Sunday, September 07, 2008

Can We Split This Expense? Timeshare Ideas for Everyday Life

Thirteen women recently split the cost of a $15,000 diamond necklace and gained a new view of life, money and values. That story prompted me to create my own list of items that can be shared by neighbors, friends or a community:

1) Lawnmowers: Why does every household need a separate set of garden supplies, such as a lawn mower, rake and hoe? Those items are used only periodically. Why not share a set with a group and create a timeshare schedule?

2) Babysitters: A friend of mine, recently shared the cost of a nanny with another family. Here's the deal: One sitter looked after babies from two different families. Each family shared the salary and provided a little extra bonus for the nanny.

3) Bikes and sports equipment: Why not buy the best equipment and share items such as bikes, hockey sticks and tennis rackets? Create a sports-lending library, with safeguards and a sign out.

4) Toys: I know a group of mothers -- upper-middle class -- who once created a toy rotation system for their young children. The toy timeshare prevented boredom and the kids always had a fresh supply of toys, with minimal costs for the parents.

5) Boats: A former co-worker of mine participates in a timeshare for a recreational boat. Each month, a different family has a weekend or week for enjoying the boat. Operating costs are evenly shared.

6) Expensive school supplies: One year, the school supply list for my kids included an expensive scientific calculator and a costly compass. Those items were not regularly used and in hindsight, I wondered if the class parents could have just purchased a few of those items and then shared the gadgets. The kids would have received another lesson in sharing and cooperation.

This article by MARTHA IRVINE about communal living and shared expenses is excellent:

Communal simple living provides economic shelter

"Keri Rainsberger isn't rich. She works in the nonprofit world for a
relatively low-profit salary. Yet, as many Americans are scrimping for every
penny, she hardly feels the pinch...."

What items or services do you think we could all share?

Here's how to buy my new book:

@ Barnes & Noble
@ Borders


Chief Family Officer said...

I think the ownership of things is tricky, unless you have complete faith that you and the other person/people share the same values. And especially because it's not as common to have close relationships with neighbors anymore, this is the sort of thing that can actually ruin friendships. I'd rather spend more money and keep my friends.

On the other hand, I have shared toys and DVDs with my friends without any problems.

So I guess as with almost everything, "it depends." I love that you brought this up, though - it's a new way of thinking.

Leah Ingram said...

I remember as a kid wanting a skateboard so badly, and the only way I could afford it with my allowance was to split the cost with a neighbor. We ended up with joint custody of the skateboard.

Recently, when I wrote in my blog about getting something for (almost) nothing, a reader posted a comment to let me know about a service called Neighborrow whereby neighbors borrow things (and return them) so people don't need to invest in expensive things like lawn mowers. Sounds like it fits the notion you're promoting, though I haven't tried it out myself.

Mary@SimplyForties said...

This idea would be great for all tools. Especially the more expensive power tools. I'd like to find someone willing to share an extension ladder with me. I need it about once a year to clean my gutters and hate to go out and buy one just for that. I'm going to give this idea some thought. Thanks!

Tara said...

@Mary: Agreed! I share a power drill with my mother who lives about 10 miles from me. We both only use a drill to hang the occasional wall decor or window treatment. It's great...except when we need it we have to remember who used it last because it's been so long!

Annette said...

A group of neighbors and friends in my town have been splitting for a few years now with great success. We split the cost of many items and share them through a kind of checkout system. We also pool our money and buy bulk goods too and get a nice discount.

I can't imagine why more communities are not doing the same. Contact me if you want to know how we did it, or check out my new blog. Oh, and we tried borrowing but found that the items were not respected as much as splitting. Borrowed items were always damaged.