This is a guest article from Stefanie! She’s trying to find ways to stretch her budget in one of the most expensive cities out there, New York City. A graduate of New York University’s drama and psychology programs at the height of the financial crisis, Stefanie discovered the world of financial planning out of necessity. Thanks for sharing your insight, Stefanie!
When we discuss renting versus buying, it’s typically in the context of the housing market. Today, we’re going to look at it from a different angle. Thanks to the Internet, what you should and can be rented has expanded to include just about everything. Whether you’re looking for an extra income opportunity or you need a specialized tool for a one-time project, be sure to consider all rental opportunities.
Should you rent, lease, or buy a car?
While I would never recommend leasing a car, buying a car (used or new) isn’t always the most cost effective alternative. For those of us who live in big cities, where parking comes at a premium and public transit is readily accessible, short-term car rental may be a better option. The following are some terrific options to get you started:
Relayrides / Getaround. Relayrides and Getaround facilitate person-to-person car rentals. The car owner posts information about their vehicle along with availability and price. When the renter finds a vehicle that suits their needs, they can request a trip time. Once a mutual agreement is made and booked, the renter picks up the car and returns it as discussed. Both sites have a peer review system to rate both renters and vehicle owners.
Zipcar. Zipcar offers car rentals through a membership program. With the flexibility to rent by the hour or the day and many convenient locations, Zipcar is a great option for someone who needs occasional automobile access.
Lyft. Skip the rental altogether and opt for on-demand ridesharing with the touch of a button. Lyft is an app that allows passengers to connect with nearby drivers to get where they need to go. Depending on the city, Lyft rides are donation based or have a set price.
Of course, if you own a car (and you can tolerate the risk of a stranger driving your vehicle or riding alongside you), you can get in on the other side of the equation and bring in some side income.
Should you rent or buy a bike?
As a city dweller, I prefer to use a bike as my primary mode of transportation, but I have yet to take the plunge on buying my own. I opt for the city bikeshare program that saves me from worrying about storage, theft, maintenance, and traveling with a heavy lock and chain all over town.
When I travel out of town, I prefer to scour craigslist for bike rentals rather than the expensive, local retailers. Sites like loanables and zilok also make it easy to find a bike near you. Alternatively, as a bike owner, you can create your own listing and start generating income off your two wheeler.
Should you rent or buy certain clothing?
There are certain articles of clothing that are only necessary for special occasions. Do you really want to spend a fortune on something you’ll wear once? Rather than splurging on an evening gown that you have to store in your limited closet space, you now have the option of renting designer labels.
Rent the Runway. Rent the Runway offers over 50,000 designer dresses and accessories for short-term rental delivered right to your door. If black tie occasions are not a norm, this is a great option for getting glam for a fraction of the price.
Despite the awesomeness that is rent the runway, I have to go for the buy option on my formal apparel. I have between one and three black tie affairs to attend annually. Each of my evening gowns have seen enough wear to cover the cost of a one-time rental. And for the men, no one will bat an eye if you wear the same tux twice. Go ahead and buy one already – just remember to maintain your figure!
What about equipment, tools, and everything else?
In addition to bikes, loanables and zilok allow you to rent just about anything. From Xboxes (which can be up to $500!) to sewing machines to ladders to kitchen aid mixers, determining which items to rent, which to buy, and which to list, will always depend on your specific needs, circumstances, and risk tolerance.
Whatever you’re considering, think about these questions:
- What is your projected cost per use of the item?
- Are you willing to invest the time and energy to make a rental income off your item?
- Do you trust strangers to keep your rental in good condition?
- Do you prefer the convenience of renting?
- Do you prefer the convenience of ownership?
- Lastly, is it worth the cost?