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.

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.

ebates abebooks textbooks

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.

how to save on books on ebaypart2
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.

ebay promotions books
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.

shopping online for books
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!


I ShopStyle! Don’t you?


If you follow me on pinterest you probably know that I am a fashion fanatic. I have more pins on my fashion board then on any of my other boards. As a New Yorker I’m lucky enough to be exposed to some serious fashion and usually can spot a trend a mile off. I’m a true believer that fashion can be for everyone, and finding a place where you can have access to great pieces at competitive prices is key to a world of fab creativity.

In celebration of POPSUGAR’s ShopStyle site, I put together a few of my favorite cold weather pieces that I simply cannot live without!

We ShopStyle

The grey sweater is from Liz Claiborne – it’s a warm, comfy pullover that I just love paired with skinny jeans. I added a chunky statement necklace that I bought from a local jewelry store here in the city – I love chunky necklaces and I feel like the bright red, orange, and gold tones liven up the sweater.

The boots are “Sheena” from Rocket Dog. Rocket Dog is one of those brands that I can never get enough of. Boots are always trendy during the colder seasons, but these I could wear all year ’round. They’re comfy, have a tiny bit of lift, and are pretty much perfect. I love the selection that they have available at ShopStyle – I might end up treating myself to another pair!


The scarf is from Mossimo, and when I initially bought it I thought that it was a floral print. I’m normally not that into florals, except that I loved the color so much and it went really well with the color of my hair and my skin tone. After I bought it I discovered the scarf didn’t actually have flowers – it had massive skulls! I still love it, only I feel like more of a badass now when I wear it. ShopStyle has a great selection of Mossimo pieces – all priced amazingly, of course.

The yellow bag is a Navoh “Emily” bag that I’ve had for a while, and the brown bag is the “Dusk till Dawn” crossbody bag from Ecko Unlimited by Marc Ecko. The brown bag is a warm, go-to item and I reach for the Navoh bag when I need a pop of color.

The striped shirt is from INC International Concepts, and the plaid peplum pencil skirt (try saying that three times fast!) is a vintage piece.

What are your favorite fashion pieces or trends? Let me know in the comments below – and be sure to check out ShopStyle!

Online & Ready to Save – How to Prep for Cyber Monday with!

*This Online & Ready to Save – How to Prep for Cyber Monday with! post  is a Fashionista Event. I was provided a promotional item by to inform you of their crazy insane Cyber Monday Sales, Cyber Monday giveaway and our Cyber Monday $500 giveaway.

I’ve been shopping Cyber Monday Sales for about three years now. In fact, last year I skipped Black Friday altogether and just snuggled down in my pajamas and waited for Monday morning before I made all my purchases. The great thing about Cyber Monday is that most online shops offer free shipping in addition to some amazing discounts – and there are no lines. However, like shopping on Black Friday, it’s important to make a game plan and determine how you can get the most bang for your buck – which is why I rely on to take advantage of all the best Cyber Monday Sales.

Item's I'm Looking for this Cyber Monday

If you’re like me and running low on time – and after the Thanksgiving rush, running low on energy – does a lot of the work for you. They hunt down Cyber Monday Sales, which makes it super easy to save! And I don’t know about you, but saving is always at the top of my wishlist, haha! I have a few things on my wishlist this year, while some of them (okay, most of them) are pretty impractical for me to expect from Santa this year, it’s still fun making lists of my most wishiest (is that even a word? lol!) items.

My Beauty Wishlist

This year, keep track of all the amazing Cyber Monday Sales by visiting here and get access to extra coupon codes, deals, and keep updated on the hottest sales! Also, is hosting an amazing $500 Amazon gift card sweepstakes – which you can also find here. I’d really really love if one of you guys, my awesome readers, was a winner – so don’t forget to enter, I’m crossing my fingers for you!

Cyber Monday with

The fun doesn’t end there! Enter below in our $500 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway (2 winners, $250 gift card each)! Pretty awesome right?! Think about what you could buy with that! Good luck, and don’t forget to enter! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Loving Lemons Gypsy Hoops Giveaway!

