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5 Things You Should Rent Instead of Buy (And 10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Rent)

5 Things You Should Rent Instead of Buy (And 10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Rent)

​​I ​know​…ownership is 9/10ths of the law. It’s really nice to know something belongs to you. But does it always make sense? Financially? Not really. In fact, there are many things that you should rent instead of buy. Including some things you didn’t even know you could rent. Obviously there are also things you should buy, so let’s talk about all of it. Let’s start with what you should be renting…

1. Your Home

Rent your house

    Buying a home is part of the “American Dream”. And there is nothing wrong with doing it…sometimes, but many times it doesn’t make sense. You’ve heard that renting is like throwing your money away. You may have heard that your home should be your biggest asset. Fortunately for you, neither one of those things are true. Sure, it’s great to buy your own home. It’s your home. You can feel proud to be a home owner and you can do whatever you will to the house, but wait until the time is right. The are plenty of times when renting makes the most sense. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s never a good idea. Here are a few times you should consider renting instead of buying:

    1. If you plan to move soon. This is a no-brainer, but it must be said. You aren’t wasting your money by renting, if you’re planning to move soon. It makes sense to rent for now. You can always buy later when you get where you’re going. Renting will be much less stressful for a temporary situation.
    2. If your market is inflated. A little inflation never hurt anybody, but some housing markets are insane. If your living in an area with extremely inflated housing prices, you can expect that bubble to pop eventually and you may be stuck with a mortgage twice the size of your house’s actual value.
    3. If you’re saving to buy a home. Don’t rush into a bad loan because you don’t have enough money for a down-payment. Just because you can find a “no money down” loan, doesn’t mean you should take it. The interest will eat you alive. It’s better to save for a while and make a large down-payment.
    4. If you don’t want to worry. Too often, we get caught up thinking that these decisions are only about the math and we forget that money is an emotional thing. If you don’t want to worry about maintenance or taking care of your own home, it’s perfectly fine to rent. Do what works for you.

    I didn’t cover every single scenario that could possibly exist, but I did cover the most common ones. Just know that renting is an option. You’re not throwing your money away and you can always buy later.

    2. Your Boat

    Rent your boat

      A boat is a sinkhole for maintenance and repair costs. It almost always makes more sense to rent a boat, especially if you’re only using it a few times per year. Paying the docking fees, maintenance costs and repairs will be enough to make you consider renting a boat when you need it. If you do use it more than a few times throughout the year, consider getting together with a few families and co-owning a boat. This is common practice for private jets and yachts, but it’s worth considering for smaller purchases as well, like a pontoon boat or a speed boat. Everyone will benefit from sharing the cost of owning a boat and it will actually get used on more than a few 3 day weekends throughout the year. Exception: If you’re a fisherman (professional or “up-and-coming”), you may want to consider buying a boat. Small fishing boats are affordable and the maintenance costs are reasonable. You could consider this the exception to the rule, but if you aren’t fishing all the time, it could still be better to rent.

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      3. Your Tools

      Rent your tools

        Obviously, if you’re a mechanic or a craftsman, buy tools. For the rest of us, it might make sense to rent them. There is no need to buy a tool for one project if you know you’re never going to use it again, no matter how cool you feel when you show it to your friends. Tools can be a sinkhole for your money, especially if you shop for tools, like you shop for groceries. Before any new tool purchase, you should ask yourself if you really need to buy it or if it would be better to rent it. Renting tools also gives you the option to insure them and not take on the responsibility of worrying about what happens if you forget that you super amazing laser-sight skill saw isn’t supposed to cut through steel. Home Depot and Lowe’s are just a couple of the places that offer tool rental.

        4. Your Entertainment

        Rent your entertainment

          Movies and video games are cheap to rent, but expensive to buy. How often do we buy a movie, only to watch it once? How often do we buy a $60 video game, only to beat it a week later and basically stop playing it? If you plan to watch the movie or play the game all the time, buy it. Otherwise, just rent it. If you must buy movies or video games, check out some Black Friday deals at electronics stores. Just wait for the crowds and the crazies to get their TVs and iPads, then leisurely stroll into the store, several hours later, and take advantage of the cheap movies and games that often get overlooked. But that’s only if you must buy. With places like Game Fly, NetFlix and RedBox, you really should be renting.

          5. Your Sports

          Rent your sports

            From water skis and snowboards to tennis rackets and scuba gear. If you’re not using it all the time, consider renting. I know, your arsenal of sporting gear from every recreational activity ever invented may look cool, but it’s wasting your money. And while it will save you some money, it also won’t clutter your garage and your storage room. Generally when you’re close to the sunny lake or the snowy slopes, you can find a place to rent some gear; however, shop around, because the places right next to all the recreation are usually the most expensive. Just driving a few miles outside of the area could easily save you half (or more) on the price of your sports equipment. Just always be sure to read the policy on “return condition” and what happens if something breaks.

