Advice for buying books on a budget

By Jessenya Guerra
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It is the start of a new year here at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). This might be your first semester or your last, but it is never too late to hear some helpful hints. One thing that always makes my life easier when a new school year starts is finding my books online.

In college, a helpful rule of thumb is to wait until the first day of class to buy your books, unless you’re in a math or science class (because those classes tend to be very strict). Most of the time, the professor will tell you additional information about the book or supplies that you may or may not need. I once had a teacher that said, “You can buy the book for $150, or you can buy yourself a nice dinner and a pair of shoes on me.” So, it can be very beneficial to wait on buying books.

Another way you can save money by waiting for the first day is because the edition that is listed on the website/syllabus could be a newer edition, but your teacher might say that the old edition works just fine. Older editions usually mean they cost less and are easier to buy.

A professor might also tell you that you don’t need a textbook until the end of the semester, which means you can hold off until the next time you get paid to buy it. My advice is to wait until the first day of class to hear what additional information the professor might give about the book.

In addition to waiting to get your books, there is one key way to guarantee that you will save money this semester and reduce stress over your books. A lot of new students don’t know, but you DO NOT have to buy your books from the bookstore! Gasp! There are two websites that I have found tried and true to renting and buying books; Chegg and Amazon.

Another helpful hint is renting books rather than buying them! If the book you need can’t be found cheaper for purchase on a different website, then renting from the bookstore is better than nothing.  Chegg and Amazon are a great place to rent books to save a few extra dollars this semester.

I recommend Amazon for all of my Prime members out there because you can get two day shipping on all of your textbooks. Chegg is an equally good service, despite the lack of two-day shipping, because it has a lot of different college related sponsors and almost every time you rent a book from them, you can receive a variety of coupons and free samples.

Examples of samples I have received over the years include, but are not limited to: a can of red bull, tide pods, cracker jacks, and even $30 off HelloFresh.

I took the time to randomly select some books from classes this semester to compare the prices of renting from the bookstore compared to renting from Chegg or Amazon (See the table). Remember the price listed does not include the sample perks that Chegg sends or the free two day shipping that Amazon has for its Prime customers.

Bookstore

Discrete Mathematics with Applications
ISBN: 9780495391326
$123.80

Gender, Race, and Class in Media
ISBN: 9781506380100
$63.05

Abnormal Psychology
ISBN: 9781464171703
$102.60

Chegg

Discrete Mathematics with Applications
ISBN: 9780495391326
$29.49

Gender, Race, and Class in Media
ISBN: 9781506380100
$36.09

Abnormal Psychology
ISBN: 9781464171703
$37.49

Amazon

Discrete Mathematics with Applications
ISBN: 9780495391326
$29.49

Gender, Race, and Class in Media
ISBN: 9781506380100
$34.92

Abnormal Psychology
ISBN: 9781464171703
$34.68

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