eBooks: A Frugal Minimalist’s Dream

eBooks: A Frugal Minimalist's Dream

I didn’t always like reading. When I was very young, my parents couldn’t get me to read. I was behind in the school reading level, and they spent hours with me trying to get me to learn to read. I wouldn’t have any of it, I just wasn’t interested.

I wasn’t interested, that is, until I found out that reading could actually be fun. I was pretty horse crazy as a little kid, and once I got my hands on some “horse books” I went from barely being able to read to a 12th grade reading level by the time I was out of elementary school.

After that, I couldn’t stop reading. I regularly used to get in trouble at school for reading a book during class instead paying attention to the teacher, and my collection of books expanded accordingly.

Things haven’t changed much since my horse crazy days, I still love to read. Unfortunately, I’m responsible for buying my own books now, and with my strict budget and debt repayment schedule, I can’t afford to purchase several books a month to satisfy my reading appetite.

Not only that, but I also have a hard time stomaching spending $20 or so per book. I love reading, but that’s a high cost for something I may very well read only once.

There’s also my minimalist tendencies to consider. I live in a 400 square foot house, with one book case. Needless to say, shelf real estate is at a premium. The poor thing is already heaving and groaning under the weight of all my books, I can’t add any more. I also hate lugging piles of books from apartment to apartment, and since I move fairly frequently, this is a factor that can’t be ignored.

eBooks to the Rescue

I’ve only recently come around to the ebook craze. I was very resistant at first because I never thought I’d be able to get used to reading a book on a screen. I was also deeply attached to the idea of being able to physically handle my books and turn the pages.

Things started to change when I got my smart phone. It was the first device I was able to read a book on, and it’s when my opinion started to turn. I had some books in storage and instead of digging them out, I downloaded their ebook counterparts, which happened to be free because they were classics.

The convenience of ebooks came immediately apparent. Since I was reading them primarily on my smart phone, I always had one with me. I could read my book literally anywhere, without having to lug a big heavy book around in my purse. I could also read it at night, in bed, without having to turn a lamp on. My fiance really appreciated this.

eBooks are a Minimalist‘s Dream

At first the idea of not being able to handle the physical book was disconcerting. I didn’t like the idea of staring into a screen to get my reading fix. Once I actually tried it, however, I realized that the very thing I took to be a draw back, was actually a perk. I could read a whole book without ever having to actually touch a book. That means no extra weight on my shelves, no extra space being taken up in storage, and absolutely no extra boxes to lug into a moving van.

eBooks are Cheaper!

Not only are ebooks easier on my limited space situation, they’re also easier on my wallet. I always had a hard time buying books that were new releases. Most books are offered in hardcover first, which can run up to $30 in Canada. I remember stalking certain books for months waiting for the soft cover to come out, and waiting still longer for that version of the book to go on sale or turn up used.

J.K. Rowling’s new book, Casual Vacancy is available on Amazon.ca for $26.96 in hardcover right now. In the Google Play store, it’s available as an ebook for $14.99. I’m on a pretty limited budget, so a $12 savings (without even factoring in taxes and shipping) is significant enough to make me take notice.

Letting Go of The Old, Embracing the New

Must like making the transition from DVDs to Netflix, switching from real books to ebooks is a strange change. To me though, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks, and getting used to making ebooks my primary source of reading material has been a great decision that satisfies both my frugality, and my inner minimalist.

Do you use ebooks?


My Extra Monthly Income

Today is Wednesday, finally! Anyways, I thought I’d finally give you the details on my extra monthly income.

In my January Goals update, I said:

“Make an extra $500 this month.  PASS. I made over $600 from blog income and surveys!”

After I posted that, I was literally flooded with e-mails from you guys!

I’ve told you guys in this post, my February Goals, and in my goal update post that I would tell you more information about my monthly income. I’m not going to lie, I have been pushing this off because I’m not too entirely sure what to say and I thought this post would be extremely boring. But then I reminded myself that before I was making this extra income, I LOVED (and I still do love) reading about others and how they made their extra income. It’s nice to find out about new opportunities that you may not have thought about. [Read more…]

Extra Monthly Income Update

rp_100.jpgI’m doing an update on the extra monthly income that I talked about in How I plan on increasing my income and therefore my saving and also here.

Back in August and again in October, me and the BF were trying to find ways to add around an extra $1,000 to our monthly income, so that we can pay down our debt faster. Here are the steps that we were talking about doing.

1.  “Do more secret shops.”  I don’t really do these too much anymore, but I am still making around $150 a month. Since I’ve been doing this for a couple of months, I am now able to do easier and better cash making assignments. I’ve gotten tons of free Estee Lauder stuff lately!
2.  “Continuing with my online surveys.” I still don’t do this a ton. I really only do this so that I can be on a research panel. The other day I had cash mailed in an envelope, and that was nice! I make probably around $20-$30 a month from this but I also get lots of free stuff.
3.  “We have a friend moving in with us.” I don’t think this person is moving in anymore. She hasn’t talked about it in forever. Me and the BF aren’t upset though at all because we like having our space. We could lean either way though, oh well. We’re still happy.
4.  “Also, hopefully I can convince the BF to get a second part-time job.”  He’s been getting more hours recently because of the holiday season and will be making around $500 extra a week until around mid-January. This is nice! And he also gets a raise in January and again in June, so that is nice also.
5.  “And then I plan on maybe getting a side job also.” Hahahah I bet you guys are all laughing at this. I still haven’t put any effort whatsoever in this. Maybe one day I will try.
6. I’ve also slowed down with earning Swagbucks but I’m still making a decent amount. Of course this doesn’t count towards income but it’s nice to buy things for free on Amazon. Check out my other easy ways to make money.

