While some of you may have been in school for a week or two now, Berkeley in CA just started its new semester yesterday. With the dawn of a new semester, I’m reminded of a great tip I use every semester to ensure I spend the bare minimum on textbooks.

Sometimes I have my schedule in flux, and I’m unsure of which classes I’m going to take. Other times, I know which classes I’m taking, but I’m unsure if we really need every single book off the syllabus (I often don’t). Thus, I’ve found it prudent to wait until the semester actually begins in earnest to buy all my textbooks. At the same time, the cheapest way to buy textbooks is definitely online (I’m a huge fan of bigwords.com). Unfortunately, I often have to wait at least a week (and sometimes more) to receive these cheap used books and international editions.

Given this conundrum of not wanting to pay exorbitant prices on books, yet also not wanting to fall behind on readings while waiting for my books, I’ve come up with a great solution: Buy textbooks for full price from the student store, and then return them before the last day you can get a full-price refund. That way, you have information to absorb while your cheap book flies over from China! Just be sure to remember to return your books before the due date for full-price refunds, or be prepared for a world of hurt on your wallet.

Do you have any other tips for saving money on textbooks? Let us know in the comments!

[Photo courtesy of Flickr user pmccormi. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.]