Buying textbooks for the semester without going broke

With the first day of the Spring 2012 semester only two weeks away (eek!), it’s time to think about buying textbooks. I know many college students moan and groan about buying textbooks each semester. Like gas and food, the cost of textbooks continues to rise. For students in certain majors, the total cost of textbooks for one semester can be hundreds of dollars. Because many students do not have an endless supply of funds to buy books, I would like to share my textbook-buying tips with you!

During my freshmen year, I procrastinated buying books because I could not bear to see the dollar signs add up to $300-$500 by the time I bought all the required books. After I learned some of the tips I will be sharing with you, I have changed my attitude about buying textbooks. I now think of buying books as a type of challenge—a scavenger hunt of sorts. The bottom line is that I am looking for the lowest price on a good quality textbook. I am also looking to recoup some money at the end of the semester.

So without further ado, here are Antonia’s tips on buying textbooks for the semester without going broke:

  • Research what books you will need early. Don’t wait until two days before classes start to look up the required textbooks. If you are planning to buy your books online, a couple of days will not be enough time to get the books shipped to you before classes start.
  • Look up the price of each book at the campus bookstore and then compare it to prices online. Check out websites like Amazon and Half.com. Many private sellers (who are usually students just like you!) are selling the textbook you need at a much lower price. Last year, I purchased an $18 book for $1 online. My biggest savings was buying a $180 textbook for only $65 online. As you can tell, you can save a lot of money by purchasing your textbooks online from private sellers.
  • Consider renting instead of buying. The campus bookstore now offers students the option of renting select textbooks instead of buying. If the bookstore does not offer a renal option for the book you need, check out Chegg.com. Chegg lets you rent textbooks: they ship the books to you at the beginning of the semester and then you ship the books back at the end of the semester.
  • If you don’t want to keep a textbook at the end of the semester, sell it! This is the best way to recoup some of the money you spend on books. The campus bookstore has a “Buy-Back” week at the end of each semester where they will buy certain textbooks. You can also consider selling your books online. In a few cases, I actually sold a book for more money than I bought it for!

Do you have tips for buying textbooks without breaking  the bank? Share them in the comments below!

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