Starting in the 80's, the American consumer has been caught up in, well, consuming. As a matter of fact, the consumer makes up over 67% of our economy. What has really taken hold is the increase in our standards; more than ever, starting a couple of decades ago, we all want high-end items, and with the rise of credit, that has been possible for most to attain.
What Is Transumerism?
With this proliferation of consumer appetites reaching all-time highs, especially in the last few years, there has been an parallel rise in leasing these items, or transumerism. What are these items? Perhaps things you would never consider renting: from exotic cars to designer clothes to upscale furniture and even art you can hang on your walls. The one thing that I couldn't find on the list is food.
Transumers are consumers who want to own as little as possible, but they desire the latest trends. So, they rent the item and simply trade it in for the next trend. Just like a subscription to Netflix, you use the item and return it for another, but different one.
Some companies will charge a membership fee, while others may charge a fee for the item itself, which can be 10% to 15% of the retail price.
But, What If I Only Use The Item Once?
Suppose you just want to use something once? There is an alternative. There are websites that, for a fee, will connect people who want to borrow something for a finite period of time. So, you can rent a textbook that you'll only use for a class you have to take, and will have no rapture to ever have to reference the material again for the rest of your life.
Many retailers have options to do just that. I went to the Oreck store when I had to have my very small kitchen floor buffed; so rather than buy a $600 buffer for something I'll use only once a year for a limited area, I can rent the buffer for $20 a day. Much better than buying it and having it take up space for a small amount of use.
Should I Rent, Or Should I Buy?
Here are some questions you can ask to see if renting or buying is appropriate:
- Would it be less expensive to buy it outright than what the total rental charges would be?
- How often will I use this item? If it's a tree trimmer or a buffer, it might be best to rent. However, if tit's something you need to have on hand, like a microwave, you would probably want to buy it.
- How long will I use the item? Like the textbook example above, if your use is one-time, for a finite amount of time, then you might want to rent.
- What will the resale value be? Will the item appreciate or lose value over time?
- What will the consequences of my use be on the item? If there won't be much wear and tear, you may come out ahead by purchasing the item and selling it later.
What are some items you would prefer to rent or borrow, rather than buy?