When I think of borrowing something the first thing that comes to mind is the library. Libraries are a great tool in the frugal mom’s belt. When we decided to get out of debt and change our financial future I didn’t go on Amazon and buy twenty books about money, I went to my library and checked them out.
Many libraries also have computers, internet access, DVD’s, CD’s, magazines, and newspapers all free for us to use. Some libraries even have toys you can check out. We have not rented a movie in over two years because we check them out from the library.
But what if you need something other than media related items, what do you do?
In society today, our first reaction is to run to the store and purchase something that we need. But, if we only need the item for a one time use that is a silly way to spend money. Perhaps we are considering purchasing a big ticket item. Borrowing this item for a week or so will help you decide whether purchasing it makes financial sense.
Find out which of your friends and neighbors are amenable to a borrowing relationship. We move a lot, so when I meet my neighbors I always say something like, “If you ever need anything let me know.”
After developing relationships with your neighbors you are likely to know who is willing to borrow back and forth. Shortly after meeting our next door neighbor he told us he was a movie buff and owned hundreds of movies. He also told us we could borrow whatever we liked. We waited a few weeks and got to know him a bit better before we borrowed a movie from him.
Decide whether the item needs to be borrowed. Don’t start making cookies if you need half of the ingredients. It’s one thing to borrow an egg, it’s another to borrow two eggs, three cups of flour, and a teaspoon of vanilla.
Common items you can borrow
For example, I am making cookies and I need to borrow a teaspoon of baking powder. It would better to supply your neighbor with a plate of warm cookies than come by three days later with a teaspoon of baking powder inside a Ziploc. For most food items though, it is better to replace the item.
Punch bowls, extra chairs, steam cleaning vacuums, are a few items that if you only need once a year it would be better to borrow rather than purchase.
We don’t own a tall ladder. We need a tall ladder about twice a year. A ladder costs between $50 and $800 dollars depending on what type you purchase. It makes more sense for us to borrow a ladder than to purchase one. Now, if we needed a ladder once a week, we would purchase one.
Many people have tons of baby equipment taking up space in their attics, basements and garages. When our third child was born we didn’t have a crib so we borrowed one from friends who weren’t using it at the time. Many people are happy to share these items and get them out of their storage for a while.
Golden Rules of Borrowing
- Return it quickly (obviously this isn’t the case for baby items).
- Return it in better shape than when you received it.
- If you are borrowing something every week you probably need to own it outright.
- If you break it or damage it, replace it right away.
- Be willing to share your stuff too.
I have loaned friends and neighbors everything from a cup of laundry detergent to a car that we weren’t using at the time. I have borrowed everything from a teaspoon of caraway seeds to costume jewelry and formal wear.
Borrowing items is a great way to save money. Not only do you save money by not purchasing items, but having less stuff allows you to be more organized. Being organized saves money because you know what you have and where it is, so you don’t duplicate purchases.
Borrowing also deepens relationships with our friends and neighbors. I love to share my things with others. I feel great about helping someone, especially if it allows them to reach their financial goals by spending less.