Helping Good Neighbors – 10 Communal Items to Share and Save Money

We all know times are tight right now, with so many unemployed and tons more losing their houses to foreclosure. It’s a really sad situation and one that we all hope turns around relatively soon. In the meantime, however, we all still need to keep on living — and that means that we often need to spend money on things for our family or our homes in order to keep everything in order. But these expenses can add up quickly, especially for repairs if you are a homeowner and need to pay for everything yourself (those expensive repairs are when I am thankful I am a renter!), so careful planning and discussion amongst friends prior to making big purchases can really help out your bottom line.

When I was growing up some of my neighbors shared a high-end lawnmower and an expensive snow-blower between them, which cut their initial investment and any recurring costs of ownership right in half. I thought it was odd at the time as a kid but I totally understand why they would have done it now. Do you have good neighbors you truly like and trust? Maybe you can start sharing certain things with them (and vice-versa) in order to reduce your overhead. Here are 10 popular things that you could easily share with your neighbors, saving everyone a little bit of much-needed cash in the process. Let’s take a look…

1. Tools. We all need to use tools, whether we are renters or homeowners. I happen to own a lot of tools and have never owned property in my life. By opening up our workbenches to neighbors, we can share those little-used tools instead of buying something we’ll only need once.

2. Lawn/Party Furniture. Do you throw a lot of parties in your backyard? Does your neighborhood have annual picnics? Why not have several households pitch in for some nice lawn furniture that everyone can use when they need it?

3. Large Lawn/Snow Equipment. As I mentioned above, my neighbors growing up shared these things. They are expensive and need repairs once in a while; why not share the burden?

4. Gardening Equipment. Shovels, hoes, rototillers, rakes — why does every house on the block need their own when sharing makes much more sense?

5. Automotive Repair Equipment. If you change your own oil, you have drip pans, dropclothes, and something to collect the used oil in. (I hope!) Well, since you only use these things every 3,000 miles or so, why not share with a buddy in the neighborhood?

6. Sporting Goods. Kids try all sorts of sports before they decide which one they are going to stick with. So why not share a soccer goal, a tee-ball tee, or some lawn games like bocce ball amongst friends?

7. Baby Clothes. Your children will grow out of their clothes almost as soon as you put them on them, so trading and/or buying used makes way more sense than paying top dollar for new stuff. You give your clothes to someone with younger kids and you get some more from someone else with older kids. It’s a win for everyone!

8. Magazine and/or Newspaper Subscriptions. Back in 2009 I started a magazine swap with some neighbors and it was a big success. Why not try the same with yours?

9. Trade One Talent For Another. Can your neighbor weld and you need a welder? Can you fix a toilet but your neighbor is clueless when it comes to plumbing issues? Why not trade talents?

10. Share Trash Pickup. I pay $35 for a truck to pick up at most 2 small bags of trash from my house every month. That’s the same amount that my neighbor pays to have the same truck pick up their bags and bags and bags each and every week. Morally right or wrong, why should I pay the same amount as they do when I have only a fraction of the trash? Why not find a like-minded neighbor and split the cost with one of you canceling service?

Do you share with your neighbors already? What are you sharing that I didn’t put onto the list? I know there are services like NeighborGoods which encourages sharing among people who live in your zip code, but sharing multiple items with the guy or gal across the street can probably save you even more money than that service ever could. What are you waiting for? Start sharing goods and save yourself some money!

(photo credit: lauren keith)

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Comments (5)

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  1. Michele says:

    Many communities require every homeowner to maintain trash pickup. You cannot share services with your neighbor. Where I live, the trash is picked up by a company that gives you choices in how you want pick up. You can rent a container from them, and they will only pick up what will fit in the container, with special arrangements for large item pick up. You can have unlimited service, or you can buy a roll of special bags from them. If you buy the special bags, you are only paying for exactly what you set out.

  2. Annette Campbell says:

    I practice splitting expenses with neighbors when buying durable items like garden tools and equipment. We use an online tool (SplitStuff) to find neighbors who are looking to buy the same items and split the cost with someone else. We also use this tool when buying food in bulk. It’s very effective since we get to save on the cost of things that we buy.

  3. Steve says:

    I think the same way, but feel awkward asking about this. How have people approached this with neighbors in the past?

    I’d like to see some examples on how this has worked practically.

    My neighbor has a nice snowblower, and sometimes does our drive. If I offer something to them, they say nevermind – I feel bad like I take advantage. I’d much prefer to say I’d essentially “rent” the machine from them, but that’s also a bit awkward to say. How has it worked for you if you need a snowblower in the early morning before work? Do you have to knock on your neighbor’s door to ask for it?

    Some of the cost savings also translates to reduced efficiency and convenience (having to coordinate with the neighbors), but it still seems like a good idea – it’s wasteful for everyone on a street to own hundreds of dollars of equipment that isn’t used all the time.

  4. Lisa says:

    We frequently share prepared food with neighbors who reciprocate. Garden produce is another favorite since each of us tends to have better luck with certain plants. Also, if you and your neighbors can garden foods, getting together for a canning party makes for easier work for all involved.

  5. Mike says:

    Wireless internet! Sharing wireless internet works especially well if you live in an apartment complex where everyone is in a closer proximity. If you are concerned about security, you can always encrypt the connection then share the key with the neighbor who splits the internet bill.