Hint: Only the last one involves books.

If you’re trying to pay off debt or build an emergency savings fund, you need to put away all those plastic cards in your wallet for a while. Except for one: your library card.

Maybe you don’t even have a library card, rarely use the one you have, or head straight for the books when you visit your public library. If so, you’re missing out on lots of ways to save money and still enjoy your life while on a tight budget.

I used to be a books-only library patron. Then I took a look around and realized there’s a whole world of savings and culture at the public library, especially if you live in a large city. However, even small towns can have an impressive library if there’s a passionate librarian at the helm.

Here are five ways you can save money by taking advantage of your library’s many offerings.

1. Check out music

After 20 years of visiting my local library, I finally wandered over to the CDs section. I found rock, classical, folk, hip hop, world music, country, and more. I checked out a dozen CDs and listened to my favorite music for two weeks while driving around. Then I realized I didn’t have to listen to the same tired CDs I owned or buy new ones for my next road trip. Now when I hit the highway, I check out a tall stack of CDs for my travels.

Not only will you save hundreds of dollars otherwise spent on CDs and music downloads, you’ll know which CDs or songs you actually want to buy. That CD with only one song you like will give you a heads-up that your best choice may be to download only that one selection rather than buy the entire CD. You can even return to the library and borrow the same CDs any time you get an urge to listen to that music again.

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2. Borrow movies

Sure, you can rent a Redbox movie for a couple bucks or spend $10 to $20 going to a movie but why do that when you can borrow DVDs at the library for free? Most libraries offer recent releases along with older movies.

3. Go to events, workshops, and classes

One summer, my neighborhood library offered a free yoga class two days a week in the middle of the day. Since I work at home, I managed to slip over there and join other fitness-minded oddballs with the time and desire to do the downward dog on a Tuesday afternoon.

Any decent library offers kids’ events, author readings, yoga classes, computer skills courses and speakers on all kinds of topics. For example, the New York Public Library offers more than 93,000 programs annually.

4. Get free help with complicated life stuff

Every spring, lots of public libraries offer free income tax preparation services by trained volunteers. Libraries often also have counselors available to assist patrons with Medicare open enrollment, health insurance coverage or career counseling.

5. Read for free

With all the free things the library offers, I almost forgot the old standby: reading. You can check out books and magazines, and if you don’t want to subscribe to the daily newspaper or digital edition, catch up on the news for nothing at your local library.

You don’t have to lead a bleak, deprived life while paying down debt as long as you’re near a public library. So, venture out of those book stacks and start exploring.

Meet the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Writer

Hipp is a freelance writer based out of Missouri.

Budgeting & Saving, News, Pop Culture

entertainment, save money, Very Personal Finance

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Article last modified on November 21, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: 5 Ways To Save Money At Your Public Library - AMP.