Renting vs. buying is a common debate when it comes to home and car ownership. For many years, financial experts insisted that ownership through direct purchase is the best option for people looking to build their credit and financial stability.
In recent years, though, a movement toward renting is gaining traction, especially for high-ticket items. That’s because renting often allows people more flexibility when it comes to their finances by keeping the initial investment low.
Renting also cuts down on waste, according to The New School economics professor Teresa Ghilarducci.
“One of the most wasteful aspects of American life is the existence of dead pieces of capital that many of us own but only use 5% of the time,” she wrote for Forbes, citing unused gym equipment, pools and even cars.
Many items are better suited for rental or membership rather than purchase because they may only have a limited use based on season or occasion. Or, maybe rental might be the best option before making a purchase to ensure the high-ticket item is worth the investment.
Here are 10 items experts recommend renting instead of buying to maximize your spending power and savings — and reduce clutter in your home.
Tools and Machinery
The only people who should have a shed or garage full of tools are people who build for a living or are seriously into it for a hobby. For most of us, though, the need for most larger tools or machinery only pops up for a special project or a home emergency.
You can rent tools from well-known retailers including Home Depot or Lowe’s when needed. Even better, if you live in a town with a tool lending library, you might be able to borrow what you need. Some tool libraries are free, while others have a small membership fee.
Then, if you decide you truly need it, you can always purchase it later.
Most of the time, we think of renting formal wear for men — think tuxedos for prom or weddings. However, now anyone can consider renting formal duds for events. Many people only wear these wardrobe pieces once or twice a year. Why shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars for something to sit in a closet most of the time?
Several companies have wardrobes ready for shopping and shipping directly to your home. Rent the Runway offers both one-time rentals and membership plans available for designer outfits in sizes from 0 to 22. For example, this stunning Zulay gown, which has a retail price $499, is available to rent for $75 or for $56 as part of a four-item rental deal with a membership fee.
If you’ve ever dreamed of traveling across the country in an RV but didn’t have the money to spend or space to store it, then consider renting one.
Money Talks News points out that an RV is a big-ticket purchase that you should never make because of its ongoing upkeep and storage costs. However, rental companies solve this problem for would-be travelers by providing everything needed without the up-front investment or a long-term service and maintenance commitment.
Recreational vehicle rental companies such as Cruise America and Outdoorsy offer everything from vans to full motor coaches available for just a few hundred dollars a night. When you consider this includes sleeping quarters for at least two people, it can be significant cost savings for vacationers.
While it may sound a little morbid and depressing, you do not need to purchase a coffin for a funeral. Many funeral homes offer rental services for the family to use for memorial services. Then, the body can either be buried in a plain box or cremated, depending on the deceased’s final wishes. When making final arrangements, talk to the funeral director about this option.
With coffins costing thousands of dollars, a rental option can help alleviate the expenses during this difficult time for a family.
Remember when you were in elementary school and taking music lessons? Your parents may have rented an instrument for you to play. That option is still available, for people of all ages. So, if you’ve ever dreamed of picking up the clarinet again or maybe trying your hand at the piano or guitar, don’t go all in and spend the money to buy the instrument. Why spend all that cash when you might discover you may still not love to practice as often as you should?
A quick Google search for music rental shops in your area and a little research on your background can help you get started. Then, head over to the shop, look around, talk to staff and maybe sign up for a few classes.
Families with babies know the necessary hassle of traveling with all the gear required to keep the little ones safe and comfortable. But parents can travel a little lighter by renting things like cribs, strollers, portable cribs and more at their destination.
Travel-weary families looking to make trips a little easier can start by asking hotel staff if they have any supplies or baby furniture. Or, if you’re staying in a private home, consider looking for national or local companies that rent baby and toddler gear, including BabyQuip and Baby’s Away.
Outdoor Sporting Goods and Equipment
Why have a basement full of costly sporting equipment and camping gear that’s collecting dust when you can rent them? Retailers such as REI rent out many different kinds of outdoor gear, and equipment-sharing sites such as Friendwitha.com let you rent gear including skis, bikes, tents and more.
With a small deposit (often $100 or less), and a small daily fee, you can pick up whatever equipment you need, use it and then return it without having to keep it in your home or pay to store it somewhere — or pay for the up-front cost.
This may seem to fly in the face of many experts who say paying rent for a home is like throwing money out the window. But, as licensed real estate broker Rebecca Blacker wrote for U.S. News and World Report, renting a house may be a better option for some people.
Rising mortgage rates can make it difficult for some people to get a home loan, she explained. Another financial consideration is the maintenance costs that come with home ownership. Those who travel often, plan to move regularly or are considering downsizing might want to think about renting a house, condo or apartment instead of sinking a lot of money into a new mortgage.
Pickup trucks are useful in hauling a variety of things. But, using them as regular transportation isn’t always convenient because of their limited passenger space. And, with higher gas prices and lower miles-per-gallon ratings than cars, filling a pickup truck’s gas tank can be a major hit to the wallet.
If you need to haul anything with a truck, there are ways to rent one, from an hour to days at a time. Home improvement retailers such as Home Depot have trucks available to rent for less than $20 an hour for short-distance jobs. If you’re looking to move furniture to a new home, there’s always U-Haul.
But, even if you’re looking for a nice pickup truck to take on a beach or lake vacation, rental car companies offer truck and trailer rentals for reasonable rates.
Take a look at your movie and video game collection. Are your shelves piled with DVDs and games that you only watch once in a while? Even with those cabinets stuffed full of options, we often have a hard time deciding what to watch or play.
The neighborhood Blockbuster store might be a thing of the past, but you can still rent movies. And, these days, it’s easier than ever. Streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+ and more provide endless entertainment options with just the touch of a remote button. Or, if you like it more old-school, you can pick up a DVD at a Redbox located in many local grocery and convenience stores.
Video games can even be rented through services such as Gamefly and Amazon Prime. This is a fantastic way to try new games for a lot less money than paying for a new title and only playing it once.
For an even better deal on renting movies, TV series, and video games, check out your local library. They often have all of these options available to borrow for weeks at a time for free. You can’t beat that price!
By Marie Rossiter, for Scripps News.