Dealing with everyday expenses and financial commitments sometimes feels like all we can manage – and we find ourselves delaying other, important goals like saving for retirement, or even building an emergency fund.
If you want to work towards your long-term financial security, you may first need to free up funds to do so – but how? One suggestion: participate in the “sharing economy,” now dead simple, thanks to the Internet. By sharing, renting, or bartering, you’ll reduce your expenses and/or earn a little extra income. Before you know it, you may find yourself with extra funds to fatten your savings account or invest in the other building blocks of your financial security.
- Share things. More and more people are earning extra income by participating in the Internet-based “sharing economy,” which includes popular services such as AirBnb, Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, and DogVacay. Want to start even smaller? Consider joining a sharing website like Freecycle or StreetBank. Sharing sites let you give away things you no longer need, share things like ladders or drills that you only use once in a while, and share skills with neighbors who need help. Imagine how much you could save in 2017 by using a sharing site first when you need a product or service – and only hitting the store as a last resort!
- Rent things. Short-term renting instead of buying is another great way to cut your expenses, on items you only need occasionally (leaf blowers, or carpet steamers, for example) – and the Internet has made the process easier than ever. For example, Zilok is a site that lets you rent anything from power tools to electronics to party equipment and accessories. Peerby is an Internet-based service that lets you rent specific items you need from people who live nearby. Simply post a request on Peerby and the app will notify 100 users who live closest to you. Remember, you can also rent out your own stuff to earn. Bonus: by sharing and renting, you’re also reducing waste and making stronger connections with your neighbors.
- Save money by trading something you no longer need for something you do. At the swap website U-Exchange, for example, members simply post descriptions of what they are seeking and what they are offering in exchange. Members can browse listings and trade as much as they like, for free.
The amount you save or earn by sharing, renting, and bartering will vary, of course. The point is to be mindful about where your money goes, and be willing to think creatively about how to make the best possible use of your resources!