The following guest post was submitted by Austin of Foreigner’s Finances.
Many parents question how to bring up the subject of finances with their children. Some don’t want to sound, “uncool” but being worried about how financially ready your child is for the real world is normal. There are many financial lessons a parent can teach a child, but where does one begin? This concern tends to pop up the most during this time of year, as children are leaving home for the first time and moving into college dorm rooms across the country.
After graduating from college in June, I have narrowed down my college experience to just one tip I wish my parents would have taught me before I left for school four years ago.
Don’t limit yourself to only buying textbooks from the college bookstore.
According to the Washington Post, “students at four-year schools spent, on average, about $900 for books and supplies in 2003-04“. This is not an amount the average 18-year-old can handle without diving into credit cards, and we all know this is a dangerous habit for young people.
Luckily, there are a wide range of options available to students on college campuses for accumulating textbooks at cheap prices. Prices that are repeatedly 50-90% cheaper than the bookstore. During my time in college, I only bought books from the bookstore my first semester of school and whenever it made financial sense. During 4 years, I saved over $2000 by avoiding the bookstore’s outrageous prices and using a variety of alternative methods to get textbooks.
3 steps that must occur for a student to save thousands on textbooks during college
1) They must use their schedule and visit the campus bookstore’s website before school begins to see which books they will be needing for the semester. Too many students blindly walk into the bookstore on the first day of class and pay whatever price is listed on the book.
2) Once the student knows which books they need, they can explore the variety of options available to college students for getting textbooks. Utilizing amazon.com, public libraries, and book swaps are just some of the ways students can find textbooks for prices that are often 50% cheaper than the bookstore. See my two favorite tips for getting textbooks below.
3) Students must sell their textbooks at the end of the semester. Too many students keep their Biology 101 book because they think they might need to reference it at a future date. Chances are they won’t and if they do, the information can be found elsewhere. As soon as the semester is over, have the student sell their books online to maximize their value before a new edition comes out.
The 2 Steps that Saved me Over $1500 in College
In my e-book, Save Thousands on Textbooks, I released the 8 steps I used to save money on textbooks in college. Here are the two steps that made up 75% of my savings.
Every college belongs to an interlibrary loan system that connects its library to other libraries in the state. Even though I went to college with just 2,500 people, my library had access to over 73 libraries in the state, including huge universities. Every semester, I would check the interlibrary loan to see if they had any of the textbooks I needed for class. Almost every semester I would receive 2-3 textbooks from some random library in my state and this would provide me with hundreds of dollars in savings every time. For more information on how exactly to work the interlibrary loan system at your school, check out Step 3 in my e-book.
Get the Edition Down
Many students cringe at the thought of getting the wrong edition textbook for their class. I did too, until I saw two editions of the same textbook next to one another. Besides a new cover, the 2 differing editions were the exact same book! These textbook companies are pretty lazy and this happens almost every time with new editions of textbooks. Occasionally, a chapter is flipped or an image is different, but nothing significant is ever changed from one edition to another.
Once your student has this knowledge, they can either search for lower editions on interlibrary loan, or purchase them on amazon.com or half.com.
Need to see the savings to believe it?
As of August 15, 2009 the 14th edition of Smith and Robertson’s Business Law cost:
$142 on Amazon.
And how much did the 13th edition cost?
Getting the edition down will help your child save hundreds of dollars every semester.
By learning these textbook saving tips before entering college, your child should be able to avoid credit card debt and keep the money they’ve work hard for, in their bank accounts. Teach them a lesson that counts; teach them to save.
Editor’s note: I have a couple friends who have had success renting textbooks from Chegg.com. One even referred to it as the “Netflix of textbooks.“