How do you feel about sharing your stuff? Do you break out in a cold sweat at the thought of a stranger driving your car, using your bathroom or borrowing your guitar? Would it make a difference if they were using it in exchange for cash? Does it help that the government is backing these types of rental activities, with the recent budget announcement of a £2000 tax break from April 2017 for people dipping their toes into the sharing economy?
Personally the idea of someone else using my stuff doesn't bother me. I rent a room to students, rent out part of my garage for long term storage and have done a home exchange holiday to France. I wasn't always this unbothered though. Before I decided I wanted to quit my job and make savings and money in eco-friendly ways I was not into sharing at all and a lot of these ideas would have made me feel really uncomfortable. However once I realised they could be a way to help me leave my job and become a stay at home mum I gave them a lot more thought.
Having kids had already changed everything for me. I had no choice but to become a lot less precious about my stuff. That white sofa we bought before having kids became smeared with snot, dribble and half eaten apples. Cupboards doors magically seem to fall off their hinges with frequency, Things my kids are 'just having a look at' seem to somehow disintegrate under their gaze and not to mention the accidents they had around the house when they were toilet training. I decided our home and stuff is probably safer with strangers than it is with us at times!
Another thing that helped me change my opinion was my changing relationship with stuff. Once I realised all the damage done to the environment by everyone having their own copy or version of whatever it is even though they may only ever use it once or infrequently e.g. a book, a puzzle or a kitchen gadget, I lost a lot of my attachment to things.
Making money from my underused stuff and space seemed like a great idea and I even set myself a challenge to make £10,000 in a year from it. I quickly realised though that some of the activities were too much like hard work (read more here). A large part of the reason for this is that those areas of the sharing economy e.g. renting out your car or your stuff aren't established enough yet and this means it is tricky to get customers and things haven't gone wrong enough yet to see how they will be dealt with.
I'm not ready to jump both feet first into all aspects of the sharing economy, but the experiences we have had so far have been really good. Our garage rental has been easy and I especially like renting our spare room to foreign students as my children get to meet people from all over the world and learn about different cultures.
How about you - do you think 'sharing' your stuff and making a bit of cash from it is a scary idea or a savvy one?
Zoe Morrison is an eco-friendly money saving blogger and she blogs at www.ecothriftyliving.com
Disclaimer - I am not an expert in this area and this article does not constitute advice of any kind.