Share Your Way to More Money

At the crossroads of capitalism and altruism sits a bursting billion dollar economy that’s allowing millions of Americans to earn money without doing any real work.

Since the Great Recession the so-called “sharing economy,” has been bursting, thanks to the success of peer-to-peer commerce sites such as Airbnb, RelayRides and TaskRabbit. Facilitated by the Internet, the sharing economy lets consumers transact directly with one another, to barter, rent, sell or buy underutilized goods and services. Think: renting a spare bedroom in your home, a second car you only drive a few times per week, a video game console, clothing, books, your French proficiency, you name it.  Some reports estimate that the “sharing economy” is worth $26 billion.

While its initial success may have been tied to the recession’s economic malaise, the sharing economy sees no signs of deflating. Recently, a new poll by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of Airbnb, a popular marketplace to list and book accommodations around the world (homes, villas, castles, tree houses, or lofts in 34,000 cities and 192 countries worldwide!) found that 60% of people view the “sharing economy” as a new trend. And, not surprisingly  the biggest group of consumers interested in learning more about the marketplace is Gen Y – young adults.

The main motivation is, of course, money. Sharers say they’ve put their earnings toward basic expenses such as paying bills (46%), savings (27%), shopping (26%), travel (17%) charity (17%) or to start a business (13%).

But the benefits run deeper. Some participants say they like the idea of making better use of the stuff that’s already lying around. It helps the environment and eliminates excess. According to RelayRides, for example, the average car owner spends $715 per month on their vehicle (including car payments, gas, insurance and maintenance), but drives it for less than 2 hours a day. That means driving it less than 9% of the time. The San Francisco-based company says car owners earn an average $250 a month renting out their vehicles. 

For others, sharing is also a cool way to meet new people. In this video, for example, I interview Seth Porgess, a Brooklyn resident who regularly rents out his spare bedroom through Airbnb, earning $90 per person, per night. Many of his visitors travel from Australia and Europe.

Interested in learning more? In addition to the sites mentioned above, check out where you can participate in the sharing economy and pocket some cash.

  • SnapGoods: Rent your camera, an iPad, and other electronics and appliances.
  • ParkingPanda & ParkatmyHouse: Rent your parking space or your driveway for as much as $100 per week.
  • ToolSpinner: Wipe the dust off your tool kit and start making some money.  

On Thursday, May 16, I will be hosting a broadcast media event supported by Airbnb, offering tips on ways you can benefit from the sharing economy. Tune into your morning TV news!

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