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15 Things You Never Knew You Could Borrow to Save Money

Stop wasting money and cluttering up your home with single-use purchases when you could borrow them instead for a small fee or absolutely free.

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Entertainment

Beyond lending books, your local library may offer a treasure trove of entertainment. Don’t miss the chance to take home items such as movies, video games, language-learning courses, current magazines, board games, American Girl dolls, and even telescopes like this Celestron Travel Scope—all for the price of your library card (which is free for local residents). Here are more ways to save money without feeling the pinch.

Black ereader with retro glasses on wooden tablemmkarabella/Shutterstock

E-books and ’zines

Save money and reclaim bookcase space by reading e-books. If your friend owns an Amazon Kindle, she can lend you e-books by clicking “Loan this book” from the product page of the book you want to read. Once she enters your email address, you’ll receive an email notification allowing you to accept the loaned book for up to 14 days. If you have a Prime membership, log on to the Kindle Lending Library and borrow a wide range of e-books at no cost. If you don’t have a Prime membership, you can borrow that, too! Ask a Prime member to add you to his or her Amazon Household; then accept the emailed offer to include you. You can also forgo the messy magazine pile and instead “check out” your favorite magazine as an online ’zine and enjoy it on your e-reader.

The spines of books. The view from the topOleg Golovnev/Shutterstock

Textbooks

Taking a college course? Skip the pricey textbook purchase—some basic texts can cost more than $230—and opt to borrow a book instead. Check out Amazon, Chegg, and Campus Book Rental to see if they have your required books available. Even if you know you’ll want your own copy to highlight and take notes in, you can begin by borrowing the textbook until you are certain that you’ll continue in the class. If novels are on your reading list, here’s how you can snag some bestselling books for $5 or less.

Close-up of brown wooden classical guitar.vintage guitarGuitar Studio/Shutterstock

Musical instruments

Think you might want to take up the trombone or learn to play the guitar on an acoustic Feder? Ask your local music store about borrowing options before investing in a very expensive instrument. Some shops offer the instrument for free if you take lessons or a class with them; others allow learn-at-home students to rent instruments for a small fee. These are the things minimalists wish you’d stop wasting money on.

blenderMilosR/Shutterstock

Small kitchen appliances

One of the biggest cash wasters is all the specialty kitchen appliances you’re convinced you need. Think about clutter culprits like an ice cream machine, bread machine, and cake pop maker. Chances are a friend has the one you want to use, so skip buying the Babycakes maker and save $32 by borrowing one instead. Be sure to thank your friend for the loaner with a batch of whatever you whip up when you return the machine. Here are more cooking gadgets you really don’t need.

Bowl of eggs sitting on top of an old recipe book - eggs, cheese, rice, pasta chapter. Very retro.Denise Kappa/Shutterstock

Cookbooks

The average cookbook, such as Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat, will set you back an average of $17, but if you borrow it from the library, you could save yourself $68 a year, assuming you pick a new book each season. There’s also no shortage of recipes online, so you may not need a hard copy of a cookbook at all. Don’t miss these 13 healthy food swaps that can save you money.

WineOlha Tsiplyar/Shutterstock

Party supplies

If you play party host only once a year, then renting folding chairs and tables means that you can store your car in the garage instead of cluttering up the garage with rarely used furniture. While many people believe that you can rent furniture and dishes only in large quantities or that renting is too expensive, it’s actually a great option to save money, even with as few as 10 people. On average a rented table is $8, and a chair only $2; that’s $28 for a party of ten. Add on a few wine glasses and some linens, and your price is under $50. As a bonus, you don’t have to wash the glasses, launder the linens, or store the stuff. But if you host mah-jongg every Friday, then you might want your own table and chairs, like this XL ultra-padded set. Check out these 50 insider secrets that will help you save money at all your favorite stores.

Overhead view of travel equipment for a backpacking trip on wooden floor. / Items include rope, belt, canteen, compass, map, binoculars, journal, boots, note book, backpack. Time to travel concept.Kimrawicz/Shutterstock

Sports equipment

Before you invest in expensive sporting equipment, call the nearest chain sporting goods store. Most of them rent out items such as hiking backpacks, camping tents, skis and poles, and much more. However, you may still want your own camping sleeping bag (such as this Abco four-season sleeping bag) to use when you visit one of these must-see campgrounds that should be on your bucket list.

