Easy Green Money-Saving Tip: Get a Library Card

If you're cutting back on extras, like Netflix and other subscriptions, here are some eco-friendly ways to save cash.

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The reading room of the New York Public Library.
Recession-hit families are cutting back on extras, which may mean the end of Netflix, new books and music, magazine subscriptions and even internet service for some households. Because of this, many families are learning to turn to their neighborhood library for resources and entertainment. Tough times have been a boon for libraries, which, in addition to lending books, DVDs, CDs and magazines for free, can also provide job-search counseling and educational programs.

According to Boston.com:

Checkouts of books, CDs, and DVDs are up 15 percent at the main library in Modesto, Calif. In Boulder, Colo., circulation of job-hunting materials is up 14 percent. Usage of the Newark Public Library in New Jersey is up 17 percent. Library card requests have increased 27 percent in the last half of 2008 in San Francisco. The Boise Public Library reported a 61 percent increase in new library cards in 2008. In Brantley County, Georgia, library computer usage was up 26 percent in the last quarter.

If you're looking to cut extraneous expenses, replacing your magazine subscriptions, Amazon purchases and Netflix with a library card is the best way to do so. Barring that, here are a few other green ways to cut your spending on media.

  • Swap your books and DVDs with friends and neighbors. They can give you recommendations, and you can share your favorites.
  • Or, try the free section of Craigslist, or Freecycle.
  • Buy your books and DVDs used - either from local garage sales, used bookstores, or online. Sell your old ones, too.
  • Feeling adventurous? Freegans have long scavenged the dumpsters of major bookstores for thrown-out books with damaged covers. As these dumpster divers in Sarasota, Fla. found, week-old magazines and CDs are among the bounty.
  • Feed the Pig recommends saving money on magazines by reading online, but when you need your glossy mag fix, limit your time with the US Weekly to doctor's office waiting rooms and the gym.
  • Catch up on old movies with a free online video site, like Hulu or Fancast.

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