how to budget for college

A new semester is nearly upon us, which means you will soon be getting class supply and book lists. For many students, this can come with sticker shock. The cost of college textbooks is exorbitant and continues to rise every year. The College Board estimates that the average student spends a whopping $1,200 a year on textbooks, and single books can cost $200-$300. If this sounds painfully familiar, don’t fret – there are plenty of ways that you can mitigate these costs. Next semester, try one of these tips to reduce the costs of your textbooks.

Start Looking Early

In December, students will be selling back their books to make a little of their money back to spend over the break. By shopping early, you stand to save money on used books. An average of 55% of college students buy their books used, which makes for some hefty competition. The earlier you start, the better deals you are going to find.

Sign Up Today for the Latest News Alerts Brought to You by CBRG

Rent Whenever Possible

In most cases, you won’t need your textbook for more than a semester. As such, renting can be a good option that saves you a little cash. Renting costs much less than buying new and you can simply send the book back at the end of the semester. Large retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble offer rentals of various lengths. When you’re done with the book, simply send it back with the free included shipping label. It is essential to take good care of your books, as you will be financially responsible for any damage.

Buy the Electronic Version

E-books are becoming a mainstay in college classrooms, and for good reason. E-books are generally much less expensive than paper versions and are perfect for those who are accustomed to consuming content on a computer or mobile device. This option may not be ideal, however, for those who like to highlight or make notes in the margins.

Share Expenses With a Friend

This one can be tricky to work out, but can save you some serious money if you can swing it: go in on a used textbook with a friend in the same class. This works best if you are taking the same class on different days, and you will have to work out who will have it when to keep up with assignments. Another viable option: buy used directly from a friend who has taken the class previously. You will both save money by cutting out the middle party. Other avenues, like Facebook Marketplace, can help you save money by buying directly from others on campus.

Don’t Forget About the Library

Your university library will likely have a copy or two of the books you need, as will your city’s local library. Both institutions will order you a copy from another library system if you can request it in time.

In today’s digitally driven economy, there is no need to spend full price on new textbooks. Apply one or more of these strategies to save money on your next semester’s textbook haul.

Additional Resources: