about it like this:  have you ever dreamed of being happy?  Sit back wherever you are and picture a happy moment.  Imagine being on a beach, at home in front of the fireplace or whatever makes you happiest.  Now, that exact moment never existed, possibly, but creating that image can make you powerfully motivated to achieve it, to be on the lookout for it.

So what does all of this mean?  It means that even if I never make it to China, the interest I’ve had in the culture and the imaginary trips I’ve taken in my head have provided me with happiness and influenced the way I look at the world.  My perception of myself is measured not just by the fact that I grew up in a small town or live in a huge city now, but is hammered and shaped and molded by the dreams and ideas I had – and have – about what my life looks like, should look like and will look like.

So apply this thinking to your own life.  Overweight?  Imagine yourself fit.  Tired?  Imagine yourself relaxed.  Sad?  Imagine yourself happy.  In debt?  It will be gone someday – tell yourself it’s already gone.  Examine the events that created a condition and then apply your ideas and dreams to overcome them.  You are more than a pinball being banged from event to event.  Your ideas and your dreams can provide a powerful connection between your present and your future, bridging the gaps in experience.  The possibility is there.  The only obstacle is failing to reach for it.

Other reading:

today is better than the day before

Think and Grow Rich

achieving greatness

unusual things I’m thankful for

I’m thankful for:

  • Reasonably priced organic green tea from Whole Foods
  • my community’s bus and public transportation so I can at least read during my commute
  • Walk Fit
  • Dr. Natura
  • Jay McInerney
  • Napoleon Hill
  • 01.20.09
  • the Dolphins and Steelers (to explain: I am a Jets fan)
  • I’m not allergic to sunflower seeds
  • the waterfront walkway in my community
  • cheap and plentiful seltzericon
  • discovering the benefits of a raw food diet even though I am having a lot of trouble sticking to it and Thanksgiving will be the anti-raw food day…
  • electric screwdrivers
  • WordPress
  • consulting work
  • Netflix (I know, I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t, but I do)

And of course, more important things:

  • blog readers
  • blog commentators
  • the blog community
  • high speed internet

And the most important things:

  • my health and the health of my loved ones
  • my friends
  • my family
  • my Bubelah, мое сердце
  • my Little Buddy and his little brother/sister to come!

Happy Thanksgiving!

guest post at “Consumerism Commentary”

I was fortunate enough to be able to write a guest post for Consumerism Commentary on “3 Things You Need to Know Before Giving to Charity” today. It’s a brief guide to the biggest questions about charitable giving in the US. If you want to know more about Consumerism Commentary – and you should, it’s a terrific blog – you can read here or just subscribe to the RSS feed.

If you’re new to Brip Blap, I’d like to welcome you and point out a few things. But before I do that I want to thank you for reading and tell you that I’m excited by every single new visitor to the site. Whether you’re reading a feed, visiting the website, reading through email or just landed here on a search, I’m grateful you’re here and hope you’ll stick around and add to the conversation!

First of all, I suggest you check out my About page to see what this site is all about. If there is anything you want to ask me about directly – or even if you want to suggest a topic or make a guest post submission – click here to contact me, or check out one of my favorite posts like 8 steps to a six figure career or follow the white rabbit to financial freedom .

If you want to subscribe by RSS you can click here. Not sure what RSS is? Here is a handy introduction.

Posting will continue at a normal pace throughout the Thanksgiving holidays, so tear yourself away from the bird if you can!

Q&A with Millionaire Mommy Next Door

trees As a result of winning Millionaire Mommy Next Door’s (MMND) carnival of personal finance contest, I had a choice of a few different prizes. Since I had recently written a guest post for her site, I asked her if she could write something for mine and she graciously agreed to answer a few questions about her background and goals. She has a terrific blog; it’s one of my favorites, and if you haven’t visited it or subscribed to her feed I recommend you do. She’s a stay-at-home mommy millionaire (hence the title) who decided at age 30 to pursue financial freedom and made it in 10 years – you can read all about her story here.

What were your most serious obstacles to becoming a millionaire?

In two words: unexpected events.

Four-and-a-half years ago, my husband and I sold our home to downsize our lifestyle. Our intention at that time was to live frugally and save big to push our net worth into seven digits before adopting our daughter.

Two months after implementing our plan, my mother was diagnosed with leukemia. She lived alone and didn’t have much money, so we moved her in with us and took care of her. Her illness required traveling out of state to see medical specialists and sometimes daily trips to the hospital for blood transfusions.

To summarize, the only thing that downsized during those two years was our time (to work our business) and our income. Meanwhile, our expenses grew.

