Should You Rent Or Buy Stuff?

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2008-03-1825

It looks to me that if you’re the enterprising type, the rental market may provide you with a nice income stream if the items you rent are in demand enough; and if you’re a consumer, it may be able to offer you a great way to save money if you’re willing to work with used items. What’s also great is that there are additional positives here, as dealing with used goods allows for efficient recycling for the sake of the environment.

So far, renting seems like a good proposition. What are its benefits? And I’m not just talking about being a property tenant! 🙂

  • You don’t have to deal with maintenance.
  • Cheaper? It may be more affordable to lease an item on an “as needed” basis rather than owning it permanently.
  • Fabulous for short term use.
  • Convenient: just use and return.
  • Allows you to use something you may not otherwise have access to.
  • Great for the environment.

Now there’s this lady who hit upon a fantastic idea: she’s developed an online web site called that allows you to rent and swap around children’s toys. She applied the Netflix idea to the toy industry. How clever is that? Another great feature that Baby Plays has? They also donate to charity.

Here’s Baby Play’s rate card that shows you how much you would pay for variety. 10 toys a month for $65? That may seem like a lot, but many substantial toys cost at least $20 each, these days.

Plan Description Commitment Length Monthly Rate
Silver 4 Toys per month 3 months $36.99
Gold 6 Toys per month 3 months $47.99
Gold Plus 6 Toys per month 12 months $42.99
Platinum Best Value – 10 Toys per month 3 months $64.99

But wouldn’t you rather call something your own? Well I look at it this way… Brand new merchandise may have a certain ring to it, but they’re still depreciating assets!

So how about let’s take a tour of my virtual warehouse and check out the rental market for some of its items shall we? Not all lease ideas are money savers (with some being a poor use of your money), but all exist to serve the purpose of filling a demand. What I provide here are some thoughts on the renting, buying and owning of various things we encounter in our everyday lives.

Should You Rent Or Buy Stuff?

How about let’s apply the rent vs buy idea to different scenarios:

Your House and The Stuff In It

home staging

Nothing out of the ordinary when you rent a house or lease a car — these are big ticket items that may take a while to save for, so many people take the option of renting them for use. When traveling, who doesn’t rent a car? More unusual though, is renting a scene for your home in order to make it sell. It’s really what home staging is about and in a way, you’re investing in the opportunity to sell your house at better prices if you hire someone to make your house look good.

But what about other big ticket items for the home such as furniture and appliances? Good idea? Actually, probably not. Renting-to-own your home items can be more of a rip off as interest rates charged are notoriously and stratospherically high. Why not just save the money before buying your furniture? These are items you’ll need for the long term anyway, so it’s worth either putting on layaway or buying outright. For those things that you can’t afford, just buy used and upgrade when you have the money.


Things For Your Business

domain name

Besides renting office space, once you’ve got a business, you’ll also face the decision of furnishing it. If you want to conserve your capital or find that you’d rather not commit to major purchases for your business yet, then renting everything else could be a consideration. But here’s one thing I only heard of recently: renting domain names. I’m not sure how well such an idea could work, but I imagine that this only works for those guys who’ve already snagged highly sought after domain names way back when. So for those lucky souls, they’ve got the opportunity to lease their virtual real estate instead of selling them.


All Sorts Of Toys and Entertainment Materials

toy box

How about renting toys and fun equipment? Anyway here are a few things we usually end up forgetting about after one time use: sports equipment, DVDs, videos, books. Toy rental is just such a superb idea as it capitalizes on the short-lived qualities of children’s toys. It’s a perfect rental market when you’re dealing with high demand and short attention spans. It would even be more affordable if you borrowed and bartered, instead of rented these items.


Events and Appearances

wedding dress

When preparing for a huge once-in-a-lifetime event such as your wedding, you’ll most likely book a special location for it; some of you may even hire a limo or go all out with a horse and carriage for transportation. But if you’re serious about trimming your wedding budget, you can always look into more family-owned venues for your reception, or style your own car for the occasion.

Beyond that, you can also save some bucks by renting everything else for your event. From the usual groom’s and men’s tuxes, you can go further by renting the bridal gown, as well as the entire bridal party’s outfits. To add that final touch, the women can sign out some jewelry as well, just for that one time. And don’t forget the wedding cake. Artificial cakes? How wild! Strange and extremely frugal.


Living Things?


Now we’re going into wackier territory. We’re taking the term “rent” here a little bit further and applying it to the idea of spending time with living beings. Sounds odd, but I came across an online pet adoption site that’s being creative about the idea of letting people get to know their dogs first before adopting them. With “Rent-a-Pet”, you’re really fostering a pet over a weekend and there’s no charge.

We supply the food, leashes, bowls, toys, everything; all you supply is the love! There is no charge to rent a pet.

In other countries though, this idea has been met with serious criticism due to the way the idea has been approached.

And speaking of other countries, this brings to mind another extension of this idea. In Japan, there are these services that allow lonely people to be able to rent entire families to keep them company. It costs $1,600 to do this so it’s not exactly a fine deal, but all I could think of was how depressing that was. Of course, what you’re really doing here is buying someone’s attention and companionship for a temporary amount of time.

In Japan….

Time for anything but work seems to be extremely limited. So much so that young families don’t even have time to visit their elders. An ingenious business has developed to meet this need. “Rent-A-Family” sends out actors to visit lonely parents. The company has a waiting list of 1,000 and appears to be very popular. It seems pretty bizarre, but actually these people are providing a very important service. The old people said they just wanted to touch the skin of a baby and that it had made their lives different to have lunch and visit the playground with the kids who were part of the rented family.


