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Anyone with an older sibling knows the benefits of “The Borrow”. Rather than paying for something yourself, simply borrow from an older brother or sister and then return it before they notice. In the adult world, this principle is getting a new airing thanks to a wave of technology designed to help you get what you want without paying full price. The range of borrow-able items is broad, whether you’re looking for a bouncy castle for a kid’s party or a pair of shoes for a wedding. And of course it works the other way around too – you can be the lender or the borrower.
In the modern world, many consumers have two major issues. Firstly, we probably don’t have the money to buy everything we want. And secondly, most of us have got a houseful of items that we don’t really use that much. It might be the skirts bought in the sale that just never looked good. Or perhaps a fantastic electric drill that comes out once every couple of years (statistically, a household drill only gets 12 minutes of use across its entire lifetime). So, given that you might have exactly what your neighbour needs, – and vice versa – the new trend for borrowing makes sense. So, what can you borrow or lend?
There are so many incarnations of borrowing from someone’s wardrobe now that you can temporarily loan just about anything. Sites such as Girl Meets Dress have more than 4,000 dresses to browse from over 150 brands. Many women would admit to buying a dress, wearing it once and then taking it back to the shop – well this site makes it official (and ok). At GMD they know their customers are essentially borrowing and will return the dress the next day. Another option is Style Lend, which allows women to lend to and from each other. The site describes itself as a ‘community of thousands of women sharing their style’ and you are basically being invited to borrow from the wardrobes of very stylish women. Once you’ve worn the dress, return it and the company picks up the dry cleaning bill.
Many of us don’t really talk to our neighbours these days but in years gone by you’d be part of a community. As part of that community it would be nothing out of the ordinary to borrow a bike or a power tool, maybe the classic cup of sugar. Websites such as Borroclub and Streetlend tap into this idea that everything you need is probably within a couple of miles of where you live. Browse the site and see if what you’re looking for can be borrowed, rather than paying for something brand new. You can also use sites like this as a way to generate some extra cash, loaning out your items to borrowers nearby. Event tables and chairs, gazebos, jet washers and tents – items such as these can be borrowed for a nominal fee, saving cash for one person and generating a bit of income for another. Everyone wins.
Cars – another expensive item and a depreciating asset that just sits there losing value whether you use it or not. Many people choose to rent a car but rental companies can be awkwardly located and often penalise even the tiniest bit of use or wear and tear. So, the borrow principle has been applied to cars too with sites like Hiyacar giving us the opportunity to borrow from a neighbour. If you don’t use your car that much then sign up and rent your car out. The benefits include the fact that the rental car is literally just a couple of streets away when it comes to pick up and drop off, and you’re dealing with a real person not a corporate business. You can also ‘borrow’ (or rent out) a seat in a car with sites like Bla Bla Car, essentially carpooling for the modern age.
All these peer-to-peer lending options have helped to make borrowing, rather than buying, a new trend. Not only is it less wasteful but you can save money too – get the jobs done or the one off outfit you want without having to worry about the expense of a big purchase. Reduce the burden on your credit card and the risk of damaging your credit rating! Plus, if you already own items you can make money from them rather than leaving them gathering dust. And then there’s perhaps the most encouraging element of all – these sites make us more connected to those around us, and that can only be a good thing.
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read about Alex Hartley
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