When it comes to the holidays I am always asked for frugal ideas, and those I have plenty of. One of my favorite frugal gift ideas is in fact a book box.
My boys never had the same hunger for reading as I did, when I was young, and it used to make me sad. This was until I discovered that it was just a matter of incentizing reading, and providing them with books tailored to their specific interest. Books are expensive though, but every Christmas and birthday I put together a frugal gift for each of the boys.
The frugal gift is a box full of used books, and for $10 – $15 I can easily fill up a big box with books that interest them. Each book would cost $5 – $20 each, if I had purchased them new, so the savings quickly add up. I wrap each box up nicely (with wrapping paper bought at 9o percent off clearance of course), and the kids barely realize that the books are used.
The used book boxes have turned out to be a very frugal idea, and it is easy to pick up a book or two here or there for less than a dollar throughout the year without feeling the pinch around the holidays.
There are many places to find high-quality used books, and quite often the used books look just as good as new. In all honesty, my kids are rough on their books, as they like to bring them everywhere, so it does not last long before a brand-new book looks like a used one any way.
Our local thrift store is a great source for books, as it sells children’s books for $0.58, or book bags with about 15 – 20 books in for $4 – $6 each, which makes each book $0.20 – $0.30 each. I find that the local library sale have much higher prices for children’s books, and the books are usually in worse condition.
My favorite local thrift store, is in fact my favorite thrift store, because of their great book selection, and I can find everything from dictionaries, atlases, encyclopedias and more to classic children’s novels, non-fiction books and easy readers.
My two oldest boys have very specific interest, and for this reason I try to find great online offers at used book stores. With the right deal and free shipping offer, I can find non-fiction books for as little as $1.50 each, and this is when I pick up my kids’ favorite books.
My 10-year-old son is all about air planes, the military, science, and scary books, while my six-year-old son is all about sharks, sharks and sharks. We quickly went through all of the books in our local libraries on these topics, and so I decided to create a home library that would keep the boys reading.
My favorite online used book stores:
Amazon books: Has the best prices on new books, plus great free shipping offers. Always check for Buy 4 Get 1 Free offers, and check for prices on used books as well. (No Ebates discount)
*Whenever I find a book at Better World Books or Half.com, I always check the reviews on Amazon before I go ahead with the purchase. Amazon has much better book descriptions and user feedbacks than the other sites.
I always start shopping at Ebates, since this site usually give me a percentage back on every purchase, which means extra savings. I especially love how I can now get my Ebates savings in Amazon gift cards.
So far the book boxes are paying off big time! My oldest son, who has struggled in school for various reasons, just made the honor roll for the first time in part thanks to his improvement in reading and hunger for knowledge. My middle son is in the school’s gifted program, and he now writes as a pro. I know that the fact that they are reading a lot has a lot to do with their success in school, and I always tell them that you can never read too much, and you can never know too much.
Frugal ideas are great for the holiday season, and while the toys under the Christmas tree might be the most exciting on Christmas Eve, the frugal gift will be treasured throughout the year, even when the once-new and exciting toys loose their interest. The only problem with the book boxes is that my kids are in need of another book shelf, but considering the benefits it is a small price to pay.
Do you have any frugal gift ideas?