Nov. 2, 2011 -- Did you know that you can make money by renting out almost anything you own? You are probably sitting on a little cash cow – such as storage space, or power tools or camping gear – that other people will pay money to borrow.
All over the country, websites are popping up where people can rent each other their stuff. The people with stuff to rent turn something that's gathering dust into a moneymaker. And the people who need the stuff save big bucks by renting instead of buying.
Kelly and Steve Haley rented Healthcliff the dog.
"It's always funny when we tell people we rent a dog because it's like 'you rent a what?'" she Kelly Haley said.
Just why would someone rent out their beloved pooch? Ame Shillington was nervous at first, but she thought Heathcliff deserved some extra attention when she got pregnant.
"He's bouncy and friendly and I bet he's a magnet for chicks," Shillington said.
Kelly and Steve Haley found a new friend, and Shillington makes an extra $5 for coffe.
It's not just pets. On websites such as loanables.com and snapgoods.com, you can rent – or rent out – almost anything: a barbecue, bungee cord or backyard, power tools, a parking space or a storage space.
I tried it. I wanted to see if I could rent everything I needed for a day trip to New York City.
Kristin Campbell has rented out her Volvo several times over the past year. She rented it to me.
"And you're not nervous about me taking your car?" I asked.
She replied: "I trust you."
Rent Your Car
By listing her vehicle through snapgoods.com, Campbell gets a $5,000 guarantee – roughly the value of her car.
I'm in the car and it's the perfect day for a picnic, but I need a cooler. Sure enough, I find one to rent from Mike Carrasquillo, who makes $10 for something that was just sitting around. And I get a cooler for half the price of buying one.
But it's no fun having a picnic on your own. All I need is a "friend."
Guess what? You can rent one of those too at rentafriend.com.
Rental friends are available to be your wing man – or wing woman – for almost anything, as long as it's not a date.
My new BFF, Laura, recommends a perfect picnic spot with a stunning view that I didn't know about, since I'm not from New York. And she likes the cultural exchange, and the extra $50 that she typically makes for showing people around.
"Do you worry about meeting strangers and that it might not be safe?" I ask her.
"I don't think there is more risk participating as there would be hanging out with somebody you just met in a bar," she replied.
So you're done at the park and want to use the rest room before you leave, but find it closed. What do you do?
There'll soon be an app for that. Cloo, a smartphone app, will allow registered members to use each other's bathrooms for the price of a latte.
When my day was over, I returned the car to Campbell. She made $65. Since renting a Volvo in New York City costs twice that amount, I saved $65.
When I got back home, I prowled around my garage, looking for things that I could rent out to make money.
Here's what I came up with that usually rents for $10 a day: power tools, like my saw, sander and drill; my daughter's old stroller and high chair; a croquet set; a Shop Vac. I've also got a giant ladder, which is more valuable – it would typically rent for $25 a day. And I've got one big ticket item: storage space in my garage, worth about $50 a month.
So if I could rent out the storage space long-term and rent out all the smaller things just 10 times a year, my grand total would be $1,550 a year.
And if you're worried that someone could steal or break your stuff? That's the benefit of renting your belonging out through an organized website. Money usually changes hands vial PayPal -- which protects both sides, you can require a security deposit, and some sites even offer a guarantee so that if something goes wrong, you are reimbursed for the loss or damage.