Over the last several years I have worked hard at tackling my debt and living in a more frugal way. Living frugally is definitely one of the "crunchy" things I embraced pretty early on. On of the easiest ways I've found to cut back is on entertainment. Entertainment expenses can quickly absorb a lot of one's disposable income. There's the $60 internet/cable bundle with it's extra $30/month of equipment fees. There's your Hulu Plus, Netflix and/or Amazon Prime subscription on top of that at $10/month each. There's the monthly hockey game or football game during the season with tickets going for $45 or more. There's parking fees for a night downtown. There's bar tabs and dinner bills. The gas to get around. Ski passes, new books, gym memberships, etc. etc.
If you're really trying to live tiny, get out of debt or stay out of debt and build a more sustainable lifestyle, the library is your best friend. And this is why.
- Movies & TV - Libraries have DVDs of popular films, documentaries and more without the licensing restrictions of Netflix or Amazon. If you like binge watching TV series and are willing to wait until the DVDs are released, the library has your back. Even Netflix shows like House of Cards release DVD version of their full seasons. Some libraries even have streaming movies available online with your library card. And all for FREE! I don't pay for cable or Netflix anymore, I just use my library.
- Health & Fitness - Curious about the latest diet craze or want to try yoga? The library has you covered here too. You can check out the latest health book for FREE, and borrow your favorite fitness DVDs and books to build yourself an at home workout to rival any gym membership or system you have to pay for. You'll never get bored with all the variety available. Did I mention it's free?
- Internet Access - If you're really trying to cut back and even not pay for internet access in your home, your local library almost certainly has public computers you can use and probably free wifi as well.
- Free Programs - Many libraries host free programs on financial planning, learning to knit, adult craft nights, cooking classes, movie nights, yoga classes and even singles mixers. Have children? There are story times, book clubs, movies, craft programs, science labs, teen gaming nights and so much more for free, or at least very cheap, at your library.
- Magazines - Most libraries circulate copies of popular magazines such as Better Homes & Gardens, National Geographic and regional magazines like Zone 4. Many also make magazines available for free online in print through their database access, or even full digital version through Zinio for Libraries. Cancel your magazine subscriptions and get them for free at your library.
- Music - Want to listen to a new CD before buying it? Download music for free legally? Public libraries have you covered. Did I mention it's free?
- Special Collections - Some libraries have special circulating collections, maybe your local library has something like this or would be willing to start one. I have seen libraries that circulate cake pans, power tools, toys for young children, story time kits and science lab kits. Check at your local library to see what they have - for free!
- Books - Last but not least. Books are of course what libraries are known for. Rather than drop $24 for the newest bestseller that you'll only read once, why not check it out at the library? Before you commit to buying a non-fiction title for your personal reference, check it out at the library to see if it's really worth adding to your personal collection. There are ebooks you can borrow for free and audio books as well.
Can't find what you're looking for? Provided you're not wanting to borrow weapons grade plutonium, your library can often borrow copies of books, films and CDs from other libraries if they do not have them in your local collection. I have borrowed books from libraries as far away as Pennsylvania, Missouri and Texas thanks to this interlibrary loaning system.
Do you regularly use your local library? What is your favorite resource they have?