Art by Jonan Everett
There may be a lot of things to dislike about 2018, but one of the best things about being alive right now is the arrival of the sharing economy. Sharing has finally become both sexy and profitable.
We all remember our parents teaching us how to share. But as an only child, sometimes it was hard for me to buy into the concept because, well . . . I was an only child! Participating in the sharing economy has been amazingly easy to buy into because the upside is so obvious: It saves me money, time, and — in some instances — space. Check out these sharing economy opportunities that you can take advantage of:
- Bike rentals
- Other alternatives to cars
- Groups that allow you to give and receive free items
- Skill trading
- Cheap travel options
Further Reading: “How to Save Money Like a Boss”
1. Rent a Bicycle
Let me start with something that I use in my daily life — a bicycle! I love riding bikes, and whenever I have out-of-town guests, we rent a bike for my guest through a company called BCycle so that we can ride around town and explore. The cost is $9 for a day of unlimited rides around the city.
The only thing you need to be careful of is making sure that you know where the next station is so that you can park your bike before incurring late fees. The Denver BCycle saves me money and space because I only have enough space to store one bike at my home.
2. Find Alternatives to Car Ownership
A car currently costs thousands of dollars a year to maintain and manage each year. Instead of owning one, opt to participate in a car-sharing community like Zipcar or Car2Go. Members pay a small monthly or yearly fee, in addition to hourly rates for driving, depending on the car-sharing community that you join.
Don’t feel like car-sharing, but still need to get around town? Lyft or Uber may be the option for you. There are a couple of amazing aspects to using Lyft or Uber that people may not be aware of. For instance, in addition to being a passenger, you can become a driver and earn money. But what’s even better is the fact that you can rent a car from Uber or Lyft and earn money driving without having to deal with the annoyances of owning one!
Further Reading: “Not Owning a Car Added $66,000 to My Savings Account”
3. Give and Receive for Free
One of the best trends that I’ve noticed recently in the sharing is the ability to subscribe to a website that has different goods that you find yourself needing, but that you would prefer not to buy — either because of your budget or because you don’t plan on using the item that often.
Websites like Freecycle offer an exhaustive list of interesting and cool offerings.
As I write this post, there is an enormous TV up for grabs, as well as a bunch of holiday decorations, coffee tables, and even a vacuum available for pick-up.
4. Trade Skills
So, you know how to dance but would like to learn basic coding? In come websites like Simbi, where you share your skills with a system in return receive expertise in other areas from a professional network. The person who you taught how to cook a basic dinner may end up being a future referral for a paid gig.
5. Travel on the Cheap
Ready to travel? There are several great sharing economy opportunities for the frugal traveler. I’ve used Airbnb while traveling (which gives people the opportunity to earn money by hosting travelers, too). You can also couch surf or join an organization like Hostelling International to enjoy discounted access to hostels across the world. I’ve stayed in fantastic hostels in San Diego, California and Sydney, Australia in the past two years.
Further Reading: “How to Travel on a Budget”
And Much, Much More
There are also unofficial sharing economy opportunities, such as finding a roommate to split housing costs. You can even share Costco memberships with a relative or roommate, per Costco membership guidelines. Ultimately, the sharing economy offers a ridiculous number of opportunities for people to slash their monthly budgets without experiencing a drop in lifestyle.