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Get Your College Textbooks Cheap This Semester

Get Your College Textbooks Cheap This Semester

This is the time when every business in the entire USA advertises their back-to-school promotions. The Fall semester is about to start and students and their parents have started making purchases to be all set on the first day of school. If we forget about tuition for a minute (as it is something we can’t save money on), textbooks would be the most painful recurring expense. Here are the pro-tips to save a lot of money when you buy or sell your books.

Find out which books you need

If you want to get your books without any surprises, then you need to do your homework even before your real homework starts. The information on which books are needed is usually on your department’s website or professor’s course web page. You need to find the book title, author, edition and year. It’s best if you can find the ISBN, which is easy to find by typing the name into one of the many websites available, such as Bookup. You can also do some searching on Google to find exactly what you need.

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See if a friend has those books

Check with your friends to see if they have that book. If they do, just borrow it from them or even buy it. Usually online textbook sellers make about 40% buying back a book from one student and selling it to next. For instance, if a bubble wrap version of a book costs $100, you can buy a used copy of this book for about $75 online or at the university bookstore. However, if you want to sell this book back to them after the semester you will only get about $30 to $35 back at best. If you buy the same book from your friend and pay him or her $55, you will save $20 and your friend will also make $20. It is a win-win situation for both of you! If none of your friends have a copy of the book, read my last point here on peer-to-peer book trading.

Buy a used textbook

If you can’t acquire the book from a friend, see if you can find a used textbook. Be very careful when you buy a used textbook though. Read this article that debunks the myth of cheap used textbooks and proceed with caution, doing the math to figure out what is actually cheaper. Sometimes what seems to be cheap is not necessarily so. See if you are getting free shipping and check if the price includes taxes and fees.

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Don’t rent a book

You will hear some experts to advise renting a book. These experts are mostly paid by big guys such as Amazon and Chegg, either directly or through marketing. I would totally oppose it, unless of course you really don’t have enough money to buy the book and you have to rent it. If you can buy a used book for $60, or rent the same book for $35, go for the buying process. In the end you might be able to sell the used book for $45, but renting is a 100% loss.

Consider an international edition

If you can find an international edition, just buy it right then and there. It is mostly the same stuff at three to four times cheaper. If you are worried about the legality of buying international editions of the books, trust me, you are fine. There was a recent legal decision that makes it legal to buy or sell used college textbooks even though it is publicized as the other way around.

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Get an eBook and an eBook Reader

If you don’t need to touch the book you are reading, you could also go for the electronic version of that book. Electronic versions are usually cheaper and it is easier to search through them. You might also be able to get them online in pdf form. If you find a pdf file then you don’t even need an e-book reader.

Check out the previous editions

The previous editions of a book are usually much cheaper. If the difference is not significant, you could continue with the previous edition. Your professor is not going to change his notes every year just because the publisher changed stuff inside the book, meaning there is no need to buy a new edition of a book. If you are assigned reading, just compare notes with your friends and read accordingly – it’s usually only a one or two page difference.

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Look for peer-to-peer trading

This is my best advice to you. The online retailers including Amazon and Chegg have to spend a lot of money on their warehouses and people to manage those warehouses. This expense is reflected in their prices. If you want to get cheaper rates, use a company that doesn’t maintain warehouses. Bookup is one such company: they let students interact with each other and this way they save students 30-45% on used college textbooks.

The way it works is pretty impressive as well. You sign up with them and list the books you have or you need. Everything else will take place by text message. You might find a match right away and you can continue the sales process with Bookup. If there isn’t a match, then you will get a text message whenever someone has a book you need or someone needs a book you have. You can reply to that text and complete the transaction. You can even get a book you want by trading it for a book you have, which means you pay nothing. I would highly recommend this “by students for students” startup to all students looking to save some money on used textbooks.

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Mukesh Agarwal

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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