For frugal booklovers, there is no better resource than the public library system. You already pay for the services provided by your local library from your taxpayer's dollars -- why not make good use of them? Especially during a downturned economy, the free opportunities provided by a library are indispensable, and you would be foolish to laugh them off or never use them.
Learning a new skill, when you have some downtime, is a great way to boost your résumé without having to pay for expensive classes or an expert's teaching. The thousands of books contained in a single library -- plus the books you can access by placing holds outside of your particular location -- hold a treasure trove of useful information from which you can draw a new set of skills. No matter the field, someone has written a book about (and if they haven't, there's a great source of alternate income for you to exploit!), so talk to your librarian about a skill or skillset you'd like to learn.
Some people enjoy escaping into fiction when their daily trials get too heavy, and with the nearly unlimited supply of fiction books provided by a library system, you could get lost in alternate realities for several lifetimes. Not sure where to start? Find a "Top Fiction Books" list online and put a few on hold, then follow author trails from there (typing them as search entries into Amazon.com will often give you some great suggestions).
Instead of paying $4 per rental at a video store, use the library system for renting videos. And by renting, of course, we mean borrowing! You may have to do some wait time if you're trying to get a popular film that was just released, but if you fill the meantime with less popular (but just as great) movies, you can entertain yourself, your family, and even guests without paying anything or worrying about huge overdue fees. (Though be sure to always return your things to the library on time!)
Using internet is one of the reasons most people still visit libraries. With free service for several hours a day, libraries offer you a way to go check up on all your email and social networking before you head home, without even having to pay an outrageous internet provider bill. Printing is another incredibly helpful service many libraries provide -- after all, if you only need to print a few pages per month, there's no reason to buy an expensive printer and ink.
Finally, attending community events is your ticket to free entertainment during a rough financial season. From book clubs to cooking demonstrations (free food!), children's readings to writer's groups, you can find tons of great events at your library, free of charge. Speak with a librarian or look for a flyer with upcoming events, and schedule accordingly!
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