Jul 24, 2010

Renting a movie? Know your options, save some cash

I think a lot of being a thrifter is realizing the resources that are available to you. Most people realize their town or community has a public library, but they haven't fully scooped it out or utilized it to it's full potential. The biggest example is its dvd section. The Reading Public Library has tons of dvds, including lots and lots of tv series on dvd, none of which costs you a penny.
Movie rental cost = free, my friend
Last night my boyfriend and I rented "Who Killed the Electric Car", which I highly recommend. We had talked about a couple documentaries we were interested in seeing including that one and "Food, Inc.". My mind immediately went to Blockbuster. Since I don't have Netflix and it's pretty unlikely my local Redbox will have either of those in their possession, I thought a $5 one-night movie rental at Blockbuster was my only option.
Unlike most people, paying $5 for a dvd completely infuriates me, probably to an unhealthy extent, to the point where I will not, cannot pay it. It disgusts me because I know I am being overcharged. If you keep reading my blogs, you'll probably notice a pattern in this. Luckily, my anger jogged my memory to another accessible resource: my public library. So, we drove over to the community college library, part of the public library system and sure enough, both dvds were in and available for me to rent for free...and I had all week to view them.
So, if you're thinking of renting a movie...here are some options to avoid high rental costs.

1) Go to your local library. If you're tight on time you can call them or go their website and see if they have what you want in stock. If you're renting a movie with friends, seriously take a group trip to your lib...they probably have a lot more in stock than you think. Don't have a library card? No problem, just bring your drivers license or ID and become a card-holder when you get there. Unlike American Express, everyone qualifies for a library card.
Hint: If you're library doesn't have what you're looking for, first see if you can order it in from the local system of libraries that it's connected to for future viewing.

2) If you watch a lot of movies, and have friends that watch lots of movies, consider doing a dvd swap. Most people don't like the idea of letting other people borrow their things, but I think it's a waste to have a movie that you may only watch a couple more times in your lifetime just collecting dust on your shelf. I recommend, lending them out to people, because why should they rent/buy it when they have a good friend like you!
A couple hints: Put your name on your dvds, maybe get those name stickers that are pretty quick and won't damage the case or dvd. You can consider keeping track of your private rentals, but really if you lend one out, you should accept the fact that eventually, you may not get one back. Remember, losing a dvd is not equal to losing a friend.
SAN RAFAEL, CA - AUGUST 14:  A sign advertisin...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
$1 day, but limited selection

3) Red Box & Blockbuster Express. Not a bad third option, really. Check out your local Red Box or Blockbuster Express Kiosks that are located in groceries stores, convenience stores, heck - these days they're all over the place! Rentals are $1 a day, but for new releases, sometimes Blockbuster kiosks are the way to go, as many production companies have a deal with Blockbuster to release it only to them for the first 30 days. With both of these companies, you can see what's available and even rent the dvd online before you go to the kiosk; this is what I recommend.

4) The rest of them: Netflix, Blockbuster, other video rental companies. For me, these are last options. Part of living a cost-saving lifestyle for me means cutting out monthly costs, so I will probably never be a Netflix customer, and I pretty much avoid Blockbuster at all costs. One thing I would consider, if you have a Wii and you get Netflix, you can instantly stream movies from your console and still do the mail in movies. The movies are limited, but for $8.99, I think it's a pretty good selection.

My biggest piece of advice is don't settle for a video rental without considering the free and cheaper options. Once you start looking in the library and borrowing from friends, you'll find it hard to remember why you settled for the video store. Hey, anyone want to borrow Garden State?
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