Buying textbooks

Buy your books the moneysmart way

You’ve got to have books, but there’s more than one way to buy them. Get tips for buying textbooks the moneysmart way.

Podcast transcript


PETE: This is How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents, on the IU MoneySmarts Radio Network. I am Pete the Planner. It’s like Bob the Builder, like SpongeBob SquarePants. But none of those really, it’s just Pete the Planner. Fan of SpongeBob SquarePants. Alex joins me, as always.

ALEX: Always.

PETE: You love SpongeBob.

ALEX: My gosh, 90’s Nickelodeon, Rocket Power, SpongeBob, it’s all there.

PETE: I spoke to some 20-somethings the other day, 22- to 25-year-olds, young professionals. And I remember when you told me about SpongeBob, dropped a SpongeBob reference in there. You would have thought that One Direction was performing in front of 13-year-old girls. They were very excited. [LAUGH]

ALEX: You know, you had a great thing. And then you brought in One Direction and it just...

PETE: I don’t even know anything about that. I said it to sound cool.

ALEX: And it just dropped off.

PETE: I don’t even know. Are they British?

ALEX: Are they?

PETE: Who?

ALEX: One Direction.

PETE: I think so.

ALEX: I don’t know.

PETE: You asked me.

ALEX: This is the wrong space for that discussion.

PETE: Don’t act cool. You know who they are. Here’s what we’re talking about this week on how not to move back in with your parents. By the way, I like your parents, and you like your parents. And just don’t move back in with them. You’ve got stuff to do.

ALEX: Yeah, we know we liked living on our own in college. So we can keep doing it after afterwards.

PETE: So you do what we say, and we’ll fix that. Here’s what we’re doing this week, kind of a top five list. Top five biggest money mistakes you can make in college.

ALEX: Everybody loves lists.

PETE: People do like lists. A blogger, part of what I do. People love the list blogs.

ALEX: It’s huge.

PETE: I don’t know, I think we’re lazy readers. We just wanna think, just list five things, okay. Be a lazy listener and listen to these five biggest money mistakes in college. Some of them are subtle, some of them are... what’s the opposite of subtle?

ALEX: Not abrupt.

PETE: Well I don’t know, there’s—

ALEX: I don’t know, upfront?

PETE: There’s upfront ones too?

ALEX: In your face.

PETE: Yeah, here they are. Let’s start with buying new textbooks or textbooks you don’t need. Now this is kind of weird, right, because you’re at college to learn. You want all the tools and resources. But I think we all realize that people buy things they don’t have to buy.

ALEX: Yeah, and it’s weird because textbooks are essentially a necessity, but not always. And that seems like a total—

PETE: No, that’s all right, I talk about that, too.

ALEX: So because you need them for class, there will be required textbooks. But you don’t have to always pay full price for them. And people have to know that. My first tip is always buy used if you can.

PETE: Right, or rent. But you say, I’ve heard you say before, renting textbooks makes sense if you actually trust yourself.

ALEX: Right, and it’s dangerous, because renting you will pay less than new or used upfront, usually by a pretty good amount. But one, you’ll have to give it back in the same condition or you will have to pay more money.

PETE: Yeah, that’s not good.

ALEX: You have to be able to trust yourself. And you don’t have the opportunities for exchanging and buyback like you would with a new or used textbook.

PETE: Can you share a book with someone, too? I mean, does that make sense if you got a friend or someone you live with or whatever, in that same class?

ALEX: Absolutely. You can save so much money by exchanging. Maybe you and your friend are taking two classes that the other one will take the next semester. Just exchange your books. You can do it that way. Sell your books to your friends. The bookstores themselves usually have buyback policies. And there are a bunch of third-party companies that are coming in with textbooks also.

PETE: If think about it, over a four-year college career (and that’s what we encourage you to have, hopefully no more than a four year college career), is that you could save maybe 1,000 bucks over that entire—I mean, a couple hundred a semester, maybe?

ALEX: Easily $1,000. It’s so much money.

PETE: So that’s $2,000, right, for, yeah.

ALEX: Yeah.

PETE: All right, well there you go. So that’s number one, buying new textbooks or textbooks you don’t need. That’s mistake number one. Here’s number two. Drum roll. Don’t do a drum roll. That’s kind of a dumb thing. Dropping and retaking classes. Man, I did that once.

ALEX: Really?

PETE: Here’s the thing, I’m a financial guy, that’s what I do. I dropped money and banking because I was struggling. Don’t tell anybody that, all right? [LAUGH] This got weird. But I dropped it, and then I started retaking it again. And I totally wasted the money on that thing. And it happens a lot, though.

ALEX: Yeah, I’ve made it a point to not have to drop and retake classes. I’ve seen friends and people in classes do it. You’ll start out, it’s funny. You’ll start out a class with 200 people in a lecture hall. And by the time midterms roll around and after midterms there’s maybe half the people left in there. That’s money wasted, especially if you missed the deadlines on it. You’re wasting so much money that you spend, wasting money on the textbooks. And you may have to extend your stay at college another semester or two because you’re gonna be behind on classes.

PETE: There are some things worse than dropping classes. I just don’t know what they are. I mean there’s probably some really bad things out in the world. But dropping classes is probably one. It just doesn’t make sense. Just don’t be the person that drops classes, right?

ALEX: Yeah, and if you’re dropping classes, try not to let it be because you’re struggling and falling behind.