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            Things You Didn’t Know You Could Rent

            OK, I admit, you may have actually know about some of these, but if you knew about all of them, you should really find a hobby. Here are 10 things you may want to consider renting that you probably didn’t know you could…

            1. Dresses

            With sites like Rent the Runway and Lending Luxury, it’s easy and affordable to rent a dress instead of buying it. In those times when you’re only going to wear it once, why let it take up the closet space?

            2. Textbooks

            Go to Book Renter or Chegg to find cheap textbooks for rent. Book Renter even offers free shipping. Renting text books makes sense most of the time, since you’re likely never going to open the book again after your class is over.

            3. Camera Lenses

            Lens Rentals and Borrow Lenses allow you to rent camera lenses. It’s great for one-time needs. You can also use them to try out an expensive lens before you fork over the money.

            4. Parking Spaces

            Just Park lets you search for parking spaces in crowded cities and rent them straight from the site. If you have extra space in a busy city, you may want to consider putting your parking space up for rent.

            5. Caskets

            Yes, you can rent a casket. Funeral homes now provide many options to save people money…this is one of them. How does it work? The body is placed in a simple wooden box, then placed inside a fancy, expensive casket for the funeral. Once the funeral is over, the body is buried in the simple wooden box. Weird? Or convenient? You decide.

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            6. Dogs

            Usually, this is just weird. However, there are time when it makes sense. Borrow My Doggy allows you to rent a dog when you need a companion. If you really need a companion, you may just want to buy a dog, but you do have the option to rent if the need arises. You pay an annual subscription fee to be able to search the list of available dogs and schedule your “Welcome Woof”.

            7. Wives

            This is borderline sexist and technically, you’re not actually “renting a wife”. Rent-A-Wife is a maid service that claims to let you “rent a wife”, but it’s really just a hired hand…that happens to only be women. Yeah, I’m not sure why that’s OK either.

            8. Friends

            This may sound sad at first, but it’s actually a neat idea. Rent a Friend lets you rent someone to attend an event with you, introduce you to new people or just to hangout. It’s different, but now there is a little part of you that wishes you came up with the idea. (It may be a really tiny part of you)

            9. Jeans

            One trend that’s becoming especially popular in Europe, according to The Wall Street Journal, is jean rental. Right now, you can rent jeans on a 12-month lease. You simply put down 20 euros as a deposit and then pay 5 euros a month until your lease is up. Then you can either buy them for an additional 20 euros, exchange them for another pair or simply return them.

            10. Christmas Trees

            If you want a real tree for Christmas, but you don’t want to mess with driving to the farm, chopping it down and loading it on top of your freshly washed SUV, you can just rent one. The Living Christmas Company will let you rent one of their trees and they will deliver it right to your home. The tree remains potted, so you’re required to water and care for it. As long as the tree is still green and healthy when they pick it up, you get your deposit back.

            Things You Should Buy

            Now to steer away from renting wives and caskets. Here’s some less weird stuff. If you see the words “rent-to-own”, you should run away. Don’t do it. Renting to own is a great way to pay at least triple the normal price. Here are 3 things that people often get sucked into renting to own:

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            1. Furniture

            Never rent-to-own furniture. You pay “new” prices, except you keep paying…every month. It’s better to finance new furniture (though that’s not the best idea either) than buying from a rent-to-own store. It’s best to buy slightly used. Let someone else take the massive depreciation that happens in the first few months of owning new furniture.

            2. Washer/Dryer

            Don’t do it. You’re better off shopping in the classifieds or on Craig’s List for a nice used set, rather than paying 10 times the price to rent one. If you must have a brand new set, it’s usually better to just go buy them, but not from a rent-to-own store.

            3. Electronics

            Don’t rent-to-own, just own. Shop around to find the best deals, but renting to own is not the way. On top of the high prices, what happens when that TV or stereo stops working? They aren’t going to pay for it, you are. There are too many great places to buy electronics to settle for renting to own. There are things you should rent and things you should buy, but most importantly, do your research. Figure out which one makes more sense for you and your situation. If you are thinking about buying something, first ask yourself if it could and should be rented.

            Featured photo credit: AngiAesthetic via flickr.com

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            Last Updated on January 2, 2019

            How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

            How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

            Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

            Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

            Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

            This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

            Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

            What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

            Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

            When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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            How It Leads to Financial Improvement

            It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

            Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

            Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

            It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

            Types of Personal Finance Software

            When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

            Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

            For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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            Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

            When to Use Personal Finance Software

            So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

            Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

            1. You Have Multiple Accounts

            There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

            If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

            Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

            2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

            Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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            There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

            With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

            3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

            Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

            Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

            Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

            4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

            Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

            You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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            How to Get Started

            From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

            Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

            It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

            When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

            Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

            Final Thoughts

            Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

            In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

            Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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