Rent Every Thing You Can. And Every Place.
Let's take our imagination back a decade or two. Do you remember you, your friends, or your family having towers of VHS videos, DVDs, and Blu-Ray discs on display, almost honoring them as trophies of cultural consumption and taste?
Take it back half a century, and people might have put their intellectual prowess on display with shelves or perhaps an entire library stacked with books they've assuredly read.
This ownership could be appropriate in certain scenarios (owning a few classic films you actually break out with friends and family often, or if the library of books are reference material for your medical practice, etc.), but both concepts of needing to own these "things" seemed silly to me financially knowing that one could have spent time at a library, brought home books on loan, or rented a movie that they wanted to consume when they wanted to consume that piece of media, often just that one time they actually did read or watch it.
I always feel like it touches on that oh-so-American urge to have dominion over some little area of one's life, because there are things we have little control over, and this helps make some of us feel more confident. This same urge is why some people spend so much time and money "owning" that lawn and saying in their head, "Look at how green and magnificent my grass is! I made this little patch mine. Those blades of grass should be thanking me, their one true God, for making them so fresh and amazing. Man, I'm great!"
Maybe I've just never cared much for that feeling of needing to own so many "things", or maybe I do the math in my head for pretty much anything I do when it comes to my time and resource allotment, but here are three specific things I have always felt better about "renting", for lack of a better term in some cases, than "owning".
- Locations (in my case California / Colorado): These states always have a soft spot in my heart. I've nearly made the call to move us to one of the other for a job in the past. At some point, maybe it will seem more worth it, but it's hard not to do the math on this. You could technically make 30% less salary in a vibrant, diverse, tech-savvy Midwest city like St. Louis, Kansas City, or Chicago, for example, where real estate isn't obscene, and pay for up to 10 weekend trips to either location (flight, hotel, meals). After this, you would still have more take home money at the end of the year than if you lived somewhere like the Bay Area or Denver and lived in an apartment even outside of the city. While I know my friends living the life in those places are loving the year-round benefits of living in places like this, I enjoy a moderate-priced home, minimal traffic/commute, and having the ability to stow money away in savings in addition to traveling and eating quite well. When we want to see mountains and beaches, it's just a short trip to borrow a little of that life on an extended weekend from time to time.
- Fun Vehicles: I am a sucker for a good Jeep Wrangler. And I can't deny the feeling of freedom, cruising along a scenic road on a motorcycle. I own neither. But when my wife and I vacation (see above) to California or Colorado or really any place with mountains / beaches, I spend a little more to rent the Wrangler. And I could plan a few big weekend trips renting a nice motorcycle to zip along some beautiful views several times a year. I enjoy the chance to drive each of them, but I don't have to have a Jeep in a city like St. Louis where my commute and everywhere I go is pretty flat, and I don't have to house / maintain a beast of a two-wheeler that I wouldn't drive enough through the year to make it worthwhile. Plus, I never take it for granted, because it's always a special drive to enjoy as a treat.
- Pools / Boats: Well, this is a tough one. Because, while I want to recommend that you don't own a pool or a boat because they are fairly high on cost to own, cost to maintain, cost to store/winterize, etc.), if you use them enough, this can be worth it. Plus, if I'm being honest, one way I try to experience these a few good times a year is because I always try to be better friends with people that already do own them. I always make it a point to supply food, drinks, fun for the group while helping them enjoy these things. Also - you can usually find cost-effective ways to rent a boat with friends, and inexpensively access public and private pools wherever you live. But again, if you live somewhere that you can use them year-round, and/or you've got the expendable income, you do you. And, it goes without saying, don't forget to invite me out next time.