How to save money on textbooks and supplies
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Every college student knows that some of their biggest expenses are owed to textbooks and other academic supplies, including things like stationery and notebooks. In fact, students spend more than US$1,000 every year on books alone.

But why are textbooks so expensive? Among the main reasons is the fact that only a few major players have monopolised the industry, and this past decade, technology has allowed them to quickly release new editions, sometimes every semester, that make the older editions obsolete.

There are ways, however, to reduce costs when buying books so you save yourself and/or your parents some money. Here are some hacks to consider when the new semester comes and it’s time to shell out for books and other supplies.

Don’t buy brand new

Obviously, buying your book brand new will cost more than buying used. If you’re only going to be using it for a short time, there’s really no need to buy your books brand new if you can avoid it.

When buying a second hand book, consider other options besides buying used versions from your college bookstore. Websites such as Amazon and My Next College offer a variety of pre-loved textbooks sold by students at cheaper prices than bookstores.

Bonus tip: sell your books on one of these websites when you don’t need them anymore.

Shop in your home country

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Many students have figured out that textbooks and school supplies are much cheaper in their home country – especially those from places like India and Malaysia.

When you’re back home for the holidays, compare prices at your local bookstores and stock up on notepads, binders and stationery goods. You could save quite a bit on money this way!

If you won’t be heading back anytime soon, ask a parent or friend back home to help you check on prices, shop for you and send the required materials by post. It might still work out cheaper, even with the cost of shipping.

Exchange and swap

Before buying your books for the next semester, check with your friends whether they’re taking the same class so you might be able to swap books.

Keep your eye out for textbook swaps happening on campus or in your local community. You can also check out Student2Student, a student textbook exchange website which connects you to students at your university looking to swap books.

Buy an e-book

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E-books and online editions are cheaper than physical textbooks and take up much less space. They might, however, be harder to re-sell, so bear this in mind before purchasing the e-book.


Depending on the class and how much you need to use the book, it may be worth sharing books with a fellow classmate. First, determine how much you will need to use the book, and if you’re prepared to potentially go without it a few days at a time.

Also, check if the professor is fine with students’ sharing as sometimes they require every student to have their own book. If you do decide to share, work out a schedule so each of you has a fair share of the book.

Buy an older edition 

Some textbook companies produce new editions that really aren’t so different from the old. Try and compare editions if you have access to them, and consider buying an older (and cheaper!) version if it’s pretty much the same.

Bargain shopping

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When buying supplies like pens and notebooks, stock up during back-to-school or holiday sales. You can also look for online sales, such as Cyber Monday, to save yourself a few bucks.

Also, look for bargain school supplies in stores such as The Dollar Store in the US and Poundland in the UK. These thrifty shops offer great stationery at great prices!

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