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Back to School: Textbook Savings

If you are sending your adult children off to college you know that there are three school related expenses which make up the bulk of your budget: tuition, room and board, and textbooks. The first two expenses are mostly fixed and predictable costs, while the third is impossible to predict as well as a potential budget buster. You may not be able to predict textbook expenses, but you certainly can reduce them by following these three important steps:

1. Shop Online. Your college bookstore has an ironclad grip on textbook inventory, right? Well, at one time that was a true statement. Today, thanks to the internet, websites have sprung up that sell new and used textbooks at prices much lower than those found on campus. Shop with those retailers who have clearly outlined payment, shipping and handling, and return policies. Scan auction sites too for additional savings.

2. Shop Retail. The big bookstore retailers as well as some of the office supply stores carry some titles. At the very least your student can purchase all of his or her supplies off campus, saving you big money in the process.

3. Shop Used. Your campus bookstore knows that having used textbooks on hand will keep them somewhat competitive. The trick with textbook publishers is that yearly updates can make used copies obsolete: planned obsolescence in action! Still, when I was in school I had one professor who encouraged students to pick up the “outdated” copies of one book since he knew the cost was outrageous and he planned on referencing it sparingly. Your student may also learn that some of the titles on the professor's list are optional, not mandatory purchases. Students today no longer have to feel as if they are being “held hostage” by outrageous textbook prices. Have your student shop wisely and your budget will remain on track.


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