With the semester approaching quickly, I found myself spending the usual few hours to research all of my textbooks for classes. Yes, of course, every school has a bookstore where you can buy them from, but unless you feel like spending $300-$400 more than you need to (because everyone loves spending $1,000 on books you may or may not actually use) DO NOT BUY YOUR BOOKS FROM YOUR OWN SCHOOL! My favorite way to make this task a whole lot easier is to make an Excel spreadsheet with all the books I need on it. I get the ISBNs right from my online campus bookstore. This semester, mine looks something like this (click on the pic to see it a little bigger):
Essentially, I list all the books out by title, then their ISBN, then I go through all my favorite used book websites, my usual top three are half.com, amazon.com, and barnesandnoble.com. You can easily keep track of prices from each website, and some copies are even available for the Kindle or Nook if you prefer e-textbooks, which are sometimes cheaper than hard copies.
Another thing I'm trying out for the first time is renting textbooks, which is also often cheaper than buying. You can choose how many days you want to keep the book for, and then you just send it back when you're done! Hint, look for coupons or special offers from each website just by typing searches into Google such as "half.com coupons". I found one that saved me $8.85!
Finally, once you've compared all your prices and found all your coupons, buy your books and record how much you spend on each site. Keep a column for when each one is shipped and received, I know last semester I had 20 books to keep track of, so it's great to have them all in one place. Make sure to leave a spot where you can compare your final purchase to what you would have spent buying those books from school, then CELEBRATE A JOB WELL DONE!
**When the semester ends, and you know you never want to see some of those books again, list them on half.com to sell to other people, and use the money you earn toward next semester's books!
For more money tips, be sure to check out How To Start Building Credit History the Easy Way!