Saturday, May 7, 2011

Goal for Fall: Not Spending Money on Textbooks

Image from The Daily UW

As any college student knows, buying textbooks sucks, plain and simple. It sucks if you're a liberal arts student (like me) and all you have to buy is novels that are never more than $15 each, but it REALLY sucks if you're a science or math student (like my boyfriend) and your textbooks cost about as much as an MRI... each.

Okay. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but really, we've all had at least one class where we had a textbook that cost at least $80, and then you have to buy the online e-learning package or pay lab fees or whatever.

So, with that in mind, I've created kind of a lofty goal for myself: not to spend any money out of pocket for books this fall.
So, how am I going to do this exactly? There are a couple of different methods I'm going to be using, and hopefully each one will prove to be helpful in reaching this goal.

  • Using Swagbucks This is a website where you earn money by doing things like searching, watching some videos, taking polls, doing surveys, printing and using coupons, entering "swag codes", etc. It's really popular in couponing communities. Basically, you earn the site's currency (the aptly named "Swagbuck", or SB for short) each time you do one of these activities, and the SBs accumulate over time. Once you have enough, you can get gift cards or other things; 450 SB earns you a $5 Amazon giftcard. For a good tutorial on Swagbucks, go to Couponing to Disney.
  • Using MyPoints. This is basically the same concept as Swagbucks. It's super easy to earn points, and to be truthful, I'm actually saving up my points for a gas gift card (I already have enough points for a $10 one!), but you could definitely use this website toward an Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card
  • Using Saving Star. I literally don't know if I can think of anything easier to use than Saving Star. It's the same company that powers Upromise (if you're familiar with that). Register your store cards from CVS, Rite Aid, Kroger, and more (Publix has a special Upromise card you can use) and add eCoupons to your card. These coupons do not deduct from your final total, but instead, they add toward your Saving Star account. Once you have $5, you can pick your payout (including Amazon and Paypal). And since they are for products you are probably already buying (like Lean Cuisine), it's super easy and convenient to use. Pair some of these coupons up with sales (Sunny D and Charmin are both on sale at Kroger right now and have Saving Star coupons), and you can earn your $5 in no time. 
  • Using Recyclebank. This one isn't directly related to textbooks; the gift cards you can earn on here are for places like Walmart and Staples. That means free money for school supplies! Recyclebank is also really easy to use; I have 220 points from clicking around on the website alone. 
  • Selling books back to Amazon via their textbook buyback program for Amazon credit.
  • Using Amazon Student to get free shipping. I signed up for Amazon Student (you need a .edu email address to register) in November 2010, and since it's a free one year trial of Amazon Prime, I will still be able to use it for textbooks in the fall! I cannot stress how awesome Amazon Student is. And it doesn't just work for textbooks and school; use it to get free two-day shipping on nearly any order.
I'll keep y'all updated on how I'm doing as far as saving "money" toward this goal all summer long. Let me know if you're interested in doing the same, and please let me know if you have ANY questions about any of the above programs. 

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