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  • Writer's pictureGary Grewal

How libraries can save you big bucks!

So in Financial Fives, I do give multiple shout outs to libraries, because they are a pretty awesome resource that make a good use of our tax dollars. Outside of the many societal benefits that these icons of civic engagement provide such as jobs, internet access for at risk youth, and assistance with things like applying for Medicare, libraries can do so much more for you than just check out books! Sticking with the 'Fives' theme of my book, here are 5 ways your library can help you save money, besides the obvious one of borrowing books for free!

1) Events and Programs: Several libraries I've visited have programs geared towards all ages. These can range for story time for little ones to cooking classes with local chefs. I've seen class topics from sewing machine repairs, making your own candles, and unique uses for common household items. The classes are usually always free unless there are materials that need to be purchased. They can teach you valuable life skills that can save you money, whether by saving you the cost of hiring a professional service or by giving that blender a second life. Not to mention, lots of free entertainment and intellectual connection with movie screenings, author talks, and expert discussions on a variety of topics.

2) Renting Tools: Ever go into your garage or rummage through your junk drawer to see if you have that one wrench or that one pair of pliers to get a task done, only to find out that you don't? Rather than jetting off to the hardware store (Or I guess these days, ordering same day delivery with Amazon), check out your local library. Many have tools available for rent such as a bicycle repair kit or basic set of screwdrivers. Don't expect a table saw or tile cutter, although after seeing a portable generator once I guess nothing surprises me.

3) Free Magazines and Newspapers: I don't know about you, but I still enjoy opening up a fresh, shiny new copy of a magazine and flipping through those glossy pages. Whether you are into cars, the latest tech tools, or (ahem) money, your library likely has a section of these where you can find the latest editions and previous editions, and many are available for checkout! Better yet, some libraries use an app like RBdigital where you can download magazines on your phone! Save yourself a trip to the library, AND not have to pay a subscription? Win-Win.

4) Toy Library: Ask any parent with a child who plays with toys, and they'll likely tell you how their kid loses interest so quickly, and then pivot to beg for a newer toy. It's a never ending cycle that's pretty profitable for the toy manufacturers. Rather than drag your screaming child into a store or ordering online while you grind your teeth at more money down the drain, check out your library! Toy libraries are becoming increasingly popular, as parents realize how fast toys become obsolete or irrelevant. Many parents usually donate toys to the library, and that way the child has a new selection every time you go there. It's like a white elephant gift exchange, except your kids have no idea! They keep getting new toys to play with, you save money, and there are less plastic Barbies in the landfill! Library doesn't have one? Talk to the librarian about spearheading the effort, or start small with just your neighbors to see how well it works for you.

5) Free Passes to Area Attractions: This is one of my favorite perks, because cost is sometimes a barrier to many people enjoying new experiences! My library has a program where you can reserve two free passes to the art museum, the nature and science museum, and even special exhibits. They also rent out free state parks passes that comes with a cool little backpack, including maps, binoculars, and safety tips. I've seen long hold times for these, so keep an eye out for that. You can even ask your librarian if the library enables patrons to receive discounts or other perks at local attractions. I've often found this to be the case, especially publicly owned attractions.


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