10 Things You Should Rent Instead of Buy

Textbooks are just one of many items that can be rented instead of purchased!

When it comes to renting versus buying, the first thing that usually comes to mind is real estate – renting a home versus buying one. But apparently there are more options out there in regards to renting versus buying. It may be a buyer’s market when it comes to real estate, but there are still many things you’re often better off renting. Of course, there’s no substitute for ownership if you truly need an item for repeated use, but if you’re only going to use something once in a while, why pay full price when you can borrow it for a lot less? Provided by Kristin Colella of Yahoo! Finance, here are 10 things you should rent instead of buy:

1. Designer Dresses: Designer gowns and dresses were once out of reach to most of us, affordable only to glitzy celebrities and those with a healthy cushion of disposable income. Now thanks to some hip rental companies, women with more modest means can wear red-carpet-worthy pieces for a fraction of the retail price. Wear Today Gone Tomorrow, for example, rents out dresses and accessories by top designers, many for 90% off the retail price, such as a Kay Unger strapless silk ruched dress for $57 for a 7-day rental (retails for $570). Just keep in mind that the company tacks on a $10 cleaning fee for all dresses. Rent the Runway also lends out dresses by more than 100 designers, including Vera Wang, Missoni, and Diane von Furstenberg, plus accessories such as jewelry and shawls. Both companies send the rental dress of your choice of mail, and Rent the Runway throws in a second size for free just in case the first one doesn’t fit.

2. Tools: While everyone should probably own a basic toolbox, when it comes to bigger power tools that you may only need for a special project, you can save money by renting. The Home Depot rents out a variety of tools for the occasional home repair or maintenance project. For instance, you can rent a 20-inch gas chainsaw from your local Home Depot for $63 a day – a good value, considering that buying one from the store can cost anywhere from $200-$570, according to homedepot.com.  You can also rent a carpet cleaner from most Home Depot locations for $18 for 4 hours, or $24.97 for the day. According to homedepot.com, most carpet cleaners at the store cost $150 or more to purchase.

3. Handbags: Like dresses, you can rent designer handbags for a considerable amount less than the retail price. Bag Borrow or Steal rents out handbags by hot designers like Tory Burch, Prada, Michael Kors, and Fendi on a weekly, monthly, or seasonal basis. Another service is Handbag Envy, which rents bags for the week or month by designers such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci.

4. Caskets: The only thing spookier than a funeral is the price tag that comes along with it. Purchasing a casket alone can cost an arm and a leg, with the average metal casket priced at $2,295 and the average wooden casket costing $2,865, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Believe it or not, though, buying a casket isn’t your only option – many funeral homes actually offer casket rentals for the funeral services, which can save you a good amount of money. Rental caskets look like any other to the casual observer, but inside they contain an insert where the body is placed that is removed after the services.

5. Textbooks: As if college tuition fees aren’t high enough these days, the cost of books can also make a dent in your savings. According to the College Board, books and other course materials at a 4-year public college cost students $1,168 on average for the 2011-2012 academic year. One way to save money is by borrowing textbooks by services such as campusbookrentals.com, which rents new and gently used textbooks for a good amount less than the cost of buying the book new and, in many cases, used. For instance, the Longman Anthology of British Literature, Volumes 1A, 1B and 1C rents fro $23.12 for the semester – about a third of its list price of $66.67. Other sites that offer book rentals include half.com and chegg.com.

6. Camping Gear: Ahh, the great outdoors. Many of us daydream about spending more time with Mother Nature, but few of us get around to actually going on regular camping trips. For those who can only go camping once or twice a year, it’s probably best to rent your equipment. The popular sporting goods store REI offers rentals for a variety of camping essentials, including tents, backpacks, sleeping bags, paddling gear, and camping stoves. At most REI locations, for instance, you can rent a 4-person tent for $45 the first day and $10 for every additional day – which equals $55 for a weekend. Meanwhile, most 4-person tents on rei.com cost in the $200 and $300 range.

7. Trucks: When it comes to that occasional home improvement project that requires you to transport a heavy load, it’s probably not worth it to buy your own pickup truck – and you certainly don’t want to risk damaging the car you already own. The Home Depot lets you rent a pickup truck for $19 for the first 75 minutes, or $69 for a day, which is available at most of its retail locations. All you’ll need is a driver’s license, a valid vehicle insurance card, and a major credit card.

8. Parking Spots: One of the most frustrating things about driving is finding a place to park, especially in a busy city city or a congested town square. Luckily, there are a variety of services out there that allow you to rent spots, often at a rate significantly lower than commercial car parks or on-street meters. You can book a spot with the click of a mouse through sites such as parkatmyhouse.com and craigslist.org – whether you need a spot on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

9. Bikes: If you only go biking once in a while, or are an avid cyclist but don’t feel like transporting your bike every time you travel, renting could be a good option. You can rent bikes at low rates from services such as rentabikenow.com, which partners with more than 250 bike shops around the country to help people find a bike near their current location.

