How to Build a Home Library on a Budget

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When you intentionally build a home library, you also build a collection of resources that last. Here's how to fill your home with literary treasures your whole family will enjoy, without spending a ton of cash!

I’m pretty sure I inherited my love of books and lifelong learning from my grandmother.

Before she downsized, she owned just about as many bookshelves as she did furniture {no joke!} and I would spend hours browsing through her collection, anxious to see which new titles she had picked up since our last visit.

I often forget my grandma didn’t always have the luxury of the internet like I do, which may have contributed to the book hoarding disposition in my gene pool. Instead, books were the main source of information and entertainment — where facts, stories, and even unknown definitions of words were referenced — and not always because we were in the middle of a Scrabble game!

While I’m a big fan of Google, I still think personal home libraries are just as important to collect and curate today. We might not need as many books in our collection, but there will always be dog-eared reads and classic literary titles you and your kiddos pick up time and time again. It’s a much healthier alternative to screen time too!

But it does take time, and money, to fill an entire bookshelf with quality books. That’s why it’s very important to build your own home library strategically, intentionally, and of course, as cheaply as possible! Here’s how to fill your home with literary treasures your whole family will enjoy, without spending a ton of cash.

1. Read First, Buy Later

As thrilling as it is to take home a bag full of purchased books, especially if you scored a great deal or snagged some for freeyou can’t know for sure whether you’ll truly enjoy those books until you’ve actually read them.

Do this too many times, and you have a bookshelf full of mediocre reads that won’t sell for more than $.50 at a yard sale……just ask me how I know!

Right now, my shelves are FULL of books I won’t ever touch again because I couldn’t resist a $3.99 deal or a friend’s book recommendation. Now I’m overwhelmed with the process of downsizing so I can make room for books I actually want to keep, and ones I do want to buy in the near future.

How to Build a Home Library on a Budget | Creative Savings

Learn from my mistake and if at all possible, find a way to read a book first before adding to your collection. Borrow from the library or check with another book-loving friend. You’ll save money and reserve precious bookshelf space for titles you really want!

2. Start a Book Wishlist {and a Budget!}

Once you have a good idea of books you’d like to own, it’s time to start a wishlist. Wishlists are my favorite way to make sure I’m spending my money in an intentional way. I have Household Wishlists, Travel Wishlists, and even Christmas/Birthday Wishlists!

You can start a Book Wishlist board on Pinterest, or download this pretty printable to put in your Home Management or Financial Notebook. Then whenever you’re ready to buy a book {or have a special birthday coming up}, you’ll know exactly which title you’d like to add to your collection next.

When you intentionally build a home library, you also build a collection of resources that last. Use this printable to help fill your home with literary treasures your whole family will enjoy, without spending a ton of cash!

Click HERE to Download the Printable

If literacy ranks as a top priority in your home, you definitely want to have a budget specifically dedicated to books too. This can be it’s own separate category, or as part of your Entertainment budget.

Right now, I budget for books out of my personal account {both Joseph and I have a very small amount set aside from his paycheck that neither of us have to be accountable for}, but it helps me put a limit on what I spend. Because like I mentioned earlier, I have a tendency to go overboard when I see a great deal!

New to budgeting? You might be interested in going through my Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting series.

3. Buy Used Over New

Unless it’s a Bible study or workbook that you know you’ll be writing notes notes in, choose to buy used over new whenever possible. The probability that someone else owns {and wants to get rid of} the exact book you want to add to your home library is pretty high — you just have to know where to find it!

With your wish list handy, keep an eye on yard sales, library sales, Craigslist, friends who are downsizing, and used bookstores. The perk of buying used also means you’ll save a few extra dollars in the long run, and can stretch the money you’ve designated for books to go even further.

When you intentionally build a home library, you also build a collection of resources that last. Here's how to fill your home with literary treasures your whole family will enjoy, without spending a ton of cash!

I’ve recently been experimenting with Thrift Books, an online used bookstore, and I have to say this has quickly become one of my favorite ways to find and buy books off my wishlist! Prices are comparable to other online retailers {if not better}, and shipping is FREE over $10. Plus, every dollar you spend counts toward their Reading Rewards program, which gives you a $5.00 credit every time you spend $50.00 in books.

I placed my first order a couple weeks ago to try them out, and the books came in much better condition than I originally expected. If you’re interested in giving Thrift Books a try, use the code NEWBUY for an extra 15% off!

Collecting books to build your own home library doesn’t have to be expensive, as long as you approach it in a smart and intentional way.

Just make sure every book you buy is one you’ll treasure for years to come, and pretty soon, you’ll have a collection of resources that last. Even better if you can snag those reads for less than the cover price!

What book do you think should be in every home library?

thrift-books-logoThrift Books provides quality, cheap, used books at the lowest prices, and is committed to promoting literacy without negatively impacting our landfills. Visit Thrift Books to explore the thousands of titles they offer, and to take advantage of their Thrift Deals pricing and Reading Rewards!

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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  1. Library book sales are another great place to find used books. Our local Friends of the Library always have a $5 bag day at the end of the sale. also sells discarded books for libraries and donated books for literacy programs worldwide. Media shipping is free worldwide (lifesaver while studying abroad!), there’s a carbon-balancing option, and frequent sales. I love discarded library books because most of them are already wrapped in plastic dust jacket protectors!

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