Back to School: Textbook Savings

You already know this, but if you’re getting ready to send your grown kids off to college, most of your money will be spent on three costs associated with education: tuition, room and board, and textbooks.

The first two expenditures are mostly fixed costs that can be anticipated, but the third expenditure is impossible to forecast and has the potential to blow the budget. Although you might not be able to estimate the cost of textbooks, there is a good chance that you will be able to cut that cost if you take the following three significant steps:

I’m assuming that the bookstore at your university has a firm grasp of the available textbooks. However, there was a time when that was an accurate statement. The proliferation of websites that sell new and used textbooks at prices significantly lower than those found on campus is largely attributable to the advent of the internet in today’s society.

You can shop online. Make your purchases from merchants who outline their payment, shipping, handling, and return policies clearly and concisely. Examine online auction houses for additional opportunities to save money.

Go into retail. Some titles can be found in the larger retail stores that sell books and some office supply stores. Your child can, at the very least, buy all of his or her supplies off campus, resulting in significant cost savings for you.

Buy second-hand. The bookstore on your campus knows that maintaining some level of competition requires them to have used textbooks available. The trick that textbook publishers play is frequently updating their products, which can render previously owned copies useless; this is an example of planned obsolescence.

However, when I was in school, I had a professor who advised students to purchase “outdated” copies of a particular book because he knew it was prohibitively expensive and intended to only make infrequent references to it. Your student might also find out that some of the titles on the professor’s list are not required reading and that they can choose whether or not to purchase them.

Students in today’s society no longer have to have the mentality that they are “held hostage” by the exorbitant costs of textbooks. If you instruct your student to shop carefully, you can stick to your financial plan.

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