Rent My Life!

By Baedeker, Rob | Newsweek, November 28, 2011 | Go to article overview

Rent My Life!


Baedeker, Rob, Newsweek


Byline: Rob Baedeker

Get a job? yeah, right. there's a much quicker way to make a buck when the economy's in the tank.

There's a strange woman in our shower.

She and her boyfriend arrived late last night, and she's slipped into our bathroom, which adjoins the office where my wife, Laura, and I are working. We can hear her flossing.

"Did you meet them?" Laura whispers. "Are they nice?"

I don't know if they're nice--but does it matter? They're paying $135 to stay with us!

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for a nurse named Amy to return my electric sander. She paid me $4 to rent it for a day and said she'd be back this morning.

I've got lots of other deals cooking, too: $5 to rent my 4-year-old's bike; $150 for a weeklong rental of our 1992 Saab. I'm renting my old guitar to the tune of $50 a month.

This is huge. The fact that complete strangers are willing to pay me to rent my belongings---the fact that I can make money from stuff I wasn't using anyway--is a breakthrough discovery on par with penicillin, the second law of thermodynamics, or the Snuggie.

Did I mention I'm making money from renting stuff I wasn't using anyway? And that I can continue to cash in, again and again, on the same stuff? Take our backyard deck and barbecue. I'm charging a group of people $18 to use it while I'm not even home. I'll be away meeting someone who's renting our dog for $3 an hour.

Call me a rentrepreneur, one of the growing ranks of Americans who, in a postbinge economy, are finding creative ways to make a quick buck by hiring out their personal belongings. The movement is being fueled by a slew of new startups catering to what some are calling "collaborative consumption." There are now sites to connect people who want to rent out their cars, couches, personal services, dinosaur costumes or clay-pigeon launchers ($12 per day on Zilok.com). For renters, the sites offer goods and services for a relative bargain (weekly rates for a rental car where I live in Berkeley, Calif., can be twice what I charged). More than that, they're a chance to bypass corporate America at a time when corporate America is in the dog house. Why endure the long waits, high prices, and surly staff at your big-box tool-rental counter when you can pick up Rob Baedeker's electric sander for a song--and go home with a smile?

There's a virtue in this business, too, part of a postrecession shift from a throw-away society to a new economy of reuse. My customers might be in the 99 percent, but they're not broke or unemployed. Same goes for my fellow rentrepreneurs. Yet after witnessing the fallout from a half-century-long frenzy of conspicuous consumption, a whole generation of us is now reexamining the long-forgotten "waste not" maxim exemplified by the sugar-packet-saving thriftiness of our grandparents. I can almost hear my Depression-hardened Nana speaking to me from the grave: "You've got all this crap lying around, man. Put it to use!"

And the cash does come in handy. My wife and I, both writers and editors, make a decent income for now, but why not make a little extra scratch on the side for our daughter's college savings, or a remote-control pool shark? (I can always recoup the money by renting the shark out later.)

I kick off my experiment with our most prized possession: an old camping trailer we park on the side yard of our (rented) three-bedroom bungalow. Lots of memories in there--and lots of potential for income. I create an account at Airbnb.com, a San Francisco-based company that matches travelers with hosts. I list our trailer for $45 a night.

Almost immediately, I get a request from a user named "Lee N." His picture shows a thin, 40-ish, goateed man wearing those sunglasses that darken as it gets brighter. In our exchanges, "Lee" signs his name "Ron."

I call him up. "Is it Ron, or Lee?"

"Oh! My name is Ronald Lee," he says. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Rent My Life!
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.