I am so geared up for back to school and fall fashions – I’ve been really looking for great ways to transition my summer wardrobe to my cooler weather wear. What I love more than anything is certain pieces and accessories that are wearable all year round – they’re gorgeous pieces like neutral bangles, thin gold necklaces  - which can be worn by itself in the summer, or layered in the winter, and adorable rings. At Loving Lemons you can get get a jump start on fall fashion, while picking up classic pieces that you can rock all year!

I’ve just fell in love with these Ralph Lauren hammered gold studs from Loving Lemons, what do you think? These gorgeous Lauren Ralph Lauren Large Gypsy Hoop Earrings are $38 on Loving Lemons – and are super eye-catching!

affordable designer earrings

I’ve included them in my most recent polyvore board, featuring rainy day fall fashion:

Aren’t those earrings gorgeous? I love them. I can just imagine wearing them around the city. Wellll (drumroll please!) the lovely Loving Lemons (say that three times fast) folks want to offer one The NYC Talon reader a pair of these gorgeous Lauren by Ralph Lauren earrings! Thanks Loving Lemons!

Loving Lemons Giveaway

Be sure to enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Giveaway only open to those 18+ living in the US, and ends on 8/26/12 at 12 midnight. Thank you, and good luck!

Review & Giveaway: Beat Make-Up Meltdown with KmS Minerals! #HotintheCity

Content Disclosure

Recently I’ve had the most annoying breakouts on my skin. I’m not sure whether to blame changes in the weather, stress, or a recent illness but either way I’ve been more than reluctant to add heavy foundations into the mix. I was recently given the chance to try out some key products from KmS Minerals – and after reading all about their industry first lightweight (but not powdery) and sensitive skin friendly Signature Foundation, I was really excited about giving KmS Minerals a try!


I received KmS Mineral’s Deluxe Mini Try Me Kit – with my foundation shade in medium. The Mini Try Me Kit came with 10 starter jars (0.07 oz each) including two Flawless Mineral Foundations (your choice of shade), Magic Cover Multitasking Mineral Concealer in Bisque, Perfect Finish Mineral Veil in Translucent, Loose Mineral Blush in Fabulous, Morning Dew Luminizer, Eye Shadow Pigment/Liner in Cafe Au Lait and Cocoa Puff, as well as a baby buki brush and its faux croc snap case.

Eye Shadow Pigment/Liner in Cocoa Puff

Eye Shadow Pigment/Liner in Cocoa Puff

I instantly loved the color of the eye shadows, but initially was worried about color payoff because of how light the product was. I tend to assume that the denser the product is, the greater the color payoff is – but in this instance I was completely wrong. KmS’s eye shadows only required the teensiest bit of product to give out great color. The same goes for all of KmS’s products – and their loose mineral blush is my new absolute favorite blush – it goes on great even with low end makeup brushes.

Eye Shadow Pigment/Liner in Cafe Au Lait

Eye Shadow Pigment/Liner in Cafe Au Lait

The foundation sits beautifully on my skin and didn’t irritate my acne at all! I’d say it’s a medium coverage foundation with great buildable potential – without ever looking cakey or powdery. I loved it so much that now that my acne is clearing up I still intend on using it. I took the whole kit with me on vacation to the Jersey Shore and both the shadows, foundation, and blush really stood up to some serious heat without melting off my face!

I really love how the foundation stayed on my skin – even maintaining coverage in my oily t-zone area. Oily lids? Not to worry – KmS’s mineral eye shadows stays put – even in the summer heat! Heavier oil based concealers and foundations are great in the winter, but tend to turn my face into an oil slick during hot summer months – for me it felt like the mineral based products from KmS helped to absorb oil, without leaving my face feeling like a dessert either. I just prime my skin with a high SPF moisturizer and then apply foundation.


