College isn’t cheap, but there are ways you can save money; buying used textbooks online, for example, can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
Let’s face it: Most of us aren’t trust-fund babies.
Even if you were lucky enough to have parents who set up some sort of college fund for you, chances are it didn’t reach the amount of money actually necessary to go to college. And if you didn’t have any funds, you certainly didn’t earn enough to go to college by working at ice cream stands during high school summers.
Because college is expensive.
Which is probably why student loan debt is currently the second highest personal debt category in the U.S., second only to mortgages. In fact, according to Forbes, the average college student in the class of 2016 has approximately $37,000 in student loan debt. That’s a lot of debt!
With the high cost of college and debts on the rise, it’s more important than ever for college students to cut corners wherever they can. While this doesn’t mean you have to live like a pauper, it does mean that you should be cautious about how you spend your money.
Buying Used Textbooks Can Save You Money
It might seem funny to talk about small purchases like textbooks when compared to the uber-cost of college tuition, but you may be surprised to learn that the cost of college textbooks can add up to thousands of dollars over the course of a college career. These are no small potatoes!
So imagine a world in which you didn’t have to spend so much on college textbooks. Imagine halving the amount you spend and putting the other half away to pay your college loans. While it won’t solve the national debt crisis, it could certainly help you personally and reduce your loans and interest accumulation.
Fortunately, saving money on textbooks is not a dream, and today you can cut the amount you spend on textbooks in half. In fact, many online marketplaces for used textbooks even boast 80-90% savings. That means that instead of paying $1000 per year on textbooks, you could be paying $100-$200. Multiply that times 4 years of college, and you’re looking at thousands of dollars in savings.
Where to Shop?
It seems that with each passing year, more and more college students are realizing the giant money-suck of buying sparkly, brand new textbooks, and are opting for cheaper, just-as-convenient used textbooks.
Fortunately, many reputed booksellers have responded to the demand and have opened up marketplaces and websites for selling used and cheap college textbooks. And not only are used textbooks available galore, but most of these sites also offer the option to rent books, which in some cases, can be cheaper than buying.
Some of these sites are names that you recognize and trust. Amazon and Barnes & Noble, for example, 2 paragons of book retail, were quick to get into the used textbook game when the companies realized the growing popularity of this choice.
Other sites started out selling only used and cheap textbooks; sites like Chegg, Textbooks, TextbookRush, and AbeBooks are well-known, top-rated websites that sell used textbooks at competitive rates, along with options for renting and selling textbooks as well.
If you don’t like the idea of using only one website for your textbook needs, there are also a few comparison websites that comb the top bookselling sites and present you with the best deals. Sites like BigWords, Campus Book Rentals, Campus Books, and Bookfinder are aggregator sites, which means that the sites simply collect the data for you and then link to the marketplaces where you can purchases the books, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, AbeBooks, etc.
Buying vs. Renting
In the case of most online used book marketplaces, you can either choose to buy used books or rent books. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. Buying a used textbook means that it’s yours; you can write, highlight, and fold any pages you need without worrying about returning it in tiptop shape. On the other hand, renting can be a cheaper option, and when you’re finished with the book, you just send it back.
But is renting really cheaper? It’s up to you to do the math. In some cases, you may be able to find super-cheap textbooks, which might mean it’s more financially expedient to buy. Additionally, you can also re-sell your used textbooks, which means you’ll be making money in the long-run. However, bear in mind that with each year and use, the value of your textbook will go down, so don’t expect to turn a big profit when re-selling a used textbook.
In short, both renting textbooks and buying used textbooks are cost-friendly options, but you’ll have to do some legwork in order to determine which is actually cheaper. In many cases, the difference in cost won’t be so significant, which means that instead of spending time counting pennies, you can just choose whichever option is more comfortable for you.
Convenience vs. Cost
Yes, college debt is on the rise, and yes, it’s important for college students to save up whenever they can. However, one of the main competitors to cheap, used textbooks are college campus bookstores.
Because they’re convenient.
It can be much more convenient to go into your college campus bookstore with your list of books than to type in individual ISBN numbers online and search for the best deals.
We hear that!
But while it can certainly be tempting to go for this option, buying or renting used textbooks from an online site is a better option if saving money is important to you. Yes, time is money, and it might take a half hour to order books online, as opposed to 10 minutes to buy books in a store. But that 20 minutes of time probably isn’t worth the hundreds of dollars you could be saving by buying textbooks online.
The choice, of course, is yours.