Personal Finance Tip; Save and Make Money with Collaborative Consumption

By in Make Money, Saving, Tips | 12 comments

 Is Collaborative Consumption for You?

It wasn’t long ago when communities pooled their resources for the good of the group. Neighbors worked together to build a barn. In fact, the Amish still practice that communal approach today. I’ve been a suburban dweller my entire life and was raised to abhor waste. In spite of my upbringing I certainly don’t want to be perceived as a mooch. Here’s the conundrum; when I go out to buy a hedge clipper I cringe knowing I’ll only use it only once or twice per season. That same discomfort occured when I recently considered buying a 12 foot ladder to change a light bulb in our cathedral ceiling hallway. I decided to borrow a ladder from my generous neighbor, but am worried about what to do the next time a bulb burns out. (Although I did thank the neighbor with  box of treats.)

Collaborative Consumption

It seems that I am not alone. There are others out there with the same dilemmas. If it’s for lack of funds, or interest in the  sustainability of the planet, there is a growing minority who prefer to share resources instead of adding to the glut of stuff in our ever crowded world.

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What is Collaborative Consumption?  

In a recent issue, Success magazine put out the revolutionary idea of sharing our resources. According to the article, the venerable Time magazine calls collaborative consumption one of the “10 Ideas That Will Change the World”.

The concept posits that it is better to share or rent than to buy.

As I drive to work at the University, I pass several “zip cars” parked in the lot for community members to rent on an “as needed basis.” If I was a university student and only needed a car on occasion, I wouldn’t hesitate to participate in this transportation sharing plan. Underscoring the popularity of this concept, has joined the car sharing craze, with a twist. RelayRides allows those who have a car a means to rent their car to others. Imagine this, you can make money off of your car when you don’t need it. is another take on the ride sharing concept. Need a ride from Virginia to Pennsylvania, but have no car? Check the Zimride site and see if anyone is making that trip. A guy driving from Richmond, Virginia to Harrisburg, PA is looking for passengers to share the cost of a trip and will take you along for a small fee. Going somewhere and want to defray the cost? Adverstise your trip and see if you can snare a paying passenger or two.

Like to travel, but hate the expense of hotels? Try out, the world wide lodging sharing site. Find apartments, and homes across the world to rent or rent out your own space. Have an extra room and want to make some cash? List it on Airbnb. I first read about this concept when a guy was making extra money renting out everything, from his wife’s blender (she wasn’t too happy about it!) to a room in their home. It worked out quite profitably for him. is such an amazing concept that after visiting the site I want to jump in immediately and search for classes to take and teach. According to their site;

Learn Anything From Anyone. Our vision is to increase the global passion index by building a new world of education. is another opportunity to get what you want and get rid of your unwanted items. As in, after visiting this site, I’m ready to dive in and give it a try. I need a new blender and wouldn’t mind trying out a bread maker. Next, I’ll have to look around the house for stuff to unload.

According to their website, The Market is the world’s largest swap marketplace. Simply list things you have and things you want. If there’s something you want, you can use the stuff you have to swap for it. Don’t want to swap? Feel free to offer another form of payment.

Here are a few more ideas for those interested in making the world a bit smaller; offers clothes swapping parties for the UK readers. Visit their site for a list of the upcoming events. is great for moms and dads who don’t want to add to the kids’ clutter. This site caters to parents who want to trade “anything kids” from toys to clothes. Parents, this one’s for you.

These opportunities are expanding quickly with several gaining venture capital to grow their models. Our world clearly is becoming smaller and smaller.

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 Do any of these ideas resonate with you? Have you participated in collaborative consumption?



  1. Sometimes I wonder if being a part of a family is automatically collaborative consumption. When I made raviolis the other day I realized that I couldn’t find my rolling pin, but my mother-in-law had one I could borrow.
    I think, to some extent, it’s sad that we use the internet to create community because it’s easier than doing the same thing in our neighborhood. When we bought our house six months ago, it was a foreclosure that had been sitting vacant and becoming overgrown. Our neighbors were nice and welcoming, and one even offered us her weed whacker, as she knew money could be tight when you’re buying your first home.
    The more I think about it. I’m a fan of collaborative consumption.

    Andi @ MealPlanRescue

    February 6, 2012

  2. If I only needed a car occasionally, I would use those services in a minute. I hope to go to one car when I retire. It is a little difficult in southern California to only have one car.


    February 6, 2012

  3. Great roundup of collaborative resources. This is definitely a cool way to consume smartly. I hate buying things I’ll only use a few times, too.

    John | Married (with Debt)

    February 6, 2012

  4. @Andi-It’s nice to have family close by for just that reason. Sounds like you live in a great neighborhood. I hope these ideas become more mainstream.
    @Krantc_I too would love to become a one car family some day.
    @John-Me too!


    February 6, 2012

  5. I try to use my feet as much as I can. Otherwise, my hubby and I car pool. I think this is such a great idea- collaborative consumption. Just think of the difference we could make if this actually took off.

  6. Skilshare is an interesting website. Part of the flattening and diffusion of the world knowledge. Nice collection!

    Andrew @ 101 Centavos

    February 6, 2012

  7. @Miss T- I really hope this concept increases in popularity. I don’t want to seem like a mooch if I ask to share someones tools 🙂
    @Andrew-I wonder what the quality is in skilshare. I know some ivys offer online classes for the public, for free.

    Barbara Friedberg

    February 7, 2012

  8. I agree with Andi that it’s funny we need a name for this. People have always lent a car to their cousins, for instance, any many other things in extended families seem held nearly in common (even like the family “compound” some people have in vacation areas…) I guess it is a function of people living farther away from extended family and having smaller families and not knowing our neighbors that well that we need technology, rather than just going and knocking on someone’s door (or even taking the ladder straight out of the garage because he left it open for people to do so).

    Laura Vanderkam

    February 7, 2012

  9. Collaborative consumption is key to economic and environmental sustainability. This is definitely a cool way to consume smartly. I hate buying things I’ll only use a few times, too. I used to swap anything with the Freecycle Network.

    Dee Regan

    February 21, 2012

  10. @Laura, The world has changed so much in the last generation or two. Most people move a lot and many don’t even know their neighbors. It now takes a different tact to become neighborly:)
    @Dee-I like how you referenced economic and environmental sustainability. I’m really hoping for this movement to explode.


    February 22, 2012

  11. I also came across a site several months ago that connects people that want to rent out items that they have with people that only need that item for a short period of time, similar to you needing the ladder. I think that many of us end up with a lot of stuff because we buy the item even though we know we will only use it a few times. How much smarter it is to borrow from a neighbour or a friend, or rent the item if possible.

    Tackling Our Debt

    February 27, 2012

    • @Tackling- I love this idea. I’d like to get something started in my own condo complex!


      February 28, 2012

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