How to Actually Save Money on Textbooks this Semester

I can’t believe it’s time to head back to school already! To be fair, I’ve been wishing it was the fall all summer. I am not a big fan of sweltering heat, and the city has this great way of making you feel like you’re stuck in a crockpot with the lid on. I was literally melting this Monday during the eclipse, everyone was out in full force and the city was experiencing a heat wave in the triple digits. Google hosted an eclipse viewing party that I was lucky enough to be invited to, so I abandoned my air conditioning for charcoal ice cream, viewing glasses, and picnic blankets at the 14th street park. It was a pretty interesting experience, I imagine those in totality had a much more dramatic viewing. Anyways, this all has nothing to do with textbooks except to say that back to school means back to purchasing a large number of expensive textbooks for class! Hooray! Not. As it happens, I am entering my last semester before graduation (so much excitement) and thought I’d share a few tips for saving money on textbooks that I’ve picked up along the way.

how to save money on college textbooks

Rent Your Textbook

Renting your textbook tends to be much, much cheaper than purchasing it. However, there are some pros and cons to consider.

Pros: Renting is cheaper, which means more money for food, Starbucks, weekend adventures, etc. If you’re a responsible person who does not have food-related accidents when studying, doesn’t lose things, and takes good care of books then this might be a great option for you. I rented an Italian textbook for about $36 for three months, a used version of the textbook would have cost me around $435. It was well worth it since we had to bring the book to class every meeting and there was only one copy in the library that had limited availability.

Cons: You have to be sure that you are renting from a reliable source. Even then I recommend photographing the book when you receive it, and the book when you send it back. Most rental agreements have strict guidelines, so if you and your pricey rental get stuck out in the rain you can easily end up having to pay the top price for that book. Also, you can face a hefty surcharge if you don’t return your book in time – read all the fine print and set up a reminder on your phone so you get your book shipped back and in good time.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Books with E-Text & Course Software

If you’ve been in college for more than one semester you have probably heard of Pearson MyLab, e-text, MyPearson, etc. Instructors will often ask that you purchase a textbook that comes with access to Pearson or a similar online platform where you will participate in some coursework. Buying a used textbook can be inexpensive, but buying the textbook with access to the platform can be very pricey. There’s no getting around needing access to the platform, as it’s often a strict requirement. Here’s how I’ve saved money on these before:

First you must have your course ID/code. Once you log-in to Pearson using your student email you can locate your school, course, and class code. You can purchase access to the course, or to the course and e-textbook – which is a ebook version of the required class textbook. I don’t recommend doing the latter unless you really need to, I bought access to the ebook for a science class and never even opened it. You have to be logged onto the platform to use it, so it isn’t like you can access it on your kindle or cellphone during class. Your best bet it buying access to the course, then purchasing a used textbook (if required by your instructor) or borrowing the book from the school library.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Free College Textbooks? Raid the School Library.

Chances are the school library – especially at SUNY and CUNY schools – is holding multiple copies of your course textbooks. Often the school will require instructors to submit a listing of required reading for their classes, then the school will purchase or source copies of that material to be made available to the student body during the semester. Borrowing is usually limited to a few hours or a day or two. But that’s fine because that’s all you’ll need. Set aside a day at the beginning of the semester and copy out the material you’ll need for your classes. Start by highlighting the readings in your syllabus, and copying those sections out. Many schools now have copying stations that allow you to save your copies as a PDF rather than printing it all out at once. If you prefer to have a hard copy, or if your instructor prefers it, head to a local Staples or printing center to get your copies bound. It usually costs anywhere from $2-5 depending on how many pages you’ve got, which is still a small cost compared to purchasing the textbook.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Ask a Friend

I learned quickly that asking around on the first day of class is a great way to pick up great tips and tricks for getting through the semester. I had a communications course where, when waiting for the professor to arrive, other students divulged that the $178 textbook was made available for free online by the publisher. Sites like RateMyProfessor allow former students to let you know whether the instructor uses required course material at all. In other cases, you’ll find the student bookstore will (surprisingly) offer better prices than the lowest price found online. I’ve even given my textbooks to classmates when I found out that they registered for a course I already took.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Consult School Bulletin Boards

