Summer is (don’t say it!) into its final month, and shops are already boasting their Back to School collections. The sun is still high in the sky (for now), but the end is creeping up on us pretty fast. Blink, and it will be September. And after a summer of splashing out on bikinis and ice-creams and plane trips, I know I’m a little strapped for cash. I’m already having to turn down after-work drinks and movie theater trips, and have resorted to sitting at home scrolling miserably through my Instagram feed to relive the memories of where all my money went this summer. My vacation is ending, and I’m poor.
As the nights grow longer and the days grow colder, all I want to do is hit up the end-of-summer sales — and drown my sorrows in shiny things and new shoes. After all, it’s cheap! Why wouldn’t I? I’ll tell you why: because it’s a dumb idea. It’s about as stupid as buying a Mini Twix because it’s healthier than the full-size one, and then eating 12 of them. That’s why my wardrobe is always full of clothes I don’t even like, and I never have any money left to pay rent.
Saving money is notoriously difficult, and resisting the call of those sales racks is almost an impossible feat. But if anything can help me through this tricky time, it’s a book. These seven books are here to help you stay away from the mall, and might even inspire you to actually fill out that financial planner you bought in a sale three years ago.
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
Becky Bloomwood just gets you. She loves clothes and scarves and cute notebooks and shoes and she can’t stop buying them all. She throws away unopened envelopes from the bank, and lies to her parents that the debt collector chasing her is actually a stalker who’s obsessed with her. You’ll fall in love with her, but she’ll also serve as a cautionary tale to scare you out of the shopping mall for quite some time.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Feel like you need to update your wardrobe to feel elegant for next season? Wrong. The Mortmain sisters from I Capture the Castle are impossibly glamorous, and they don’t have a cent. This charming novel will make you want to sell all your furniture and live in some gorgeous old ruins with no hot water or electricity — which is great, because that’s really cheap.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
You know what’s even more fun than sales? Mr. Darcy. As Mrs. Bennet has drilled into our heads, a young man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife — and dancing with Darcy at a Regency ball sounds good enough to tear me away from the discount stores this season. Instead of shopping, try some shameless gold-digging in your imagination. You might just end up marrying Colin Firth.
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
The Railway Children tells the story of three wealthy children thrown into poverty when their father is sent to prison. If you’ve seen the movie and didn’t sob when the oldest daughter cries out, “Daddy, my daddy” at the end, you have a heart of actual stone. The children in this novel go on all sorts of adventures that don’t cost a cent, and they even find time to help even less privileged people with acts of charity.
The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Everyone’s favorite family traveled around the Midwest spending less money than you probably lose in a single trip to Target. One woman’s even written a whole blog about living like the Ingalls, from crafting corncob dolls, to making your own soap, to cooking cheap meals. Whatever you need, the Ingalls have got it covered — and they’re doing it on a budget.
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
The Swiss family live in total luxury on a desert island where money doesn’t even exist — and they have such a great time. They sleep in hammocks, have a pet monkey, and eat exotic fruits all day long. Read this book, and then spend the last few weeks of summer chilling in your back garden with just a couple of coconuts to entertain you.
Dawn of the Dead by George A. Romero and Susanna Sparrow
If none of those inspire you to live cheaply, then Dawn of the Dead will scare you into submission. In a horror-satire of our mindless consumerism, the mall is taken over by killer zombies who massacre anyone who comes near them. Get the picture? Don’t go to the mall.
Image: Johanna Hardell/Flickr