From Airbnb to RelayRides, "collaborative consumption" is shaking up today's economy.
Although the hype has surrounded online networks of strangers sharing rides and residences, consumers can also tap into a close-knit neighborhood, family, or group of friends to help offset the cost of big-ticket items. Thinking creatively about what can be shared can result in a big financial win for everyone involved.
We've rounded up a list of 36 goods and services that you don't necessarily need to keep to yourself. Does every family on the block need their very own snow blower (item No. 1)? Surely your babysitter (2) could watch someone else's child at the same time. And do you really need to own a power drill (3) or just use one every so often?
Prior to joining forces with others, consider the prospect thoroughly and try to forestall potential logistical and legal issues. (If you're tempted to skip this step, just spend a morning watching judge shows.) Successful collaborative consumption requires clear, mutual decisions about the particulars of the arrangement. How these are laid out depends on factors such as your relationship with the other party and the specific product or service being shared.
You may decide casual, over-the-fence dialogue is enough. More likely, some forethought will reveal enough question marks to merit a more official agreement. Who's responsible for maintenance on the lawn mower (4)? Who buys how much gas and when? Where will the item be stored? What about insurance and liability? Will you be making a joint purchase or using an item someone else owns? What happens if you break up with a significant other or a neighbor moves away?
In many cases, the arrangement can be spelled out in a simple contract available free online. Printable Contracts
provides an equipment lease contract and the legal site Nolo.com offers a sample agreement for a joint purchase (although the language refers specifically to a couple living together). Either way, in a society where McDonald's invites a $1.5 million lawsuit with a single napkin, it's probably best to cover your bases.
Below is the rest of Cheapism's list of goods and services that can be shared (in addition to the four already mentioned). Of course, the possibilities are endless, but this should jumpstart your frugal imagination.
5. Cell phone plan (Sprint's new "Framily plan" is explicitly designed for this)
6. Personal training (who says a joint session is just for couples?)
7. Music lessons
8. Language lessons
9. Dog walker
10. Storage unit
11. Parking space
12. Office space (and equipment/supplies, e.g., printer or copier)
Coupons and Deals
13. Discount with a minimum purchase
14. Buy-one-get-one deal
15. Bulk groceries and supplies
Home and Garden
16. Weed eater
18. Washer/dryer (if there's a separate entrance)
19. BBQ grill
20. Swing set
Sports and Outdoor
21. Fishing rod
23. Basketball hoop
24. Weight bench in the garage
25. Tube or other inflatable for towing behind a boat
26. Camping gear
Travel and Transport
27. Vacation property
29. Parking pass/permit
31. Parties (venue, entertainment, etc., for birthdays, graduations, and other occasions)
Subscriptions and Memberships
32. Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu, etc. (Netflix allows users up to five individual profiles per account and HBO's CEO recently told BuzzFeed the company doesn't mind if subscribers share their passwords)
33. Amazon Prime free two-day shipping (invited family members and "unmarried partners" can access the benefit through their own accounts)
34. Magazine and newspaper subscriptions (sign up one person for the paper product and another for digital access)
35. Website memberships (e.g., Angie's List, real estate, genealogy, special interest -- provided users can't make purchases using a credit card on file)
36. Costco membership (shoppers can bring up to two guests, who can pay the member back for any purchases)