How I Got Books For College Without Destroying My Wallet

One of the most stressful parts of college for many students is having to pay for it. There always seems to be a never ending list of expenses. You somehow manage to get tuition paid off, but then there’s extra expenses, school supplies, living essentials, food…The list goes on and on.

One way to combat certain expenses is by learning how to find deals, secrets and tips for getting the most product for the least amount of money.

Throughout my years as a poor college student, I have discovered a plethora of tips and ideas on saving money on needed products for college. The number one thing, after tuition, that I was worried about was books. Since I go to a school with trimesters, I knew that I’d be required to obtain a pretty substantial amount of books three times each school year.

I’m still surprised how often I drop by the school bookstore and see people stocking their carts full of brand new books with outrageous prices. I think most students would agree that once the class is over the book will literally sit in a corner and collect dust. There is absolutely no reason anyone should be paying full price for books.

Of course there are the obvious ones: buy books used instead of new, go to class first to make sure the book will actually be needed, and rent books instead of purchasing them.

Below I have provided my top 3 book-saving techniques that have allowed me to save huge amounts of money every semester.

1. Go To the Library

The number one piece of advice I can give to students hoping to save on books is to get a library card. I always check my local library for the books I need first and foremost. I have had multiple classes where I didn’t have to buy one single book. Since I’m an English major, I never have really had to worry about textbooks. Most of my classes have required me to get novels, or specialized books on writing and poetry. I have been fortunate enough to find a huge amount of those at the library.

The best part about the library is most of them are connected to other libraries in the area. Because of this, many libraries enable you to search their online catalog, place a hold on the needed book, and whichever library has the book available first will send it to your preferred library for pickup.

If you choose the library, always remember to keep your due dates in check. This is the best way to get books for free, but making sure you renew on time and keeping track of what books you have checked out is important for success.

2. Check Multiple Online Bookstores

Through my experience, I have found that buying books online is almost always cheaper than buying them through the school. Amazon.com is my favorite online bookstore offering discount prices, reasonable shipping prices and the opportunity to buy from a number of other sellers. There are also a number of others including Chegg.com, Alibris.com, Barnesandnoble.com and I’m sure plenty of others. Do your research. Look around and see who offers the book for the cheapest amount (including shipping).

If you choose to purchase your books online, be sure to order with enough time before schools starts. Last thing you want is to be waiting around for your book to come and missing out on early assignments. Also, if you choose to buy from independent sellers, make sure you check their feedback to ensure they are a reliable source.

3. Sell Your Books on Amazon

This is something I recently discovered just this past semester. I was re-organizing my bookshelf and realized that I was stocked full of old school books that I haven’t looked at since the class ended. I realized that they were just taking up space, and I wanted to get rid of them. People always mentioned selling their books back to the school after class was over.

When I was a freshman, I considered that. I talked to a few people and everyone said it was a rip-off. They would give you barely anything back even if the book was still in perfect condition. I always figured I may as well keep the book instead of going through the trouble to get a couple bucks back.

This past winter break, I was in a pretty deep money crisis. I decided to do some research on selling books on Amazon. In the past, I had bought a couple books from independent sellers, and was always successful. I decided to give it a try myself. I ended up listing around 12 books that I no longer needed on my shelf and waited to see what would happen. There was no cost for listing, so I figured I had nothing to lose.

Within the first day, I had already sold 2 books! I was shocked! Over the next two months, I was able to sell about 8 other books! I was sure that I wouldn’t have much success, but I was wrong. Some of my prices weren’t even the lowest, I was a new seller with no feedback, but multiple people took the chance on me and I’ve made over $100 back!

Amazon does take a cut of the profit, but you will end up making much more than if you sold back to your college. Selling through Amazon was a great way for me to clear some space off my bookshelf and make a decent amount of extra money.

The point is, don’t waste away loads of money on books. They will continue to come and go throughout your college career and there is no reason to spend full price on them. Take advantage of the many resources that can offer you used, cheap, or even free books!

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Molly Stallman

Molly Stallman

Molly Stallman is a senior at DePaul University working toward an English degree with an emphasis on Creative Writing. She also has a minor in Digital Cinema. Molly especially enjoys spending time with loved ones, listening to music, watching movies/television and playing with her dogs. She also has a passion for antiques, crafts, animals, photography and the great outdoors.