Brown travel suitcase and blue generic passport close up view. Tourism and leisure concept. Selective focus and shallow DOFMartin Grincevschi/Shutterstock

Luggage

Looking for some luggage to pack for your next getaway? Whether you need a small carry-on or a large duffle bag, ask your family first. Assuming they’re not joining you on the trip, there’s a good chance they would be happy to lend you their luggage. Thank them with a souvenir! If you’re in the market to buy your own, don’t miss the carry-on bags with five-star reviews on Amazon.

small metal shovels and rakes for tillage in vases, flowerpots, bedsrsooll/Shutterstock

Gardening equipment

Want to till your garden but don’t want to part with the $118 it would cost to buy a Sun Joe tiller like this one? No problem. Most home improvement stores will let you borrow the gardening tools you need for a fully refundable deposit. Plus, their professional-grade tools are of better quality than the one you might have bought, which you’re likely to use only once or once in a while. From post diggers to wheel barrows to hedge trimmers and more, see if you save money by borrowing. Then save even more with these 10 must-read tips to save you money on gardening.

Close up of a belt sanderSean van Tonder/Shutterstock

Home improvement

Are you an occasional DIYer? If so, you know that home improvement tools, especially high-end ones, are expensive. A high-power washer used on the deck once a year, a paint sprayer used once, and a floor sander never used all add up to wasted money sitting in your garage. Most chain home improvement stores lend out this equipment and much more. Why would they let you borrow an item free of charge or for a small fee? Because if you’re stopping by the store to borrow equipment, you’re also likely to buy the accoutrements you need for the rest of your project while you’re there. Purchasing a pressure washer: $145. Renting the same or similar Schafter pressure washer for one day: $25. Savings: $120. Now get ready to tackle one of these 17 clever home improvement ideas for under $200.

Brand New Car Tire Closeup Photo. Modern Car Tirewelcomia/Shutterstock

Car maintenance and repair

Did the car check engine light come on and you’re not sure why? You might be able to skip the trip to the dealer and instead swing by a chain automotive store. Most will let you borrow a diagnostic scanner tool like this one from Foxwell to determine the problem, and many stores will even have an employee do it for you. Make sure you avoid these 8 fees if you want to save money on car rentals.

Female dress on hangerben bryant/Shutterstock

Formal wear

No more banishing dresses worn only once to the back of your closet. Instead, rent that gala gown or an Alice and Olivia little black dress from an online shop such as Rent the Runway. And don’t forget that the guy in your life can rent a suit or a tuxedo from the Black Tux or a local men’s suit shop. Instead of spending about $848 to buy a $398 dress you’ll wear once and a $450 tuxedo, you can borrow them both for about $200, which saves you $648! Not to mention, you’ll save space in your closet.

Beautiful pearls of bride's jewelryAlex Andrei/Shutterstock

Handbags, timepieces, and jewels

Want to get dressed to the nines? Borrow a high-end handbag and luxury timepiece, like this Movado, to complete your look. From a trendy tote to a bejeweled clutch, online shops such as Bag Borrow or Steal will ship you what you want. Online shops like Borrowed Time Watches offer wristwatches for rent, and Haute Vault and Switch also have luxury jewelry you can wear for an evening. Check out these other smart money-saving tips from self-made millionaires.

Painting drywall using ladderVince Ruffa/Shutterstock

Oversize items

Extension ladders and other bulky, oversize items not easily transported are best borrowed from a next-door neighbor. Instead of having to try to fit the giant thing inside a car or borrow a truck, you can simply walk it to your house, which makes it much easier. Of course, if you find yourself asking to borrow a neighbor’s ladder once a week, then you might want to invest in one of your own, like this Multi-Use Little Giant. Now find out the 15 things that everyone pays way too much for.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Reader’s Digest editors, who aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of revenue from our partners, such as Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We welcome your feedback. Have something you think we should know about? Email us at [email protected].

Jamie Novak
Jamie Novak is a globally recognized professional organizer who regularly contributes to RD.com. She has more than 20 years of experience covering the home-organizing industry. Novak wrote Keep This Toss That: the practical guide to tidying up, a top selling book for Reader's Digest. She’s been seen on HGTV, QVC, and national morning talk shows. Her work has appeared in magazines from Better Homes and Gardens to Real Simple. Connect with Novak at JamieNovak.com, @JamieNovak, or using the hashtag #KeepThisTossThat