Netflix And Movies – Is The Library A Better Option?

I wanted to share a couple of good links with you today.  Minimalist Mom is always a great source of info, and her most recent post included a link to a free e-book to help you cut down on your “digital overwhelm”.  If you feel like you spend too much time online or using digital devices, this book might be a very helpful read.  I especially love that all you have to do is click on it and it appears on your screen – no need to sign up for a newsletter or provide your email address.

Angela of Oh She Glows (who has a cookbook deal worked out – congratulations Angela!!) is one of my favorite food bloggers – I make stuff from her site a couple times a week and it almost always gets two thumbs up from my guys.  I made these crackers last week, and they are awesome!  I didn’t have any sesame seeds, so I used hemp seeds instead (I get those auto-shipped in bulk from Amazon every three months, and our new supply just arrived) and they turned out great.  I also used the dehydrator instead of the oven, which made them especially easy to make – no need to check on them to make sure they’re not burning.  But I love that Angela provides recipes that use simple appliances (like an oven) that everybody has, instead of complicated ones that require specialized equipment and gadgets.  I had a dehydrator on my wish list for about three years before I bought it, and we saved in advance to pay for it.  So I love to use it.  But if you follow the directions in the recipe, all you need for these crackers is your oven.  Enjoy!  They are perfect snack food for munching on while you watch a movie.  We ate them while watching the last couple episodes of Arrested Development on Netflix.  (Such a good show, if you haven’t seen it yet.)

Speaking of Netflix, I’m curious as to what my readers did when Netflix announced that the streaming and DVD-by-mail were becoming two separate programs.  We had been using Netflix for about two years when that change occurred.  We don’t have a TV or any TV service, but we do have cable internet (necessary for our online, home-based business).  So Netflix has been a perfect solution for us.  A few nights a week, we set the laptop on the coffee table after the boys go to bed, and watch an episode of a TV show or a movie.  The price was right and we were quite happy with the selection.  More often than not, we opted for streaming content rather than DVDs.  We probably averaged three or four DVDs a month with the old plan.  So when they announced that we were going to have to pay extra to keep getting DVDs, we opted to just have streaming Netflix.

We rarely watch movies anymore, because they’re just too long.  By the time we get the boys in bed, play a game of chess, clean up the house, etc., we might have time for a 42 minute episode of a TV show (hour-long shows are only 42 minutes if you’re watching them on a service like Netflix with no commercials).  But watching a movie requires planning ahead to fit it in, or else we end up breaking it into chunks and watching it over two days (I know, we’re old and lame.  But that’s ok).  Recently, however, I went searching on Netflix to try to find a few newer movies that friends had recommended.  And all of them are only available on the DVD-by-mail program rather than streaming.  Bummer.  It made me wonder for a second if it would be worth adding the DVD program, but then I reminded myself that it’s pretty easy to put the movies on hold at the library and check them out for free.  Basically, the streaming Netflix is great for TV shows, but not so great for movies.  Out of these five classic casino movies, only one (Croupier, from 1998) is available on Netflix as a streaming movie.  The other four all require that you have the DVD program.  And out of the top ten movies on this list of best comedies, none are available via Netflix streaming (and those aren’t just new movies – Hitch is from 2005 and Knocked Up is from 2007).

Back when Netflix included both DVDs and streaming in one package, it was easy to add movies to either queue and just wait for the ones that had to come in the mail.  These days, we don’t use Netflix as much as we used to.  Part of that is just because we’re busier (two kids instead of one, a basement that is requiring many many hours to finish, work that seems to be busier than ever…), but part of it is that there just aren’t that many movies we want to see on the streaming program.  What do you think?  Did you opt to have both packages, did you keep just one, or did you ditch Netflix all together?  Are you happy with your choice?  I haven’t really used our local library for movies since we moved to our current town, mainly because it was so easy to get movies via Netflix.  But I think I might start using the library again for movies, at least until we’ve seen the ones that are currently on our “want to see” list.

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  1. ltg says

    we used to watch movies from netflix a lot, both streaming and dvd. when they made the announcement we were bummed. we were going to opt for streaming, but as you know, they reversed their decision; you can still order dvds. however we have observed that the movie selections is getting worse on the streaming part. we cannot find movies that we watched two-three years ago, when we want to watch them again. as the newer movies dissapear, we see more and more of films from 30s, 50s… lots of 80s trash. according to my husband, -who is the movie nerd- this is due to expiring licences. they probably have a limit to how many times they can show them. we think they chose not to renew licences of many movies (too costly?). dvd service is slower so maybe they keep that licence longer? anyway, we are thinking about ditching it altogether. we don’t watch tv shows at all, so that’s not a reason for us to keep it. 
    with ever increasing internet speed, netflix and blockbuster is seeing a lot of competition coming in (hulu and all). we liked netflix streaming for kid-friendly movies and clips but, now even pbs is providing free videos on its website.

