Six ways your library can save you money
Money a little tight? Then why not pay a visit to your local library..
When was the last time you stepped into your local library? Yesterday? Last week? A month ago?
I have to confess I can't even remember the last time I went to a library. But I'm not very proud of myself for admitting this, given I am desperately trying to save money at the moment.
The thing is, libraries are surprisingly good places to visit when you can no longer afford to splurge on purchases from the high street. And that's because many of its offerings are absolutely free - including becoming a member.
So let's check out exactly how your local library can save you money:
Ok, ok, I know this won't come as a big surprise, but the most obvious benefit of a library is its vast collection of books - all of which you can borrow for free.
How many books can you honestly say you've read more than once? I very rarely read a book twice and then it just sits on my bookshelf gathering dust. So it makes perfect sense to borrow books for free rather than forking out lots of cash down the bookshop. What's more, think of all that shelf space you'll save!
You can typically borrow around 12 books at a time - although some libraries are less generous, and some more so. You'll be able to keep these books for one month. Just don't forget to return them when they're due back - otherwise you'll be fined.
Of course, if you're not a speed-reader and prefer to take your time over a book (like me), you can easily renew your books once that month is up. This has become far easier to do over recent years thanks to the wonders of technology. Most libraries now allow you to renew your books over the phone or online - easy!
It's also possible to borrow magazines in a lot of libraries - so you can save on that magazine subscription you pay out for each month! Or if you're about to go on holiday, why not borrow a travel guide instead of buying one?
Some libraries also periodically clear their shelves of older/out-of-date publications and will sell them for very little, so this is worth keeping an eye out for.
2) Rent DVDs
If you're a film lover, it's also easy to borrow DVDs from your library. Admittedly, this comes with a small fee, but it typically costs between £1.50 and £3 which isn't too painful! Usually you can keep your DVD for one week, although this varies depending on the library.
Although you will be paying for this service, don't forget that this is likely to work out cheaper than your local rental store and much cheaper than buying the DVD (in most cases, anyway). Depending on how often you watch films, it can also be more cost effective than signing up to an online rental scheme as you only pay for what you watch, rather than a monthly fee.
However, it's worth noting that your library's collection may not be as extensive as the one at your local rental store or the shop down the road. But libraries usually have a pretty substantial range to choose from.
Just remember to return your DVD on time to avoid paying a fine.
3) Borrow games
Libraries are also great places to go to if you want to rent a game for the Wii, Playstation or Xbox. Rental prices are usually similar to those for DVDs and you can usually rent games for one week.
This can be a fantastic way to save money if you've got children who are constantly demanding to play a new game, only to get bored of it after a few weeks!
4) Listen to music
For avid music fans who don't want to fork out for new CDs, the library comes in handy once again. Most libraries provide a range of CDs for rental purposes for around £1 or even less. You can usually keep these for between one to two weeks.
5) Surf the net
If you don't have the internet at home, or the kids always seem to be hogging the computer, you can surf the net absolutely free at your local library! And most libraries will allow you to book a computer in advance online, over the phone, or in person. However, do note that your time will usually be limited to one hour.
You can also print from the library computer, but you will have to pay a small fee for this.
6) Try new activities
Believe it or not, your local library can be a great place to socialise.
If you have young children, most libraries hold story time and song sessions. Some even hold the fabulous baby bounce and rhyme which I have on good authority is a lot of fun! Many libraries also hold special events during the school holidays to help you keep the kids entertained without hurting your wallet.
And even if you don't have children, there are plenty of activities for adults. Why not join a reading or writing group? These are great for meeting people, sharing ideas, developing interests and picking up tips. And it's absolutely free! You could even research your family history or the local area.
Alternatively, if you're about to do some travelling, why not learn a new language by borrowing audio language courses instead of purchasing them?
And even if you just want to escape the chaos of home or work, your local library is a great place to catch up on some studying or reading in peace and quiet!
So whether you're an avid reader, film buff, music lover, or just fancy meeting new people, a visit to your local library could be the perfect way to make some serious savings! Right, I'm off to borrow a book...