$500 Spending Challenge

Photo of several dozen children's books on a tabletop along with a jester's hat.

No, this isn’t a contest. My wife gave me a $500 spending limit on buying children’s products from the used market this year… starting last week.

[For context, read A Beginner’s Guide to Scoring Cool Kids’ Stuff in the Used Market]

Do I really spend that much? I didn’t think so, but that photo represents $23.  I decided to keep a running tally of my decadent purchases, partly to brag here and partly to get a grip on my spending if it is indeed this wild. Shown in the photo is my haul from the past weekend.

The rundown:

8 Clifford picture books. These were over-priced at 50 cents each, but they will double our collection to 16 titles. My daughter is fearful of dogs, but loves Clifford.

1 Winnie the Pooh Christmas story collection. Pooh is one of about five merchandised characters I’ve allowed into our home in book form. The books become a sort of magnet for my daughter, encouraging her reading. 25 cents each.

1 ‘The Littles’ book. This is the series I’m reading to her at bedtime currently, so every new Littles find is a treasure. We have 12 in the series. 25 cents.

4 Magic School Bus chapter books (encouraging an interest in science) 25 cents each.

1 Busytown Race Day picture book. I overcompensate for a Richard Scarry-deprived childhood. I only had one Scarry book as a child. My daughter has thirty-seven. It was 25 cents.

1 Cat training book, purchased to passive-aggressively suggest to my wife that, after our two cats die of old age, we should get some kittens instead of a smelly, yucky dog that can’t even wash itself. 25 cents.

1 jester hat. It has a dead button battery sewn inside that we will surgically remove before giving it a good wash. 50 cents.

30 miscellaneous mostly chapter books, purchased for our elementary school at 25 cents each for a future ‘book exchange’ where kids bring in their (often decrepit and/or age-inappropriate books) and take home a nice nearly new book. This cost doesn’t count toward the $500 tally.

Most of the chapter books came from a thrift store I visit every other week on a particular day when a particular person is working the front desk who lets me go into the storage room to pour through boxes of books that haven’t been put on the sales floor yet.

Most of the books have experienced only one owner. All are in good condition and a few are, sadly, in perfection condition. I could give the perfect ones as birthday presents and no one would tell the difference.

Total cost: $8 (plus $15 in school purchases)

Not shown: 1 Macmillan Dictionary for Children. It’s an 880 page book purchased for 50 cents for an over-achieving first grader who can’t wait until our local Rotary club gives him a free copy in third grade.

Oh, before you go off on me, I’ll give you a disclaimer.

Yes, libraries are wonderful, but a personal library is even more wonderful if you can swing it. My kindergartner is reading well above grade level, with one test pegging her at the fourth grade level. It’s wonderful to have this resource at our disposal, and doubly wonderful for Dad because months pass before I have to read the same book again.

Reading is a major gateway to knowledge acquisition, so I’m quite happy to invest in her love for books.


One Response to “$500 Spending Challenge”

  1. Penguinmommy says:

    I feel a little better… my two month old has close to a hundred board books all but two of which were obtained from various used sources.

    March 29th, 2010 at 5:25 pm