    • Anonymous says

      They reversed the decision to split the company into two separate parts, but you still have to pay an extra $8/month to get DVDs now.  Since we don’t watch movies very often, it doesn’t seem worth it to pay $96/year to have the option to order DVDs occasionally.  We live in a very small town, so the local library is also very small.  They don’t have a lot of movies in stock, but they can order just about anything for us through inter-library loan.  I think I’m going to request a few movies when we go there next week.  I agree with your take as far as what’s available for streaming movies right now – junk from the 80s and a lot of older stuff.  You’re probably right about the expiring licenses, etc.

  2. says

    We only got netflix post-change.  I waited so long because I could never justify getting netflix when we have 1) several unwatched DVDs we’ve received as gifts and 2) a good public library.  Like you, though, we don’t watch many movies.  What finally got us hooked on netflix was a TV show.  A friend loaned us the first season, and I used my mom’s netflix account to watch the next season.  She decided over Christmas to cancel netflix, so I signed us up.

    We have only just watched that one TV show.  I think we’re still being economical, but I did realize the other day that this means we’re paying $8 a month to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Good thing we’re really enjoying it — it’s good bang for the buck with the entertainment, as we have definitely seen more than 8 episodes a month (more like 6 a week).  I do hope we watch other stuff, over time, to justify having netflix.  We haven’t wanted a movie since we got netflix.  But, if we did, we would still go to the library and check it out before paying to get discs in the mail.  If we started watching more movies, that math might change.

    • Anonymous says

      I grew up without a TV, and was never into the idea of TV shows.  So I was skeptical when my husband suggested we watch the first episode of Lost soon after we got Netflix.  I was blown away by how much I enjoyed it.  I think we watched Lost every night for about four months, and then caught up with the final season on Hulu, since it was still going on.  Since then, we’ve watched Prison Break, Dexter, Jericho, Arrested Development, 24 (I think that’s our all-time favorite), and Bones (not as good as the others, but cute and pretty entertaining – although my husband usually fell asleep during it).  We haven’t watched any shows for a while now, since we haven’t seen one that looks really good.  

  3. says

    I just made those crackers, too! I thought they were outstanding and will make them again with stronger (maybe different) seasonings. 

    We have about 10 cable channels, but only because we have been riding out a promo for about 2 years that makes our internet service cheaper with those 10 channels.  We don’t watch the cable channels, though.  The commercials really bother me! :)

    We just cancelled the DVD part of our Netflix account.  Some months we watched three to four movies and some just one, so it wasn’t worth the cost.  My husband suggested the library, too.  They have a nice selection of stuff we want to see – documentaries and independent films.  One of our all-time favorite shows is Arrested Development.  Did you know that they are planning to have a new movie (and couple shows, I think), but only available through Netflix?

    On another topic, do you ferment veggies? I have made some kimchi before and tinker with making non-dairy yogurts and kefirs, but I really want to get into fermenting a wide variety of veggies.  I’ve been looking at crocks and they are so expensive.  Just wondering if you have one and if you thought the cost was worth the reduced time and effort in making one large batch rather than smaller batches in mason jars. 

    • Anonymous says

      I add a bit more seasoning to the crackers too – things like onion powder and garlic powder.  They are pretty darn tasty, and I love how easy they are to make.  And things like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are pretty economical on the whole scale of nuts/seeds.
      I had heard about AD planning a new movie for Netflix.  We’re excited about it.  That show sometimes made us laugh so hard we had tears in our eyes!I’ve never fermented veggies.  It’s on my list of things to do someday.  I’ve looked at the crocks and I remember thinking they were really expensive and that I’d probably just do it in mason jars.  But I guess it depends on how much you’re making.  I occasionally buy kraut in the grocery store and think about how much I’d save if I just bought a cabbage and made it myself.  But so far, I haven’t tried it.

  4. Haybug34 says

    I live in a very small town.  The next town that has a library is 25 miles a way.  Neither library has much selection.  We kept the streaming and the dvd and usually watch about 3 to 4 dvds a month.  Also watch Hulu.  The cost of netflix easily offsets the time/gas factor for me.  We have noticed that if you search for somthing to search for it again in a week or 2.  Many times it is available by them.  This is what happened with Knights Tale, the New True Grit, No time for Sargents, all the James Bond movies and the first 2 LOTR movies.  We searched for them and then they were available in a few weeks.  We do not have any other tv.  We watch thru our wii system.

    • Anonymous says

      Does the library in your town order things through inter-library loan?  Our library is a tiny little building with one shelf of kids movies and one shelf of adult movies (that doesn’t sound right…) but they’re able to order pretty much anything for us through ILL and we can pick it up at our library when it comes in.  I think I get more stuff through ILL than off the shelves at our library.
      We used to watch Hulu before we got Netflix, but we haven’t used it much since then.  Maybe we should give it another try. 

  5. Autumnfrymark says

    We are a family that uses both.  Its nice to have a DVD to take with us to a friends or on a trip to a relatives that doesn’t have streaming capabilities.  Plus,like you said the newer stuff is on DVD.  But we also like the streaming. Our house is full of very different likes when it comes to movies/tv. We still have cable but almost never watch it — we all use the Netflix mostly. And since I have very different tastes in movies I find plenty to watch on streaming. But you are right, if you are in it for the new movies your aren’t getting much bang for your buck.

