Frugal Tips

OverDrive – the frugal reader’s best friend

I like to read.

It’s fun, it’s good for your mind. I feel like it’s also one of the best ways to improve your investing results. Through reading, you can learn from the best. You can find different investing styles, and see what has worked for people in the past while becoming more aware of the history of the market.

There are many benefits to reading from an investing stand point. However, it’s also an awesome way to entertain and improve yourself. Plus people who read are super cool.

The best part about this is that it all can be free.

All you need is a library card and you can have access to thousands upon thousands of hours of entertainment and learning material at no cost to you.

The problem with that is that you actually have to put on pants, drive to the library, get familiar with Mr. Dewey and his decimal system, find the book you want to borrow, talk to someone to check it out and drive home with your book in tow.

Who wants to do all that!?

I like to read but I also like to sit on my butt and not go out.

That’s really where OverDrive shines!

If you’re like me; love to read but aren’t interested in building a collection of books for your bookcase and want to save time and money then OverDrive is for you.

OverDrive is an application that allows you to borrow ebooks, audiobooks and more from the comfort of your own home and all you need is a computer or phone and a library card(an eReader helps too).

How it works


OverDrive Website

You can use the OverDrive website(as shown above) to create an account.

This allows you to access your libraries digital collection. After that, you can search for books, read them on your computer or send them over to your kindle, nook, phone or MP3 player(in the case of audiobooks).

I personally use my phone and it’s as simple as downloading the OverDrive app for free on the app store then creating an account with OverDrive.

After that, I looked up my library, got access to the digital collection and off I went. I must say that getting OverDrive has sparked my interest in reading again because it’s just so damn easy to get a book whenever I want.

The best part of it all is that it’s free. You don’t have to read a ton of books about frugality to know that any money not going out the door for books is money that can be saved and bring your financial independence dreams closer to reality.

I’m a big reader of fiction but I also like to read a few non-fiction books about investing once in a while. I find that it helps to learn from the experiences of investors and see that markets now aren’t so different from markets in the past.

Once you have an account, getting a book is as simple as this.

I jump onto the app and search what I’m looking for – in this case a rather unknown book –  Deep Value by Toby Carlisle. This is a book I heard about on some podcasts I listened to recently and I wanted to check it out but saw that it retails for $62.88 on Amazon and even the Kindle version is over $40.

Overdrive 1

Luckily the library’s digital collection has a copy and it’s available.

One of the limiting factors is that certain digital collections are better than others so your mileage may vary depending on where you live and what digital collections you can access.

Digital collections work much like a library in that there’s a certain amount of copies to lend out. A book can be available or on hold if all the copies are on somebody’s kindle at the moment.

In this case, the library has 2 copies of Deep Value that I can choose to borrow for a period of 7, 14 or 21 days.

I generally choose 21 to give me ample time to read it and you can always return it earlier from your kindle to let others read it if you finish early.

Overdrive 2

The books get sent to your loans page and from there it’s as simple as sending it to your kindle.

Overdrive 3

Pressing the read now with Kindle button takes me to an Amazon log in page and then allows me to send the loaned copy to my kindle automatically. That means the next time I open that up, the book is right there for me to read as long as you have WiFi on.

It’s very simple and entirely free as long as you have a Kindle and a library card.

The best part is I didn’t have to leave my home to read this book and I saved over $40. It’s a short term rental but If I ever want to read it again then I can just borrow it again.

The cost benefit to this is not to be understated especially if you’re in a household of voracious readers. Not only do I go through 4-5 books a month but my fiancee probably goes through a dozen audio books a month and that could get expensive if you’re actually buying them.

If you add the number of books I read and the number of audio books she listens to then we’re probably getting $500/month worth of material at no cost to us. Yes, $500, have you seen the prices for audio books, they’re ridiculous!

