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Library Card Helps Take Pain Out of Tightening Your Financial Belt

Belt-tightening is common this time of year in many households. It’s a new year; time to rethink where we spend our money, time to rein in expenses.

The 15th century Dutch humanist and scholar Desiderius Erasmus was clear about his priorities: “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

Today the cost of books and entertainment still competes for the dollars you have each month to spend on food, clothing and shelter. That is, unless you have a library card. What would you think about saving $330 per month on entertainment, alone, without giving up the entertainment?

Most people know you can check out books for free from the library, but some still don’t know the same goes for e-books, exercise videos and movies, music CDs, audiobooks and even children’s toys. There are subscription sites for movies and music like Hoopla, and research databases. You could pay $598 per year for a subscription to ValueLine, which follows stocks, mutual funds and special situation stocks. Or, you could use your library card, visit the library’s website thelibrary.org, and read it daily at no charge.

That’s just one benefit of the property tax dollars a household pays to support the library district.

If you’re curious about how much you could save by using the library instead of buying all or even some of your entertainment each month, plug some numbers into the Library Use Value Calculator. It’s on the library website thelibrary.org under Library Info, or you can link directly to it at thelibrary.org/library_roi.cfm.

It’s a simple checklist with 14 categories. You fill in the number of times per month you purchase, rent or use things such as books, e-books, movies, magazines, adult or children’s classes, computers and database subscriptions (newspapers, investment sites, etc.). The calculator does the rest.

Even if you enter only a “1” in each box to show you purchase/rent each of the 14 items on the checklist once a month, the calculator figures you would pay $330 out of pocket for them.

Tailor the value calculator to your family buying habits, and you can quickly see how using the library can take the pain out of tightening your belt in 2014.


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