  6. Maggie says

    We don’t have a TV, either – just have a laptop. We got rid of Netflix after the change, and now I request movies from the library and have even returned to our local video store to check out movies. They have a 2-for-1 rental night that is hard to beat. If we’re really wanting to zone out and watch some shows on a whim, we can easily watch them at,, etc. for free. The good thing about not having Netflix is not watching a movie or show just because it’s available – it can be like having a TV and just flipping channels wasting time. Instead, our choices from the library and movie store are things we really want to see. 

  7. says

    The Netflix change happened at roughly the same time I was laid off from my job. Before, we had the 2 DVDs a month plan, and no streaming. With two small boys, we weren’t even using the 2 DVDs a month, honestly. We also had cable TV, but when I was laid off, we researched it and bought a Roku box, cancelled the cable tv, and changed the Netflix subscription to streaming only. We also got a Hulu plus subscription, which is also about $8 a month, and a PlayOn subscription, which I think is a lifetime subscription for $80 (my husband is a big sports fan, and PlayOn is one of the only places other than cable to find sports). The only show that we watch that wasn’t covered by these options is available on Amazon, so we purchase the digital download from there. I find that now that we stream Netflix I use it more – for kids shows. My three year old son LOVES Busytown Mysteries, and it has 52 episodes of that – also a lot of Blue’s Clues, Sesame Street and Curious George. You and other who commented are totally right about the movie selection though – even one of our favorite kid shows, Sid the Science Kid, used to be available streaming and now is DVD only. When we want a movie (which is rare, for the same reason you state – we are just too tired after the boys are asleep) – we put it on hold at the library and wait. If I time it right and request it right when it comes out, I am usually high up in the queue.

  8. Becky says

    We also prefer to watch 42 minute tv programs after our little guy is in bed!  We’re still working our way through Lost (almost done with season 5!) – we were able to borrow all of the seasons from a friend.  I think we’ll go back to House, MD after we’re done with Lost.
    I’ve never had Netflix.  We watch full-length movies so infrequently – for the same reason as you.  I will say that we have given up on our library for movies.  They are always, always in terrible condition and our older dvd player can’t handle all of the scratches.  I think every single movie we’ve tried from our library has been unplayable because of all the skipping.  It really stinks.  Anyway, the very few times we want to watch a movie, we rent from a video store within walking distance.

  9. Maggie says

    I’ve been wondering this since yesterday when I read the post – what do you do with all the hemp seeds? I’ve recently started buying hemp powder for my green drinks and really like it. Are seeds the better option? thanks! 

    • Frugal Babe says

      Maggie, I use hemp seeds all the time!  I always have a jar of “hemp-esan” in the fridge, which I make by putting 1 cup hemp seeds and 1 cup nutritional yeast into the food processor for about 20 seconds or so.  Our son calls it “cheese sprinkles” and we sprinkle it on all sorts of meals (salads, anything with tomato sauce, most soups, etc.).  We also sprinkle plain hemp seeds on our oats in the morning (along with chia seeds) and on salads.  In recipes that call for a lot of nuts, I sometimes use a mixture of hemp seeds and sunflower seeds to replace a portion of the nuts, (as long as they’re going to be ground up).  We go through our five pound tub of hemp seeds in about two months, but out autoship program is set to 3 months, so we have a month at the end with no hemp seeds and it makes us really excited when the next bucket arrives!

  10. Rita W. says

    We had the same problem.  We had the plan that included both DVDs and streaming.  We chose to go with the streaming option.  We watched part of a James Bond movie, Goldfinger, one night and, when we went back to watch the second part the next night, none of the James Bond movies were available for streaming.  We like the streaming because it has a lot of documentaries, BBC shows and some newer movies.  We watch a lot of PBS which are available online at (really addicted to Downton Abbey). Our local library recently went to county wide cards so we can get new releases quicker at 5 county libraries.  They also all received a DVD grant so there are a lot of new releases to choose from.  I do all of my catalog searching and place holds through interloan online.  Then I receive an email when they are in at my library & drive the 3 mi. to pick them up and  can keep them for a week. My daughter & her family recently visited and she showed me how to use the Redbox (also 3 mi. away) with free codes found online. Even witout the code, they are only $1.29 per day and can be returned at any Redbox.  We live in the country with no cable access and rabbit ears on our television. We recently lost our signal for abc and cbs because our local channels are fueding with verizon.  We watch the few shows that this has affected online.  Works for us.    

  11. says

    I use Netflix, and I recently wrote a blog post about why I do at I think that Netflix is one of the cheapest ways to get media. And while a library may be free, it won’t have everything you want. Netflix and Hulu together can also be a strong combination.

  12. Profesorajulie says

    I just found your blog and am very excited…. as being frugal is one of my favorite topics…

    we rent movies from our library for $1/week or sometimes use redbox for $1/night (but that can be risky, b/c sometimes we don’t have time to watch a whole movie in one night)

    • Frugal Babe says

      Welcome, and thanks for stopping by!  We used to use Redbox all the time before our boys were born.  Back then, we never had trouble finishing a movie in one night.  These days, we’d have to really plan ahead to make it work.  But there is a Redbox in our town, and we’re thinking we might give it a try again soon.

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