PETE: Yeah, because if you give up—frankly, a lot of times that’s what it is, this is too hard—once you drop one class, dropping the next few classes gets so much easier because then you’ve kind of broken the barrier of quitting. And you’re like, I’m just gonna drop more classes. I’m just in the summer, drop classes. Number three, hey, we talk about this a lot, student loans. I mean, the reality is you may have to take out student loans to fund tuition and your education. What I’m asking you to do, and what Alex is asking you to do, is think twice. Do everything you can to prevent taking out student loans for living expenses. We think there is a better way. We think that if you’re in that situation where you need student loans to live, then more often than not you can get away by just living less expensively and working part-time. And Alex, we’ve talked about—you work up to 15 hours a week and actually see a GPA increase by working during school.

ALEX: It’s a win-win.

PETE: That is a win-win.

ALEX: Yeah, you can’t go wrong there. But, definitely be efficient as possible if you’re gonna have to take out student loans.

PETE: So I’m gonna recap so far. We’re three in, but look, I’ve got short-term memory issues. So here’s what we got. Again, you’re listening to How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents here on the IU Money Sports, MoneySmarts Radio Network. I thought I was Don Fischer there for a second, that it was the IU Money Sports.

ALEX: We could only wish.

PETE: Fish is great, isn’t he?

ALEX: Legend.

PETE: I don’t even know if I can call him Fish. I think I have to call him Mr. Fischer.

ALEX: Yeah, you might be getting a call about that one.

PETE: I feel really awkward now. Here’s where we are so far. Buying new textbooks or textbooks you don’t need can be a waste of money and a big mistake. Number two, dropping and retaking classes is ridiculous. Number three, taking out student loans to live, versus taking out student loans to get your education. Number four, dorm room items. Now, you told me a little bit of a tale here recently about a friend who brought a gigantic television to school. And within 24 hours of it arriving at school?

ALEX: Gone, broken. Broken. Cracked.

PETE: 55 inch television.

ALEX: 55 inch HDTV, ready to ride, not mounted up on the wall.

PETE: That’s so sad.

ALEX: Cracked in the morning.

PETE: That’s a coffee table now.

ALEX: Yeah.

PETE: Yeah, except you could cut yourself on it, because it’s shattered.

ALEX: It’s a dangerous coffee table.

PETE: So yeah, I think a lot of times, look, just live broke. Live broke, and I say that not jokingly. We all wanna live in nice places. Coming from your parents’ house, chances are, where you lived in high school is a hell of a lot nicer than where you live now. Cool, whatever.

ALEX: And they need to remember, this applies to apartments, houses off campus. Also, afterwards, don’t just think that you can buy nicer things because of you living in your own space, instead of just a dorm room. You might have your own room. Use hand-me-downs as much as possible if you can. If you have left over fridges, things like that. Use classifieds for the university. A lot of schools have those. Craigslist, there’s just so many options if you need to get something, to get it cheaper.

PETE: Yeah, Craigslist is not just for meeting weird people to do weird stuff with. I mean, you can buy stuff off of there.

ALEX: It’s great for that, but you know.

PETE: Do you think women or men waste more money on decorating their living areas?

ALEX: It’s tough because you know the guys spend more money on the TVs, the video games, all the food. The girls spend ridiculous money on ridiculous things like decorating things.


PETE: Easy.

ALEX: I know, I’m getting in the danger zone here.

PETE: Yeah, I’m just telling you.

ALEX: Just from the male mind, I don’t understand. There’s lots of Technicolor and picture collages and stuff and—

PETE: By the way, if you wanna send hate mail to Alex, send it to our email address here at MoneySmarts, which is What did we do, Phil? We just took out all the vowels, is that what we did? Looking at Phil, who’s the man here. So basically MoneySmart with no vowels, cuz we’re into education here, And you can send hate mail to Alex for making those comments about the ladies. All right, so dorm room items is number four. And finally the fifth biggest mistake we see people make. Damages and lost items. It kind of crosses over, right, a little bit?

ALEX: Yeah, so this starts in the dorm rooms because usually you will be living in the dorm room freshman year, no exception, depending on the college. But there’s huge damages. One, mail keys, they are generally about 50 bucks a pop if you lose your little key. So you need to not lose that obviously.

PETE: Did you ever lose your mail key?

ALEX: I did not, thank goodness. There, my gosh, couple scares. And it’s the worst thing ever. You lose it and you’re just freaking out. It’s like when you lose your phone and you just—it’s the worst.

PETE: Here’s the great misconception. No one ever gets any mail in college. But everyone wants their mail key. No one sends you anything. Pre-approved credit card offers, you don’t want those either. Throw them away.

ALEX: I gotta couple cookie packages.

PETE: Your mom send you stuff?

ALEX: Yeah, cookies? Are you kidding me?

PETE: How many times has she texted you since we started this podcast today?

ALEX: Probably a couple.

PETE: All right, we’ll check it later. All right, so those are the five things. The five biggest wastes of money. The five biggest money mistakes you can make in college. I’m gonna recap, and we’ll tag team this. So I’ll go with number one. Buying new textbooks, or textbooks you don’t need. Now, you go to number two. Now, you saying something.

ALEX: I will, number two, dropping and retaking classes.

PETE: Number three, student loans.

ALEX: Number four, dorm room items.

PETE: And number five, losing your mail key. The mail as in postal, not like male as in—

ALEX: Yes, and also, don’t break stuff in your room that the university owns. You’ll have to pay for it.

PETE: That’s so college. All right, and this has been this episode of How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents. If you want more information by God, we have it for you. It’s a Always subscribe to this podcast. I don’t want to get dramatic here, Alex, but I’m pretty sure it’ll change people’s lives. A little dramatic.

ALEX: There’s probably a lot of angry women right now, about to just take my head off. Yeah, so if you want to send an angry email to Alex, send it to MoneySmart with no vowels. But there is an Y in here and Y is sometimes a vowel. Now I’m confused. It’s, sometimes Y. Hey, thanks for listening here on IU MoneySmarts Radio Network.