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On a budget? Rent what you want

May 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Want a designer handbag or gown? Need an expensive power tool or all the camping gear for a week in the woods, but your budget just won't handle the cost? Then you might want to consider renting instead of buying.

Shana Dysert runs a fashion company that has her attending several dressy events a year.

"You can't wear the same thing, especially because this is something that I go to every year," said Dysert.

So having just the right gown to wear is essential, but her budget is tight. Then a friend told her about a website called RentTheRunway.com, and she has been set with designer gowns worthy of the red carpet ever since.

"I think there are somewhere near 30,000 dresses you can pick from. The best part is you get to pick two different sizes, because when you're ordering online, that's the hardest thing," said Dysert.

A Badgley Mischka dress sent to her by mail would retail for over $2,000, but Dysert got it through the website for $150 and she got to keep it for four days.

"This is the return sleeve you return the dress in. It's already paid for and everything. You don't have to clean it. It's easy," Dysert said.

Just like designer dresses, you can also rent designer handbags for a lot less than retail.

Stacy Nellor rented a Chloe handbag she got from BagBorrowOrSteal.com that she'll use for just the summer months. She said it retails for $2,100, but she's renting it for $150 a month.

"With the trend pieces, usually by the summer's end, you're just over it. You don't want to keep it anymore, and you feel like you just spent a ton of money on something you really didn't want to keep forever," said Nellor.

Bag Borrow or Steal rents hot designer handbags like Prada, Fendi, Michael Kors on a weekly, monthly or seasonal basis. Another designer handbag source for rentals is HandbagEnvy.com.

It's one thing to have to pay for rising college tuition costs, and it's another when you're hit with a big bill for books you'll use for just one class. According to the College Board, the average cost of books for one academic year is over $1,100.

But renting books is a great way to save. At CampusBookRentals.com, Half.com and Chegg.com, renting textbooks can save two-thirds or more over the cost of buying new.

At REI, camping gear is their No. 1 rental - everything from stoves, backpacks, sleeping bags and tents. It costs $20 to become a member, but you'll save that on the very first day's rental and you'll save even more as time goes on.

How often have you needed an expensive tool to do a home repair or maintenance project? Probably not too often. That's why renting specialty tools makes a lot of sense. For example, a tile cutter is the most popular tool rented at Home Depot.

"For your do-it-yourselfers, your home improvement warriors, it's not something you really want to purchase. If you're doing it for only one room, it's going to be big, clunky, and expensive," said Dave Hauer of Home Depot.

One tool that retails for about $400 to $500 can be rented for $62 a day. And there's another advantage to renting tools.

"We have insurance for it, so if you damage it, for any reason, bring it back and you're not charged for it," said Hauer.

Here are other items you can rent instead of buy: bikes, furniture, trucks, and even caskets, although I'm not really sure why you would.

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