As you can see, some of these ideas sound great while others are downright strange or uncomfortable. But for conventional items, renting can certainly be a good approach if you’re not sure you can commit your money, time or energy to a particular purchase. It also seems like a lucrative business to get into, if you can really tap into what’s in demand at any given moment.

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Copyright © 2008 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

savingadvice March 18, 2008 at 2:32 pm

Really when it comes to homes, pets, toys, etc. we often spend much more money getting into something that wasn’t right or we didn’t need after all. Renting gives us the opportunity to try something out before we buy. Especially with children’s toys, my son would always rather play with other peoples toys so renting would be ideal.

Miracle Blade March 18, 2008 at 3:48 pm

I wouldn’t feel comfortable renting most things. I would prefer to own them.

Mrs. Micah March 18, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Him and Her wrote an interesting article about how renting certain wedding items may cost as much as or more than buying them. Plus if you buy you may be able to resell (or you may be able to buy gently used). Or just loan them out for good karma.

Depends on what kind of renting deals you can find.

But I think renting can be a good idea for a lot of items. Like steam cleaning equipment if you actually occasionally need it.

Probably not a family, though, that would be sad. I might not mind borrowing a baby for a day… 😉

Silicon Valley Blogger March 18, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Mrs. Micah,
I can’t imagine that renting a wedding gown would be just as expensive as buying it — unless it’s for sale! Perhaps the difference is that you could rent a “high-end” wedding gown for about the same price as buying a discounted or more affordable wedding gown. So it’s all in the kind of dress it is, I guess!

I agree that if you’re able to find good deals, are good at scouting around bargains and so forth, you could get a much better deal. Or perhaps if you decide to buy used, could be a smart move! Then you’re right, you can just turn around and resell later.

I wonder why tradition isn’t much more “equal opportunity” so that there’s less resistance for women to rent their clothes or so that it would be equally as socially acceptable for women to rent dresses just like men can 😉 .

As for babies…. hmmm…. wouldn’t you prefer to get paid to babysit than pay to babysit? 😀

Lindsay March 18, 2008 at 8:30 pm

Rent a pet? I don’t think so… gotta think about the poor animal’s mental state. A new owner each week? Sounds confusing 🙂

I like the rent a toy idea though. What kid hasn’t gotten bored of most toys two weeks after he/she *had* to have them?

Funny about Money March 18, 2008 at 8:54 pm

Wow! What a wedding outfit! Now, what I’d like to rent is her face and her hair….

Seriously, men rent tuxes and all the accouterments to go with them. It seems reasonable for women to rent wedding gowns and other very dressy outfits. When I was a reluctant society wife, one of the things I hated the most was going to those darn EVENTS where you had to be dressed to the nines and then some. First, I didn’t have the taste to select or the interest in owning expensive, elegant clothes. Second, not a one of those women would be caught dead wearing an expensive fantastic-looking outfit twice, so attending the various galas and firm parties meant shopping for stuff like that several times a year. Third, I hate shopping for clothes, especially for clothes I don’t want and don’t expect to wear more than once or twice. I’d have been beside myself with joy if I could have rented evening wear on a par with what you see on the model and then been able to take the darn thing back after the shindig. Somebody ELSE could buy it, tailor it, and clean it. What an awesome concept.

It would be cool in the extreme to be able to rent real jewelry. And toys…what a great idea. Except sometimes your kid gets pretty attached to a specific toy, so getting it away to return it after the lease runs out could be painful.

Rent-a-Family…there’s a thought. At $1,600, I wonder if the daughter-in-law will cook the Christmas dinner? And if so, will she put up with the renter kibbitzing over her shoulder in the kitchen? 🙂 Do you have to pay extra to give her free advice on how to raise the kids?

Jesse March 19, 2008 at 1:01 pm

Can you imagine having to give the pet back? 🙁

Tom March 20, 2008 at 1:45 pm

I saw this start up venture in the news the other month, I thought it was brilliant. With kids getting so bored with toys nowadays, why not rent. I wish I could have come up with this idea 😉

rstlne March 21, 2008 at 9:02 am

Don’t we already rent domain names? I find it hard to think that I own my domain names when I still have to pay the domain registrar every year.

Anitra March 21, 2008 at 12:25 pm

I don’t think the “toy rental” is a new concept – I remember 20 years ago going to the “toy library” with my mom – it was a cross between a toy store and video rental – pick out a toy, rent it, return it when you’re done.

As far as I can tell, the concept works – I know that in highschool, I went searching for a toy that I really wanted which I remembered from the toy library, without even knowing the name of it! (For the curious, I eventually found it – it’s Discovery Toys Marbleworks, and I still play with it sometimes – it’s how you know I’m an engineer at heart.)

DivaJean April 1, 2008 at 7:16 am

You forgot about renting tools when doing home renovations.

We saved a bundle renting equipment we would only need for 2 weeks when we renovated our kitchen in our last house. Who needs a top of the line tile cutter all the time unless they are doing tile as a business?

LHL January 13, 2009 at 7:44 am

I love the toy idea, however what would happen if the child breaks any of them? If my nephew is anything to go by, the toys wouldn’t last long enough to pass on.

Minneapolis Wedding Photographer January 24, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Rent children’s toys? What a fantastic idea!!! Kids get sick of the latest and greatest in about 2-3 months any how… Also, check out It’s like NetFlix for designer purses, sunglasses, etc…it’s awesome!

Tom March 3, 2009 at 10:54 am

I agree renting is much better that buying but in some cases you have to buy.

The Loan Guy March 3, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Some very interesting points here. For most things renting is a good option but I would not agree when it comes to your home. It makes more sense to buy if at all possible in my opinion because your rent will mostly track inflation but your mortgage payment will decline in real terms over the term of the loan. And you are also building equity in your home.

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