While this unexpected event created a detour in our life plan, I feel fortunate that my husband and I were flexible and financially able to help my mom when she needed it most.

Lesson learned? Plan for the best, prepare for the worst, keep your focus on what matters most and go with the flow.

Were there times that you doubted you could achieve your goals?

No. Honestly, the only goals I can’t achieve are those that I’ve changed my mind about wanting.

What do you think are the most important lessons that you can teach your child?

Millionaire Mommy Next Door’s Parental Mission Statement: What is good parenting, for me, all about?

It isn’t about expecting or demanding obedience and conformity; It is about encouraging discipline, personal autonomy and individuality.

It isn’t about respecting authority; It is about respecting each other.

It isn’t about rules; It is about principles.

It isn’t about making my child do what’s good for her; It is about working with my child to help her learn to make the best choices.

It isn’t about teaching her in order to live life to the fullest; It is about living life to the fullest and letting learning happen naturally.

It isn’t about blindly following directions given by an authority figure; It is about following dreams, interests, and passions mapped out by child and parents together in a loving relationship built on mutual respect.

It isn’t about giving my child everything she wants, risking a false sense of entitlement; It is about helping her get what she wants through efforts of her own.

It isn’t about spanking; It is about teaching her that aggression is never an appropriate way to resolve conflicts.

It isn’t about parents being the martyr; It is about parents modeling healthy personal boundaries.

It isn’t about rigidity; It is about saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

And finally,

It is all about love.

© Millionaire Mommy Next Door – Contact for reprint permission (http://www.millionairemommynextdoor.blogspot.com)

Do you regret not starting down this road earlier? You started early in life, but do you wish you had done it even sooner?

I grew up with intelligent, capable and hard-working parents that lived paycheck to paycheck. I honestly didn’t know that there was another way until I was in my late twenties. I made a lifetime financial plan shortly thereafter. So no, I don’t have any regrets, because I started as soon as I saw the “road”.

And finally, paint a picture of the next 40 years – what does your family look like 40+ years down the road?

My last treasure map is over two years old and needs to be recrafted now that our daughter has joined our family. Off the top of my head, though, I see us traveling the world; combining unique opportunities for learning, personal growth and helping others less fortunate. I see us continuing to strengthen our family, friendships and community.

Overall, my intention is to be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise. And to live happily ever after!

the generational contract

What do you owe to the future and the past? Do you owe anything to your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and other people from the generations babyshoebefore you? What, if anything, do you owe to your children? Many people are in the habit of speaking of debts and dues in regards to the future and past generations of their family, but what do you really, truly owe?

I want to take a simple example. If your parents paid for your college education, do you have an obligation to pay for your children’s college education, or does the “college education obligation” reset at zero each generation? One line of thinking would be that it is a gift, given by your parents to you. You have no obligation to pass on the gift. Another line of thinking would be that you are selfishly failing to repay the assistance you received.

To complicate it even further, what if you think it’s a mistake? What if your grandparents put themselves through college, paid for your parents, who then didn’t pay for you because they thought their grandparents came out better for working their way through college? I know that may be a bit of a stretch, but it’s possible. But by increasing the “generational obligation” are you increasing expectations unreasonably?

A college education is one thing, but take material items. I was given a brand-new car as a high school graduation present. Does that mean I owe my children new cars? Should I only give it to them, if, like I did, they receive full scholarships to college (and therefore didn’t need any of the money that my grandparents and parents had thought I might for school)?

I don’t plan to buy my kids ‘fancy’ cars or send them to school. Plans change, of course, as do circumstances. But the concept of a generational contract – something that is owed – is odd when you think of it, because in a sense you have no choice in it, and due to your own circumstances you may not have the ability to live up to your obligation. Even if my parents had paid for me to go to a private college (say, $10,000 per year at the time) I am not sure I would be able to do the same for my children – if in 18 years the same school would cost $40,000 per year.

In the best circumstances, people love their families and will do anything for them. But does that mean giving up career choices? A choice of a place to live? If you have ailing parents in the future and they refused to move, would you give up following your career or even just living in a place of your choosing to stay near to them? If your parents raised you in a particular religion or ethnic culture, do you have an obligation to at least introduce it to your children?

I can imagine that some people look at the level of obligation implied by children and get a little queasy thinking about everything they will owe to them. It’s not the first thing you think about in regards to children, but it is one of the things to consider. And your parents (and other older relatives) will rely on you when they are older for support and care and even “continuing the family traditions.” In some senses, one of the hardest things may be to break these expectations – to not raise the kids Catholic, or tell your parents you are moving to California when they don’t want to leave their home in Chicago. Knowing what your choice will be in these types of situations, before you have to make it, is probably worth considering.

why do hippies hate the news?