It doesn’t quite work up to that much savings for us. While I did buy some books here and there, my fiancee used to borrow the audio books from the library. It is still a huge time saver for her. Before, she had to manually copy each disc onto her PC before transferring that onto the iPhone. Now with OverDrive, she can download the audio files straight onto her phone from the app. On top of that, the selection is much better on OverDrive than it was at the local library.

The next benefit is that there’s absolutely no doubt that I’ve started to read more since I started using OverDrive because it’s so easy to find a book, download it and have it on your kindle.

The actual layout of the app and website are solid and I actually find it easier to use than using my kindle to navigate the amazon website and search for books.

The negatives

There are some drawbacks to this and the biggest one comes from the size and quality of your library’s digital collection.

Most libraries will have a decent sized collection but often that means popular fiction and not a ton else. My local library, as an example, doesn’t have a huge selection of non-fiction books and when it does have one, there’s generally only one copy which can mean the book can be on hold for a few weeks. That can limit how much value you get out of the app if your library’s collection is poor.

There is a work around if this is the case for you and that’s library card sharing! You’re in luck if you happen to have a family member that lives in another state. If they’re willing to share their library card number with you. Then you can often get access to other digital collections.

The way it works is that OverDrive gives you access to a local library system’s digital collection. That often includes a bunch of libraries in one state but not all of them.

It’s quite possible that the digital collection for Town A in your state is different than the one for Town B in your state. It’s almost guaranteed that the digital collection from another state will differ than the one you have access to through your library card. That means it’s worth asking relatives or friends for their library card. They might have another digital collection. You can often check which libraries are in your collection on the digital collection website.

I’ve found that most digital collections I’ve seen are pretty decent; they often include at least a dozen libraries. You can also often request books to be added if they’re not there at all.

I personally have access to two digital collections. One is better than the other and I can generally find most books I want between the two of them.

The other negative is that you only have a certain amount of days to read the book. 21 days is the max before the book gets automatically returned. That is generally enough to get through a book. However, it may be an issue if you’re taking it slow or if the book is very long.

There is a little trick in getting around that. Your kindle can’t “return” the book to the digital collection if it has no access to the internet. That means turning on airplane mode allows you to keep the book as long as you want.

I’m not sure if that keeps other readers from checking out the book. However, I assume it does so I wouldn’t suggest you use this too often. You can always return the book and borrow it it again if you’re not finished anyway.

I do make sure to return the book in the time frame. That’s because I’m using an out of state library card to access a digital collection. I want to make sure other readers are able to read the book.

One limit is that there are finite amounts of copies out there to borrow. That means there may be a waiting period especially with some of the more popular and/or newer books. I don’t find this to be a big issue. I have a big list of books I want to read so I can wait. It’s easy to put something on hold and move on to the next one until it’s available.

The system does a good job of tracking books for you. It will send emails when a book you’ve placed on hold is available. It will also recommend books for you based on your interests and popular releases.

The bottom line

OverDrive is probably one of the best resources I’ve found in recent years.

The local library is a great source of a lot of things beyond books. One can get access to things such as free Morningstar access, free tickets to museums and zoos, DVDs, etc. However, the best part of having a library card is access to OverDrive.

I’ve been a kindle convert for a while now. I’ve left the old paperbacks in the dust but my reading has been sporadic. One of my annual goals this year was to read a lot more. OverDrive certainly helped with that. There are many books I expect to read and ones that I don’t necessarily want to spend money on. OverDrive solves that dilemma.

It allows me to access a huge library of books, both fiction and non-fiction. It gets them onto my kindle in no time at all and it’s free. You don’t have to search “free eBook” on google anymore because OverDrive has it all.

Whether they’re free or not, Books allow me to be entertained, learn and grow. With OverDrive, they’re free. That means I get all that while having extra cash to put into my savings accounts for the future. That’s a combination that can’t be beat and a great way to stay Frugal while not limiting yourself at all.

If you haven’t heard of OverDrive, like to read and want to check it out then head over to the website or download the app on your phone.

It’s the easiest way to read and get books out there and best of all, it’s all free!


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