I really like to read. You know those people who fret about not getting enough reading time in? Yep, that’s me.
I also like technology. I’m the kind of person who can’t work out unless they have their heart rate monitor. I’ve tried explaining to people that unless you can quantify it, graph it, analyze it, and science the crap out of it, then it’s not real.
For some reason, they don’t believe me, though.
A few years ago I discovered the perfect interaction of these two things in the form of an Amazon Kindle.
How amazing—I had the entire Amazon library right at the tip of my fingers, and all I needed to do to access any book I wanted was just press the deceptively simple “Buy It Now” button.
Forget the Large Hadron Collider, this tiny e-book reader was surely the pinnacle of human innovation and achievement, right in my very own hands.
I Spent How Much??
Since I started budgeting, though, I’ve limited myself to a set amount of fun money each month. When that fun money is gone, I can’t buy anything else I want. This poses a problem when I want to buy expensive things, or if I want to have money left over at the end of the month for whatever catches my eye.
Related: If you DO buy books, at least use a free program like Ebates to get a portion of your money back.
I quickly realized that I was spending waaaay too much money on books. In fact, I went over my purchase history for my Kindle, and guess how much I spent on books since I began purchasing them through that route? Since 2010, I spent… drumroll, please…
$487.10 on 65 e-books
When I first saw that number, I felt betrayed—how could my lovely little Kindle play me like that?
Then I felt stupid. How could I let myself be taken advantage of like that?
Heading Back To The Library
Feelings of inadequacy and stupidity will only get you so far in life. I know, I’ve had a lot of them.
What’s important is that you can take those feelings and turn them into learning moments so you can improve and refocus on what you’re doing.
In my case, this meant that I had to stop buying e-books, and head back to the library. I spent a lot of time there as a kid, where I was known as the local weirdo who came back every week and checked out the maximum number of books allowed at one time. Usually this resulted in a stack roughly about half as tall as me, which was quite the comical sight as I headed out the door.
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It was a great place—an old, stuffy Carnegie library with unnecessarily high ceilings (or maybe that was just my short stature at the time). Andrew Carnegie gets a bad rap sometimes, but I’m still sending him posthumous fist-bumps for building that library.
I was worried at first when I started using my new local library (alas; no Carnegie libraries in my new town of Fort Collins). What if they didn’t have the book I wanted to read? With my Kindle, I’ve grown accustomed to being able to access just about any book in the world I wanted, when I wanted.
Using The Library: More Than Just One Giant Room Of Books
Most libraries participate in a program called Interlibrary Loan, where they can get the book you want from another library just by filling out a simple online form. Admittedly, this can take a few weeks, but my library also participates with regional libraries to get these books even faster. I can even order books through the library if I want, which I’ve done a few times.
So far, I haven’t had a single problem getting any book I want, and I read some pretty weird stuff sometimes. My library has a ton of other benefits too:
- A free subscription to Lynda.com, a sweet online learning platform
- 3D printing
- Book clubs
- Personal genealogy help
- Classes galore (self-defense, resume writing, interviewing, money management, etc…)
- And more!
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And you’re not limited to just books either. My local library lets you check out these other things too:
- Funny-shaped cake pans
- Backpack with binoculars, field guides, and a state park pass
- Radon test kit
- Noise-cancelling headphones
I’ve been using my local library for a few months now, and it’s been great. I can’t track how many books I’ve taken out, but I’d peg it somewhere around 10. The e-books cost me on average $7.49, so that means I’ve already saved almost $75!
At that rate ($7.50/month), I’ll save a cool $90 per year.
Using the library is a great way to get all kinds of things for free. Each library is different, so make sure to Google yours to see what they have. Some are crazy good and have a ton of things. You don’t know what you’re missing out on until you check it out!
How much could you save by using the library? Leave a comment below!