I was set a seemingly simple challenge in August. Give up a vice for a couple of weeks and see how much I saved. Well that sounds easy enough, doesn't it? I'm fairly strong willed: I can give things up. Picking the vice in the first place was the difficult part. I am quite the goody two shoes. I don't smoke, hardly ever have big nights out, don't fritter money on magazines or Starbucks. I don't even shop that much. I've never really been wasteful with my money but the last few years have seen me thinking a lot more about paying off debts, saving for the future and even joining a pension scheme (I know, I know, I should have done it years ago. Better late than never).
I do still have one downfall.
This has to be the most evil, enabling thing in the whole of the internet.
To clarify, it's not just Kindle purchases - I mean buying books in general. But I've been trying not to buy piles and piles of stuff (books included) from charity shops just because they happen to be cheap, so more of my recent book purchases have been from Amazon. I seem to ponder the purchase of a paperback more than I do a Kindle book. Things are cannily priced in the Kindle store - if something is 77p or 99p then I quite often think "oh I'll give that a try" and before you know it I've bought four or five of them without realising.
The rules I set myself were simple. For three weeks, no money was to be spent on books, in any format, from any shop. Free Kindle books were allowed but there were two conditions. 1) Read a review of it from a trusted source first and 2) use the sample feature.
Giving something up for a short period is all well and good but you only change your habits longterm by, well, changing your habits. Glomming on free books is no better than glomming on cheap ones. Don't get me wrong, there are some good free books available but they're massively outweighed by badly written, poorly edited rubbish. Life is too short to read terrible books and so I really need to make myself start reading the sample chapters in order to filter out the crap.
Did I manage it?
Yes! *pats self on back Trevor and Simon style* I picked a terrible time to do it - there were at least 4 books released at the end of August that I was desperate to read and I'm not known for my patience - but I summoned all my willpower and didn't buy any books at all.
How much did I save?
Well... I'm going to estimate my monthly spending in supermarkets/charity shops/second hand bookshops at £10-20. It can and does vary depending on how much I'm in the shops and what bargains I see. I can work out my Amazon spends more precisely - it's an average of £19.06 a month (and that was with me already being very restrained on my spending). So that's about a tenner a week: not exactly wildly extravagant but a certain amount of it is definitely wasteful. Three weeks of buying nothing and I've saved myself £30, plus I've hopefully started to train myself into not wasting my time and money on rubbish books. Nowhere near as much as if I'd given up smoking, but then I'd have had to have been a smoker in the first place. I'm pleased with my success.
Note: I was asked to take part in this challenge but didn't receive payment for it. Now Pensions are making a donation to a charity of my choice instead.