Text books are so expensive, and it seems quite often we don’t use them as much as our teachers would like. The beginning of the new school year traditionally sees students or their parents spending ridiculous amounts of money on textbooks. In this post, we introduce tried and tested strategies to help trim your textbook budget.
1. Decide whether text books are essential
It’s not always obvious when you first start university, but not every text book is essential to the subject you’re studying. Universities differ with how they present material. Some may list texts as ‘prescribed’ (required) and others as ‘recommended’ (nice to have). Many of us have had the experience of spending $100+ on a text only to have it remain unopened all semester. It very much depends on the subject and the inclinations of the lecturer, so you’ll need to ask. You could check with lecturers about which books matter the most, however, the best information often comes from former students in your course.
2. Go second-hand, ask the students in the year ahead
Many students at university have created a Facebook group for the sale of text books from one years students to the next. This is a fantastic way to pick up a textbook for about 50-60% of the new price. Search Facebook for your university name, and look for a buy/sell group for your course. For example, my university has a group called ‘Deakin Primary & Secondary Students Books For Sale’. Students agree on a price, and meet outside the campus library to complete the sale. Always check the ISBN for a book (found inside the first few pages) to check that the edition you are buying is still current. Popular text books are frequently updated, but the differences between editions aren’t always substantive.
3. Use Booko.com.au to search online for the best price
Price comparison engine Booko is an ideal way to find out which retailer is selling the cheapest copies of a text. Retailers from Australia and overseas are screened in real time, and prices are compared by book price plus postage costs. Allow extra time for deliveries from overseas, but if you use this tool to source your book list, you can potentially save major amounts of money. One one occasion I saved over $70 on one text book, and the book arrived in plenty of time for the start of the semester. I prefer to search by ISBN to ensure I am buying the correct edition.
4. Establish how many library copies there are
Chances are your university library will have multiple copies of major text books in their collection. That doesn’t mean the book you need will always be readily available. Books in high demand may be in a special shelving program where loans can be made in the library for a limited period. This is usually called the ‘reserve’ section. Many universities will allow you to use the text for a few hours at a time without leaving the library. Policies vary between libraries, but it’s definitely worth looking into if money is tight.
5. Share text books with fellow students
I have seen this strategy work with with great success, where students studying the same course have shared the purchasing of texts, and interchange them whenever needed. Sometimes this works best if you organise to be in different tutorials, or arrange to meet for joint study time to complete any required readings before classes. This strategy only works if you are both organised, and is best kept for good friends.
Do you have any further money saving wisdom?
Share your tips in the comments below.
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