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How to Save Money on Textbooks

Textbooks can easily add up to over $1,000 per year. There are proven ways to reduce these costs, but it does require some careful planning on your part.

Here’s how you can save hundreds per year on your college costs by trimming your textbook budget.

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Buy an earlier edition

Let's say the newest edition of the book you need is its 11th edition, but you can get the 10th edition online for half the price. Check with your professor to see if there’s anything in the newer edition that you really need. Maybe the textbook is merely a reference and the older edition will serve you — and your wallet — just fine. 

See also: Your Ultimate College Packing List: Tech Edition

Find out if you need the supplemental materials

Some books include "extras," such as worksheets or a digital code to access online homework, which may sometimes trap you into buying a new book when the old version will do just fine.

Email your professor at the start of term to find out if you'll be using the supplemental materials, and if so, if they can supply an access code. If so, you can buy the used book online and use the code to access the other resources.

See also: 9 Simple Mistakes that Can Raise the Cost of College

Don't assume that renting is cheaper

Remember that you can’t resell a book you rent. So if you rent a book for $75, that’s $75 you’ll never recoup.

However, if you buy a book for $100 and later sell it for $65, that's only $35 of your total textbook budget.

Be aware, though, that if you damage a rental textbook you could be held responsible for the full price of a new replacement copy. Treat those rental books with care to avoid owing additional money.

Reselling high is as important as buying low

If you get a great deal on a textbook online, you’re still spending too much if you don’t resell it later for a good rate. Review prices on Amazon or Ebay to determine a fair price based on your book's condition. Don’t worry if it doesn’t sell right away. Selling high may mean you don’t sell all your textbooks at the end of the semester.

You may end up waiting until a few weeks before the next semester before your book sells. The difference in price may be as high as $50. Why? Students will generally pay more for textbooks when it’s closer to the actual semester in which they're needed.

Looking for more ways to maximize your college budget? See 7 Ways to Get Help Paying for College.


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