save on netflix

Looking to save on Netflix subscription? How does $155.76/year sound? I'll teach you how, while still getting the movies you want to watch.

Remember those Friday nights perusing your local Blockbuster, checking out your weekend's DVDs with a coke in hand (chocolate chip cookie dough bites for me, thank you very much)?

Then came Netflix, and our lives changed drastically. While browsing the digital shelves might not be as rewarding, it certainly is more convenient.

I mean, no due dates? No shipping fees? No leaving your couch? 

Pretty sweet.

But what about that monthly fee you're paying? For us, we're on the plan that allows 2 DVDs at a time, for a total of $7.99/month (represents new Netflix price — they've changed twice since originally writing this article).

Well, your local library might bring back some of that Blockbuster magic. It's one of the best ways to save on Netflix!

We can save $155.76/year on Netflix. I'll show you how! Tweet this.

While I've used Interlibrary Loan ever since learning about its magic in college (I used to work as a librarian, aka the coolest federal work study job ever), I've never used it for getting my hands on the DVDs I want to watch.

So this made me wonder, what if our library could fulfill our $12.98/month ($155.76/year) Netflix queue for free?

Update: Netflix prices were updated to $7.99/month for their cheapest plan, which would come out to $95.88/year in savings.

Could it be our free Netflix?

I went through our Netflix queue as is, and searched for each of the DVDs on our library's homepage, and then if it wasn't available there, on the ILL page.

Honestly, I was shocked with what I found: 100% of our Netflix queue is available for pickup from the library just two miles down the road.

How to save money just became a heck of a lot easier.

Curious How Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Works?

ILL is the sharing economy at its best.

With all of the libraries across the nation, it's likely that one will have a book, DVD, audio book, etc. that you want. But instead of you having to drive to Nebraska for a copy of Straight Outta Compton, you just order the DVD through your local library (either in person or online) and they will order it from whatever library has it, then have it shipped to them for free.

Meaning you can now get the material at your local library whenever it comes in for free. And of course you return the item to your library as well, who will then ship it to wherever it's supposed to go to next.

How convenient!

Not only that, but in our library's ILL system, you can start a queue just like in Netflix, called “Things to Checkout”.

Each library has slightly different rules. Ours has the following:

  • Maximum of 5 ILL active requests at a time (includes pending and checked out ILL requests)
  • ILL requests count towards your maximum of 30 holds allowed per cardholder
  • Checkout time is 3 weeks and no renewals are allowed

Patience, of course, is a necessity if you're going to do this. For our library's ILL system, you have to wait between 2 and 6 weeks for delivery. But honestly, you wait that long (or longer) for items in the mid-range of your Netflix queue anyway, right?

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12 replies
  1. Money Beagle
    Money Beagle says:

    One word on why we don’t use our library for DVDs all that much, even though they have a very good selection on paper: Scratches. Bottom line, at least 1/3 of the DVDs we bring home are scratched and have problems playing. People just don’t care about them as they do their own (or maybe that’s how they treat their own). We always try to de-scratch them ourselves and will let the library know so they can try to fix it or replace it, but it still seems a losing battle. So, I’d recommend doing a few weeks ‘test run’ and seeing if you’re satisfied with the results before outright dropping Netflix.

  2. Joe
    Joe says:

    Hi Amanda!
    Couldn’t agree more with the library as a resource. We’ve been reiterating that idea to friends and family for years. Our local library has a *decent* selection of DVDs and CDs. BTW I like how you liken the library to the Blockbuster days, it’s so true.

    But it’s not hard to not have library-envy with some libraries in larger towns. Their selection can be just huge! Some are able to reciprocate with borrowing, others not. The ILL system is the way to go.


    • Amanda
      Amanda says:

      Hi Joe! I’m in Houston, but not near the downtown central library. Ours has about 100 DVDs always on its shelves–I wonder if that’s a ‘normal’ quantity or not?

      Also, I like that your promote libraries (says the former federal-work-study librarian;)).

  3. Emily @ evolvingPF
    Emily @ evolvingPF says:

    Very interesting! I’ve been using the local library pretty heavily recently for books, and although I scoped out the DVDs when I first visited it I have yet to check any out. I’ve definitely been thinking of downgrading our Netflix subscription (we have both DVD service and streaming, which seems like overkill) but maybe it would be a good thing for our TV consumption to make access to shows a bit more difficult, such as by switching to getting titles only from the library.

  4. Pamela Car
    Pamela Car says:

    Streaming is a great add on, but new movies are what people were always looking for when they went to the local video store to rent. Netflix DVD has the new movies, the old movies, and the best depth of independents and foreign movies. I still would think DVD’s would be what the main stream would be looking for. You could get them other places, but unless you are an infrequent watcher Netflix still offers the most economical choice.
    I am quitting for a bit, but I will probably go back in 6 months or so and move around from streaming to DVD depending on what is available.

  5. Ginger
    Ginger says:

    Some libraries are great, like yours and others are like WNY libraries. We have to pay $1 to transfer something, not via ILL, but within our system just to our local branch. I have not even looked at ILL because I doubt it would be worth it. I’d rather pay a little more overall and have more libraries like yours.

  6. Suzie
    Suzie says:

    Good post, Amanda. You made me laugh when you said you went to Blockbuster for DVD’s. I thought you were going to say tapes. I know, showing my age. We have access to two fantastic library networks. Both top rated in the country. One is big city library, the other is local county. Pay $1 to transfer?!? Boy I didn’t realize how spoiled I am. It is truly amazing the resources we have access to besides books: toy lending, computer classes, online courses, meet the author seminars (among others), career guidance center at one branch. I could go on but I won’t. Thanks for reminding me just how lucky I am to have free access to so much.

    • Amanda L Grossman
      Amanda L Grossman says:

      Haha–I’m sure I picked up a few VHS tapes in my day;).

      I’ve been wanting to check out the genealogy classes at our library; also baby/toddler storytime! Both are free. I’m glad you have great resources as well.


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