Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More money saving tips from the Queen! Or, for our Oklahoma readers, Read Y'All!

You know, Nettie, that Wayne and I have been trying this whole frugality, plan-your-money thing for about two years now. I'm a member at Debt Proof Living, and I read Get Rich Slowly and I Will Teach You To Be Rich about every day. I also love Wise Bread for sheer volume of tips. I was reading some blog the other day (love the segue from super-specific to very vague?) and it mentioned that one of the things they do for cheap entertainment is read aloud.

Well, duh. Doesn't everyone?

I guess that's a no. Wayne and I have been reading books aloud for a while now. I know the starting point was going to see the first Narnia movie. On the way home, I was trying to express my mixture of feelings to Wayne; basically I liked it, but I was really upset about the whole fox character (not in the book!), even though I love Rupert Everett. In an effort to explain, I whipped out the boxed set I've had since I was about eight, and read the particular passage. No fox.

After that, I decided we should just read the whole thing to really see where the movie people did good, and where they deviated from the text, which is a huge no-no with me. We ended up reading the entire series.

Then we moved on to Harry Potter, which was such a huge success that I once read a segment aloud into the cell phone propped on my chest. Wayne was out of town, and couldn't wait to find out what happened next. He's a dedicated listener. (Which is the arrangement we have--I read, he listens, we both comment.) If it wasn't such a stalky-fan thing to do, I would write J.K. Rowling a letter about how she inspired my no-reading husband to plow through a book once. It was Deathly Hallows, and he couldn't wait for our appointed reading time (bedtime) to move on. I took a picture.

How is buying all these books to read aloud frugal?

1) Well, we didn't buy most of them. Like the Narnia books, I already owned a lot of the books we read. My parents were big on books, and read to us every night. My brother only likes Hank the Cowdog and certain civil war books. I loved girl books--Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne of Green Gables, etc. We always got a book or book set at Xmas and birthdays. So I'm well-stocked.

2) The public library. There are umpety-teen library branches here in our fair city. Our library website is great--you can order a book from any branch and it will be delivered to the branch of your choice within days. I usually choose the one closest to my house and the one closest to my job. The request feature is my favorite. I read about a new book online, hear about it from a friend, etc., go online to the website, request it under my name, and voila! It will appear on my branch's holdshelf.If someone else has already requested it, the site will show what number I am in line. (Currently I'm 10 of 16 for the waiter rant book, but that saves me $15 on a new hardback that I'll probably only read once anyway.)

I've always got some books on hold, some on request, and some waiting for pickup. Every time I go into the library, I can drop off my old books and head straight for the holdshelf. I grab my holds, step over to the automated checkout, and be done in a few minutes. I still spend my time browsing, but I can cut down on errand-running time this way.

3) Love this site! I can post the books I don't want anymore (even hardbacks or audiobooks), and trade them for new-to-me books. All I have to pay for is postage (and I'm sneaky like that and ask for postage for gifts), which averages out to about $2 per book. There's about a two-week turnaround, but it's worth it to fill out a series or get books for gifts. I've gotten some brand-new books this way. If you're ordering for a gift, there's a nifty little message box where you can contact the sender and make requests, like "good condition for a gift" or "no smoking/pethair/dogears", whatever you're allergic to.

And for those of you who are squeamish about gifting a 'used' book--haven't you ever 'browsed' a book at Barnes & Noble before? Or read the whole dang thing right there in those comfy armchairs? You're not likely to get a virgin book that has never been read. And really? Like you can tell. And does a book lose any of its charm for having been read once?

4) Gifts. My family is a big fan of practical gifts. And yes, we include books in that category. (Honestly, I've read my copy of Anne of Green Gables way more times than I ever used my practical black rain boots.) This is our gift-giving mantra

Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.

5) Used book stores. My local used book store accepts your old books for cash or credit. So I can walk in with a bunch of old books and out with a bunch of new-to-me books. And I'm supporting local business.

So now you know how to get the books. Next time, boys and girls, we'll talk about how to actually get to the reading part.

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