Now, I’m a hardcore mineral makeup fan. I discovered mineral foundation way back in high school and fell in love with it. Years later I really got on the mineral bandwagon and tried out my fair share of mineral eye shadows, concealers, etc. After investing in too many sub-par products I experienced what I call “beauty burnout” and abandoned mineral makeup altogether. KmS Minerals has really re-introduced me to an old favorite, I’d forgotten how great a quality mineral foundation or eye shadow can make my skin look and feel great!


Kristi, the lovely CEO and Founder of KmS Mineral Essentials Cosmetics has decided to offer one awesome NYC Talon reader their very own KmS Minerals Get Up And Glow Radiant Complexion Kit! How awesome is that?! Thanks Kristi! Enter below – and good luck!!!

To check out more about KmS Mineral Essentials click here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Ultra Glam Harpers Love Makes Creating Custom Jewelry a Breeze!

Content Disclosure
Everybody in my family is super creative – most of my siblings are artists, and I’m a writer. With Harpers Love, even people not predisposed to creativity can create gorgeous custom jewelry! Right now Harpers Love offers you the ability to create your own customized earrings and pendants – but have rings and bracelets in the works. Here’s a look at some styles on their site:




I decided to design my own piece on the site using their Design Builder – you can choose your Stone Number, Shape, Cut, Color, Metal, and Backing. The price of your final product depends on the customization’s that you make.

design builderHere’s my customization!

my design

Pretty nice, huh? I chose three different stones, with my first stone being a round 17mm blue topaz stone, the second being a 15mm pear shape sky blue topaz stone, and the third as 12mm pear shape sapphire pink topaz- all of them having a faceted cut, just because I think that cut makes the stone look more bright. I chose 14k yellow gold as my metal, Euro Wire backing, and the Dangle style (as opposed to having the stones stationed one on top of the other without linking). So apparently my ideal customized, created-by-me, set of earrings would cost around $725! Not bad – seeing as how it’s not costume jewelry.

Created by mom-prenuer Michelle Mullman, I love that Harpers Love products are manufactured in NYC and NJ – so close to me! I think anything from Harpers Love would make an excellent graduation, birthday, or anniversary gift! What’s more personal than a customized piece of jewelry for the girl you love – created by you!

Check out Harpers Love by clicking here!


Fresh Scents with!

I’ve been on the hunt for a new fresh fragrance to try. I wanted something fresh and bright – perfect for the start of summer. So when I was recommended Exceptional because you are by Exceptional Perfumes – which I learned had a spicy floral scent – I was eager to try the scent out for myself.

I love how they package each piece in a baggy – that way if anything leaks, it doesn’t get everywhere!

Exceptional because you are is the perfect scent to wear to a evening out – for me it’s a little too heavy to wear for everyday purposes. But I like layering the body wash, lotion, and perfume together – it just made me smell so good and the scent lasted all day. I’m especially happy to have a nice scent with special events like graduations and birthdays coming up!
True to description, Exceptional because you are has a “crisp elegant introduction, a lightly spiced floral heart, and a sensual dry down”. It’s one of those smell’s that everyone compliments you on, and you can’t help but sniff your own wrist throughout the night because you like the scent so much too. I have to admit it’s one of my more “grown up” fragrances.


I love the little atomizer and travel size perfume – perfect for throwing into my purse!

From FragranceNet, this new scent is one of my new favorites. FragranceNet always offers a lot of great deals like 20% off any order, and other similar sales. They also offer makeup, hair-care, aromatherapy, skincare, and gift sets. What’s really great is that if they don’t sell a perfume or product that you are already a fan of, you can request it – which I think is so refreshing to see a brand receptive to it’s customer’s requests.

Personally, I’ve already been browsing through their site looking for a gift for my dad for Father’s Day. I don’t know why but perfume’s and cologne’s always make a really nice gift, don’t they? They also do free shipping on all orders over $70, which makes it convenient when you’re shopping for a few people or stocking up on gifts. As for me, I’ve got my eye on the Aqua Di Gio by Armani – which I know my dad would LOVE, and at over %15 off – I think my wallet will love it too, lol!

Have you checked out FragranceNet before? Have you done any father’s day shopping yet? What fragrances are your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!