How the sharing economy could boost your finances in 2018

As we see the New Year ushered in, many of us will also be experiencing the less welcome chill of post-Christmas finances. However, though it’s no longer technically ‘the festive season’, you needn’t forgo those treats that get you through the winter months.

We have all heard of the sharing economy giant, Airbnb, the company that allows people to profiteer from their spare rooms or flats. However, for those of us who have overcrowded flats rather than spare rooms, there’s still a chance to benefit from the sharing economy.

Fat Lama, an online peer-to-peer rental platform, took on the Airbnb approach of utilizing spare property and applied it to something we all have – extra stuff. From that cocktail shaker which someone gave you for your birthday (even though they know you prefer beer), to the strobe lights you bought for your disco themed house warming, the majority of us will have the domestic equivalent of a one-hit-wonder lying around collecting dust. Fat Lama (operating across the UK and USA) gives us the opportunity to turn this disused miscellany into hard cash by renting them to people in your local area.

Piquing your interest? Here’s how it works:

After you have registered as a lender on Fat Lama, you are then free to go ahead and list as many objects for hire as you would like, thereby beginning the happy business of making some extra cash.

Everyday objects such as a tool kit are making between $6.78 – $16.27 per day whilst drones like the ‘DJI Inspire 2 Drone Zenmuse X5S 4K Camera Quadcopter RT’ can make $162.75 per day. This can be so cost effective for lenders that they can actually make back the original worth of their item within the first few rentals. Items are usually priced by the day; however, the site does enable lenders to set weekly and monthly rates for those looking for a longer rent. The owner just has to approve the dates requested and hey presto your camera is now paying for your Friday night.

Fat Lama has the capacity to work for lenders on very different scales, whilst some London-based lenders are making up to $4950 per month (equating to a meaningful annual salary of nearly $60,000). There are also opportunities for single-item lenders to reduce their monthly expenditures through relatively infrequent rentals. Take Kirstie – a full-time Creative Director, formerly an art student. Nowadays she only uses her art-school video projector on the odd occasion, so she’s registered it on Fat Lama at $17.63 per day.

She told us, “I never expected my first rental to be for more than a couple of hours, however, someone wanted it for a whole week. This made me enough cash to pay my half my bills for the month! It’s such a luxury to have a little bit of financial pressure taken off with so little hassle.”
I’m not necessarily advising you all to resign from your day jobs and live off the proceeds of your rented out bike, but like Kirstie, the majority of us could easily make a difference to our monthly accounts.

But how can I trust strangers to look after my stuff?

Having lent various items to feckless flatmates in the past, I am very aware of the frustration of having valued items returned in a less-than-functioning state. So when people I trust can still have accidents with my stuff, how can I expect people I have never met to look after my things?

Well luckily that’s a problem that is catered for by Fat Lama’s cover policy, which covers lenders for all registered items to the value of $30,000.

Investing in experiences… Is this the future?

Consumer patterns have shown that the millennial generation is far more likely to spend their money on experiences over material items. Rental platforms like Fat Lama give us the opportunity to try things out we could never afford to purchase. This caters for anyone from the budding musicians amongst us (you can test your potential on a variety of musical instruments from drum kit to a horn) to the cycle enthusiasts.
So, though it may feel that despite the New Year the same old financial burdens persist. Never fear, 2018 could well be the year that sees the rise of a new and more rewarding spending trend. You don’t have to accept to the confines of your salary, if a cinema membership is an expense you can’t justify perhaps hiring a projector is not? If we start to look at our belongings in a new light – as commodities that can be shared rather kept to ourselves – then perhaps we can all afford to experience a few more things this year.

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