Personal Finance

Financial Advice for College Students (Both Undergrad and Grad)

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**Cross-posted from my WordPress blog**

Textbooks are the bane of many college students’ existence, just due to the sheer price of them. You’re already poor enough as it is, you don’t have the money to be shelling out $500 (or maybe even much more) on textbooks, now do you?

Of course you don’t. However, don’t fret too much. If you’re smart, you can avoid shelling out that kind of cash for your textbooks and spend only a fraction of that. I just bought my three graduate-level mathematics textbooks for my classes next year (one 500-level year sequence and two 600-level year sequences) from Amazon for $152.50 for an average of $50.84 per textbook. Cheap, right? Well, here are some tips you can use to save tons on your textbooks:

  1. Contact your professors ahead of time and inquire which texts they’ll be using. Get your list of required texts from each of your professors as to be able to purchase your textbooks as far in advance as possible. The sooner you purchase your textbooks, the better price you’ll more than likely get.
  2. Skip the bookstore. Campus bookstores are notorious for inflating textbook prices beyond belief. Whereas it might be convenient for you not to have to shell out the cash and charge it to your student account, just as with charging stuff on a credit card, it will come back to bite you in the butt. Opt for Amazon or eBay instead.
  3. If you won’t need to keep your textbooks, consider textbook rentals. There are several outlets online and locally that offer textbook rental services. Much cheaper than purchasing your textbooks, and you don’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll buy the book back, as they will accept them back so long as they are in fair condition.
  4. For those that you’ll need to keep for future reference (I highly recommend keeping your major/minor concentration textbooks for this reason), purchase used textbooks. This should go without saying, but used textbooks are generally much less expensive than new textbooks.
  5. Consider international edition textbooks. International editions are usually about half the price of US/Canada editions, and contain exactly the same material. It might be printed on what appears to be phonebook-like paper and in black-and-white, but otherwise the content is identical. You’ll have to purchase from a foreign vendor (like Amazon UK), and even though international editions say “not for sale in the US,” there is ABSOLUTELY NO LAW against vendors selling these textbooks to American clients and shipping them back to the US.

Following these tips, you’ll get the textbooks you need at the prices you want. Here’s to smart shopping!

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