You can save $50 to $100 per month on cable TV bills by dropping the service and using your local library’s collection to supplement the shows you can get through your antennae and the internet. Take it from an insider, libraries probably have more video offerings than you thought.
I live in a suburb of Denver which has three medium-sized libraries within driving distance. A quick search of their catalogs shows that one has 17,830 dvd’s, another has 21,510, and the third has 7,300. That’s 45,640 videos that I am able to check out! I can get materials at any of these libraries because our state participates in a resource-sharing agreement, whereby the libraries agree to allow residents of other districts access to their materials. I did need to sign up and get a free account with each one. Check with your local library to see if they have a cooperative agreement with nearby libraries. Most of them do.

You may be thinking “Last time I was at the library, all they had was out-of-date movies, PBS shows, and instructional videos on how to improve your golf swing.” After working in various public libraries for the last fifteen years, I’ll let you in on a little-known fact: most libraries do have a lot of good, up-to-date stuff. You just are seeing it on the shelves because it’s all checked out.

So that means you’re out of luck, right? Someone always comes and gets the good stuff before you get there. Here’s what you can do: place holds on the things you want to see. You simply find the title you want in the catalog (you can find most library catalogs online) and click on some sort of “hold” button. You’ll be placed in a queue of people, and each time the item gets checked back in, it will go out to the next person, and you’ll move up higher in the queue. When you’re at the top and the item is ready for you, the library will notify you that it’s ready for you to pick up. Voila! You got your video with just one quick stop by the library.

It’s certainly worth taking a look at your library’s online catalog. In 2010, we’ve been able to get new movies like Date Night, The Hangover, and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Movie. We checked out bunches of Barney, The Wiggles, Arthur and Magic School Bus for the little ones. My daughter likes the old screwball sitcoms like I Love Lucy and Get Smart. My husband and I are looking forward to catching some of the premium channel series we missed, like The Wire, Deadwood, and Mad Men.

Sometimes we need to be a little patient while we wait our turn, but we can use the time to plan what we’re going to do with the extra $1,000 a year we save on cable costs.