Pretty old school, but people still post advertisements on school bulletin boards. You’ll find everything from employment opportunities, internships, tutoring, events, school club ads, and textbook offers. Also look around on Facebook for student groups, where people occasionally sell their textbooks and tutoring services too.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Shop Smart

I was introduced to DealOz by my older sister, and I use the site for everything from buying DVDs (yes, I still buy them on occasion) to buying course textbooks and the books I read for fun (shameless plug for my Goodreads account). Here’s a step-by-step way to save money when buying textbooks online:

1. Verify the ISBN number on your syllabus, especially if you’re not allowed older and/or international editions. If you are allowed those, then look for them as they are often cheaper.
2. Plug in the ISBN on DealOz, which will find the best price for New, Used, e-books, International Editions, and Rental textbooks.

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3. Locate the cheapest book, and open up the link. DealOz now has its own cash back rewards program, which you can sign up prior to shopping OR you can use an alternative one…
4. Once you’ve added your textbook to your cart, open a new tab and search for the rewards program of choice. My two favorites are ShopAtHome and Ebates (affiliate link). You just search the store you plan on buying your book from and click “Shop Now” when you find it.

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Shop At Home and Ebates do not always carry the store you are looking for, nor do they always carry the same stores – just something to keep in mind when comparing cash back percentages. Either a new tab or window will open taking you to the website, where your textbook should still be waiting in the cart. Check out as you would normally. Ebates and Shop At Home will send users an email once the order has gone through and the cash back has been credited to your account.

In case you’re wondering if it works, here’s the cash back that I’ve received (actual checks, yes) in the few years that I’ve used the service:

shopathome cash back

If you’re taking an English course you might have received a syllabus with a plethora of course texts. They can often be books that don’t fall into the realm of “textbooks”, we’re talking novels and paperbacks here. Here’s an ebay hack for getting the best price – and remember to go through ebates or shopathome before checking out!

1. Search for your book(s) on DealOz, if ebay has the cheapest or close to the cheapest sellers, open the down (+) menu. Open up each “Buy Now” link in individual tabs.

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2. Review each tab, each listing for that book on ebay (there is usually between 4-5, and should take no more than a minute to do this). Look for the listing that features a promotion such as “Buy 3, get 1 free” or “Buy 2, get 20% off”.
3. When you find the listings attached to promotions, add them to your cart. This may result in having multiple versions of the same book, from different sellers in your cart. Do NOT check out yet.

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4. Repeat this action for the rest of the books on your purchase list.
5. When you’ve found all the books, with promotions, and added them to your cart, open your cart up.
6. Ebay splits your cart into sellers, and when it comes to books there are some larger book sellers (often tied to some goodwill industry or another) that offer a variety of promotions. You’ll notice that the books you added individually have now been split up into sellers and promotions. You can immediately tell if you have qualified for any promotion, as there will be a check mark and a notice. You’ll then want to use the process of elimination to find the best deals for you – being careful not to purchase the same book twice.

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7. Once you’ve organized your cart, bundling up your books to get the best price (and often free shipping too), go back to your rewards site (ebates or shopathome), search for ebay and click “Shop Now”. When you’re taken back to the ebay website, click on your cart, and check out individually for each seller.

