5 Things You Should Rent, and Not Buy

Who hasn’t looked at a messy, over-stuffed closet, garage, or basement and wondered, “Why do I have all this stuff?” While there’s something to be said for owning things outright, it’s all too easy for most of us to end up buying things we don’t really need. The result? More clutter and a lighter wallet.

Fortunately, there’s a solution to this modern-day consumer dilemma: renting. For items you’ll only use once or twice, borrowing rather than buying can be a smart choice. Not only is it cheaper, it’s also more sustainable and eliminates the hassle or storing and moving things you rarely use. Here are five things that many people would be better off renting instead of buying.

1. Tools

circular saw

Power saw | iStock.com

Some guys spend every free moment puttering in their basement workshop. But if you’re more of an occasional DIYer consider renting, not buying, the tools you need for your next project. Renting is especially smart when the tools you need are expensive and have a limited or specialized use (how often are you going to really use that floor stapler?). Plus, renting often means you can upgrade to a higher-quality and more powerful model, saving you time and frustration.

Popular Mechanics suggests renting items like power augurs, tillers, paint sprayers, and drain augers. If your storage space is limited, you can even rent hand tools, ladders, and gardening tools. Check out Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, or your local home improvement store to find out what’s available.

If you prefer to do your own car repair but don’t want to clutter your garage with single-use tools, auto repair shops like AutoZone and O’Reilly Auto Parts let you borrow many tools for free in exchange for a fully refundable deposit.

2. Evening or formal wear

groom getting ready for wedding

tux | iStock.com

Unless you attend a lot of black-tie events, your formal clothing is likely to spend quite a bit of time gathering dust in your closet. Renting tuxedos makes smart financial sense for many men. Now, thanks to some innovations in the industry, you no longer have to settle for an ill-fitting garment from a big-box chain (goodbye, ill-fitting polyester prom tux).

The Black Tux is an online tuxedo rental company that’s earned praise from Bloomberg. Suits and tuxes run about $100; shoes, cufflinks, and other accessories are also available for rent. Menguin offers a similar service.

Guys who want the perfect accessory to go with their sleek duds can also rent a designer watch. Sign up with sites like Borrowed Time, Eleven James, and Haute Vault and you’ll be able to sport a pricy timepiece from a brand like Patek Philippe, Breitling, or Cartier for a fraction of the retail price.

3. Outdoor gear and recreational equipment

Photo Credit: Visit Telluride

Skiing | Visit Telluride

Exploring the great outdoors from time to time is great, but unless you’re a serious adventurer, all that camping and outdoor equipment likely spends more time in your garage than it does in nature. For items you don’t use frequently, renting saves you money and eliminates the need to store items (in many cases, it also saves you the hassle of having to haul things to your destination). If you’re new to an activity, renting is also a way to get your feet wet without making a huge financial investment.

Depending on where you’re located, REI rents out items like backpacks, snowshoes, tents, skiing and snowboarding equipment, and paddling equipment. If you’re headed to a popular recreational area, there will likely be plenty of outfitters who will hook you up with whatever you need, whether it’s a kayak, surfboard, sleeping bag, or camp stove. Some universities also rent gear to both students and the general public.

4. Books

ereader and open book

books | iStock.com

Avid (and even occasional) readers can save money and reduce clutter by borrowing rather than buying books. Good old-fashioned libraries have been providing this service for years, of course, though finding time to visit a physical location and tracking down the books you actually want to read can be a pain. Fortunately, most public libraries also have digital collections, so you can borrow books and magazines for free without ever having to leave your couch.

You can also sign up for Oyster, a monthly subscription service that gives you access to a huge library of titles for $9.95 a month. Choose from recent bestsellers like Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes or classics like Infinite Jest and The Lord of the Rings. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited is similarly priced and has a library of 800,000 titles. Amazon Prime users also have access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Cash-strapped college students, meanwhile, can rent textbooks from sites like Chegg, Campus Book Rentals, and Amazon, potentially saving big money. A new copy of Campbell Biology (10th Edition) costs $172.51 on Amazon but can be rented for about $20.50 per semester from both Amazon and Chegg.

5. Party supplies

Party Down

Party Down | Starz

Party rentals aren’t just for weddings and big family reunions. If you’re hosting a gathering and find yourself short on plates, wine glasses, napkins, chairs, and other essentials, you don’t have to clean out the shelves at your local Ikea to make do.

“I regularly rent tablecloths, folding chairs, and racks of glassware for personal events … because it’s often easier and more resource-efficient to do so than it is to own something I may only use once or twice a year but have to store the rest of the time,” wrote Elizabeth Clayton in a blog post for A Practical Wedding.

While many rental companies have minimums, if you hunt around you can probably find someone who will handle smaller orders. That means if you’re having 15 people over for dinner, you can hire someone to bring you extra chairs and clean dishes and then come and take everything away (and even wash your dirty plates) the next day. And if you want something to make your event extra special, you can probably rent that too, whether it’s a bounce house or even puppies.

Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS

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