SHARE YOUR WAY TO ABUNDANCE: How to Live a Richer Life While Spending Less

Image for SHARE YOUR WAY TO ABUNDANCE: How to Live a Richer Life While Spending Less

by Beth Buczynski

Each year many of us vow to spend less, save more, and take more time to support the things that really matter in life. Perhaps you’re feeling the sting of holiday expenditures, or simply looking for a way to consume less. There’s no need to let these resolutions fade like your promise to spend more time at the gym. In fact, there’s an easy way to save money, time and resources without going without the things and experiences you love. It’s so simple you might think it’s silly, but it’s no joke: Sharing.

Collaborative consumption is a social and economic model that has gained tremendous traction over the past few years. By emphasizing access instead of ownership, sharing can help us spend less, extend the life cycle of existing goods, and reconnect with the people who make our community a special place.

No, this isn’t (only) about bartering or CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). Neither is it about living in a commune. Collaborative consumption is a disruptive but powerful economic force. It is estimated that in 2013, $3.5 billion in revenue flowed through the sharing economy directly into the pockets of ordinary citizens.

So how exactly does the sharing economy work? Well, you can either gain temporary access to things (like cars, bikes, designer clothing tools or toys) that belong to a company who lends them out, or you can access goods and services shared by your peers (peer-to-peer sharing) on a short, long or permanent basis. People all over Colorado are using collaborative consumption to live more abundant lives, and in the process, they’re supporting the local economy and reducing waste.

Check out some of the resources below to see how you can save (and make!) money by simply sharing what you have, and looking to others to share what you need.

Car Sharing

Did you know the average car sits idle 22 hours out of every day? Why pay the high cost of insurance, maintenance, parking and taxes involved with car ownership for just a few short hours of transportation? If you’re a student, faculty or staff member of Colorado State University, you can access and pay for wheels only when you need them through the Zipcar car sharing program (zipcar.com/colostate). Not affiliated with the university? There are hundreds of Coloradans offering their own cars for daily rental at a fraction of the commercial price. Just check out RelayRides.com or Getaround.com.

Coworking

Colorado is home to a vibrant community of freelancers and entrepreneurs. For those just starting out, a traditional office space can be expensive, while the dining room table and coffee shops lack the privacy and amenities they need. An increasing number of these small and micro businesses are finding what they need in coworking spaces like Cohere Community (coherecommunity.com) in Fort Collins, The Armory (thearmoryworkspace.com) in Loveland, and many more in Denver and Boulder. These shared, flexible office environments allow members to share ideas and community as well as a WiFi connection. The low relative cost of coworking allows many companies to get out of the basement and into a space that will impress their clients.

Skill Sharing and Time Banking

Ever heard the phrase “time is money”? In the sharing economy, this statement is taken literally. SkillShare (skillsharenetwork.org) is a Time Bank headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, that allows Front Range residents to trade goods and services through the use of time credits, known as TimeDollars. This alternative currency means time spent in service of your community can be traded, in lieu of cash, for the services you need. Perhaps you’re a master gardener who would really like to learn to play piano. All you need to do is find a person who’s looking for gardening help, bank the time, and then trade it with someone who’s offering piano lessons. It’s a cooperative system in which members earn and bank Time Dollars for every hour of service they give to someone else.

Swapping and Bartering

Think of all the stuff in your home, just taking up space. Some of it probably hasn’t been touched in years. Why remain bogged down in belongings, when so many people in the community could put these things to better use? Swapping and bartering are age-old concepts, but they’re being reimagined through the use of mobile and social technologies. Now, instead of being limited to one’s neighborhood or church, there’s an entire world of people out there, just waiting to swap and barter for little to no charge. Check out MileHighSwappers.com, PeaceLoveSwap.com here in Colorado, and national swap communities like SwapStyle.com, Bookmooch.com and ToySwap.com to trade the things you have for the things you want.

These examples demonstrate how sharing makes it easy to access the things we want without using up the resources needed to buy or build new. So now it’s time to ask yourself, what can you share?

_Beth Buczynski lives in Northern Colorado and is the author of Sharing is Good: How to Save Money, Time, and Resources through Collaborative Consumption. You can find the book on Amazon, or at www.sharingisgoodbook.com. _