Savvy Consumer Tips

In my day, the only place we could buy college textbooks was at the campus bookstore. All we did was complain about how expensive the books were and that was that. Now students have many more options, yet many don't bother to shop around. The typical college student will spend $300 to $500 on books every semester. My son's last bill for books came to $425. When a friend told him about buying online at half.com, he checked it out in the first few weeks of school. He shopped for 4 of the most expensive required books and was thrilled to save $140. One of his $40 microeconomics books was $5 used at half.com!

It's worth checking out for the coming semester. By the way, some professors are helping reduce the tab for textbooks by placing material on electronic reserves so that students can access the reading online. This saves money and trees.

When you’re busy, you sometimes don’t want to put the extra effort into finding the best deal. That’s how I was feeling recently when I booked a trip back to Detroit for a wedding. The airline offered extra miles for reserving a car through them, so I just clicked on the link to the rental agencies. I chose the least expensive car for the week, and after all the taxes and fees were added, the rate was a little more than $300. And that was for the smallest car.

Fortunately, the newsletter Consumer Reports Money Advisor came the following week with an article about bargains on rental cars. Why not spend another 15 to 20 minutes shopping one of the lesser known sites for rentals such as CarRentalExpress.com and CarRentals.com. The upshot: I booked the same size rental car, for the same 7-day period, with a pick-up at the terminal (not off site), for $100 less!