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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
3. 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
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
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.
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…
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?
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
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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)
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:
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.
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.
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