Tah-dah! It took a little bit of leg work, but if you’ve worked through this process then you not only found the cheapest price for a book, you then saved money with a promotion, and then also earned a little cash back! I recently bought 5 books from one seller for $12, with free shipping AND I earned a few cents cash back. I would have paid at least $10 more if I hadn’t bundled them up on the promo, and much more than that had I not used DealOz and purchased them at the school bookstore instead.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Have any of these worked for you? What are your favorite ways to save during the school year? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Helpful Essentials for Transitioning Back to Class

*This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of Single Edition Media*

I just finished my summer semester last week, and now I’m back on campus for the fall semester. It’s great, and I feel uncharacteristically excited about this semester. I think it must be the impending cool weather, and the fact that my birthday and all the good holidays take place during the fall semester. Honestly, I’m thisclose to sipping pumpkin spice lattes, donning my brand new booties, and throwing leaves in the air as I prance around in my off-the-shoulder off-white cable knit sweater, reveling in my utter basic-ness. Before I get ahead of the season, it is important to acknowledge that this is back-to-school season, where buying dorm supplies and picking out matching folders is a national endeavor. I was lucky enough to get my mitts (cool weather fashion, anyone? No? still too early?) on a brand new BabbleBoxx! Chock full of amazing goodies that are ideal for those of us heading back to college, here are my picks for heading back to class:

Instax Camera by Fuiji FilmBabbleBoxx College

FUJIFILM’s new INSTAX MINI 70 is perfect for capturing every late night study sesh or Spring break fiesta. I love old school instant film cameras, the great thing about the INSTAX MINI 70 is that you get that awesome instant film aesthetic but with the benefits of all the excellent features that this camera has – that includes macro and micro focus, as well as a selfie mode. The selfie mode automatically adjusts settings for perfect selfies – so you can make sure to get everyone in your snaps! I’m understating things by saying I’m kind of obsessed with this, I’ve already started my own photo collage. Thinking about putting together a college care pack for your collegiate? They’ll love one of these, trust me. Available in Canary Yellow, Moon White, Island Blue, Passion Red, Midnight Black, and Stardust Gold – check out the entire collection here.

New Instax Miniiced coffee

Being able to plan ahead and learning how to cook for one (or two) is definitely something you should do before you walk for your diploma. GreenPan’s Mini Ceramic Non-Stick pans are perfect for cooking for one, its size is great for portion control plus space efficiency, and the handle is silicone coated! I love my new Square Egg Pan, it’s more than adorable – I actually have never been able to do proper sunny-side-up eggs until I got this pan. Turns out that’s thanks to the Thermolon™ ceramic non-stick surface which was designed for perfect frying results, using less oil, and needing less cleaning. Since using it I have yet to tear a yolk! Basically, with tools like the GreenPan, I can pull together a back to school or study brunch in a snap. I am the brunch queen.

GreenPan is offering The NYC Talon readers an amazing back to school discount! From now until September 4th get 20% off AND free shipping with the promo code ‘SCHOOL20′. Start planning your back to school brunch and check out all the GreenPan’s here!

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You’ll definitely want to make sure you have everything you need for that first day back. My first fall class was on Thursday and I can’t tell you how many people were without paper or pens. Even on that first day you get weighed down with a ton of information – what your semester schedule will be like, your professor’s office hours, online course codes, what days your lecture won’t be meeting for class, etc. The student next to me earned major side-eye from one of my professors because he was unprepared. You’ll want a pen that can help you take notes like a pro! My favorite pens are these new Zebra pens – they’re the sort of pens you would never lend out for fear of losing them. They write smoothly, the H-301 Steel Highlighter doesn’t bleed, and 3 Series Ballpoint pens are dreamy. They look as well as they write – sleek and professional. I love using their color gel pens to color code my agenda, they dry in less than a second and the ink is smooth and distinct. If you’re someone who is stationary and writing-implement obsessed like me, you will love these.

Back to School NeccessitiesBest Pens for Back to School

Keep chapped lips at bay with Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula FlipBalms! These are so cool, my sisters immediately laid claim to two of these. Palmer’s is my go-to for cocoa butter products, they always have impeccable quality products and these new FlipBalms are no exception. Available in three flavors – Juicy Watermelon, Creamy Coconut, and Ripe Mango – they feature a revolutionary “flip to open” packaging design, which I adore because it keeps you from losing the lid, and it keeps you from having to touch (and potentially get dirty) the balm itself. The formulation is packed with natural ingredients like pure Cocoa Butter, raw Shea Butter, and Vitamin E. I love that they fit easily into my purse, so my lips are always moisturized.

