Save Money, Save Space: 8 Things to Borrow Instead of Buy

published Feb 19, 2016
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(Image credit: Monica Wang)

When you’re trying something new, often your first instinct is to rush out and buy all the things you need for whatever activity you’ve taken on, be it camping or traveling or hosting overnight guests. But often these things, bought with the best of intentions, end up getting used only very infrequently — and taking up a lot space in your home in the meantime. The best course of action, rather than buying something you’ll only use a few times, may be finding a friend who’s willing to lend you the item in question. Here are eight things to borrow from a friend instead of buying.

Got a big project? Your one friend who has a miter saw, a power drill, and belt sander will probably be happy to let you borrow them (or just pop by their woodshop), and they’ll probably have a few good tips for how to use them, too.

Suitcase/travel supplies
Unless you travel very infrequently, it probably makes sense to have at least one suitcase. But bigger suitcases, like the ones you use for longer trips, are prime candidates for borrowing, because big suitcases cost big money, and they take up a lot of space. The same goes for other accessories like travel adapters: check with friends before buying your own.

Air mattress
If you have lots of friends crashing at your place, or host regular overnight gatherings say, every Christmas and Thanksgiving, it might make sense to invest in a nice air mattress. But for the occasional weekend guest, a borrowed air mattress will do just fine. (You can probably borrow the associated bedding from your air mattress friend, too – just remember to wash it before you return it!)

Folding chairs and tables
Be honest: do you entertain a lot? If this is the one time in your life that you’ve ever had more than two people over for dinner, borrowing a few extra chairs might make more sense than buying. If no friends have folding chairs handy, you can also rent them from party rental companies.

Serving dishes
Another dinner party ‘necessity’ that you could probably afford to do without, provided you have a friend who has something serviceable.

This one’s a bit tricky, because you don’t want to be that friend who’s constantly mooching and never offering to pay for paper or toner. But I can imagine a scenario, if your friend lives in close enough proximity, where you might make a sort of agreement to share a printer with someone. Because how often do you really need to print stuff out?

Camping equipment
Sure, that 3-room tent that sleeps 15 would be great to have — but how often are you really going to to use it? And where the heck are you going to put it? If you’re only an occasional camper, borrowing a tent from a friend (or renting one from a store like REI) might make more sense. Ditto for all those things like lanterns and camping stoves, which are great to have but a pain to store.

Sports equipment
Maybe don’t buy a ski jacket like, the first time you go skiing. Some things are better to wait on.