There is a new word that I learned recently: tsundoku. It’s a Japanese word that means “buying reading materials without reading them.”

When I first learned about the word, it struck me because it describes me well 🙂 Okay, I actually read the books I buy, but I buy books faster than I read them, so I guess the term still applies to me. Fortunately, I buy mostly e-books these days so they don’t take physical space.

The word tsundoku reminds me of the joy-to-stuff ratio in my article about frugality. Tsundoku is another way of saying that someone has a low joy-to-stuff ratio when it comes to books. They have a lot of books, but they don’t get enough value from them.

I believe the word can also be applied to other parts of our lives. You can replace “reading materials” with just about anything. It becomes like this:

“buying without using them”

If this happened in your life, then there is a waste. What you should do then is minimizing waste.

I have done this pretty well when it comes to electronics. Mine are well-used, and I don’t buy new ones until I have to. For instance, the computer that I use to type this was bought in 2012. That’s six years ago! When it felt slow a while back, I just upgraded its internal memory instead of buying a new computer. It gave me the performance I needed at a minimum cost.

The lesson is this: aim to minimize waste in everything you do. Get the most value using the least resources.

Here are some ways to do that.

1. Share

Whenever possible, use a resource that is shared with other people. A good example is a library. The books in a library are shared with many people.

While it might be difficult to do it with strangers, you can do it in your own family. For instance, you could arrange to share a car so that you don’t need to buy two cars.

2. Rent

When you can rent something, you don’t need to own it. More and more resources are available for rent today, although we might not use the word “rent” for them.

Music streaming (such as Spotify) is an example. In the past, you bought a song and it becomes yours forever. But nowadays, you can pay a monthly fee to “rent” many songs at once. When you stop paying, you can no longer enjoy the songs.

Using ride-sharing services like Uber is also a form of renting. Instead of owning a car, you “rent” someone else’s car for just one trip.

3. Buy What You Need

When you can’t share or rent something, you can buy it. But buy what you need. Buy what is necessary for you.

Also, find a way to do it efficiently. What I did with my computer above is an example. Instead of buying a new one, I just upgraded its internal memory to get what I needed.

On the flip side, it’s wrong not to buy something that you need. If something can improve your life, not buying it will cost you more than buying it.


In everything you do, aim to minimize waste. This is how you get the most out of your resources.

What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.