Since moving to Boston, I've been looking for more ways to save money to help afford the higher cost of living. I sold my car before I left south Texas, which cut out a huge list of expenses. My girlfriend and I had been living apart down there, which means we were able to combine a lot of expenses we were paying for separately when we moved in together this summer. I'd also be a lot closer to my family and many friends, cutting travel costs significantly. In short, I've done everything in my personal life to cut costs and still live happily.
As the new school year came around, I worried about how to continue to build my classroom library without spending nearly as much as I used to. Luckily I learned about one resource that would completely change the way I was approaching the problem: PaperBackSwap.
I heard about PaperBackSwap from The Simple Dollar, a great personal finance blog that helps me keep my self in check. The concept is simple: you make a list of books you don't want. Members request them from you, and you pay only for shipping (USPS Media Mail). You get credits for every book you swap, which you use to request the books that you do want. No money changes hands; you just pay the post office to ship.
The site even includes a template for making your own simple envelope out of two pieces of printer paper. I myself use bubble mailers and attach the PBS-provided printable address label to it, but that's just personal preference.
What this meant for me is that I was able to swap many books that I wouldn't have been able to sell and get many new books for school for less than $3 each (the shipping cost). It freed up space at home, as I turned unwanted personal books into in-demand classroom library books.
I was able to get the first six books of the Harry Potter series, the first three Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books, and Taking Sides by Gary Soto.
This is a free site, built on the principle that people can save money (and the environment) by trading. It's worked out well for me. PBS has two sister sites: Swap-a-DVD and Swap-a-CD. I've used the former for personal DVDs, but if I ever needed something for school, that would be a big help as well.
If you have used these sites, or other similar networks, please leave a comment or email me. Good luck!