Textbook Economics

It doesn’t matter what your degree is in university or college. At one point or another, you’re guaranteed to have business and economics experience.

For example, if you’ve missed a lecture because of sickness (or sleepiness), you’ll have to think like a businessman and find a potential supplier. You may even have to trade something in return. Near the end of the term, when your meal plan runs low, you’ll become very economical and accustomed to ramen noodles three times a day.

The biggest lesson in thinking economically comes from buying textbooks. I was lucky enough to have two older sisters who had gone through university before me and had plenty of business tips on how to save money, while still finding the exact books I needed. A lot of my other first-year friends weren’t as lucky. In comparing how much we’d all spent on buying books, I had ended up saving at least $300 compared to the rest of them.

But textbook economics isn’t easy. In fact, I had quite the nervous breakdown over it with 12 different tabs open on my web browser. I wanted to save money, but still have all of my books in time for my classes. In the end it all worked out, but I definitely wish I had been more organized about it.

I’ve developed a fool proof methodology to finding the best deals on books.

When the booklist comes out, I go to my campus bookstore and look at all of the books I need. I write down ISBN numbers and editions to make sure that when I look elsewhere, I’m able to find the exact same book. Then I take to Facebook and post in used book exchange groups what I’m looking for, to get the attention of other students possibly selling the same book. Almost all schools should have groups where students can post to buy and sell their textbooks. Buying from other students is a great way to find great prices and ensures that you’ll be able to pick up your book on time.

Amazon is almost guaranteed to have cheaper prices than the campus bookstore. I’ve bought used books that were half the price, and still in great shape. Their rental option is a lifesaver, where you rent the textbook for a semester (or two) and ship it back for free by the due date. The cost is usually around $30-$60, and totally eliminates the stress of having to sell used books.

Selling your own used books back is a helpful way to make back some of the money you spent on books and helps eliminate some clutter. Even if it seems like the book will be helpful for your future, sell it back. You’ll honestly never use it again. Post in your school’s Facebook groups to try and sell it locally and help out other students. Amazon has a great trade-in program, where you can ship your book to the company in exchange for an Amazon gift card. Shipping is free, and if they decide they don’t want your books, they’ll send it back. The gift cards don’t expire, and chances are, you’ll use them to buy more books online anyways.

Don’t sell it back to the campus bookstore. Seriously don’t. They’ll offer $2 for book you’ve spent $100 on, and it’s just plain upsetting.

Post-secondary education is expensive. After you’ve spent thousands on tuition, spending hundreds more on textbooks is the last thing you’ll want to do. Save where you can and it’ll all pay off in the long run.

After all, money saved on textbooks can be money spent on coffee and treats.

– S.


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