In today’s give-it-to-me-now society, we value immediate consumption more than consumption over time.
Some call it the rental economy–some call it the sharing economy. It all means the same thing. We’re reluctant to buy. We’d rather pay for something for only the time we need it and then give it back.
The shaky real-estate market has spawned what some economists call “netflixization.” We want to be able to use everything, but not own it.
It’s true that this new cultural climate has its disadvantages to the economy on a whole. People owning less surely affects the economy. People in more remote areas utilizing cloud technology can offset that and promote economic growth too, however.
A crop of businesses have thrived from this demographic. Things we never would have thought to rent are now available to do just that. The concept of renting video games and getting a tuxedo for one special occasion has expanded exponentially.
Here are five sites that push the limits of modern convenience:
Most of us know about Zipcar by now. If you don’t, you should. Zipcar essentially lets you rent cars by the hour. Need to make a grocery run and don’t have a car? Zipcar offers hourly rates around $8 an hour. Rates increase a bit on the weekends. It’s worth taking a look at. On a semi-related note: If you live in San Francisco, like me, BMW now offers a “DriveNow” program that lets you rent a 100 percent electric BWM for $90 a day. I suggest checking it out if you’re in the area.
You know what happens to baby toys when kids grow up? They get thrown away–or they get sent here. BabyPlays is a monthly service where you can rent toys for kids. When they get too old for the toy, you can send it back and get another for the appropriate age range. It’s a great idea for cutting down on irresponsible consumption.
What a game-changer. I just typed in LAX and a bunch of locations popped up for random people who will let you park at their house for a reasonable fee. It sure beats parking garage costs. ParkatmyHouse is used in 17 different countries, so even if you’re traveling abroad, using a car can still be worth it.
If I was a woman, I’m assuming I would be very attracted to this idea. My colleagues in the Svelte department probably already know about it. It’s worth mentioning here. I’m not going to pretend to know much about the price of designer dresses, but I’m sure you’re getting a good deal here.
I just had to throw this one in here because it blew my mind. Apparently, you can rent caskets for a funeral service then return it after you’re done. You can even just rent the lining that goes inside for open-casket funerals, return it and bury the body in the non-garish box. I don’t mean to be insensitive. I just want you to get a better idea of the kind of stuff you can get for rent.
It isn’t just new businesses utilizing this technique. Major chains like Home Depot and Lowes are also implementing tool-rental services. It’s time to evolve or get left behind. The younger consumer is savvy, well traveled and wants to spend what money they have on new experiences. It’s worth noting that people who own do wind up with higher equity and suffer less financially when they lose a job or have to go to the hospital. What’s important to realize is that the benefits from a rental economy depend on how you use it. As Albert Einstein said, “It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.”