Many of us get in the habit of buying everything new (or new to us), instead of cutting costs by sharing expensive items. Especially if you have family nearby or close friends or neighbors who you trust, determining a way to share big-ticket items can save you a lot of money. There are a number of items you will only use once in a while, like tools, so you really don’t need your own.
You can also save money by sharing bigger items, like cars. Although some people feel uncomfortable asking to borrow things, if you have something you can offer in a return, this is a great way to save yourself — as well as another person with something to trade — money. Take an inventory of the items you have that other people might want, and then determine which other things you might need. Here are five items that you might consider sharing to get you started.
Unless you use tools for your occupation or you have your own shop that you work in daily, then you probably only use tools sparingly. While it’s a good idea to have basic inexpensive but durable tools around to fix house problems (think a hammer, pliers, utility knife, handsaw, tape measurer, etc.), you will only need most tools once in a while. Even if you want to have a bigger array of tools, you can still save money by sharing them with other people. You can also save money by purchasing only tools for your regular hobbies or work: If you like to work on cars, have tools around that will help you with your car, but arrange to borrow woodworking tools or other building tools that you only use sparingly.
2. Outdoor maintenance items
If you have your own yard, you will need to mow it regularly in the summer months. However, if you have a neighbor who is willing to share, consider borrowing their lawn mower. You can also share weed trimmers, a rototiller, garden seeder, or pretty much any other lawn care item.
While many people decide to purchase these items because they plan to own their home for a long time, if you can get away with sharing or swopping items, you can really cut costs. In the fall, leaf blowers or rakes can also be shared. Snow blowers and shovels can be traded or shared in the winter. Although these items are essential to most homeowners, they don’t have to be owned in order to be used regularly. Tools for painting or fixing exterior housing issues are other items that can be shared, and they are actually used so rarely that most people don’t need to own them.
3. Outside entertainment
Now that it’s hot out, owning a pool seems like a great idea. Fifty-three thousand in-ground pools were sold or installed in 2012, along with 171,000 aboveground pools. It’s no surprise that California and Florida top the list of states with the most pools. But when summer heat hits, it can be tempting to buy a pool almost anywhere. Unfortunately, maintaining a pool can be extremely costly because you have to worry about heating, cleaning, repairing, and purchasing the necessary chemicals. A better and cheaper idea is to use a neighbor or friend’s pool; some people just offer, but if you need to ask someone, have something ready to offer in return.
You can also share playground equipment with neighbors, and some people even share grills. Like most of the items on this list, you will need to have a good relationship with someone who has what you need.
You most likely aren’t comfortable enough with your neighbors, friends, or even extended family members to offer up your car whenever they need one — and they probably wouldn’t do that for you, either. However, you can share rides by carpooling to work, which can save money long-term on gas and even parking fees. When you travel, consider sharing a taxi if possible to cut costs. Lastly, consider Zipcar or a similar business: with Zipcar, gas and insurance are included.
The initial cost of a car, coupled with the cost of insurance, gas, and maintenance, can be one of the greatest costs that Americans face, so if you are able to share your car or share a drive with someone else, you will definitely see your monthly costs go down.
5. Housing and food
This one might be out of your comfort zone, but if you are willing to share food and housing, you will have a lot more money for activities you love; you will have more disposable income in general. If you have extra room, consider renting out part of your house. If you are uncomfortable doing this, think about sharing your home when you travel: you can just share with people you know if it makes you feel more comfortable. If you live in a desirable area (like a resort town), you may bring in significant income just by renting out your home a few weeks per year.
Sharing food can also save you money. Many people participate in farm shares, in which fresh food is delivered directly from a farmer or you pick it up; you can cut costs by sharing a farm share with a friend. If you grow your own food and you have friends who do the same, you can offer to trade different produce so that you all have what you need.
There are many other ways you can share to save money. If you have small kids, consider setting up a babysitting co-op so that you can trade free babysitting with people you trust. If you have a specific service to offer — for example, if you are a tutor or a hairdresser — consider trading services informally (and legally, of course). If you are willing to forge relationships with other people you trust, then you can save money by sharing.