Saving on Uni Materials

Who really wants to spend money on them anyway...

by | Last updated 25th Apr, 2017

Physical textbooks, writing pads and sketchbooks seem a thing of the past, especially in the modern digital age. Everything you need can be gained for sometimes more than half the original price online, yet so many students pay away a good amount of their student loan to have these necessities.

Even though it is unavoidable to have to buy materials here and there, don’t spend a large portion of your student loan looking for the top dollar, fresh out the factory prints and products! There are many ways to get the same or near same materials while still having money to put into your savings or even for that night out.

7 Step Guide

1. Other students

The first thing you should do before even going to buy your own materials, is ask previous students. Its no secret that all students are going to need textbooks and other materials and most likely other students have already had and finished with their materials, so why not snatch those heavy loads off their back-packs for them as the saint you are.

Most students will just throw away old books or leave them lying around as they have nothing to do with them. Why not try take it off them for free before the topic of £££ is raised. However even if this isn’t a free exchange situation, you could get materials a lot cheaper than in store or even online. Sometimes you may even luck out with notes from the previous students that could help you out a ton!

If you don’t know any of the previous students, just post on online uni groups such as on Facebook or even put up a poster on a notice board that everyone checks or walks past. It’s highly likely that someone will respond.

Whatever you do, make sure you check the quality of the textbook as students aren’t the best known species for taking care of their university materials.

2. University library

A free resource for books, magazines, text and many other resources, your university library will have a large catalogue of information for you to use. The most important part of your university library, is understanding how it works. It’s not just a room full of books, there will be a filing system of where each genre and type of book is placed.

One great tip is to get in early on your borrowing. Check ahead into your course topics and see what books you may need to borrow as closer to the time other students may scoop them up leaving you to either wait or go and buy the copies elsewhere.

Most university libraries will also have an online academia page, where you can read some topics online. This won’t be a large collection of books or posts but a few more concentrated topics, so do check if they are relevant to your course topics.

3. Second hand

It goes without saying that unwrapping that pristine, untouched plastic off the cover of your new textbook is much more satisfying than looking for a used book. However that used book could be a in near perfect condition and the differences are that it could be half the price for a minor dent or scratch and that it unfortunately does not have that plastic wrapping on it.

Now the question is do you want a great condition book and still have enough money to impress that hottie with all the cash you have saved or do you want a perfect condition book and not be able to pay rent let alone take that hottie out for a drink???

Going online is a great and easy place to look for materials, Amazon, eBay, Gumtree. Now if you want to level up your savings, start looking at second hand book stores and charity shops, especially those in close proximity to your university. However this one of course takes a longer process but it could save a massive slice off that 7000 page book.

This goes the same for all materials you need for any course. Most charity shops or second hand sites will have a large volume of what you are looking for with a good discount of the original price.

4. Student superpowers

One of the great parts of being part of the Student Species is that you have the ability to gain discounts nearly everywhere and same goes for all those materials you need to draw, write and read.

Cass Art, Waterstones, Amazon are all big retailers, some with more specific range of products but still a great source to gain a good discount. Even if a big retailer do not advertise that they have student discounts, ask and you maybe nicely surprised.

Be aware many shops do not give you discounts on top of items already on sale, do check with the individual retailer before going on a trek to the store just to get a pen.

5. In-store reduction items

Many big retailers, especially in the gadgets sections, have items that are not shown on the main shop floor and rather bunched together in a corner somewhere that are the returned and reduction items, the clearance aisle in a sense.

If a customer buys a new laptop, opens the box and then returns it the next day, the item is now technically a second hand product. Now the retailers can either have them refurbished or can have them checked and just simply lower the price. Even though they are second hand products they are basically untouched and new as they had been out the store for a minimal amount of time, so there is no need to worry about the ‘second hand’ label.

John Lewis is a great example of this as some of their stores, especially their larger stores such as the Oxford Circus flagship have a gadgets reduction section where you can find great deals on such items as laptops.

6. Did you keep the receipt?

Keep those receipts! If you can keep a book in that new condition and are within the returning time period, you could get back every penny you paid out. This may not be the nicest or greatest thing to do but you’re a student paying out £9000 and can do with some cash back.

If you decide to start returning older books, do make sure that it is in excellent condition and no doodles every few pages or you could be facing some evil eyes and awkward moments in the store.


Now you have hopefully learnt a trick or two on how to get cheaper materials and save a nice a little penny. But don’t just stop there!

You yourself have many old materials that you will not be using anymore, so don’t let it grab dust till it’s worth only a small % of what you bought it for. Make sure you list your items online, sell them to other students or even return them if they’re looking as shiny as you bought it.

It goes without saying you won’t be getting your original £££ back but at least you can help other students and at the same time make a good little portion of your initial investment back. That £40 textbook could be sold on for £20, it maybe half the price but that’s better than throwing it out and having nothing. If the condition of the materials are still in excellent condition sell it for even higher to get a good sum of your next night out fund…..I mean a good sum to put into your savings.

Check out our blog on selling items on eBay for more helpful online selling tips.

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1. Always ask other students first and don't mention money. See if you can snag materials up for free.

2. If you can't find students who are willing to give you anything then look on multiple sites before you buy. There is something probably cheaper, other than that first site you look on.

3. RECYCLE EVERYTHING! You spend your own money to invest in materials and once their purpose has ended they can either pile up or be sold on to gain back some of your investment. Put it on eBay for £2 or even 99p. You just got yourself one small step richer. Your welcome.

How have you saved on your university materials? Let us know in the comments below.

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