Born, Bred to Buy

My grandmothers read continuously. One purchased books and the other went to public libraries. I have fond memories walking to the public library with that grandmother. Entering the large buildings of books, magazines, and computers made it fun. I would scour the shelves for new reads and sometimes checkout books I could never finish. I brought my nose to the pages and smelled the well-read scent. I loved that it only required a library card.

As I grew older, that lust for the library vanished. The plastic wrapped books felt lesser than. I wanted my own books. I wanted to feel crisp bindings and stock a shelf full of my own books. To hold, cherish, and covet my collection was important. The bound pages were a representation of me – an identity. My bookshelf consistently grew year after year, causing the slat to become concave under the pressure

The books followed my every move. I packed a couple big boxes each time, until I purchased a Kindle. The lightweight, 30-day-battery device was this terrific space saver. When I moved to the Midwest last year, I had 5 books and hundreds on my Kindle. Suddenly, I was free from the physical clutter, but still buying new Kindle-version books for about $9.99 a piece.

This was just one of my many spending problems. Put me in a mall – before I was frugal – and I had to spend my money on something. I felt an undeniable energy from start to charge.

The Shopper’s High

Malls glisten with an unnaturally bright sheen and stage-like lights that beat down on its entrants. Shopping centers catalyze a rush of heightened smiles and joy – its a kind of high. These bastions for consumerism test the very foundations of frugality.

Research suggests that the longer you spend in a store, the more you spend. Places like Barnes & Noble play comfortable background music, keep a temperate climate, and often have Starbucks coffee shops in tow. The aura suggests escaping from the world while you find the perfect book. You can finally find peace and happiness in purchase.

Marketers prey off of three psychological emotions: sex, fear, and happiness. Consumer research and psychological studies continually show that advertising that amalgamates these factors, wins.

Apple’s store openings are filled with a rousing cheer from an audience of employees. Attendees (shoppers) raise their newly-purchased electronics like Rafiki held Simba. Jubilance. This is where you’re supposed to have fun. And an ingenious staff bolsters the moral of many who outspend their budgets and follow into income/debt traps.

With friends like these, my purchases always felt justified, necessary, and right. Thankfully, I’m living and spending differently now. Every now and then I experience an undeniable urge to spend, and that’s when I try to mimic the shopper’s high for free.

The Secret to Stop Shopping: Your Local Library

I frequently purchased new clothing at name-brand retailers, electronics, and new books for my Kindle. These were black eyes to my budget. This continued until I found elation at the public library. It solved my urge to shop for clothing, electronics, and new books.

No longer do I need to own books and buoy the local Express retailer; although, I still have cravings to spend money on things I really don’t need. The trick to controlling spending is realizing the power of your public resources.

Here are the 5 secrets to stop shopping:

1. Customer Service

Shopping genuinely gives consumers a short-term high. When you’re in a crummy mood, it can fill that gap, temporarily. An outlet that can fill both the good and bad times is necessary to frivolous, discretionary spending.

The high is natural. It’s often influenced by strong, friendly customer service. A representative that is attentive, kind, and helps without reservations makes you feel special. That smile they offer you when you walk in the door is potent. The amalgamation of positivity is all designed for your comfort.

Libraries are a comparable outlet for the need for spend. Librarians are the attentive, customer service counterpart. They can guide and help with research. Their task is to help customers find, access, learn, and check-out. That dedication is important to feeling good about your experience.

2. New Release Rack

What could possibly replace Redbox and Amazon for movies and books? These companies have a focus on new releases and special offerings.

There’ also a diversity at your public library. If they don’t have it, they can usually order it from a partnered source. This can be a powerful tool when researching or just looking for a popular DVD. Each year, libraries cycle through new and old books. Tax contributions allow libraries to purchase new books with surprising regularity.

3. Digital Services

iTunes, Amazon, and various digital stores offer millions of books, music, and magazine subscriptions. They’re advertised heavily and are gotos in their respective domains. But, libraries have actually been in the business longer.

Looking for audiobooks, music, software, and eBooks? Your library may have everything on your list already; if they don’t, request it. Intricate networks and databases greatly expand the reach and can provide you with hidden gems of opportunities.

Over the years, libraries have changed immensely to meet evolving technological demands. Libraries contain books, magazines, DVDs, and powerful community resources. And nowadays, they also have eBook libraries for Kindles and Nooks. Free rental books can be wirelessly delivered to your favorite reading device.

Want to put your hands on the latest technology? Tablets and computers are popular accoutrement to any good library. Now you can browse, write, and learn in style. On top of everything else, you can also rely on the library for free Wi-Fi. Maybe you can even stop paying for Internet at home!

4. Extracurricular Activities

Even if your search takes you beyond the library’s walls and academic world, it can be a great, frugal-living resource.

Ready to check out some local attractions? Public libraries often provide access to day-passes to aquariums, parks, and museums. By checking out a pass, you can save $20-30 – sometimes more – every time you visit.

Legal troubles taking a bite out of your budget? Oftentimes, you can find legal and federal forms – free of charge – at your library. With the helpful assistance of desk staff and librarians, you might even understand your taxes this year!

5. Peace And Quiet

People pay good money to find sanctuaries around the globe. The irony is that they can be found at a local library. There’s no expectation to spend money, plenty of room to spread out, and the quiet will make you far more efficient (contrary to the popular desire for coffee shop din).

These are hubs and havens for saving. Use the resource, get rewarded, and join the new library movement.

What other places can you go to replace the need for spend?