I had an exchange in the comments with a reader (who left no name, just “Email” – for clarity’s sake I’ll call him/her Anonymous). The topic was reading/watching the news (a favorite topic of mine) and I felt it was good enough to move up to a full post. I’ve made a few edits to the original exchange, mainly for spelling, to add and edit a few words for clarity and just to make the flow of the conversation more obvious. This was all in response to the 67 ways to outlive 106 billion people post, in which I argue you shouldn’t watch the news. If you want to see the original unedited conversation, go that post; those comments are unedited.

Anonymous: Never read the news. Never stop learning new things. Enjoy reading. Why do hippies hate the news? But promote what it is?

Brip Blap: I copied and pasted the following from CNN.com on 11/14. These are the “top headlines”:

  • Student: Clinton camp fed me question
  • Police kill unarmed man holding brush
  • Surgeon claims he operated on Kanye’s mom
  • Blacks half of AIDS cases, 1% of AIDS quilt
  • Ticker: Terrorist attack on mall portrayed in ad
  • Governor calls on higher power for rain
  • Man tortured 10 months wants apology
  • WPLG: Man fleeing police killed by alligator
  • Blast rips off man’s fingers at ball game
  • Chlamydia cases sets STD record
  • Suspect tries to flush gun down cell toilet
  • Time: Alicia Keys gets phished
  • How to keep sane on your holiday visit
  • Casino implodes in way-cool glitzy fashion

Tell me how many of those are “learning new things.” You call it news, I call it a waste of time. It doesn’t make me a hippie by any stretch of the imagination to dismiss news stories about flushing guns down toilets or casino fashions, does it?

Anonymous: Sorry about the comment, it may have been too harsh. I forgot a smiley. I receive news from friends, that I read, on a daily basis. I was pleased to read that Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize. I have a long rant (no link) about News and TV, and about how people dismiss the medium independent of content as a choice of style. I enjoy the news and TV, and know many who don’t. I feel that it is just too simple to find elements of society that you find distasteful and shoot the messenger. Sorry again for the hippie comment. Most people I know that live by the code you posted would consider it an honor. Again though, the human experience is vast … who are you to decide what learning is? how did you learn to not read the news?

Brip Blap: It did seem harsh but that’s OK, I understand (apology accepted). I can’t see that a label like ‘hippie’ would ever be an honor to me, but if it was meant to be, thanks. While I might admire some of the (stereotypical) hippie qualities like peace, love, understanding, etc. I also had a lot of problems with their ideas (again, stereotypical) about drug use and the “drop out” mentality. I am not a hippie by a long shot.

Let’s define news. I say something is news if it in some way provides me with information that affects my life; where I draw the line is arbitrary. Troubles in Pakistan may someday cause me trouble due to their possession of nuclear weapons. Fair enough. Will knowing about riots and so on in Pakistan now cause me to act differently? No. Does it help my career? My family? My relationships with others? No, no, no.

Second: the US media does not actually give us “reporting of events”. They SELL us news. NBC or CNN or FOX receive money for an entertainment program. Some people enjoy the part of the entertainment program that tells them about Paris Hilton, or a triple murder, or Pakistan riots. But each of those networks are using those stories to entice viewers to watch advertising. Same with papers, or online news. There is no not-for-profit news. I also particularly pick on the TV news and yes, I dismiss it both on the basis of style AND content.

Third: the perception of the entire US media towards external events is flawed. If you saw the runup to the Iraq War it is clear that our media is unable to accurately determine the truth of events. They do not investigate. They report others’ assertions. Watch any news program for 30 minutes and at least once I guarantee you’ll see a reporter ask another reporter his OPINION or ANALYSIS of an event. That is not news.

I love reading history. History is also seen through the eyes of the victors and so on, but there is some sort of consensus on events after the passage of time that you can’t get AS events occur. I can even start to agree that there is simply some benefit to being educated about the history of mankind in a general sense. I should know who Caesar was, who Robespierre was, who Hermann Goering was, I guess. I simply don’t think there is much value in learning too much that is not relevant to my daily existence unless I derive some other value from it. I have a lot to keep up with, as we all do. I do not find that knowing Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize is useful information for me. I’m terribly glad he did – I think he represents what is best about America and I wish he was our president today. It might even just make me happier to know that he won. Fine. But knowing he won an Oscar or a Nobel doesn’t really enlighten me, or help me. Reading his book and watching his movie did. Reading about the prizes he won for them didn’t. And hearing about a triple murder in San Diego or Dallas or the Bronx certainly helps me in no way, shape or form. Out of all of this, too, I’m just skipping past the fact that 90% of the news is ridiculous entertainment junk. Britney blah blah blah.

