Need to Save Money and Space? Embrace the Rental Economy

Want to know the definition of frustration? Try going wedding dress shopping with a bride who hasn’t a clue as to what dress she wants but will “know it when she sees it.” I was fortunate enough to enjoy just such an experience when I performed my sisterly duty and took my sister wedding dress shopping late last year. My mom and aunt tagged along, probably for the same reason why people can’t turn away from grisly traffic accidents.

Our wedding dress Odyssey eventually ended in success, but during the experience, I remember being puzzled at just why someone would spend $3,000 or more on a dress they only wear once. The solution seemed obvious. Why buy something you’re only going to use once when you can rent it instead? Turns out that I am not some amazing genius.

A quick Google search informed me that the wedding dress rental market is alive and well. In fact, the more I started Googling, the more I discovered that I could rent almost anything. Some of it seemed laughable, like finding a company that rented dogs for those who love hiking with a four-legged companion but who simply can’t fit Fido in their apartment. However, a lot of rentals made sense.

Too often, I think we get stuck in the trap of wanting to own, even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I have friends who drive around huge, gas guzzling trucks that they don’t need 360 days of the year. Wouldn’t it be way cheaper and simpler to just rent a truck from Home Depot or U-Haul when it’s time to help your friend move?

With that thought in mind, here is just a short list of common things you can rent instead of buy, which can save you big bucks and lots of room in your home:

  • Tools – How many times are you really going to use that miter saw? Rent it from Home Depot for $30
  • Trucks – Unless you’re hauling on a regular basis, you can probably save money on a smaller, lighter car and rent a truck for those rare times when it’s time to go camping with the family.
  • Camping equipment – Speaking of camping, you can rent that equipment too from your local camping store, or an R.E.I. near you.
  • Boats – They say the two happiest days of a boat owner’s life is the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it. Save on upkeep and monthly dock rentals by renting a boat instead of owning. The same goes for that huge camper that’s an eyesore to your neighbors for 11 months out of the year.
  • Textbooks – Chegg.com lets you rent textbooks, so you can say bye-bye at the end of the semester and save hundreds!
  • Books, movies, even puzzles – Yep, libraries still exist, and you may be amazed at what they actually rent. Some libraries rent seeds, tools, silverware, baking pans, and, you know, books. All for a small fee, or even for free!
  • Furniture – Do you use that fancy dining room table about as much as your treadmill (which is to say, almost never)? Then why not rent the extra furniture you need for your one big party of the year and keep your house a little more open the rest of the year?
  • Designer Purses – Making a fashion statement doesn’t have to cost you an entire paycheck. BagBrorroworSteal.com and LuxuryCravings.com are just a few sites that let you swagger in with a designer handbag on your shoulder for that high school reunion and then send it back when you’re done.
  • Sports Equipment – Going skiing or snowboarding for the first time? There’s no need to shell out hundreds of dollars for something you might not ever use again (especially if you can’t master the bunny hill.) Hop on over to your nearest sports store and ask about all the different equipment they rent.
  • Solar Panels – Many solar companies rent solar panels, which lets you be environmentally friendly and save on your electricity without the need for a huge upfront payment.
  • Casket – Yep, save to the grave. Many funeral homes let you rent a fancy-smancy casket for your going away party (aka your funeral). Then you can actually be buried in a much more economic model. (The worms won’t tell.)

Renting isn’t always the right financial move. (Here’s a great article that asks: Are you spending too much time trying to save money?) If you really do use that truck all the time or plan to go skiing at least a few times a year, then it may make sense to become a proud truck or ski owner.

You can also find great deals on things like camping equipment and wedding dresses on the resale market. The point is to consider whether renting make sense in certain circumstances. If you can buy it, you can probably rent it!

Check out these great articles about budgets and planning written specifically for women. Also, if you want to up your savings game this year, consider starting a Money Club near you!

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