While it's easy to admonish readers to stop wasting so much time on money-saving activities and to instead use those precious minutes to earn more money through tactics other than thrift, it's easier said than done. But in our world of abundance, there emerges a trend of peer-to-peer rental resources to help you make money from stuff you already have. Emma Johnson, www.Deals.com
This is a one-stop shop for many categories — vacation properties and camping equipment, tools and electronics, cars and party supplies. Dust off that sewing machine — someone might need it for a few hours. (The going rate is $15 per day.) What about that Batman costume you'll never wear again (but you hate to sell, since your kid just might want it one day)? There is no doubt a Halloween partygoer somewhere who would love it for this year's shindig.
Pros: Make money without spending any. You're saving the planet (since the borrower doesn't have to buy a new product). Help a fellow thrifty soul save money.
Cons: Can be a lot of hassle for minimal return. Always the risk that the borrower will break or steal your goods.
Have an extra room to rent, or are you leaving your place for vacation? Why not make some extra cash by listing it on this hip, user-friendly site that connects travelers and hosts around the world. Just create a profile and upload pictures of your pad, set a price and wait for the doorbell to ring. Just do yourself a favor and tidy up beforehand, and don't walk around in your skivvies — two-way user reviews feature heavily here. Going nightly rates vary, but current listings include a slick little studio apartment in Paris for $119 a night; a two-bedroom, two bath house in Summerville, S.C., for $89 and an adorable tree house in San Francisco for $75 per night.
Pros: Earn hard cash on an unused room or home. Make new friends. Have company when you're lonely or the security of knowing someone is keeping an eye on your place when you're away.
Cons: You have strangers staying in your place. They can make a mess. You might have to talk to them when you don't feel like it. You're nervous knowing people are in your house when you're away.
Competitors: iStopOver.com, HomeAway.com, HouseTrip.com (for Europe)
Interest rates are low. Which is a great thing if you're buying a house, car or paying for college. Not so much if you're looking for a safe place to stash your cash savings. Savings and money market accounts and certificates of deposits actually lose you money, since their miserable returns lag inflation. This site is a safe way to make a great return on your cash by lending it directly to individuals, whom the site prescreens and assigns a rating. You can browse borrowers' stories and loan terms or you can invest with the site's automated tool, which spreads your money over loans that fit criteria you set.
Pros: Awesome rates. Feel good knowing you're helping another person. Diversify your portfolio.
Cons: You're the bank. If the borrower doesn't pay, you don't get paid. Again like a bank, you get your money and interest in monthly installments, usually over three to five years. Prosper takes a 1 percent service charge.