I used to be a news junkie. All day every day I read about death, stupid politics, hopeless terror and the sex lives of celebrities. I filled my head up with tension and worthless knowledge. Then one day, after reading a particularly horrible series of news stories about abused children I decided enough was enough. That time I spent reading about abused children? Better spent working to make more money and give it to causes I support like children.org and the Russian Children’s Welfare Society. The time spent on politics? Pointless – if you think anything these politicians say will come to fruition, go read about Bush’s compassionate conservatism. Go read about Clinton’s promises in 1992. There is nothing there.

And as far as the question “who am I to decide what learning is?” I cannot learn for you, or for my wife or my family or my friends. I can only learn for myself. For others I can teach, or give opinions, but I cannot learn for them. So who am I to decide what learning is? Since I am the only person I can learn FOR, I am the ONLY person who can decide what learning is for me. I turn around and explain my position, but whether you accept it as knowledge for yourself is up to you, just the same as my decision to watch the news or not was mine. And really, if the tone of this seems overly angry it’s not meant to be, but I do feel it strongly. None of this, finally, is original thinking. Thoreau said it best:”If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter, we never need read of another…. All news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea.”

site change

I know this is about the third site theme update in two months, but I wasn’t happy with the last theme.  I didn’t like the colors since the links were hard to pick out.

If you are reading an RSS feed, jump through to the site and let me know how it looks.  I’m sure I’ll change it again in a few months, that’s just how I am, but hopefully this one is a bit easier to read.

saving money on books

Buying a book is expensive. Books come in various shapes and sizes, so I will make some over-generalizations about the price of a book in this analysis. I found this 2005 report:

The average price of a hardcover children’s and young adult book [in 2005 is] now at $20.52 [and] the average hardcover price for 2005 has increased by six percent, a gain of $1.21 over the 2004 average.

…from 1990 to 1995, average book prices jumped by 9.5 percent; from 1995 to 2000, they increased by 12.3 percent; and from 2000 to 2005, the increase was even steeper, 14.4 percent. Overall, we have seen book prices increase by more than 35 percent in the last 20 years.

My best guess is that a typical non-discounted hardback book is probably in that same range. I base that simply on my experience looking around bookstores and amazon.com. So if we assume a book in 2005 cost $20.52 and continued to increase at a rate of 14.4 percent per year, the average book is now approximately $26.86.

Occasionally I buy a hardback. After re-reading one of my favorite fantasy series from my youth recently, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, I am excited to buy the next book in the series. I am also a huge fan of A Song of Ice and Fire and would be sorely tempted to get the next installment the day it comes out. (Full disclosure: all of the links to books in this article are affiliate links).

So how can you save money on your reading? You might suggest going to the library. I have an even simpler way: re-read.

While visiting my parents this summer I picked up the Chronicles and re-read them. The books are complicated, long and full of amazing imagery, so I had forgotten much of the detail while remembering the overall story. It was like reading the books for the first time again. I was so inspired by the experience that Bubelah and I (with my parents’ permission) packed up four boxes of books to be shipped to our home. Each box held maybe 20-25 books, and only one or two were “old friends” that I can almost recite from memory. Most of the rest were new or ones I have read and forgotten. Forgetting these books does not mean they were bad or not worthy of being read – I simply read them too long ago or too quickly or while too distracted by the rest of my life.

We got 4 boxes with 25 books per box, and each would have cost $27 to buy in a bookstore today – so we just saved almost $2600 (shipping was about $80). I was thrilled, since reading a book is one of the best ways to make my commute time fly by and the gentle enjoyment of fiction is something well savored in-between personal finance and personal productivity tomes. In order to make room for the books we will sell some on eBay and give others away, but I only have a dozen or so books I am deeply attached to and would not give away. My special edition of The Lord of the Rings is one such book; my battered and barely-clinging-to-life copies of The Stand and Battlefield Earth are two others.

One lesson, deeply held, from my childhood is that you can never waste money on books as long as they continue to encourage a love of reading. So go drag out some old book that you read as a teenager or even one you skimmed through too quickly and enjoy. You will even save some money in the process.

Here are some books I’ve recently re-read about personal finance, and plan to re-read again and again! In particular in the case of Think and Grow Rich I have a heavily dog-eared and marked-up copy that I read over and over again. I can’t think of a more inspirational book.

[Edit – based on some of the comments, I’d like to encourage everyone to leave the name of a book they read in childhood or early adulthood or whatever that they fondly remember!]

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