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In high school, I always heard that textbooks for college were expensive, but I never really grasped how expensive they are for how little we use them.

For my first semester, I only needed one textbook in total, for a sociology class. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “That can’t be too expensive, right?”  

Wrong. That one textbook was a little over $100. To RENT.

Keep in mind, when you rent a textbook, you don’t get your money back. That’s $100 down the drain for a textbook I used maybe TWICE.

If you think about it, a semester is about 15 weeks. I met for that class once a week. During the class, the professor gave lectures outlining the chapters. I used the book maybe once or twice and I wound up getting a B-, which, for me, isn’t too shabby.

If it wasn’t required, I wouldn’t have even gotten the textbook, but since I didn’t want to fail the class, I rented it because it was a little less money than buying it. It didn’t even occur to me that I could sell the book when I was done with it until the end of the semester.

This semester, I need three textbooks—one for my Human Variations class, one for my College Composition 2 class and one for my Contemporary Mathematics class.

I can get the online book for my Human Variations class for $24.99 for a 12-month subscription (not bad, I know). If I buy the math textbook used, it costs $115.75, which is $38.55 cheaper than buying it new,  $23.10 cheaper than renting it new and only $21.65 more expensive than renting it used. Looking at this math, I’m going to buy it used because it’s cheaper than either buying or renting  it new.

In addition to those two textbooks, I also have to get my comp. textbook, which I only have the option to buy new for $58.55 (not too bad).

If I add up all my textbooks for this semester, I am paying $199.29 for my books. If I add in last semester too, I’ll be paying around $300 within a year for textbooks that I probably won’t open more than five times.

You might be thinking, “Then why even get them?”

Well, you have no way of knowing if your class will actually be using the textbook until you’re about halfway through the semester, which is way too late to get a refund.

When I finally added all these prices together, I’m not going to lie, I was a tad upset. I could’ve used that $300 for ANYTHING. I could’ve bought food for my dorm, saw a movie with friends or even bought better Christmas gifts for my friends and family. It’s unnecessary for books to be that expensive, especially when we’re paying thousands of dollars (that we don’t have) to go through school just so we can have a decent job and life.

Being a college student that doesn’t want to fail their classes, there’s really no way around having to get textbooks. However, some of my tips to save some coin are seeing if there’s an online version of your books (which are often A LOT cheaper) and using Chegg.com and Amazon.com. Both websites offer textbooks for way cheaper than the bookstore on campus and you can sell your textbooks when you’re done with them. I’m sure there are a few more ways that I don’t know about, but those are the sources that people I know have used in order to save money.

Get creative with it, and get to saving. Have a great spring semester!

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