So, for the month of  and December we will have about $2,500 in extra income but along with my Christmas bonus and the fact that I get paid 3 times in December and the BF gets paid 5 times in December, we will definitely be waaaay over this $2,500 amount. If only December was EVERY month :)

In normal months though, we will only be making around $500 extra a month. That is until this summer when I get a raise and all of my designations from my ASA and MBA.

What have you been doing to make extra income? 

Here are the pictures that some of you were asking for!

A lot of you had questions about the secret shopping that I do.  Trust me, I was VERY skeptical at first.  Here is a picture of the recent check that I received.

And then some of you also asked for a picture of my cute bulldog! He is a runt and only around 10 pounds (they usually weigh around 30-40 pounds).  He is always sick since he’s a runt and always gets hurt.  I feel so bad for him :(

Also, what does everyone think of the new background? Is it ok?  I guess while we’re at it, does anyone have any tips on the layout or suggestions for new topics for my blog?  Thanks!

How I plan on increasing my income and therefore my savings

Me and the BF have been talking, and we want to pay down our debt faster, and start putting more in savings.

We want to add around an extra $1,000 (after tax) to our monthly income.  This shouldn’t be too hard. 

Our steps for doing this include:

1.  Doing more secret shops.  I have made around $250 so far.  My plan is to make around $150-$200 a month.

2.  Continuing with my online surveys. Probably only around $30 a month.  But this along with Swagbucks will probably be around $50 a month altogether.

  • All the money I earn from Swagbucks I use for Amazon gift cards, and I plan on just using this for Christmas time for the kids in the extended family.
  • From the survey company that I participate through, I also get lots of free products.  These are not just trial sized products (actually none of my surveys have includes trial sized items).  I get full products such as 8 rolls of toilet paper, 5 tubes of lip gloss, $200 to spend on Captain Morgan, gift cards to spend at grocery stores, TRESemme conditioner and shampoo and so on.  All of this free stuff also saves money.

3.  We have a friend moving in with us.  This person is going to pay $300 for rent and utilities altogether.  Our house isn’t huge but we have a finished basement, so altogether our house is around 2,500 square feet. So, with a roommate we still won’t be cramped.

  • FYI, we are not having them move in just for the money, just so everyone knows.

4.  Also, hopefully I can convince the BF to get a second part-time job.  His hours at his current job have been cut (but he’s still making the same amount of money, I have no clue how that worked out), so he has time now.  Now I just need him to be motivated to look.

    • I know he can find one, a lot of our friends own restaurants and businesses and they are always asking him if he would like to work with them.  I estimate that if he can find a part-time job, that he will make somewhere around $500 a month.
    • He asked for more hours today (right after I posted this) at his work and now he’s making an extra $300 a month from work.


5.  And then I plan on maybe getting a side job also.  As many of you know, I have been asking you what you do and pretty much just bugging everyone.  I’m not sure how I will have time for a side job, as I work 50 hours a week and I attend MBA classes full-time as well (12 credits this semester).

  • I have two friends who are beer cart girls (both work at a different golf course, and they are both teachers and beer girls on the weekend).  They make AT LEAST $300 every weekend, for just one day and just a couple of hours.
  • They usually work from around 9am to around 1pm.  So this sounds like pretty easy money to me.  They also always tell me to join them because they always need help.
  • So even if I worked just two days a month, I should clear at least $300 (pessimistically thinking) a month from this.

I know that all of this won’t happen, but that’s why my goal is only for $1,000.  We then plan on paying off my student loan that actually has an interest rate right now. This loan is at around $5,700.  So if we can pay off this loan in 5-6 months, we would then be able to start paying off my car completely and have that done within 4 months after the loan is done.  So sometime by before next summer, I should be free of my student loan (that has interest) and my car loan!  Then after this, I will be graduating with my MBA soon after, and then I can start working on paying down my enormous student loan.

What have you been doing to make extra income?

Where does your income go?

I just read a great article about how income is distributed to different parts of a typical budget.  Check it out here.

How do your finances stack up compared to others?  What percent of your income do you spend on your different bills? I think this is a great article to compare your finances to others, and to kind of see where you should be.

For me, these amounts will all be averages and after tax.

  • I spend around 21-24% on my mortgage payment, home insurance, PMI
  • 18% on my car payment, car insurance, maintenance and gas
  • 15% on food
  • 0% on health insurance since we are both very fortunate to have free very good health insurance
  • 5% on entertainment (the 15% we spend on food can also be considered entertainment, since we like to go to bars and eat as well)
  • 2-3% on clothes
  • And the rest on saving, miscellaneous, etc.

How do your expenses add up?