Frugal Find Friday: Avoid Late Fees

As I hustled out of work Wednesday evening, an hour later than usual, I stepped onto the streets of New York and was greeted by a chilly mist. All I wanted to do was scurry to the subway, get home and snuggling under my down comforter to warm up. Instead, I walked three avenues and 20 blocks up to get to the library, so I could renew a book and avoid a late fee.


The majestic New York Public Library.

The book in question was due on Saturday, but I was leaving for LA on Thursday and wouldn’t return until Sunday evening. To put it in perspective, I found the 25 extra minutes of time it took to power walk to the library and renew the book before heading home worth a grand total of 50 cents.

The New York Public Library charges adults 25 cents a day for overdue books. For the record, it’s $3.00 for DVDs.

The time to money ratio may seem misplaced to some readers, but it’s the principle that matters to me. For starters, I’ve never had an overdue library book. I also actively avoid late fees.

Late fees can be incurred from a missed credit card payment, delayed rent check, missing a student loan bill or any situation in which you owe monetary compensation and plum forget (or don’t have the funds) to pay.

Simple forgetfulness can quickly add up if you’re not careful.

Would owing 50 cents to the library truly make any impact on my bank account? Not really.

Would getting in the habit of pushing off payments/returning books due to a little inconvenience hurt my bank account? Absolutely.

Have you ever had a run in with a late fee?


Personal Favorite: Financial Literacy Makes a Difference from The Heavy Purse

Posted in Frugal Find Friday
25 comments on “Frugal Find Friday: Avoid Late Fees
  1. Matt Becker says:

    Thanks for the shout out Erin! This post actually ties in pretty perfectly to what I have up today. Great minds! Hope you’re enjoying the trip.
    Matt Becker recently posted…When Procrastination Costs You MoneyMy Profile

  2. I have to ask: don’t they have online renewals for your library? I can’t remember the last time I’ve physically gone in a library to renew a book.

    Still a great message in this post. It’s the principle that matters.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…The Weekly Quick Hits RoundupMy Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      I thought about that right after I hiked up to the library to renew the book. I bet they do have an online option.

    • anthony says:

      i too am surprised there is no online renewal. here in london, our public library has an online renewal. it is free to join the library so i guess consider the fine as just a way to contribute to the system. at least that is how i see it, so i dont begrudge them if i happen to become overdue.(very rarely haha). the library service is a great service, and if paying the fine helps them why not?? just as paying our council tax helps keep it going. so if u are talking of principle, try saying it is a good principle to help pay for this service which is free and open to all.
      anthony recently posted…we humans are so great and so exasperating as wellMy Profile

      • Broke Millennial says:

        I’m sure there is an online option that I just haven’t figured out yet. This comment is a perfect example of the difference in mentality between the European and American way of thinking about government and taxation. My taxes (and people’s private donations) already go towards helping the library stay open, so I certainly don’t feel beholden to given them more money. Especially in New York where I’m taxed extra just for living here. It’s nice of you to view fines to the library in that manner.

  3. I’m shocked they don’t have some kind of online system that allows you to renew.

    Enjoy LA!
    thebrokeandbeautifullife recently posted…Love and Money: When Should You Have “The Talk”?My Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      DC said the same thing. I bet they do and I just didn’t investigate it beforehand. Too used to old school!

  4. Yes, many times. 🙁 Have fun in LA!
    Budget & the Beach recently posted…Surround Yourself with Financially Positive PeopleMy Profile

  5. Erin, thank you so much for the mention!

    I’m pretty OCD about late fees. I hate them based on principal alone, if not for waste. I can’t remember the last time I paid one, and I hope that trend continues…
    Cash Cow Couple recently posted…OptionsHouse Review – The Pros and The Cons + 100 Free TradesMy Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      Same! It’s certainly more of a principle situation than always the cost of the fine. 50 cents really isn’t a bad fine. I just didn’t want to pay it if I didn’t have to.

  6. Great reminder! It’s not about the money saved, it’s about the practice of making it a priority. And I am super impressed that you actively use the public library! Well done!
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Top Ten Things I Like To Do That Are Either Free Or CheapMy Profile

  7. Awwww, flattered to be your personal favorite post this week, Erin! You and I definitely have a shared passion for financial literacy. 🙂 I agree that 50 cents wouldn’t have impacted your pocketbook but a long walk to renew a book and prevent a start of a bad habit or mindset is worth millions in my mind.
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted…How To Protect Your Blog Against A Brute Force AttackMy Profile

  8. You forgot to mention the free exercise! 🙂 I like how your pride in never having an overdue book is tied into it as well. It’s the little battles we win that add up in the end.
    Vanessa @ Cash Cow Couple recently posted…OptionsHouse Review – The Pros and The Cons + 100 Free TradesMy Profile

  9. Ugh, we’ve had our fair share of late fees, mostly due to unorganization (working on that!). One thing I always do though, when encountered with a late fee, is ask for it to be taken off. 90% of the time (and we don’t have them regularly, I might add) they say “yes”. Then I make a commitment to not be late again.
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…Fall Favorite RecipesMy Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      That’s a really great recommendation, Laurie. Kind of goes hand-in-hand with “asking for the order.” No hurt in seeing if they’ll remove the charge!

  10. Micro says:

    The last couple of times I have rented something, I finished the material well before the due date so I was in no danger of incurring a late fee. I haven’t used the library much though since I can get free rentals on my Kindle and I can keep them as long as I need to.
    Micro recently posted…Ice pack vs Heating pad: Knowing the tools of the trade for injury maintanenceMy Profile

    • Broke Millennial says:

      I’ve tried renting on my Kindle, but totally screwed up the process the first time. The last few times they didn’t have the e-versions of the books I wanted. I do like the option though.

  11. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to a library! Lol not sure if I should be admitting that. I’m pretty OCD about keeping track of these types of things so luckily it hasn’t happened to me yet. You’re right though, it can definitely add up if you let it.

    • Broke Millennial says:

      The library does seem antiquated for a lot of folks. I just have always had a love affair with renting books. Plus, saves a bunch of money!

  12. EJ says:

    Hi Erin
    I do this kind of thing too! I have also started walking to the shops and buying my food as I need it rather than using the car and doing a big shop ( i hate waste!) My partner recently got a speeding fine totally $400.He was convinced he wasn’t speeding and believes it could have been another vehicle traveling in front or behind him. We tried to dispute the fine but apparently police don’t have to provide you with evidence of speeding, if you want to do anything about it you have to go to court.

    Anyhow, because requesting evidence took so long in the beginning by the time we got a reply as to how to proceed, the fine was past due date and we were sent another letter (which funnily enough was VERY quick to arrive)to pay with a $20 late fee.

    Four phone calls (luckily on an unlimited plan) and 2 stat decs written and emailed later and the fee was finally waived. A lot of muckaround for $20 but like you say, it’s the principle. I’ll be damned if they take money for something that is their fault.

    Ahh its so sad that we are not able to request that kind of information without going to court..who has the time for that?

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