You may be very surprised to know that, in my opinion, your library card is the most valuable card in your wallet.  

Since my daughter and granddaughter have come to live with us, we are finding that our local library has so much more to offer than just books.  

Today's modern library has a little something for everyone and the only way to take full advantage of your library is to make a visit and find out what they have to offer.  I can only speak for our library, so don't expect that your library offers exactly what ours does.  

Your library may have many more FREE activities and learning experiences for you to use.  

These days, libraries go far beyond just housing books and other reading material. They host free workshops and activities, such as computer classes, film classes, and art classes. Almost 91% have free Wi-Fi. Some provide tickets for free admission to local attractions including museums, nature centers, and historic sites. And 92% of all libraries offer some sort of job search service help. As one librarian told me, "We get paid to help you find a job."

If you or any of your family members don't yet have a library card, I urge you to get one.  This is one card that is free to everyone and doesn't charge interest for its use.  

Here are some of our favorite things we have done at our local library for free or at much reduced costs.

1. Our library has a large room that can be rented for $20 where you can have any type of party or program you want. So far this year, I have attended a bridal shower, a baby shower, a political meeting, and a couple of informational programs.

2. Get a free movie. Your library gets DVDs at the same time they are released for sale to the public or at least ours does. We check out lots of Walt Disney movies for our granddaughter. This is great because she can watch them several times before they need to be returned.

3. Download an e-book for free. More than 75% of libraries offer access to e-books. E-book readers are available for check-out at nearly 40% of libraries. I admit, I have fallen for all the E-book reader hype and was trying to figure out how I might scrape up enough money to buy one. On a trip to the library, I asked the lady at the desk about e-book readers and found that our local library does have them available for check-out. I now enjoy reading e-books that I downloaded for free at the library and I won't need to buy an e-reader of my own. More money saved!

4. Launch your future. Use a library computer to apply for a job online or check out materials to study for a certification exam. Even better for the working folks, the library stays open until 8:00 p.m.

5. Learn how to better manage your money at a free financial planning seminar or search out tips for building your retirement nest egg. I have attended several of these financial planning seminars at the library and have learned some interesting things I might try once I become debt free.

6. Our library holds free art shows and displays artwork made by local artisans. I love to attend these shows because there is so much variety and the goods on display are quality merchandise-no crafts here! Many of the things on display are for sale which helps our local artisans continue in their trade. I have found several nice, inexpensive gifts here.

7. Saturday morning is story time for four- and five-year-old kids. My granddaughter loves to go to the library for story time. Again, this is free entertainment for her. You don't even need to stay-just be sure to pick her up at the end of the program which lasts for one hour. Not only do the kids get to hear stories, they do fun activities related to the book that was read.

I don't think there is any other card in your wallet that offers so much free fun and entertainment for the entire family.  

Since I started visiting our library more frequently, I wonder why I didn't take advantage of all the things offered sooner and, let me say it one more time, for FREE!  

Kimberly Johns, Debt Management Plan Customer with Leading Provider of Debt Relief, CareOne Services, Inc. Kimberly Johns

Kimberly is enrolled on the CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Kimberly is very active in the Community Forums, some of you may recognize her Community user name; Tiquie. Recently retired, Kim shares how she and her husband manage the financial challenges of living on a fixed income in their home state of Illinois. The John's have found some really creative and fun ways to offset the limitations of a retirement income. Kimberly generously shares smart and tested tips in her A Straight Talk on Debt blog! Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.