Peer to peer marketplaces and collaborative consumption are all the rage on the internet these days. Time magazine considers collaborative consumption to be one of the Top 10 ideas that will change the world. Wait…Collaba-what? Peer to who? These are just fancy words used to refer to networks and marketplaces where you can swap, trade, barter, offer services etc. with other people just like you (your peers).
The most common example of such a marketplace is Craigslist, which was started in 1995 and was one of the pioneers in peer to peer websites. A lot has happened since then and recent technological advances are making peer to peer sharing and transaction much easier and more convenient than ever before. The beauty of these types of sites is that you can use them to generate extra income if you have a good or service to offer AND you can use them to save money by transacting with your peers.
In this post, we’d like to highlight some examples of such websites that are less well known and how you can use them to make or save some dough.
What it does: Peer to Peer Carpooling
How it can help you make or save money: If you have a long commute to and from work, chances are that you’re spending a lot of money on gas as well as a lot of time during rush hours in the non-carpool lanes. Wouldn’t it be great to carpool with someone to reduce the cost and wait time of your commute? Enter Zimride, a peer to peer ride-sharing website where you can find other commuters like you to split the cost of your commute. You can use it to offer a spot in your car for a set amount of $ or find a ride in someone else’s car for the price they’re offering to charge. You can also use this site to split the cost of commonly commuted long routes such as going from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
What it does: Peer to Peer rentals
How it can help you make or save money: Airbnb is a site you can use to rent rooms or entire homes/apartments from your peers vs. from an expensive hotel while you’re traveling. Here, you will find everything ranging from a nice room for rent to an entire village! Ok, so maybe renting an entire town that fits 300+ people for $65,000 won’t exactly go easy on your wallet. But, you can generally find a lot of great rooms and accommodations that are very budget friendly and usually cost a lot less than the average hotel, especially in the popular tourist destinations such as Los Angeles or New York. You can also make money on the site by renting out that extra room in your house or even your couch. If you’re a little iffy about that concept, rest assured that you get to communicate with, approve or deny anyone who’d like to rent a space in your home and each Airbnb rental agreement comes with a $50,000 insurance as well as a 24 hour customer service hotline.
Website: Lending Club
What it does: Peer to Peer loans
How it can help you make or save money: “Lending Club is an online financial community that brings together creditworthy borrowers and savvy investors so that both can benefit financially.” That’s a quote taken directly from their website. In simpler words Lending Club is a site where average people like you and I can borrow and lend money to each other in a facilitated manner. If you have high interest debt that you’re dying to pay off you can use this site to cut out the middle man (banks, debt consolidators etc) and borrow money from individuals just like you at a more manageable interest rate. That can save you some serious cash in the long run. For those of us who have a little money to spare and would like to make a little extra dough, it’s easy to become a lender on the site and yield decent returns that are certainly much better than your average savings account. To date, they’ve funded close to $370 million in loans! They’ve gotta be doing something right.
Website: Task Rabbit
What it does: Peer to Peer Errands
How it can help you make or save money: Task rabbit is a site where you can post errands that you need to get done, from assembling an Ikea desk to shopping for groceries, and the price you’re willing to pay for it. Certified and background checked ‘runners’, will then respond to your posting and run your errand for you. If you simply don’t have enough time in your day, and feel that time is money, then this site can help you save a lot of time, and therefore money. On the flipside, if you’re like many of us who could use extra income, you can apply to be a task runner and, if approved, can start making money running errands in your spare time. It is currently available in 6 major cities in the US and plans to continue expanding over time.
Websites: Swapstyle and I-ELLA
What they do: Peer to Peer clothing swap,rent and sale.
How it can help you make or save money:
Got clothes in nice condition that you no longer wear? Could use an update on your wardrobe too? Not to fret, list your clothes on Swapstyle, an online marketplace where you can trade clothes to your heart’s content! If your tastes are slightly more ‘designer’ than your budget calls for, you might want to check out I-ELLA, where users can buy, sell, swap and even rent out high-end designer items from their peers!
Not only does Collaborative consumption help save money, it also allows the resources that we have in this world to be used in a manner that is far more sustainable compared to continuously producing more and more stuff to fulfill our consumer needs. If you really dig this idea and want to learn more about additional peer to peer marketplaces and resources available online, check out this exhaustive list of marketplaces for all sorts of stuff.