Is it Better to Rent Or Buy Stuff? – Renting Items To Save Money

My friend’s parents were recently locked in a marital battle.

They wanted to travel from Michigan to Florida for a wedding, and she wanted to fly for free using frequent flier miles they had accrued.  The transportation cost for the trip would be limited to the car they would rent for three days when in Florida.

He, on the other hand, thought it was silly to rent a car when theirs worked perfectly fine.  He wanted to make the 24 hour drive down to Florida for their three day trip.  He was sure this was the cheaper way to travel, even though they would have to pay for gas and put wear and tear on the car.

Ah, the rental battle.

Is it worthwhile to pay for a rental?  The answer, in all honesty, is often that it depends.  However, in this case, simple math would have shown him that her plan would have been the cost saver.

Marital battle aside, we Americans don’t often think of renting outside of cars and apartments.  Instead, our first thought tends to go to ownership.

There are just a few things we automatically think of renting–of course, cars when we are traveling, tuxedos when our children are going to prom or when men get married, apartments, sure.  But for most other temporary needs, we tend to buy instead of rent.

However, if we could let go of this mindset, we may save a substantial amount of money.

How to Determine If It Is Better to Rent or Buy

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How to Spend Less on Some of Your ‘Needs’

How many times have your children said, “I need this?”

Or how many times has your spouse said it?  What about you?  How many times have you said it?

At the risk of dragging out the old, “I had to walk to school uphill both ways in the snow,” argument, what Americans consider a need today is much different from the past.

In addition, Americans have created a culture in which the concept of “need” is much different from anywhere else in the world.

Enough about historical comparisons and international economics.  Let’s look at a few examples of what Americans today consider needs and just how ridiculous (and expensive) they are.  While we’re at it, let’s consider some common sense alternatives.

How You Can Spend Less on These ‘Needs’

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Can We Break This Spending Cycle? Do We Want To?

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Amy Dacyczyn, author of the wildly popular 1990s The Tightwad Gazette, wrote a post one time about the television show Roseanne.

She noted that Dan and Roseanne are always struggling financially.

One time, they get an unexpected bonus of $50, and each Dan and Roseanne spend the money on things for themselves without discussing their purchases with one another.  Now, instead of having an extra $50, they are $50 in the hole.

Dacyczyn noted that every time Dan or Roseanne got extra money or worked overtime, they developed a “Yipee!-We-can-spend” attitude.  Yet, when money is tight, they scrimp and save and “feel poor” because they can’t spend.

Is America a Nation of Dan and Roseanne Connors?

The last several years have been rough ones financially for American citizens.

Many people lost their houses, and even if they were able to keep up with payments, they may have found themselves underwater.  People lost their jobs, and even if they were able to stay employed, they may not have seen a raise for years while health care and other costs escalated.

Yet, there are signs that the economy is improving.
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Real Life Bartering with Mavis of One Hundred Dollars a Month

Bartering used to be a common occurrence when people had more of an item or skill than they did money. 

Maybe you would see the doctor and pay him with some of your harvest.  Maybe you would help a neighbor build a fence, and the neighbor would then share a portion of his meat with you.

As we came to have more money than time, bartering fell out of use.  However, bartering has recently experienced a resurgence thanks to the economy.

I have bartered for a few things since I quit my full-time job and became a freelance writer.  I bartered with my son’s dance teacher–my son got free tap dance lessons, and in return, we cleaned the studio for 2 hours once a month.  Considering his lessons were $50 a month, we “made” $25 an hour.  Not a bad exchange.

While I like to barter, I don’t do it often enough.  My guess is that you probably don’t either.  We can all learn from Mavis Butterfield, a blogger at One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Who Is Mavis?

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7 Ways to Be Frugal Right Now

Some people are naturally frugal, but others come to frugality because they want to save money for some objective such as saving for their children’s college education or their own retirement.

Others learn to cut corners because they have less money due to job loss or pay raises that never come.

Whatever your situation, if you have decided to become more frugal, here are some steps you can take today to keep more money in your pocket:

Ways to Be Frugal Right Now

1.  Start cooking at home

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How to Create a Low-Cost Will

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Most adults, especially parents, know how important a will is. 

This one document can help determine who will raise your children in the event of your untimely death.  Die without a will and the state determines who will raise your children.  If your children are grown, a will keeps your estate out of probate and retains the inheritance for your inheritors, not the court fees probate generators.  A will can also curb fights over who gets what; your wishes are clearly written in the will.

Even though we all know wills are important, “a staggering 65% of adults do not have wills.”   When asked why, “a large number of people said that a will is too expensive and too complicated” (Mellert Law).

You may likely feel this way, too.  However, there are plenty of ways you can create your will without spending a lot of money.

Consider the following ways to create a low-cost will:

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Grow Your Own Garden This Summer to Save at the Grocery Store

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If you are like most Americans, you have probably felt the pain at the grocery store cash register when buying your family’s groceries.

While the increase in the price of gas most often makes the nightly news, the increase in the price of groceries hits consumers’ wallets even more so, especially if you have a family.

If you don’t want to resort to being an extreme couponer buying processed foods for pennies on the dollar, there is another way to save—grow your own garden.

Can’t Grow a Garden Because You Live in the City?  Think Again

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