Palmer's Lip Balms

Speaking of my purse, you can pretty much always find Simply Sensitive Summer’s Eve Cleansing Cloths tucked in there somewhere. As a female constantly on the go, there’s no denying the usefulness of these cloths. They’re great for post-gym, and I loved that they rely on gentle formulas that are hypoallergenic, alcohol free, and won’t irritate sensitive skin. Plus, the individualized packaging makes them discreet to carry around – they’re also available in Island Splash and Sheer Floral.

Summer's Eve

Do you have any back to school essentials? How to you ease into a new semester? Let me know!

FUJIFILM INSTAX MINI 70 | GreenPan Mini Ceramic Non-Stick Egg Pan | Zebra Pens | Palmer’s NEW Cocoa Butter Formula FlipBalms | Simply Sensitive Summer’s Eve Cleansing Cloths

My Kind of Mobile with Walmart Family Mobile!

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There’s something to be said about having a dependent mobile service. Nowadays things are uncertain, and are always changing. As a student, the cost of everything from books to tuition (never mind those loan rates) are on the rise. Having had a chance to test out Walmart’s Family Mobile unlimited plan, I can say that the certainty of receiving reliable service at an affordable rate is, well, invaluable.

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First off, my phone is pretty awesome – the LG Optimum L9 is easily my new favorite gadget. It’s super fast, and the screen resolution is on point. The camera has a 5 megapixel camera with 1080p Full HD video capture – which I’ve already used to take tons of pictures. It had a microSD slot with up to 32GB expandable memory. It’s super thin – but doesn’t feel breakable, definitely has a solid make. I purchased a new case (black and pink) and a screen protector – but the shipper sent me one for the iphone instead, as you might have noticed. I’m using it for now, but it is significantly smaller.

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Secondly, being able to know that at the end of the month my bill won’t exceed $40 gives me incredible peace of mind. The amount of money I’m saving means that I’ll be able to save for books next semester and possibly upgrading my camera!

Networking Event Essentials: Chapstick, Lipstick, Metrocard, Gum, Spare Ponytail, Pressed Powder, Business Cards, and Amazing Phone!

Networking Event Essentials: Chapstick, Lipstick, Metrocard, Gum, Cash, Spare Ponytail, Pressed Powder, Business Cards, and Amazing LG L9 Phone!

My old phone was too slow for me to tweet while at events (it would take me literally 20 minutes to tweet once). So I would end up carrying around my tablet – which isn’t the easiest thing to do because I would often have to carry a larger bag to carry said tablet in, carry the actual tablet, shake hands, and exchange business cards while also tweeting and taking photos – never mind the whole drink holding, mini cheeseburger eating business (I know, we bloggers lead such hard, miserable lives, lol!). With the LG L9 I carry it around in the smallest clutch, can easily tuck it away or take it out. I can tweet, instagram, and update my facebook profile within seconds thanks to Walmart’s T-Mobile service. I don’t have to juggle everything – and now I can finally enjoy those mini cheeseburgers!

For my generation, having a presence on social media and being connected is essential. We’re also pretty demanding about the services and products we love – Walmart’s Family Mobile unlimited plan combined with the LG Optimus L9 phone is a perfect match of excellent service and impressive product.

To check out Walmart’s Family Mobile plans click here, to read more about my experience click here – and be sure to check out what other bloggers have to say about Walmart’s mobile service by following along on twitter with #FamilyMobileSaves and #cbias!

The Thing About College: Getting Some Answers with the Wells Fargo Community

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Thank you to Wells Fargo for sponsoring this post! To learn more about the Wells Fargo Community check out WellsFargoCommunity.com

If you’ve read the Talon, like me on Facebook, or follow my tweets – then you already know that I’m a student. I’m currently in college right now, going for my bachelor’s degree (probably in communication, a major I chose after I began blogging). The thing about college is that I love learning; however I hate dealing with the financial aspect of going to school. It’s a topic I approach with dread. College is not like going to public school. In college, your mistakes can cost you quite literally. And wading through financial aid applications and loan forms can be both overwhelming and daunting- trust me, I know.

