You should already be familiar with the triple-saving strategy. This is where you: 1. Buy your books used online from sites like Half.com or Amazon. 2. Visit these stores through a cashback shopping portal such as BigCrumbs or Ebates ($5 Sign-up Bonus). 3. Use a online coupon code from a site such as RetailMeNot.com for a further discount. If you make your purchases with a cashback rewards card than you can actually have quadruple savings.
It is actually possible to do even better than this though. You can save half off the price of a used textbook by sharing it with someone in your class. If you don’t feel like sharing you can buy a used textbook that is good for two courses. My real estate textbook for this semester is the same textbook I used for a different real estate class last semester. Since I’m getting double the use out of the book it is like getting it for half price.
Another strategy that should save you even more than 50% off a used textbook is to buy one edition back. I paid $5 for a book this semester that was available used in the new edition and would have cost me over $100 new. Glancing through the new textbook at the bookstore it appears there have been very minor changes between the editions. I probably wouldn’t have tried this strategy as a 1L but as a 3L I’m confident that it will work.
The best strategy is to take classes that don’t require a textbook at all. The clinic I’m taking this semester doesn’t require a textbook and I believe that is true for most other clinics as well. Or you can take a class where the professor has all the required reading material online. I’ve had a couple classes like this and there was an option to buy a printout for cheap at the university copy center but I found it unnecessary. Having my reading material on my computer was actually a benefit because it made it easy to copy and paste highlights to my notes.
Also consider how many credits the class you’re taking is. Buying a $100 textbook for a four credit class is a lot better deal than buying a $100 textbook for a one credit class. Sometimes you have to buy an expensive textbook for a one credit class but avoid it if you can.
These are several ways you can save money on your textbooks. This will save you a ton of money compared to what you would pay at the bookstore. All other things being equal when choosing a class take the one with the cheaper book, but don’t take a class just to save on the cost of a textbook.