Tag Archives: movies

Free to the Public

In this day and age with the power to purchase at your fingertips or the joy of browsing in physical stores with a latte in hand, it’s easy to want to buy… well, everything. And it’s easy to forget that many of these things are available for free in your own back yard. I would like to highlight the resources available at your public library and how those resources can replace things that you are probably spending a lot of money on.

eBooks— First of all, if you have a smart phone, a pad, AND a Kindle or Nook, you have too many electronics that do the same thing. There are apps available for your smartphone or pad that basically replace your eReader. In any case, if you have jumped on the eBook bandwagon, you definitely want to check out if your library has an eBook app. You can check out eBooks for FREE from your local library. It works the same way as a library book. You check it out, and eventually it gets turned back in. Except you can browse books from home and it is automatically returned for you (no overdue fines!).

Regular ol’ paper books–Not only can you get bestsellers, references books, self-help books, paperbacks, hardbacks, classics, etc., to physically checkout in person just like you always did from the library, but often times libraries also have a spot where they have mass market paperback exchanges that you can come in and “exchange” time and time again without checking out. For books that you can check out the old fashioned way, these days you can renew online, or by phone. Your library may even have an app specifically for your library, making keeping track of your books a breeze. However, if you don’t want to keep track of your books, check to see if they have a paperback exchange. These books are taken on the honor system and don’t have to follow any protocol or incur fines.

Movies–Your library probably has an extensive dvd collection, both classic movies and new releases. Instead of paying money at Redbox, your local movie store, Netflix, etc., see if your library has it first.

Libraries also have CDs, magazines, books on CD, and new media you probably have not come across before. They also often services like scanning and printing, and free internet. Many also have conference rooms, small classrooms, meeting rooms, and private study rooms available for free. You should also check out programming and events for free and low cost entertainment and educational opportunities.

Libraries these days are trying to compete with your nearest big box book store and mall (remember shopping with a latte in hand) so the old days of no talking and no food and drink are gone. Many libraries have very liberal attitudes regarding these former taboos because they want to create a welcoming attitude.

And Here’s the great thing about your library: If they don’t have it, they can get it from their partner libraries. Or, they can order it for their own content. Libraries want to make their patrons happy. They can even order ebooks specifically upon your request. So if you get frustrated by the selection at your public library, it may be because patrons, like you, aren’t telling the library what they want to see.

If you have not been to your public library lately, you really need to check it out. After all, your library is probably almost entirely funded by your tax dollars. So…perhaps not entirely free, but it’s a resource you are already paying for, so take advantage of it.


The Size of Your Package

Why are we so wedded to the idea of having dozens of channels we never watch to occasionally catch movies and shows we have already seen–all with commercials.  Clearly, I understand why people have cable.  I got cable as soon as I got a real job and a real TV after graduating college and had it up until a few months ago. I also recall delaying canceling the cable by one month because I panicked that my stepfather would not be entertained for Thanksgiving.  I even insisted on having a TV in the bedroom, though my husband didn’t really want it there.

When making the choice to quit cable, I thought seriously about the shows I would no longer get.  And I had gotten quite enamored of DVR’ing certain shows and having my own commercial-less marathons. So I am not coming at this from a position that TV is filth and that we would all be better off not watching it.  I like TV.  What I didn’t like was paying so much money for a “package” that had nothing to do with the way I wanted to watch TV.

We were paying around $60 a month for a package that didn’t even include HBO, Showtime and Cinemax. I brought up the idea one day to get rid of the cable and explore other options. Luckily, my husband does not watch sports or this conversation could have gotten ugly.

We did some research. Looking back, I can’t even remember why we went with the choice we did, but in the end, we decided on Hulu Plus, and for less than $10 a month we can watch TV. The transition has not been perfect. Hulu Plus has a lot of great trendy shows… but not the trendy shows I watched before. It seems that not all stations have jumped on the internet TV bandwagon…though I think it is only a matter of time before they will.  For example, none of the home improvement channels have come along for the ride, or CBS. Hulu Plus also has a lot of weird foreign stuff. Yes, I know that I am not the only person or race watching this stuff, but there is a lot of it on there, which, to me, means that much of Hulu Plus does not appeal to me.  Also, if you flip through Hulu Plus it seems that there is a lot of content and “TV” channels, but a lot of those channels either have no content or only clips. It is very misleading. Hulu Plus also still has annoying commercials.

I am still tweaking my optimal TV viewing package.  I am probably going to get a TV antenna, which I understand allows you to get up to thirty channels since the digital conversion.

This would include CBS.  Currently, I can watch CBS on the computer, and even mirror it to my big TV, but CBS only holds a few episodes at a time and the quality of watching it either on the computer or on the TV is poor. The cost of an antenna would be around $50, but it is a one-time fee and would solve a lot of my issues.  And, conveniently, since this form of TV does not require one-year or two-year contracts, I can still switch to Netflix without penalty.

So, in short, even though I am still trying to get the right formula, I know that the result for us is a savings of around $50 a month on a recurring bill.  That’s potentially two round trip tickets to visit my sister. $600 a year just for adjusting the way I watch TV.