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Saving money with the "sharing economy"

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One of the latest ways that consumers can save or avoid spending money for things they need once, is through the sharing economy. If you aren't familiar with this concept, it basically is a new-ish term for an ancient practice. A very basic example is borrowing your neighbor's tools that you only need for one project in exchange for something you might have that they need. In the modern example, your "neighbor" is actually a much larger pool - think nationwide. Let's think even bigger now.

You may already have heard of Airbnb, which allows you to rent out your condo, house, or apartment, but there are several other startups, such as Relay Rides, that will let you rent cars from members at a discount from what you might pay at a car rental agency. Other sites, such as Rent the Runway, allow you to do just that, rent a high-end item of clothing for a one time event and send it back when you are finished. Beats buying high-end clothes you may either grow out of, or never wear again. For more examples, this infographic depicts other startups that are shaking things up.

This not only depicts a few of the many sharing economy companies involved with helping consumers stretch their dollars, but also shows the potential reduction in environmental impact if you use them.

Doing a bit of research, I found a sited called Mesh which is a directory of sorts for (9000+) of sharing economy companies. Even though many of these companies will not last, by either going out of business or merging, it appears that the concept has gained sufficient traction. In Airbnb's case, this has also meant substantial legal attention, which threatens the wild-west feel of this exciting economic concept. I will be looking to see which companies emerge as dominant in the future.



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