Put Your Brain Where Your Money Is: Think to Save

Over the weekend, our biological father emailed and asked me to purchase a $2.00 money order on his behalf for an FAA certificate (he’s a pilot) and mail it to him in Japan. While I wasn’t sure how much a money order cost these days, my initial reaction was “What a waste of money to buy a money order for $2.00.” But it was a busy weekend, so I just planned to go to the Post Office this week to buy the money order and gave it no further thought.

When I got to the post office this afternoon and told the clerk that I would like a money order for $2.00, he told me, “OK, but it’ll cost you $1.50.” At that moment it occurred to me that I could have just made out a check for him instead. It was quite embarrassing to not have made the realization sooner, but in front of someone else who must think me a simpleton for not having thought of it before going all the way to the post office. (Luckily, I was also going to the library next door and could also ask how much postage I would need for 1st Class Mail to Japan, so my trip didn’t seem totally in vain.)

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Free e-Book, Audiobook, Video & Music Download and Online Resources From Your Local Library

AbeBooks Generic Banner 180x150
Many of us who have been practicing the frugal lifestyle already know about the ability to borrow books, audiobooks, movies, music, software (maybe not all libraries), etc. for free from our local libraries. But it occurs to me that fewer people might be aware of the many more resources available online through our libraries’ websites.

Most library websites these days go way beyond the ability to check your account and renew books. Rather, you have access to:

  • Free e-book, audiobook, video and music downloads
  • Periodicals
  • Career and skill building resources
  • Homework help for students
  • School and career test preparation
  • Databases of resources on a variety of subjects including (but not limited to):
    • Consumer information
    • Health
    • Genealogy
    • Grants
    • Business and Career

e-Books, Audiobooks, Videos & Music

Many California libraries belong to a program called Califa, where users of participating libraries can log-in with their library card numbers and check out e-books, audiobooks and music. I’m sure library systems in other states have similar programs.

Materials available through Califa include fiction, non-fiction, children’s and young adult literature. The Califa system offers public domain and non-public domain items. Copyrighted material is copy-protected so that while you can use them, they can’t be copies. Non-copyrighted material can be copied to your computer to keep indefinitely.

My favorite of the offerings are the audiobooks. The system is quite up to date and offers contemporary works and bestsellers such as The Da Vinci Code, Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events, as well as classics such as Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick, etc.

Our favorites that we have listened to several times are the Chronicles of Narnia. The recording quality is good, download is fast, installation and operation of the software was easy.
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The Frugal Literate’s Guide to Affordable Reading

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Reading is one of the most frugal hobbies in existence, and is something, in my opinion, that everyone should do. Not only is it entertaining, but it can be beneficial and educational in many ways. In fact, reading is (along with watching period films based on classic literature) Madoline’s and my favorite hobby, and when we’re not working we can often be found with a book in front of us, even while eating.

The virtues of reading (even light-hearted, entertaining fiction) are as follows:

  • Subconsciously improves your knowledge of language, grammar and writing
  • Acquisition of vocabulary through example in context
  • Expands your horizons and knowledge of people and the world
  • Teaches a sense of perspective and the ability to see more than one side of a situation
  • Improves overall reading comprehension skills and better prepare you for life
    • Good reading and writing skills are essential for success in career and business
    • The ability to better read and understand contracts, terms and conditions (such as credit card terms) helps you to be a more conscientious consumer
    • Proper writing and spelling is a necessity if you want to be taken seriously whether it be in letters, on message boards, your own website or blog, etc.

So now that I’ve convinced you of the virtues of reading, here are some tips for reading on a budget (or ) and sources for affordable reading. While we try to borrow from the library as much as possible, we do sometimes purchase books.

A few reasons we purchase books are:

  • Collecting
    Book collecting is just as rewarding a hobby as stamp or coin collecting. Some people collect for fun, and others for profit. We personally love books so much that we would rather keep old and rare books than sell them.
  • Reading more than once
    We have favorite books and series that we often read more than once (sometimes once a year) and feel it worthwhile to purchase and collect them.
  • Study and reference
    Madoline is currently studying in preparation for graduate school, so we often purchase reference and related materials that will be useful both now and later.
  • Home library
    We live in a remote area without much to do and our local library can be rather lacking in some areas, so if there is a book we are sure of liking and re-reading, we sometimes purchase it. Also, if you live a frugal lifestyle and often opt to stay home instead of going out and spending money, it’s sometimes nice to have a handy library to pick from when in need of some entertainment or activity.

You don’t have to purchase new books to fill your collection or library. In fact, we often prefer to purchase used books just because they’re more comfortable to read. When we read a new book, we always feel the need to keep it pristine and hate seeing them get dinged or creased. But with used books, we don’t have that problem, and can read in total comfort (after wiping it over with rubbing alcohol). There are many sources for very affordable books, as low as 10-25 cents per book, which I will share below. I will start with the most preferred (frugal) sources and work my way down.

Continue on for a list of affordable reading resources. Continue reading