How To Save Money #3: Rent DVDs

Although it can be satisfying to have a large video collection, most people don’t ever watch a movie again after purchasing it. That constitutes a waste of money—sometimes, a lot of money. I have seen struggling young couples with children to care for who have trouble making ends meet, yet they own hundreds of DVDs. At $20 to $30 or more per DVD, that adds up pretty quickly to thousands of dollars they could have better spent on other things.

What can you do instead? In order from least costly to most costly, you can

  • Ask for it free from your local Freecycle group
  • Use your local library
  • Buy used instead of new
  • Subscribe to Netflix
  • Use the rental cost rule of thumb before buying

Ask for it Free

If you joined your local Freecycle group as described in my previous entry on saving money, you can post a request for the DVD. There is no guarantee that someone will have it, but they might!

Use Your Local Library

Or try your local library, which, in addition to DVDs and video cassettes, should have a large collection of audio books to check out. Some might even have audio books you can download from your library’s Web site.

Buy Used Instead of New

If you do want to buy a DVD, consider purchasing it used; for example, from If you can wait a while after its release, you may find you can buy a used DVD in “like new” condition for a fraction of its new price.


You could also consider subscribing to Netflix instead. If you think you might want to watch it now and then, but probably not that often (after all, there are always new movies coming out to see, too!), then Netflix is a good solution. Plus there are no late fees with Netflix, and you can watch thousands of movies online there as well. If you choose one of their less-costly programs, Netflix can cost less per month than the price of two people going out once to a movie. For that price, you can watch a very large number of movies in a month.

The Rental Cost Rule of Thumb

If you must have it new, ask yourself whether you are going to watch that DVD enough times to make up for the purchase cost. Many people use what a rental cost rule of thumb. If you think you are going to watch it enough times that renting the DVD multiple times would cost more than buying it, consider buying it instead.

Like many people, I use this rule of thumb, but even if the movie passes this test, I give myself a cooling-off period before actually purchasing it. What I loved and thought I had to have often doesn’t stand the test of time, and I find myself content to have just seen it once.

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One thought on “How To Save Money #3: Rent DVDs

  1. Redbox has $1 DVD’s for rent from machines at most grocery stories. One just finally showed up in my town, yay! This a better price than $4.99 OnDemand movies.

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