How to Buy Textbooks and NOT Empty Your Bank Account

Attention all college students! Since this week is probably your first week back and you’re looking at all the books you have to buy for class, I’m sure you’re also probably freaking out over all the ridiculously high prices. Seriously, some of those costs are criminal! I don’t know how anyone can justify pricing a book at $300, but yet it’s still done. However, I have good news for you budget-savvy people: there is a way to save money on textbooks. You don’t have to go back to school already broke and eating ramen until your next paycheck because of textbook prices. Yay! I’m going to show you how this is possible with the method I use for saving the $$$ on the books I need for school.

The first thing you want to do is make a list of all the books you’ll need for the semester. Keep it looking nice and neat. It will help with the whole process. I like to write the list out, organizing by class. You’ll want to leave some space in between the individual books so you can write down comparative prices.

Next you want to start looking up your book prices. I usually check three places, sometimes four, for my textbooks. I use my university’s bookstore, Amazon.com, and Chegg.com. Sometimes I also check a local store that sells textbooks. I look up each book in each place, finding the best price, and then I write that price down and where its at. So, for example, if I’m getting a biology book, I would check for the book at my bookstore, Amazon, and Chegg and write down the prices for all three places. I have a picture below of my system for this.

Once I’ve gone through all the books I need, I read through my list, highlighting the best prices, and then I order my books from those places. Pretty simple system, right? Of course, it isn’t necessary to write everything down like I do, but if you like being really organized and methodical like myself, then the list is very helpful. And trust me, going through the trouble of checking every book at multiple places really is worth it. If you check out the photo of my textbook list (top right corner), I ended up saving $126 by making sure I was finding the best prices instead of buying everything at the university bookstore. Also, I rarely rent books because most of what I need for class are materials I plan on keeping, but renting books can also save you even more money, especially renting from places like Amazon and Chegg. I also get very few books from my university’s book store in general because their prices are almost always more expensive. And although it may be a bit more convenient to be able to walk to a store on campus and get everything I need, rather than waiting for books to be delivered, I find that having more funds in the bank feels much better! (Plus, I know we’ll all need that extra money for coffee and energy drinks when tests and papers hit.)

I know that my textbooks for school may not be as expensive as what others need, but even when I’ve had books more in the hundred dollar range, I’ve still saved a lot by making sure I was getting the best price possible. For example, I remember one semester my book total was around $500, but I dropped it to around $300 by shopping around instead of getting them all at one place. I also buy used books 99% of the time to save money as well and I’ve always been happy with their quality.

The System

In summary, keep a list of the books you’ll need and compare the prices at multiple places. Also, don’t buy new textbooks and don’t ever buy them all at one place. Shopping around and finding the best prices really helps bring the total cost of textbooks down. If you have any questions or more tips about saving money on textbooks, or more information about where to get textbooks,  let me know in the comments below!

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