Drive through any neighborhood on a summer weekendand you’ll see them: yard and garage sales. As people clean out their attics, basements, closets and garages, they find hundreds of dollars’ worth of items that they just “had” to have. Electronics, exercise equipment, clothing — you name it, and it’s probably for sale at a fraction of its original price on a card table somewhere in the suburbs.
While yard-sale bargain hunters live for the thrill of the amazing find, most of us would probably rather keep our cash instead of wasting it on items that will only end up being clutter. With that in mind, before you shell out cash for some of the following items, consider whether a short-term rental would be a better option.
In an emergency, or when you’re out in the middle of nowhere without reliable cell service, a satellite phone can literally be a lifesaver. Unlike cellular phones that transmit signals between towers — meaning that if you aren’t within range of a tower, the phone won’t work —satellite phones transmit signals between satellites. While the service is more reliable in remote areas, or when landline or cellular communications are disrupted, the handsets and service plans can cost more than a standard cell phone. If you only need the phone for a few days or weeks a year, such as when you take your annual fly-fishing trip in the remote wilderness, renting a device is a more affordable option.
When to Buy: If you live in an area with limited cell service, travel to remote areas regularly or you’re involved with emergency response, investing in a satellite phone is a smart move.
It’s time for the annual family vacation, and this is the year you finally get back to nature. You head to the camping store and start filling the cart with tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment and everything else you need for your camping adventure — putting a serious dent in your checking account. The average cost to buy a four-person tent is around $300, while the three-day rental charge for the same tent is about $70.
When to Buy: If you’re an avid camper and head to the woods several times a year, investing in your own equipment is a good idea. But for a one-time trip, renting is the way to go.
Ask anyone who has ever taken a college course, and they’ll tell you: Textbooks are expensive. When you factor in that for most courses, you don’t read the whole book, and you’ll never recoup the cost of the book when you return it to the bookstore, the idea of purchasing your books doesn’t make much sense at all. Instead, rent your books; your college bookstore might offer a rentalservice, or you can rent from one of several websites that offer textbook rentals. Certainly, textbook rentals are cheaper than buying textbooks you’re going to discard anyway after you’re done with the courses.
When to Buy: If you will need the book for future reference, or you’ll use the same book in another class, shell out the cash to buy.
This doesn’t mean renting hammers and screwdrivers — everyone needs a basic toolbox for household repairs and projects — but for bigger jobs, rent specialized equipment instead of buying. Chainsaws, power washers, steam cleaners and tillers tend to be big ticket items, and unless you plan to use the tool regularly, buying is a waste of money.
When to Buy: If you’re working on a large-scale project, or know for sure you’ll use the tool regularly, buying might be more cost-effective.
If you plan to be buried after you pass, then you’ll certainly need to purchase a casket. However, if your final plans include cremation, there’s no need to purchase a casket for the memorial service. With the cost of a casket ranging anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000, a rental casket for $1,000 or less will be sufficient for your service and will keep your funeral expenses manageable.
When to Buy: If you’re planning to be buried.
These are just a few of the items that make more sense to rent. You can also save money by renting designer dresses and handbags, exercise and sports equipment, vacation homes, party supplies and trucks — and just about anything else. While you might be sacrificing your annual yard sale, you’ll enjoy the extra cash in your pocket (and the extra space) that renting affords.
About the Author:Hobert Pruitt works for Global Satellite Communications at www.globalsatellitecommunications.com a leading satellite-phone provider. You can follow him on Google Plus here.