Millennials know the value of a dollar — mostly because we have so few of them. So it comes as no surprise that our generation has figured out how to prioritize whether it makes sense to rent something as opposed to owning it — and how to connect with others to share resources.
Here are five things that are easier to rent now than ever before:
Car purchases are way down among adults aged 21 to 34 — they make up only 27% of new car buyers, a big drop from 38% in 1985. Instead, many are opting to take public transport or rent cars as needed.
Car rental services have been around since Nebraskan Joe Saunders stumbled upon the idea by renting out his Ford (F) Model T in 1916. But the idea of abandoning car ownership entirely in favor of renting wheels when you need them is something new.
One of the most popular hourly car rental services is Zipcar. Depending on your location and the type of car, it costs anywhere from $8 to $12 per hour to rent — perfect for moving furniture or getting groceries if you live in the city. The downside, though, is that Zipcar’s daily prices are steep — it’s $75 per day to rent a compact car in Washington, D.C., compared to $37.99 from Avis Budget Group (CAR). So if you need a car for more than a few hours, a traditional daily car rental is a much better deal.
If you can get over the stranger danger, ride-sharing can be an even cheaper option. With services like eRideShare.com, GoLoco and Zimride, you can connect with people going your way and either split the time driving or split the costs. Many groups and universities are affiliated with these services to alleviate the concerns of getting into a car with someone who has no connection to you. Taxi-like apps Lyft and Uber tackle this problem by screening drivers and using a peer rating system for both drivers and passengers.
Newsflash: With the subsidy fees baked into your cell phone bill, in effect you’re already renting your phone.
Think about it — you pay a portion of your smartphone’s cost up front. Your carrier covers the rest, and bills you for it in installments in the “service fee” portion of your bill … except the installments usually don’t stop once you’ve paid off the cost of your phone, unless you opt for one of the newer plans from T-Mobile (TMUS), AT&T (T) or Verizon (VZ) that focus on paying off your phone in installments. Sure sounds like renting to me.
If you absolutely must have the latest and greatest phone before your regular two-year upgrade, certain plans, like T-Mobile’s JUMP, let you trade in your phone sooner, but it’s really more for bragging rights than cost-saving.
Renting a tux is nothing new, but now ladies can save money on formal wear too, with services like Rent the Runway or Lending Luxury, which allow users to rent designer-brand clothes for a fraction of their retail price. And brides looking for bargains can even rent a wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses at Rent the Dress.
But if your reason for renting is to curb your fast fashion addiction, Le Tote is an alternative. They don’t offer couture brands, but the subscription offers unlimited clothing rentals — a la Netflix (NFLX) — for $49 a month.
With 91% expecting to stay at their current jobs for just three years or less, millennials are likely to make a lot of moves in their lives. That’s a logistic (and heavy) nightmare if you’re a book lover.
If you haven’t migrated completely to ebooks, you can save your bookshelf space by renting. Chegg is the rental service of choice for textbooks, which most students only use for a semester or two anyway. BooksFree is your go-to for renting all kinds of books, ebooks and audiobooks, but it has a subscription model, rather than a per-book rental fee.
Or you could go the old-fashioned route and visit your local library.
But the smart thing would be to charge your neighbors for the privilege.
Rentything and Rentalic (a startup currently in the funding phase) are two services that offer peer-to-peer rentals. You can rent (or collect income if you own) anything: wetsuits, cordless drills and parking spaces are just a few to give you an idea of the variety.
You can see how this would be useful for projects where you don’t want to invest in equipment you’ll use just once or twice. And most prices are quite reasonable — just $5 per day for the wetsuit.
Just make sure you disinfect that thing before putting it on.
As of this writing, Carla Lake did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.