Like your physical health, your financial health must be taken quite seriously. For me, this means having a lot of questions and attempting to stay informed. However, finding answers to my questions can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. And I have been in a situation more than once where a financial aid representative has flat out refused to answer my questions, or knew as little about the process as I did. The Wells Fargo Community provides an amazing source of support for any type of college student who is looking for answers to the financial aid questions that plague them.

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The Wells Fargo Community is an online forum where you can ask questions and share knowledge about financial topics. What’s great is that the Community is free – you do not need to be a Wells Fargo customer to join, and you don’t need to join to browse and learn! It’s a community that consists of students, parents, college counselors, and financial advisers – people with different backgrounds, and experiences which lends to constructive communication and a variety of perspectives.

It’s a place to get help and help others in a convenient and safe environment. I recently joined and have really enjoyed reading the discussions about financial aid and student loans. I was particularly interested in reading on whether or not student loan debt is considered a “good debt” – and whether or not it was actually credit building. It was great to see users interacting – advising on great places to find scholarships, while also warning about scholarship scams and how to spot them.

Personally, the Wells Fargo Community is an invaluable resource that I’m sure to frequent as I continue to pursue my degree. I love that there is a secure online community where I can have my educational planning questions answered – and I can also help somebody with their own questions. The thing about college is that figuring out how you’ll pay for it can be tough, but the Wells Fargo Community makes it a bit easier.

For more information about the Wells Fargo Community, please visit Wells Fargo Community’s site. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. #WFCommunity #spon

Crunchy, Cheesy, Delicious – My Farm Rich Review and Giveaway! Ends 9/5!

There is nothing that brings family together like a plate of steaming hot Mozzarella Cheese Sticks. I mean literally. When I served Farm Rich’s Mozzarella Cheese Sticks at our last movie night those crazy people I call family crowded around the plate like it their lives depended on it. Which was totally fine with me because I was secretly hoarding my own plateful back in the kitchen.

Now in my extensive experience with frozen snack food, if a product that normally requires frying suggests that you pop it in the oven for optimal taste then chances are you will put it in the oven for well over the suggested time (because for some reason, the people who suggest cooking-time for these products seem to like their food frozen). And when it’s finally done the lack of crunch and flavor will make you wish you had just fried it instead. Not so with Farm Rich’s products. They come out of the oven tasting like they were just fried- well actually, they taste better because they’re crunchy, hot, and cheesy without dripping oil. And the cooking time indicated on the bag is perfect! Plus, they’re packed with so much great flavor- you can even eat them (happily) without any of the marinara sauce that usually accompanies cheese sticks!

With everybody heading back to school, I’m so happy that we’ve got Farm Rich as an after-school snack option, as well as a family movie, and family game night snacking favorite. Also, I’d like to point out here that the packaging for our Cheese Sticks was so good! First of all, there was a LOT of Cheese Sticks in the bag so you get plenty of product for your buck. Secondly, the bag has a resealing sticky tape that makes storage a breeze. And lastly, I really appreciate that the packaging is in a bag and not a box- because boxes tend to take up loads of space in the freezer which can be annoying.

Right now we’re really massive fans of Farm Rich’s Mozzarella Cheese Sticks, Mozzarella Bites, and Mini Quesadillas. But they’ve got loads of other snacking options- check them all out here!

Now if you’re about as excited (and hungry, because how can reading about Mozzarella Cheese Sticks not make you hungry?) as I am about Farm Rich- then here’s the really great part. Farm Rich has kindly offered to give one lucky NYC Talon reader two Free Farm Rich Product coupons!

Enter by clicking HERE or on the image below- good luck!

*Disclaimer: I received compensation for this post in the form of two Farm Rich product coupons. No other form of compensation was received. My opinions are my own and always honest, which means if I don’t like it I won’t blog about it – for more info on that check my pr tab at the top of this page. Thanks so much, and good luck!