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Why secondhand textbooks are the best way to save money

Mumtaz Moosa Saley | mumtazs@me.com
23 November 2022 | 12:45 PM CAT
1 min read

Photo Credit: Facebook

When it comes to parenting, there is no manual, nor are there any guidelines. Most of us tend to follow the advice family members have provided. As it comes to the year’s end, I am sure parents will all agree we are tired, and exams were the final nail in our coffin.

Even before the holidays’ many parents are already planning for the school year ahead; at some point in all parent’s journeys, you will have to hunt for textbooks for your child’s education. This is where I say that as parents, we all need to find savings as textbook costs are over the top, and you have to shop around.

Like most parents, this is my first year of hunting for textbooks; I decided to look for second-hand books as I was sure another parent had the books I needed, just collecting dust. The task consumed me as I put in hours of research to find out prices and look at what the second-hand books in usable condition would sell at. This is also when the art of negotiation is a skill that every parent learns.

But what no one tells you is that at some point, you will choose to meet potential textbook sellers at designated points, mainly in the mall or at a local store.

I stood at the local mall, anxious and nervous, waiting for the other parent. The management was alerted to my suspicious presence, probably due to my anxious state. I must have looked on the edge and dodgy.

Eventually, the parent arrived, and we greeted and introduced ourselves. After some negotiation, I handed over the cash. For a bystander witnessing this exchange, it must have had all the marks of an illicit transaction. Before we knew what was happening, the local manager started making his way over to us. The security team was alerted and soon bore down on us. But they stopped abruptly when “my partner in crime” opened her bag, removed the textbooks and handed them over to me.

Some who witnessed the incident broke into laughter, leaving the manager and his team looking sheepish.

In my thirteen years of parenting, I had never realised how scouting and purchasing textbooks would see me living on the edge! But the whopping R600 saved made me realise I would be doing it again next year.

So here are some tips for you if you are starting your hunt as a first-time textbook seeker.

  1. Find local community groups that are only for textbook sales and exchanges.
  2. Load your list on the groups and wait for parents to come out and state what books they have.
  3. Find out what a new book costs, and make a fair price based on condition. There is no point in saving R10 for a used book when you can shop around online.
  4. Never do an EFT meet in a public place and do a live handover. Remember, scammers, are looking for easy money.
  5. Convince your child’s school to set up a textbook exchange day when it re-opens
  6. Some local supermarkets may sell used textbooks for under R100, a saving and a half, as some books cost well over R400.
  7. And ensure you plan, as this is a stressful task and may require that you take a few days off to recover!



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