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I know, I know. It sounds too good to be true. “Come on, Mrs. Picky Pincher,” you might think, “This sounds like a scam!”
Not true, my skeptical friend.
Sometimes the best way to move forward with your frugal journey is to step back in time. Remember back in the day when your teachers dragged you to the school library? Or do you remember camping out in the library during college late-nighters (thanks, coffee)? Maybe you remember visiting a few times, but it was so long ago you’re not sure if the library is still there?
It’s time to go back to the library.
Now wait, wait. Don’t write me off just yet. The library sounds like a boring place; in fact, it might sound like the last place on Earth where you would want to be. But consider how many things you get for free every day. Is your morning coffee free? How about makeup? Is your phone plan free?
I wish they were, but they are not.
The library is free. It’s partially paid for by taxes, so why aren’t you taking advantage of the freebies your city offers? I admit that I was hesitant to check out the library. In adulthood I lost my interest in reading. I thought the library contained stuffy, outdated books and I was less than interested in going. But Mr. Picky Pincher loves reading, and we were having a slow night, so we decided to check out the library.
Best. Decision. Ever.
At first I tried to make reading books happen. I picked up a couple of books and struggled to find the time to read in the coming weeks. I reading as a chore instead of a fun activity. I sighed as I returned two unread books to the book drop box. During our next visit to the library, Mr. Picky Pincher pointed out the library’s enormous selection of DVDs and Blu-rays. Score! I happily trotted home with a grocery blag full of my favorite titles.
And it was completely free. I couldn’t believe it. Why didn’t more people know about this?! We could watch dozens of movies–free! They were ours for three weeks to watch as much as we pleased, or we could return them for other titles. We used to buy movies on Amazon Prime for $3 twice a week. On average we were spending about $50 a month just watching movies at home. Now we can watch even more movies for the cost of a five minute drive to the library. The savings have been fantastic.
There was also another side effect of using the library as my personal DVD cache: I rediscovered my love of reading. I had grown tired of reading crap online. I wanted something different; something that was authoritative and well-written. I wanted books.
I discovered that our library has a sizable section of books about cooking, self-sufficiency, budgeting, and frugality. I have since become addicted to these books. At the moment I have three new books to read for the coming weeks–I had to hold myself back. I used to say that I didn’t have time to read, but now that I want to read again, I found the time. I use my lunch breaks at work to read a few chapters while I eat my homemade lunch. It’s wonderful.
Still not convinced the library is where it’s at?
Why You Should Go to the Library
1. It’s free! Did I mention it’s free?
Seriously, guys, you have nothing to lose to reap the benefits of this community resource. Even if you think it’s going to be lame, take thirty minutes out of your day to go check out your library. Even if you use it to rent movies, that’s a win for your pocketbook. You’re already paying taxes to fund the library; you might as well recoup some of that money by using the resources that are free to you.
2. You’ll learn new things.
You can browse different books, films, audio books, and eBooks. Take your time and explore this wondrous place. The upside to printed works at the library is that they’re more credible than the content you read online. There’s also something about having a book in your hands. You’ll learn more about the world around you, which is Picky Pincher approved.
3. You can make friends.
I admit I can be a Grumpy-puss when I’m around crowds of people. But the library is a great place to meet people! You can chat with someone who’s browsing in your section to see if you have similar interests. “Oh hey, I see you’re checking out I’m Lazy and I Want a Sandwich, I too am lazy and want a sandwich. Wanna be friends?” Or, if you aren’t into that creepy example, you can chat with the librarian, who’s usually pretty excited to geek out with someone. C’mon, get out of the house and talk to people. No really, put down the sweatpants and the excuses. Go out and experience life.
4. They host free events.
Most libraries function as a community center and offer free classes or meetups. Unfortunately, most of the events at my local library happen during the day, but it’s worth perusing the Events board during your next visit. They usually have a few book clubs and story time for the little ones.
Going to the library probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you picture frugal, sustainable living. It didn’t for me, either. But it has tremendously affected our lives for the better. Before you write it off, dust off your old library card and give it another shot. You never know what you’ll find.