It might surprise you to know that bartering and borrowing can potentially save you money here and there. Whether it’s petsitting or housesitting, free furniture from moving neighbors or renting out your home in a time of high demand, there are many ways you can save money. You might be surprised by just how much you can save!
START A BABYSITTING AND/OR CO-OP WITH NEIGHBORS AND FRIENDS. You’ll have a pool of experienced parents nearby to help if you’re in a pinch, most of whom have fewer social demands on their time than local teenagers. If you have a pet, you probably have neighbors with pets also. Why not ask or offer help when someone is on vacation? They’re likely to return the favor and you’ll know your furry friends are with someone you trust.
SWAP YOUR HOME. Trading homes when you go on vacation could save you $100 to $200 a night on hotels. Vacation Homes Unlimited ($65 annual membership; (www.vacation-homes.com) is one of several groups that can plug you into International Home Exchange Association listings: Members get three updated directories a year of homes available for trade. A similar Internet-based group, the International Home Exchange Network (www.homexchange.com), charges $29.99 per year to post a listing.
GO INTO THE LODGING BUSINESS–TEMPORARILY. If you’re fortunate to reside in an area that experiences short bursts of popularity–such as during an annual arts festival or golf tournament–rent out your home for a week or two while you vacation. Each April, for example, more than a thousand homeowners around Augusta, Ga., rent their homes out while the Masters golf tournament is going on. Many of them take the $1,500 to $2,500 rent (for a three-bedroom home) and spend it on their own spring-break vacation at the beach. Best of all, you don’t have to report the rent to the IRS as long as you limit it to no more than 14 days a year. Check with local real estate agents, the chamber of commerce or event organizers about offering your home.
JOIN NEIGHBORHOOD FORUMS. Websites such as NextDoor act as a private social network for neighborhoods. The website allows you to ask around for money-saving recommendations, find out about yard sales, and just to help you get to know your neighbors.