By Carol Church
If you have achieved a certain age, you may have been brought up to believe that renting, while sometimes necessary, “throws money away.” After all, at the end of the rental period, you have spent your hard-earned cash, and are left with nothing tangible to own.
As time has passed, however, you may have come to the realization that in real life, things aren’t always so simple. Depending on your situation, it may be better to rent a house rather than own—especially for service members. But did you know that in today’s internet-connected economy, it’s getting easier and more common to rent (rather than buy) or pay to “share” all kinds of things, from dresses to bikes to toys?
What’s driving this trend? It’s a combination of factors. Today’s young people move around a lot and often aren’t interested in owning a lot of “stuff,” a sentiment frequently echoed by many older people who are feeling an urge to de-clutter and purge. Renting some things helps keep the amount of objects we own (and have to move) a bit more limited.
Of course, sometimes, consumerism (an interest in having “the latest and greatest”) also plays a role. Take a minute to think about the relationship many of us have with our cell phones. Though they may not technically be rented, in a way, they might as well be, since many of us get them in connection with a plan and trade up frequently.
But renting can also be seen as eco-friendly and less consumptive, which appeals to many. And in the case of “sharing” enterprises, such as car sharing and bike sharing systems, renting may even feel like it’s part of a new kind of relationship with material goods, where we’re less attached to our own personal things and instead pay for the ability to “share” whatever it is with others.
However, another factor that’s important to remember when considering the popularity of rental options is that some, such as rent-to-own stores, mainly aim to appeal to lower-income consumers who are typically drawn to the option due to lack of credit. These rental situations should be avoided.
When Should Military Families Consider Renting?
Anyone who’s had to pull up stakes and PCS more than once understands the appeal of owning fewer permanent items, especially large, bulky, or rarely used ones. The military lifestyle is not one that typically lends itself well to owning tons and tons of stuff, making the option to briefly rent items potentially appealing.
In recognition of this reality, most bases have a great service called equipment checkout services or recreation checkout. This well-priced option offers service member families the opportunity to rent a number of items (most commonly outdoor recreation equipment, party items, and lawn and garden maintenance tools) at very reasonable prices. These services are the first place military families should look when considering a more “rental-oriented” lifestyle.
But equipment checkout, while convenient, is limited. There are plenty of other options for families who may be interested in renting or sharing items rather than purchasing outright.
Read on to parts 2 and 3 of this series to learn more about the surprising things available to rent today, and when it is and isn’t a good idea to rent instead of buy.
Smith, S. (2010). A transumer manifesto. Retrieved from http://www.shareable.net/blog/a-transumer-manifesto