The Public Library: Unlock a Vault of Free Entertainment

thepubliclibraryunlockavaultoffreeentertainment.jpgI love the library. My family used to make weekly trips to the library when I was a kid. We would spend the whole afternoon scouring the rows upon rows of books in search of our next literary adventure; I travelled to the moon with Tintin, got tangled in a web making friends with “some pig” and shot down TIE fighters with the elite Rogue Squadron.

Somewhere between solving crime at 221b Baker Street and prepping for the next barrage of finals during university, I began to associate the library with dusty reference books and tedious study. But let’s take a moment to dispel those ill-conceived misconceptions. The library isn’t a stuffy place filled with dated texts; rather it’s a place to find escape and be entertained. Your public library is the best kept secret to an endless supply of quality entertainment for the right price: free.

Related: Awesome Free Video Games

Traditional Print and Media

The modern public circulation library has long been lending works accessible to the general public dating as far back as the middle of the 19th century. In the early days, as Lady Mary Montagu succinctly noted, “No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting.” Some hundred years later, the same still applies today. The library continues to provide traditional materials such as books and magazines while having expanded their collections to include movies, music and television shows.

Books

With cover prices starting at $10 per paper back, building your own personal library is expensive. Instead of buying, why not make your tax dollars work for you. Call, check online, or take a quick trip to your local branch to see if they carry a particular title; in most cases, they will. Libraries house a repository of thousands of fiction and nonfiction books on almost every imaginable subject, including books on current bestselling lists. Debate the finer points of western philosophy or find out for yourself where the HBO’s Game of Thrones differs from the George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. There are literally books for everyone.

Magazines and Newspapers

Libraries have long since stocked the latest magazines and periodicals. You can read the news, you can read interesting articles, and you can do it without having to pay for the subscription cost. Note the following caveat: Current issues generally need to stay at the library but previous issues can be borrowed.

Music

The library is a great place to get your hands on your favorite artist’s full album to listen to, ad-free. They have everything from Beethoven to Beyoncé and definitely something for every mood and occasion whether it be jazz for a dinner party or Christmas carols for the holidays. Borrowing music is also a great way to preview music if you’re contemplating the purchase of a particular album. Stumble on new sounds and genres while you rediscover the art of browsing. You don’t need a music discovery service, a prediction algorithm or “experts” to pick your next playlist; take back control of your music and find your own tune.

Related: The Top 3 Free Music Streaming Services For Canadians

Movies and Television Shows

Once upon a time, libraries were just a place for books, but since the days of Blockbuster (remember them?), libraries have been stocking VHS and DVD’s for its patrons to “rent” for free. Not only do they have the latest blockbusters, but also a rich back catalogue of classic and foreign films. They even stock entire seasons of many popular TV shows. There are a few advantages of borrowing a movie or TV show over subscribing to popular online streaming services.

It may be easier to find popular titles from the library. Libraries purchase several copies of the same movie and circulate them fast enough that new titles are likely available to borrow before they’re available on demand from streaming services like CraveTV or ShoMi. Libraries also carry shows that span multiple networks and premium channels meaning you save on the cost of subscribing from multiple providers. Where else can you find the latest season of Showtime’s Homeland, Netflix’s House of Cards or AMC’s The Walking Dead in the same place?

Digital Content

What Does Peer To Peer Lending Mean For Canadians?

whatdoespeertopeerlendingmeanforcanadians.jpgPeer to peer lending is the process of willing investors putting up their own money to be loaned to everyday borrowers like you and I making the process of loaning and borrowing money simpler and more accessible to everyone.

This form of lending has been facilitated by the rise of the internet and has been around in the United States for quite a few years now but has never really caught on in Canada. My understanding is that this is because the investing regulations are much more strict north of the border so it has taken us longer to get the ball rolling.

I’m all for people having options when it comes to loaning money which means increased competition, lower interest rates, and fewer people taking out predatory payday loans. That’s good for everyone!

So, when Andrew Graham, the CEO of Borrowell, contacted me about getting the word out about this new form of lending in Canada, I thought it would be a great opportunity to ask him some questions about how it all works and share that information with you.

Q&A With Borrowell

Free Gift Card Offers (Up To $100 To Popular Stores)

free_gift_card_offers_up_to_100_to_popular_stores2.jpgI've been touting free gift card offers on this site for a long time now: see here, here, and here. Most of them have been a free $100 gift card to Amazon.ca or another popular Canadian store in return for applying for an awesome credit card that earns you even more free money in cash back or travel rewards.

These credit cards usually also come with no annual fee (at least for the first year) and sometimes a hefty points sign up bonus to boot. Then, after the first year, there is no obligation to continue with the card if you decide it isn't for you. It's really a fantastic deal and one I've taken advantage of several times myself.

Since this has become a pretty regular thing, I thought I should make a permanent page that lists legitimate free gift card offers that I am aware of and will continue to update every few months. This is that page.

Proof That It Works

Multiply Your Savings With A Coupon Book

multiplyyoursavingswithacouponbook.jpgLast year I managed to save a significant amount of money on groceries by using coupons I found in a coupon book.

Not only did I save money from the coupons I found, I also managed to multiply my savings so that I saved much more than originally planned.

Stumbling My Way To Big Savings

My strategy for multiplying my savings was something I stumbled upon in the process of using my coupons.

I bought a coupon book online for a fundraiser that raises money for local schools. The coupon book cost $20 but was huge – it had hundreds of coupons inside. I bought it for the grocery coupons as those were the ones that I knew I would use and would save me money. The book had about $60 in grocery coupons that I was sure to use, so I’d easily make my money back.

In the process of searching for the coupon book through online classifieds I noticed that there were others who were in the same position I was – they also bought the coupon book but would only use 5-10 coupons out of the hundreds that were available.

I noticed ads placed by others who wanted to trade the coupons they weren’t planning to use for the ones they would use.

Related: Couponing For Beginners

It was easy to find plenty of people to trade coupons with, as certain people were looking for certain coupons and almost everyone had coupons they weren’t planning to use.

I contacted a few of them and asked if they’d want to trade and I was in luck. I traded with numerous people via regular mail since it saved us the time and hassle of meeting to trade for relatively low-value coupons.

How Much Money I’ve Saved

Organizing Your Coupon Binder Made Easy

organizingyourcouponbindermadeeasy2.jpgFor those who are just getting started with using coupons, you may find it a bit overwhelming to keep track of them. Perhaps you get frustrated trying to locate a specific coupon while in the grocery store, or get shot down at the cashier for not noticing that one has expired. There is a simple way to ensure your shopping trips go quickly and smoothly: organization!

Give Your Coupon Binder An Upgrade

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