Have you read about my Patreon campaign yet? I wrote a little blurb about it last week. In it, I talk about the Old Economy Steve Jobs meme, and how, yeah, the "new economy" does suck in some ways. But wouldn't you rather see the world like this?
For the last few years, I've lived a very fun and adventure-filled life -- and I haven't held a full-time job since 2011. It is easier than ever to work remotely -- and the sharing economy has enabled people like me to make and save money in a way that is social, environmental, or just plain smart.
In this post, I discuss eight companies I've used (or will use) to make my lifestyle possible.
Airbnb is one of the best things to happen, ever. For two reasons. One, it allows you to find very affordable housing when you travel. You can rent a couch, a room or an entire unit, directly from someone like you. There's a rating system so you can screen the neighborhood, room and host before confirming, and I have only had good experiences with Airbnb.
For example. I spent about three weeks in Hawaii last December. The whole trip, with airfare and car rental, ended up costing around $1,000. Part of that is because I didn't have to rent dive gear -- I've got my own, and I did a lot of shore diving. But mostly it's because I got my ocean view studio with a full kitchen, private lanai, and more... for about $55 a night. My awesome host, Rory, also had all kinds of chairs, boogie boards, towels, coolers, and advice that he let us use for free.
Equally important, Airbnb enables you to rent out your own room, couch or whole house/apartment, on dates that are convenient for you. Going away for the weekend? The week? The month? Select your dates, take some photos and post your place. Not only can it help you justify taking a trip by helping you earn back some of the money you're spending... but it also potentially turns your house into a source of passive income.
If you're worried about theft or whatever, know that Airbnb insures your place for $1 million when you're renting through them.
I was going to share a photo of my messy, cluttered closet, but it was too humiliating. Suffice it to say, something needed to be done. But it's hard to justify getting rid of something you spent money on when you've barely worn it.
Enter Threadflip. They make it super easy to sell your (gently) used women's clothing and accessories online. You keep 80% of the sale. You can either send them your clothes (they'll mail you a free shipping envelope), or post items yourself:
3. Uber / Lyft
The other week, I lost track of time walking and talking about ideas with my friend Alex. Realizing my meter was up 30 minutes ago and we'd meandered over three miles from my car, I downloaded the Lyft app and requested a ride. Two minutes later, my driver showed up, and the crisis was averted.
The ride cost me about $7 -- but parking tickets in San Francisco are at least $40, so it was well worth it. (If someone had sent me a referral link, my first ride would have been free. Sadly, they didn't. But here's my referral link -- if you use it, we both get a $25 Lyft credit.)
If you're looking for something equally instant but a little more formal, check out Uber (again, if you use my referral link, we both get a $30 Uber credit. It works exactly the same way, but has a more polished image. It's more service-oriented than community-oriented. Riders sit in the back, and drivers often offer bottled water and phone chargers to use in the car.
If you're someone who's underemployed, self-employed, or just wants to make a few extra bucks at your convenience, you should seriously consider being a driver. A social rating system helps keep drivers and passengers safe, you make your own hours with the touch of a button, and both Lyft and Uber are paying their drivers really well -- they say their drivers make up to $70-80k per year! And right now, Uber is guaranteeing $5,000 your first month of driving (apparently when you sign up, they also send you an iPhone). Tempting, right?
It's Airbnb for cars. Flying out of San Francisco (SFO), Boston Logan (BOS) or Los Angeles (LAX)? Get free airport parking -- with an inside-and-out carwash -- while you're gone. And! If someone rents your car while you're gone, you will also make some money. Admittedly, I find the idea of renting my car to a stranger to be a little scary, but FlightCar insures all the cars they rent out for up to $1 million.
I used FlightCar for about three weeks while I was in Chile this spring. They rented my car out for a few of the days I was gone, and I ended up making about $75. If I were going to be gone a little longer, I could have enrolled in the monthly plan, whichguarantees $200-$500 per month that they have your car. I recommended this program to my brother, who lives in China ten months per year but owns a car in the states.
It's a great program for him -- who doesn't want to passively make about $3,600 per year? If you've got a car you're willing to rent out while you travel, look into FlightCar.
Meanwhile, I would definitely rent a car through FlightCar while traveling. At $15/day -- including free insurance, GPS and pickup -- it really doesn't get any cheaper.
Smart people should build things. Especially children. Studies show that tinkering as a child has lifelong cognitive benefits. Even as adults, they will be better builders and problem-solvers than their peers.
That, combined with my childhood obsession with Legos, combined with the fact that raising kids is expensive enough as it is, is why I'm excited about Pley, a sort of Netflix for Legos program.
Your subscription allows you unlimited rentals, one at a time. You can rent small ($15/month), medium ($25/month) or large ($39/month) sets. Each set is sanitized between users and comes with free shipping and returns. And, of course, lost piece insurance. (Pley considers this normal wear-and-tear.)
This is especially exciting to me, as a girl, in light of the new Female Scientist legos. Why didn't they have that when I was a kid?
A few months ago, I went to a super fancy pants, black-tie wedding. I only have one long dress, and it's white -- which I thought would be inappropriate for a wedding that wasn't mine. So I ended up just wearing my prettiest cocktail dress and hoping that would do. (Plus I shaved my legs, which totally counts for something.)
But what some of the other girls at the wedding did -- you know, the smart ones -- was rent their dress from Rent The Runway.
I like this because it's cheaper than buying new dresses all the time. It keeps your closet from accumulating clutter. And, if you're traveling to the wedding, you can have it shipped to and from the wedding hotel, so you don't have to deal with it on the plane.
It's awesome. And if you use this link to sign up, you'll get $20 off your first order.
A lot of young adults hold off on getting a pet because they travel -- either for work or pleasure. Many other adults could use a little extra money to make ends meet. And still more are majorly dog deprived.
Enter Rover.com. Search for dogsitters near you, and browse their testimonials, reviews and photos. Or list yourself as a sitter. I made a profile a while back -- and got quite a few requests right away. I've had a great experience with the site.
Use the code HAPPYTALENT20 when you make your first reservation to save $20.
Do you have a skill you want to share? Local knowledge? The ability to give a good tour of your city? List yourself as a guide on CanaryHop. You can make money doing what you love.
Or, if you're a traveler or local who wants to new activities, check out the different tours, lessons and activities, search thousands of options on CanaryHop.
Did I forget any outstanding companies? Let me know in the comments!