Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.
When Jesse was in law school, there were a lot of really hard things about that season of life, but there was one huge bright spot about those law school years: the library. I’m not exaggerating.
You see, we lived in Topeka, KS, and it’s home to what I consider to this day to be one of the best libraries in the U.S. It was new, it was large, it was clean, and it was FREE.
We had almost no wiggle room in our budget, we were a few hours away from family, we lived in a town where we knew very few people, and we were newly married. Needless to say, that library was a sanctuary for us. We spent countless hours there. In fact, when we went back to Topeka for a visit not too long ago, we stopped by the library for old time’s sake.
When we moved to Kansas City, we were blessed to find a rental that was within walking distance of the library. Every Friday, I’d load the girls up in the stroller and we’d spend a few hours at the library — checking out books, playing with puzzles and games, and playing with the train set. We didn’t have a second vehicle, so the library became on oasis for us in Kansas City, too.
Yes, I’m a wee bit sentimental about libraries… but they’ve saved us so much money over the years and provided so many hours of inspiration and entertainment that I just can’t help myself.
While the library is a great place to check out books, of course, most libraries also offer many other money-saving programs and resources. Here are a few more ways to save at the library:
1. DVDs & CD’s
Not all libraries offer free DVD rentals, but if your library does, take advantage of it! Our kids especially love checking out old TV series to watch during movie time each day. We also have enjoyed checking out music CD’s from the library, too.
I can’t even begin to fathom the money we’ve saved by checking out DVDs from the library over the years instead of renting or buying them!
2. Kid’s Toys
Many libraries have kid’s play areas — with puzzles or other toys that children can play with. It’s a great place to take your children on cold winter days that doesn’t cost any money (and mom can bring some books home, too!). All for free.
Check your library to see what their audiobook collection is like. Many have a pretty extensive collection — and some even offer audiobooks you can download for a time period.
Have you checked to see if your library offers ebooks you can “check out”? Here’s a tip from Hannah:
Many people don’t realize that most public libraries have eBooks available for checkout through their websites. All you have to do is log into your local library’s site using your library card, then follow the links for eBooks (often, there are also digital audio books available).
In just a couple of minutes, you should be able to search through the available titles, download your selection, and begin reading on your device! No late fees for failing to “bring the book back,” because it will simply expire after 2-3 weeks. This is a great, free way to read some of the newest and most popular books without paying a cent — or leaving your home! -Hannah
5. Local Attraction Memberships
Some libraries offer memberships to local attractions (zoos, museums, etc.) that you can “check out”. If your library offers this, it’s a great way to visit local attractions and have some family fun — without spending a dime!
6. Online Foreign Language Programs
Want to learn a foreign language? Michele from Saving Money In Real Life emailed in this tip:
I recently learned that my public library has an online foreign language program that I can access for free. There are dozens of foreign languages available that I can learn!
Many public libraries across the country have the same free program. It’s called Mango Languages. If you check their website, you can find out if your local library participates. You can find out if your library participates here.
I thought your readers might enjoy this program especially those who homeschool. My son and I just discovered it last week, and we’ve been having a lot of fun with it! -Michele from Saving Money In Real Life
7. Summer Reading Programs
We started doing our library’s summer reading program in the past few years and we’ve been incredibly impressed with it. Not only does it provide huge motivation for our children to get in a lot of reading during the summer, but the rewards are amazing!
The above picture is what our kids earned from last year’s library reading program. Not only did each child get to choose a free book to take home, they also got a bag stuffed with great coupons and offers from local businesses — things like free Kid’s meals, free miniature golf, a free smoothie at McDonald’s, free baseball game tickets, free ice skating passes, and more.
Note: If you have a relatively small library that doesn’t have a great selection, check and see if they offer Inter-Library loan. Most libraries do, and this offers a much, much broader selection. You have to request the book and then wait for it to come in, but it’s free–which usually makes it worth a bit of a wait!
You can also suggest books for your library to purchase. They might not heed your suggestion, but it’s always worth a shot.
Rebekah from Simple Rebekah shared that her library also offers the following two resources:
Online Classes – My library offers free online classes through Universal Class. There are hundreds of classes to choose from out of there 42 areas of study. Some of those areas include: office skills, performing arts, parenting, homeschooling, do it yourself, gardening, cooking, computers, accounting and web development.
Kindles – I was shocked to find out that my library just started loaning out Kindles! They come pre-loaded with 15-20 titles. My library has 13 Kindles, each with a different theme. The themes include New York Times Fiction & Non-Fiction Bestsellers, Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction, Classics, Popular Fiction, Biography and more! This is a great way to test out a Kindle before you buy one.