When you see the word “rent,” what comes to mind? I’ve always associated renting with apartments, cars and maybe a tuxedo.

These days, you can rent a lot more than that. The sharing economy is alive and well, and there are endless ways to get access to things you need or want, without having to fork over a ton of money.

In fact, peer-to-peer sharing companies like Lyft and Airbnb are giving traditional taxicabs and hotels a run for their money by creating an ever-growing niche in the travel and tourism business.

I don’t know about you, but there are certain things I’ve become so accustomed to buying brand new, the idea of renting the same thing for a much cheaper price doesn’t even cross my mind.

It’s a Rental!

Some of my fellow women can probably relate to having a closetful of dresses that only see the light of day once or twice a year. I was picking through my collection the other day, unsatisfied with my options for an upcoming wedding, when I asked a friend what she was planning to wear. She sent me a photo of a beautiful, trendy cocktail dress. “It’s a rental!” she said.

I felt a little silly that the same idea had never occurred to me. I mean, why spend the extra time and money shopping for another dress I’ll only wear once a year, when I can borrow one for a fraction of the cost?

With companies like Rent the Runway and Bag Borrow or Steal, you can have like-new dresses, handbags and jewelry shipped to your door. Once you wear them, you just send them back in a prepaid envelope. No dry cleaning necessary, and no closet space lost.

Tools, Bikes and More

Don’t worry, men, I haven’t forgotten about you. You probably know you can rent your own formalwear, but have you ever rented more fun stuff…say, power tools or mountain bikes?

I know my husband can’t stand the idea of buying an expensive new tool for a home improvement project that we’re only doing once. With rental services available through multiple home improvement stores, you can borrow anything from ladders to power washers. No need to waste precious cash or storage space on items you’re only using for a few days.

For a less corporate feel, there are plenty of neighborhood-focused peer-to-peer sharing sites to choose from, depending on where you live. Or you could borrow those tools the old fashioned way…by actually knocking on your neighbor’s door.

As for the mountain bikes, check out Spinlister, a sharing company that connects renters to bikes and other sports equipment. It’s a great fit if you’re an occasional biker who wants to save some money—or if you just want to try before you buy.

We may live in a culture that’s all about owning the shiniest new toys, but Americans are starting to wake up and smell the savings. More and more people are renting instead of buying, and while it isn’t the most economical choice in every situation, it’s often a great, inexpensive option. So expand your rental horizons and see how much cash you can save.

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About Kristy Etheridge

Kristy Etheridge is a regular contributor to the FaithWorks Financial blog. Having racked up a large amount of debt before using a biblical approach to attack it, Kristy is passionate about financial freedom. She and her husband live in Charlotte, N.C., where Kristy works as a writer for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.