Rent Versus Buy

by Kate on February 24, 2012

in Money

I have a friend who is setting up a hire company specialising in unusual objects for the tv and film market, and it made me think about hire vs own on a personal level. Sometimes it feels as though every action begins with obtaining the appropriate possession. There is so much pressure to “look the part”, or “achieve a professional finish” and other cliché phrases that suggest buying our way into whatever the activity is, or spending money on fancy products. Why do we automatically think of buying before borrowing, or hiring? DIY usually starts with a trip to the DIY store, and maybe instead, it should start with a pop round the neighbours, or a trip to the hire store.

If you were organising a wedding in town and needed 100 chairs, you wouldn’t buy them, because you’d know you’re only going to use them once. Instead, you’d hop onto google and search for Chair hire London. Why don’t our minds work that way for every low usage item, like power tools? If like me, you’re someone who only has use for a drill about once a year, you probably don’t need to own one, do you? I’m guessing that 80% of households on the average street, own some sort of power tool, or kitchen gadget that they only use once a year. It’s a massive waste, and yet we seem reluctant to borrow from neighbours.

Is it because we see possessions as a symbol of status and self sufficiency still, where borrowing from our neighbours or friends is a sign of weakness? It doesn’t matter how much we borrow from faceless banks behind the scenes, as long as it looks on the surface like we can afford our own cars, and power tools. Is that why we buy rather than loan? I hope that we’re not as desperate to keep up with the Jones’, as we have been in the last few decades, I certainly like the idea of borrowing from, and lending to my community more. Car share clubs have the right idea. It’s far too much hassle to own, tax, mot, insure and maintain a car, if you only use it once a fortnight. So why not just borrow one on an hourly ad-hoc basis, and let someone else do the paperwork?

Before you buy ask yourself these questions: Could I borrow, or hire this? Could I achieve the same results without making a purchase? Another angle is to ask yourself: Will this purchase hold me back from another greater goal?

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