10. Furniture: If you’re decorating a house you plan on living in for years to come, we won’t argue with you if you choose to buy your furniture. But if you are hosting a special event at your home that requires some additional seating and tables, are living somewhere temporarily, or are selling and want to stage your home with fresh pieces, renting might make the most sense. Cort provides a host of stylish choices, including sofas, accent chairs, dining tables and rugs, as well as complete sets for your living room, bedroom and dining room. The living room set, for instance, includes a sofa, accent chair, cocktail table, end table, and silver tear-drop table lamp for $265 per month.

Black Wednesday

Wikipedia is one of numerous web sites to go black today in protest of SOPA and PIPA.

You may have already noticed by now, but some of our favorite Web sites such as Wikipedia, Craigslist, and Google have gone black today, protesting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). There’s a lot to be said about both bills, and surely a lot more to protest. Lifehacker.com couldn’t have said it better:

SOPA and PIPA are two bills that sound like they have a mildly positive aim but, in reality, have serious potential to negatively change the internet as we know it. Both SOPA and PIPA put power in the hands of the entertainment industry to censor sites that allegedly ‘engage in, enable or facilitate’ copyright infringement. This language is vague enough to target sites you use every day, like Facebook and Google, making these bills a serious problem.

The idea behind these bills sounds reasonable. They came about in order to try and snuff out piracy online, as the entertainment industry is obviously not excited that many people are downloading their products without payment or permission. The issue is, however, that it doesn’t really matter whether you’re in support of piracy, against it, or just don’t care. The methods are ineffective. Here’s what they are and why they’re problematic:

1. SOPA and PIPA were initially designed to make it possible for companies to block the domain names of web sites that are simply capable of, or seem to encourage copyright infringement. This would have been bad for everyone because such a measure doesn’t actually prevent piracy. The reason that blocking a domain name isn’t effective is because any blocked site can still be accessed via its numeric IP address. In fact, before the bills were even supposed to come to a vote, tools were created to automatically route domain names to their IP addresses to completely render this measure of SOPA and PIPA useless. As a result, the IP-blocking provisions have been removed from both bills.

2. The other, still-active measure present in the SOPA and PIPA bills would allow rights holders to cut the source of funding of any potential infringing web site. This means any other companies doing business with this site would have to stop. Whether that means advertising, links in search engines, or any other listings would have to be removed.

While the Obama administration has come out against SOPA, effectively shelving it indefinitely, the very similar PIPA bill is still alive and well.

As stated before, there’s a ton of information out there in regards to SOPA and PIPA. The best way to protest these bills is to become informed and to contact your congressperson via phone or mail. Let your voice be heard and help keep the internet free!

Small Steps Towards A Better You!

Spending an hour a day technology-free can help improve anyone's quality of life!

It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve made our New Year’s resolutions and while some of us are still going strong, the majority of us have probably already caved in. Good news is everyday can be given a new resolution, and even if the resolution isn’t life-altering, it can still make your quality of life better. Here are some simple ways to make your life – and 2012 – a little sweeter:

• Walk just 1/2 mile extra per day and log more than 180 miles extra a year. Mark it off and do it at the same time each day. Bring your dog along if you have one.

• Trim 100 calories per day. Cut down, don’t eliminate, a favorite snack. It will end up saving you 36,500 calories and more than 10 pounds each year.

• Go technology-free for one hour each day. Spend that 60 minutes relaxing and rejuvenating. By the end of the year, you’ll have spent more than 15 days in your calm place.

• Volunteer two hours weekly. Commit to the schedule – no more, no less. You’ll give more than four days of time in a year.

• Practice a new balance or stretching exercise for five minutes each day and get in 30 hours of extra activity a year. Try it when you get up or before you go to bed.

New Year, Fresh Start!

Happy 2012!

As this new year kicks into full gear, Ernst & Haas has its foot on the pedal! Although many changes were made throughout 2011, we are excited to start fresh with a new year, meaning new goals, new ideas, and new opportunities.

First, Ernst & Haas tenants are now able to submit maintenance requests online at www.MyRentalList.com. Tenants are now able to pay rent, submit and track maintenance requests, and view account information by logging into the Tenant Portal. This is a huge advancement on our Web site as it allows tenants access to their account without having to call or come in.

Next (if you haven’t already noticed), is our blog. We wanted to freshen up our blog and prepare for a year filled with informative and fun blogs. Have any blog ideas? Email them over to marketing@ernstandhaas.com. In addition to the blog, we will continue to produce quarterly newsletters, as well as update our Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channel.

Last, Ernst & Haas will be spending a lot more time out in the community in 2012, volunteering and helping out organizations that work for nothing more than to better our community. Check back in with our blog periodically for event updates – we’d love for you to join us!

We are confident this year will be full of growth and success and we look forward to continuing to serve you and our community in a variety of ways!