As a student at Northern Illinois University, I have worked hard to find the best college supplies for as little money as possible. It’s almost become a game to me; how to find the cheapest books and calculators within the first couple days of class. Finding college supplies can be tricky if you don’t practice good timing. If you already purchase the books and you end up not needing them, it’s a waste of money. If you wait too long, you’re not able to participate in class properly. The following are some helpful strategies I’ve learned to find inexpensive college supplies.
Finding Inexpensive College Supplies Part 1: Textbooks.
One of the largest portions of a college supplies budget is comprised of textbooks. If you can slash the cost of your textbooks, it will clearly make the biggest impact on your college supplies budget. The best place to find textbooks are on websites like amazon.com and EBay. Most of the time, the used books they offer can be purchased for 20% of what a new book costs. Also, if your local textbook store offers buybacks, they will still offer the same buyback price as if the book was new. Sometimes older editions or international editions work too. In my experiences, you can use international or older editions with most liberal arts classes. Textbooks for classes such as math and science usually need to be a newer edition.
If you absolutely need new editions, I highly recommend checking out chegg.com. It’s a textbook rental site that allows you to borrow books for a semester. For a book that costs $120, you can rent it for about $40, and Chegg pays for shipping. You have to return them and can’t sell them back to a textbook store at the end of the semester, but you still come out ahead financially.
Finding Inexpensive College Supplies Part 2: Pens, Calculators, etc.
After textbooks, I find the rest of my college supplies on Craigslist.com. The electronics section almost always has cheap calculators from students who no longer need theirs. They even have free printers occasionally. If you are uncomfortable getting your college supplies on Craigslist, I would recommend posting flyers on campus for what you need. It’s almost guaranteed that another student is trying to get rid of the exact college supplies you are looking for.
One can always find college supplies at their local bookstore or Office Max, but that should only be considered in an emergency situation. If you have a few days to research, I definitely recommend using the above methods to find your college school supplies. Why pay full price when last semester’s students are willing to give their supplies away?