The £9 billion sharing economy

Posted on July 7, 2015 by Eleanor McKenzie
Close up of a Handbag

The sharing economy is providing opportunities for the over 50s to make a bit of spare cash. Personally, I’m amazed, and excited, at all the ‘sharing’, ‘renting’ and ‘hiring’ options available. Plus, by 2025 it’s estimated that this ‘rental’ market will be worth around £9bn, which suggests this is a new business sector worth taking seriously. So, what kind of things can you share for some extra money?

A handbag!

Did you know you could hire out your handbag? Yes, having recently written about the money to be made from vintage clothing, in particular, vintage handbags, they have cropped up again as potential money-spinners. Of course, it’s most unlikely that The Handbag Rental would accept my ‘fake’ Prada bag from a Marbella market. But perhaps my vintage Chanel, or the Pierre Cardin bag that a friend threw out of her wardrobe in my direction last weekend would be acceptable?

If you’re a handbag expert, and more to the point, a handbag buyer who can’t bear to part with last season’s models, but find they are taking up too much wardrobe space, then simply become a member at the company above, upload a good photo of your bag or bags, and prepare to rent them out. I perused the bags on offer, and there are some beauties that I may struggle to return—although I would, of course!

There are a number of bags that are suitable for very special occasions, such as the white, crocodile skin flower bag for Royal Ascot, or the Judith Lieber Crystal Tiara bag for a ball. Many of us would love to carry these bags without having to shell out the cash to buy them outright. £5 per month is the starting price for membership of the Handbag Rental Club.

Make your car earn its keep

Is your car sitting around doing nothing? Then, make it work for you! Easycar Club allows you to rent your car out by the hour, day or week. Members are provided with insurance and breakdown coverage. And, what a delightful website: you can “Meet the Owners” and see Andrew with his Peugeot 307, or Ingrid with her Honda Jazz. Members select local cars and meet the owners for a key handover. Once the rental period is over, the renter returns it direct to the owner and they share reviews on the site. In addition, Easycar Club doesn’t charge a joining fee, and you could earn at least £3,000 per annum.


Men chatting in an office

Desk space for hire

Freelancers know that working at home sounds wonderful at the start, but it can turn into an isolating experience. You may realise one day that you haven’t spoken to anyone but family for some time, or, if you live alone, that most of your conversations are with yourself, or presenters on afternoon TV! I have a solution for this, and it’s one that I use myself. I don’t really need an entire office space just for me, so I rent desk space in a marketing and design agency. It’s mutually beneficial as they often need copywriting, brochures and web content, all of which I do in addition to articles and blogging. In London, a place where office space costs an arm and a leg, Hubble offers “co-working, shared and private office space.” If you have extra space to spare, then you can add it to the Hubble directory and make cash from renting it out. It also offers a solution for new entrepreneurs. Indeed, if you want to start a popular new business, developing a co-working studio in another city isn’t a bad idea.

Parking space

My father used to rent a garage from a neighbour who had no use for hers. In apartment blocks where I live, underground parking spaces are purchased separately to the apartment, and they are not cheap. Many people don’t use them all year, and therefore, renting out a parking space is fairly commonplace.

Renting out spare parking spaces also makes sense in the UK, where space is at a premium, plus street parking and car parks are expensive. If you have spare parking, or you’re looking for a parking space, then the solution is called JustPark. It’s simple to use and straightforward to list your available space. Plus it’s UK-wide and you’ll find guidance on what to charge on the site. Popular locations include spaces near to stations, stadiums, airports and business areas.

You can also rent out a spare room short term without becoming a B&B if you join SpareRoom. If you think about it, there must be many more opportunities to earn cash from something you own, but don’t use all the time: garden equipment could be another opportunity. We’re the new entrepreneurs and we have more possessions than the youngsters: let’s lead this ‘sharing’ economy and win a nice chunk of the market. I think I’ll make a start with handbags!

by Eleanor McKenzie

Eleanor McKenzie is a Northern Irish writer with a passion for art, literature, and red wine. She's worked at advertising agency JWT, edited a journal for a European social policy think tank and tried to teach teenagers the difference between "there" and "their". Being 50+ has not significantly changed Eleanor's life, although she finds it a handy excuse when she wants to avoid anything too energetic.