Luxury or Necessity? The cost of a book compared with…


What do you spend money on without even thinking twice? Where do you draw the line between luxury and necessity? When I was growing up, my parents were very frugal in our style of living. Going clothes shopping was a once or twice a year treat for my sister and me and we rarely bought anything that wasn’t on the sale rack. Similarly, eating out usually only happened on road trips or vacation, or for that quick Wendy’s burger after ballet practice (because it cut into our dinner hour). Otherwise, we ate at home. As for toys or high ticket items my sister and I pined for, it was a given that we’d have to wait until birthdays or Christmas.

There was one exception to my family’s frugality: media. Books, music and movies were the few luxuries my Dad (the most frugal one in the family) allowed himself and us. Growing up if there was a book we wanted to read or an CD we wanted to listen to, my Dad was usually more than happy to order it for us (from a local indie bookstore or record store, of course!). For him, media was a necessity. Which is why, now that I’m grown up and making my own financial decisions, I don’t think twice about paying full price for a book I’ve been wanting to read. I’m not extravagant by any means. I rarely buy more than two books per bookstore visit (I can’t read them that quickly anyway!), but as far as I’m concerned, a couple books a month is money well spent.

I’ve wanted to talk about the monetary value of books with you all for a while now, and finally, I’m starting a new series that will let us do just that. If you’re keen, I’d love to explore luxuries vs. necessities with you, as they weigh up against the cost of a book. We’ve all heard how important it is to support local, independent businesses, and yet, so often I talk to book loving friends who cite the cost of books as an obstacle to them buying from indie bookstores. Knowing that we all prioritize our expenses differently, I’m curious: What are those expenses that to anyone else might seem luxurious or extravagant, but to you are no-brainers? First up this week is one of my husband’s and my favorite guilty pleasures: Breakfast.

I hope you enjoy! And please, let me know what you think.Breakfastnecessity-page001IMG_5125 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA IMG_2589 breakfastIs it a luxury or a necessity that we go out for breakfast almost weekly? Obviously, it’s a luxury. The fact that I’m even asking that question says so much about our privilege here in the wealthy west. For Luke and I, we justify it this way: breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and, therefor, is possibly more of a treat than going out for dinner; not to mention, it’s the perfect way to mark a day off (“Yes, it’s Saturday! Let’s sleep in and then go eat pancakes!”); and, of all the meals, it is the cheapest one to eat out so we’re really saving money.

On average we spend between $15 and $30 per meal, which is the equivalent of one hardback book or up to two paperbacks.

So, you ask: If it’s the choice between one of these outings and a new book, which would I choose? No question about it. I’ll eat granola at home in my PJs any day if there’s the option of a brand spanking new book.

And now its your turn. What are some of your luxury expenses? How do books figure into your budget and which would you choose: breakfast or a book? I’d love to hear!

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