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Is renting the new buying? Make the sharing economy work for you

It’s official: the days of owning everything you need to lead a happy, fulfilled life are over. The sharing economy has shaken things up and if you’re open to changing your relationship with the way you acquire objects and experiences, then there are some serious savings on offer. There's also money to be made if you have the right assets and are willing to share (for a price, of course).

Read on to learn more about how the sharing economy can transform your life, and your bank account.

What is the sharing economy?

People have been renting things for centuries, so what’s the difference between the sharing economy and the rental economy? In short, the sharing economy tends to be person-to-person (with a digital platform acting as a go-between). Whereas the rental economy usually involves a consumer renting off a business. The best examples of the sharing economy are San Francisco start-up juggernauts Airbnb and Uber, which connect everyday people to deliver and receive services between each other.

But aside from hosting guests in your home or giving people a ride to the airport, what can you rent out for money? Short answer: Plenty!

Through platforms like Releaseit, you can rent out your gym equipment and garden tools, and you can even rent out your clothing. And while the sharing economy isn’t for everyone, there are many benefits on offer – for yourself, others, and the planet.

Renting is the new black

So, what’s driving this trend of usership over ownership? Living a more sustainable lifestyle is one of the key drivers for people keen to reduce the amount of stuff that ultimately will end up in landfill. Inspired by Japanese home organising extraordinaire Marie Kondo, living a clutter-free life is another reason some of us prefer to rent rather than buy (apartment dwellers know the struggle is real when it comes to finding somewhere to stash bulky ski gear). Then there’s the financial benefit of not having to fork out a huge wad of cash for an item you might only use once.

Whether you’re on a tight budget or short on storage space, there are plenty of things to rent instead of buy. Before you splash some cash on anything new, check online to see if you can rent it first. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Try using a car-sharing service like GoGet to rent some wheels by the hour or day. Free from the costs of car ownership, you’ll be one step closer to hitting your savings goals. 
  • Instead of buying an outfit you’ll only wear once, rent a designer dress, suit, or handbag for that black tie event you’ve been invited to. Websites like The Volte are a good place to start your search for your luxe fit at an economical price.
  • Kids grow so fast. Instead of buying an expensive bassinet, travel cot, or stroller that you’ll use for a month or so, rent one from a local family via Kindershare.  
  • If you’re doing some DIY projects or a spring clean, ToolMates Hire has a range of equipment you can rent for the day, including cordless drills and high-pressure cleaners.

Keen to start renting? Do your homework first

If you want to get in on the action and earn some cash from your belongings, be sure to read all the terms and conditions on the platform you choose to list your items on. Common questions to ask before signing up include:

  • Who pays if my item is damaged, stolen, or destroyed? 
  • What happens if my equipment causes an accident or injury to someone? 
  • Is there a solid resolution process and support to handle disputes?
  • How much does it cost to list my items on the app or website?  
  • Are there any other hidden fees or costs?
  • Have you considered insurance costs? You won’t need to worry about home insurance, but you may want to protect your belongings with contents insurance.

There are also financial implications to consider, as the money you make from renting out your possessions will likely be considered a source of income.

For example, if you’re renting your holiday home on Airbnb, you’ll need to declare this income to the Australian Taxation Office. You'll also need to ensure the house complies with health and safety regulations, like having working smoke detectors, or a pool fence installed.

Think outside the box

In many ways the sharing economy is just getting started. Beyond leasing out your trusty Toyota hatchback or prized Gucci handbag, there are plenty of other things you can rent out for extra income. Here are some other platforms you might not have heard of yet.

  • Rent your campervan and motorhome out to travellers via Camplify
  • Got a pool? Share it with others by the hour thanks to Swimply.
  • Have some land you’re happy to share with campers? Hipcamp will connect you with people who want to pitch a tent on your property.
  • Only use your bike once in a blue moon? Rent it out on Spinlister.
  • If you’ve got a car space you don’t use, list it on the Oscar app that connects drivers with parking spots. 

Stash the extra cash with a Virgin Money Boost Saver account

If you've decided to take the next step and rent out your belongings, you want to put that sweet passive income into a high interest savings account, like our Boost Saver. 

Virgin Money Boost Saver