The Newest Ways to Share and Save

by Stephanie Miles on November 25, 2009 in Money

broken gingerbread cookie sharing 200We understand why you might not want to share everything (spouses and swimsuits spring to mind). But saving a few bucks by sharing other things is turning out to be one of the year’s big trends.

Sharing-based businesses are hardly a new phenomenon–though the old fashioned term for it is “renting.” Back in July we put together a roundup of our favorites, including textbooks and movies, back in July. But more companies are jumping on the sharing-is-caring bandwagon, letting customers take temporary ownership of party dresses and eco-friendly cars. After the jump, a roundup of the newcomers.

Rent the Runway

What it is: Touted as a way to save money on the designer dresses you’ll only wear once, Rent the Runway is a new rent-by-mail service that launched just this month. Rather than paying $495 for a Catherine Malandrino dress, Rent the Runway lets users borrow it for $50 a pop.

What makes it different: Unlike Bag Borrow or Steal, Rent the Runway focuses exclusively on party dresses rather than handbags and accessories. The site is substantially cheaper than competitors like Wardrobe NYC, which charges clients more than $250 to rent ball gowns by the night.

car2go

What it is? Like ZipCar and Connect by Hertz, car2go is a new car sharing service that’s expected to make its U.S. debut in Austin, Texas. Developed by Daimler, the service will make 200 Smart cars available for members to use across the Austin area. Although a specific pricing structure hasn’t been announced, it’s expected that the car2go rentals will range in price from 25 cents per minute, to a flat rate of $15 per hour or $75 per day for those needing the car for a longer period of time.

What makes it different? Unlike ZipCar, which offer a number of different vehicles, car2go will only feature Smart cars. In addition, the service will initially be available only to city employees.

VTA Bike Sharing

What is it? What to do when even joining a car sharing program is too expensive? If you live in the Bay Area, you join Santa Clara County’s new city-wide bike sharing program. Modeled after popular programs in Europe, Santa Clara County’s VTA program will cost riders as little as $1 to $5 for a day pass, or $70 to $120 for an annual pass.

What makes it different? This bike sharing program will reportedly be the first of its kind in the Bay Area, and is expected to be used mostly by commuters looking for an easier way to get from their homes to nearby train stations.

LeaseTrader

What it is: LeaseTrader.com matches people looking to get out of a car lease with those looking to get into one. Although the company itself is hardly new, it just recently began focusing on the “sharing” aspects of its business—highlighting the fact that an increasing number of families are using it to downsize from two cars to one, and are now sharing a vehicle with their spouse due to the recession.

What makes it different: While most auto leasing companies are focused on getting people into new cars, LeaseTrader is busy helping overburdened leasers get out of theirs. In addition, the site helps couples who are thinking of sharing one car find the right vehicle for both of their needs.

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