Free, Free, Free!
No words get my attention faster. I’m a money-saving guru (translate that to expert-level cheapskate), so when you tell me something’s free, you immediately win my five-minute focus.
When people ask me how I managed to save enough money to leave my full-time job for a couple of years to pursue my passions, I’m not shy about my financial strategy. If I can buy something at a lesser cost, I buy it at a lesser cost. If I can get something for free instead of paying for it, it’s a no-brainer.
Today, I hit the biggest jackpot!
It has to do with the treasure trove that is the public library (as the title of this post suggests), but more on that later.
First I want to mention my undying love affair with a company called Lynda.com.
Three months ago, when I embarked on my journey into the world of graphic and web design, I had recently determined that learning how to create my own graphic art and websites would save me a lot of money as opposed to paying someone else to do it for me.
There was one tiny problem, however…
I didn’t know the first thing about either of these disciplines, other than the fact that they required the use of sophisticated software I didn’t have, didn’t know how to use, and didn’t even have a computer capable of running such programs. Not one to be deterred…I put my master money-saver instincts to good use, solving the computer problem by buying a decent used desktop on Ebay for $168 (shipping included!), and it was delivered to my doorstep in less than 24 hours.
Next up…the software. This one’s a bit of a luck strike! With my computer up and running, my partner Stephen came up to me with his cell phone in hand displaying an email from Adobe, of all companies! It was a deal to become a Creative Cloud member for 40% off the retail price. How he got this email on the day I needed to purchase this exact software, I will NEVER know. But…I wasn’t about to let the money-saving opportunity slip through my fingers. I tried the code mentioned in his email, and Voilà! The entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite of powerful software was mine for the taking at nearly half off the initial cost I was quoted. Geez…if only I now knew how to use all these cool computer progams!
A quick google search brought me to a website claiming to be able to teach me just about any software on the planet, all from the comfort of my newfound gently-used computer. Pretty cool! Unfortunately, it came with another monthly subscription fee…$25. Not a huge price to pay considering that students can pay upwards of tens of thousands of dollars to learn this stuff at their local state college. I signed up right away, and it turned out to be worth every penny. Lynda.com’s expert teachers quickly and effectively schooled me in creating a novel’s interior using Adobe InDesign, crafting compelling graphic art using Adobe Illustrator, and maximizing the hidden beauty and intricacies of a picture in Adobe Photoshop. I quickly followed these courses with a crash course in WordPress, and the rest is history. You’re actually staring at the results right now of my self-study using an inexpensive tool available to anyone with an internet connection for only $25 a month!
Colleges and universities should be scared. Savvy learners can essentially bypass the bursar and head straight to their home computer to learn everything and more than what can be taught in a brick and mortar institution, but I digress.
Back to my own adventures in learning with Lynda.com…
As you can imagine from the enthusiasm inherent in my otherwise banal and self-congratulatory tenor, I had to tell my friends about what I was doing. It wasn’t until I was stealing focus at a wedding reception in New York City, however, that one of my friend’s stopped me dead in my tracks and said, “Wait…why are you paying for Lynda.com? Most public libraries offer Lynda.com subscriptions for free to their members.”
That shut my mouth. The king of cheap was just shown up. How could I, of all frugal fanatics, not know of this deal to end all deals? My friend had essentially just told me that Stanford, Yale, and Harvard were now free of charge, and anyone with a library card was welcome! I had to look into this.
A quick trip to the Las Vegas libraries website confirmed my friend’s unprecedented assertion. The golden keys of learning from Lynda.com were all mine with my free library membership.
Now for the truly embarrassing part. Yes, I had a library card. No, it wasn’t active. I’m sad to say that until today, I had neglected the holy grail of free communal information for the better part of ten years. My membership had in fact expired.
A trip to the library was in order. And boy am I glad I went. For I rediscovered an ancient cave of wonders. My local library not only has a DVD collection that puts to shame the dual Redbox at my neighborhood 7-11, it has it’s own art museum! AN ART MUSEUM!!! Pulling open that unassuming door tucked behind an empty bike rack, I stepped into Eden. It was right here the whole time!
I could go on and on about my discoveries this afternoon. The yoga classes, sewing lessons, and access to community events that the unenlightened shelve out good money to attend. But I’ll refrain. Go see for yourself what you’ve been missing out on this whole time. No more complaining about the soaring cost of a college education. It’s virtually free.
Well, at least my Lynda.com membership is.
If you’re a Las Vegas resident, and you’re curious to learn more about a free Lynda.com membership, please click here.