Save Money on Textbooks
This surprising habit can save you thousands in your college career
I used to think that textbooks were mandatory to purchase for classes. After all, the course outline did post the "mandatory" books you needed. Like any good student, I would read the course outline beforehand, walk to the college bookstore and line-up to buy my textbooks. Hey, since there's a lineup, textbooks must be a good buy! Don't get me wrong, textbooks are important and very useful. Yet it felt like my bank account was screaming at me, "how could you spend so much on books that you're only going to use for a few months!" It would cost me about $1000-$1200 per year to buy textbooks I needed for an entire year's worth of books. And those were for a mix of new and used books. I became tired of spending so much on textbooks and eventually cut down by finding other ways to learn. By my last year in university, I decided to cut down on my spending on textbooks and spent only $142 on textbooks while on a full course load of 10 courses throughout the year.
Here's how I did it and how you can save on textbooks:
September rolls around. The professors post their course outlines. I take note of them: Assignment worth 30%, exam worth 40%...scroll down further, I see both the Mandatory and Optional textbooks for the class. What? There are three required textbooks and two mandatory textbooks for one single class? So this class costs over $500 on textbooks alone! There's no way I would spend that much on textbooks! That's the same cost as 4-5 months of groceries! This is where I need to decide what to do.
I go to the first few classes and see how heavily the professor uses the textbook. If s/he doesn't refer to it at all, then I don't get the textbooks. The lecture notes are normally enough. If the professor does refer to the textbook very often for material and classes, my next step is to check the school library. I don't even have to go there physically to check. Just go onto the library website, check if the textbook's there. If yes, then great. If not, then plan B. I ask around to see if anyone else took the course and is willing to sell it for cheap and peruse Craigslist or Amazon. If unsuccessful, then I would just resort to purchasing the textbook in the college bookstore, although it usually doesn't come to this point, unless the book is fairly uncommon. I only bought one textbook in the past two semesters because it was a necessary textbook used every single class as the main reference point. The textbooks required for other classes were either in the library, or were not referred to often enough to warrant spending $100 on it.
Here, I have made a nice little flow chart for you to see and follow as well. It's a nice, simple way to effectively show how you can save a lot of money on cutting down on textbooks.
And there you have the steps for how to save hundreds of dollars in college! Classes really depend on the professor that is teaching the course that year. Just because a textbook is required in a course doesn't mean that the current professor is relies on it heavily. However, don't skimp out on textbooks at the cost of doing poorly in school. Poor academics can have larger costs in the future than the cost of a textbook.
One last piece of advice, don't ditch your friend for not letting you borrow. There could be valid reasons why s/he isn't letting you borrow his or her book, like previous negative experiences with letting other friends borrow things.