There is a lot to be said for the old idea that we’re stronger together. Particularly now when times are tough for many, the idea that clubbing together to save money as a community could help with costs and budgets is very appealing indeed. People power could not only give you the means to cut the costs of your essentials but also help bypass the more expensive commercial options that don’t necessarily deliver better results. So, where could you save money as a community?
Energy and fuel savings clubs
With the cost of energy always increasing and some providers putting prices up by 10% this year it sometimes feels like it’s difficult to see a way out of those huge quarterly bills. However, joining an energy and fuel savings club could give you other options than just to accept the prices you’re quoted or go elsewhere. Using the process of ‘collective switching’ it’s possible to negotiate a better tariff on behalf of a group of consumers than you’d ever be able to get on an individual basis. So, club together with others on your street – or joining a local energy club – and see what you could save as a community. You may find your local council may run such a club e.g. Solihull
Cars – buying them and running them – are another big expense for most people. There are many ways to leverage the power of the community to cut the cost of what you spend on getting from A to B on four wheels. Car pooling and ride sharing are the simplest ways to start. Apps such as Waize use modern tech to solve the issue of cost to consumers, as well as the impact on the environment – its tag line is “Too many cars. So many empty seats. Let’s fix that.” You can ‘rent out’ space in your own car or borrow a seat in someone else’s via apps like this. If you’d like to cut the cost of owning a vehicle altogether then just rent one instead. While traditional rental companies might have high prices and punitive damage policies there’s a whole new wave of apps, such as Turo, which allow you to just rent from another car owner in your community instead.
A cup of sugar
Although no one really goes to a neighbour to borrow a cup of sugar anymore, the principle that a local community could pool resources to help each other save cash is a sound one. Everything from garden furniture, to fondue sets and children’s’ clothes or toys can be recycled and reused within the community to save everyone money. There are many websites and apps springing up now to take advantage of this newly emerging community mindset. Streetbank is “one of the 50 websites you can’t live without” according to the Times newspaper. It gives neighbourhoods the opportunity to pool all sorts of resources, from sharing items like power drills, to giving unwanted furniture away. Plus, you can share skills such as plumbing to help neighbours keep their costs down – and they might well return the favour when you need a helping hand.
Opening up your wardrobe
How much of your wardrobe do you really wear? Whether you’ve got a closet packed full of designer buys or you’re a more modest purchaser, you could make some cash from opening up your wardrobe to others. Online communities like Rentez-vous allow anyone to rent out their wardrobe. They work on the old school basis of sharing clothes with friends (and siblings) – except this time there’s a financial incentive and a wider pool of people involved. The renter gets to make a little cash from an item otherwise sitting unused in the wardrobe and the rentee gets to wear that perfect outfit on that perfect occasion without paying full price. A 2016 Marks & Spencer survey found that Brits only wear 44% of what’s in our wardrobes – which leaves more than half of our clothes rarely getting an airing and ripe for renting.
The local car boot sale
Before they became hunting grounds for TV shows, car boot sales provided a cheap way for local communities to recycle and reuse. Shpock is an app that has taken this idea and updated it for the modern world and has become incredibly popular. It provides an online car boot sale where anyone can list anything for sale or give away to a local community. You’ll find everything on there, from ironing boards to trainers, and at prices significantly lower than buying new. Plus, as the person you’re buying from (or selling to) is just around the corner, there’s no need to think about shipping costs.
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 more about Alex Hartley