Turn spare room into extra cash by renting it


Freund goes through Airbnb, a community marketplace that matches up travelers with homeowners looking for extra cash.

When Freund's work as a wardrobe stylist slowed down a few years ago and a roommate moved out, she signed up to the service to help pay bills and save some money.

"When I found out about Airbnb, they just answered all my problems," Freund said. "It really helps with the mortgage."

Airbnb hosts set their own prices, decide which days they want to rent out rooms, and list their own house rules. It's free to list. The company collects 3 percent of the booking charges. Guests pay more, a 6- to 12-percent service fee.

If you travel and don't mind sleeping in someone else's home, Airbnb offers 265,000 listings worldwide, including a room in the San Francisco Bay Area for a little as $10 a night. There is also a water tower in Berlin, a houseboat in Spain, a vintage Air Stream in the U.K., a beer barrel in Germany and even an igloo in Austria. The igloo rents for a cool $91 per night.

Last May, Will and Lynn Moffitt turned a room in their La Canada home into a bed and breakfast. Travelers like Sabrina Phillip of Canada pay $65 per night, which includes a continental breakfast.

"We've had that extra income, which has been great," Will Moffitt said. "It's paid the cable bill … and the bonus is we've met some fascinating people, some wonderful people."

The Moffitts say they've never had any problems with guests. Airbnb provides a $1 million insurance policy covering property damage. However, the policy doesn't cover the loss or theft of money, jewelry or artwork. Hosts are urged to keep valuables in a secure place.

For Sabrina Phillip, paying $65 per night plus an $8 service fee is a great deal for a charming home and a lot more fun than staying at a hotel.

"You look at a hotel price, you're looking at $150 to $200 for one person for one night," she said. "For a lot of students and stuff, that's not really feasible to come and stay for that kind of money."

"It's a vocation with benefits," Will Moffitt said. "It's been a fun thing to do that actually pays some bills."

We want to hear from you, too! What tips do you have to save real money? Post them on Ric Romero's Facebook page at facebook.com/abc7ric.

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