Your Money

19 ways to make the most of the share economy

- February 17, 2022 9 MIN READ
Elizabeth Benson and kids - Elizabeth uses The Volte to rent her clothing

Tap into the growing share economy to make and save money. There are plenty of ways to get involved.

In economic terms, a ‘share economy’ is a socio-economic system built around the sharing of resources. A share economy uses an online platform to connect people who want to hire goods and services with those happy to lend them out. In practical terms, that means you can lend out your stuff, time or skills to make extra money.

A share economy basically lets you own less as well as better utilise the things you already own. A 2017 report by the Board of Taxation found that Australia’s share economy was worth around $15 billion. An estimated 60 per cent of Australian’s working population were using or planning to use the share economy in that year. The numbers have only grown since then.

The benefits of the share economy

  1. Monetise assets you don’t regularly use
  2. Creates closer communities
  3. Better efficiency of resources in your area
  4. Save money by leasing, not buying
  5. Flexibility in the way you use things
  6. Ability to easily compare pricing
  7. Reduced environmental impact because less stuff is needed

How you can take advantage of the share economy

There are a stack of new share economy opportunities available – and some you’ll already be familiar with. You can make extra money by setting yourself up in any of these platforms. Keep in mind that you can also save money by using them as well.

Share your home

1. Rent your room or house

You’ve probably stayed at an Airbnb over the years, but have you ever considered renting out your spare room as a host? It’s the simplest way to get started using the platform, utilising an existing space you already have. For example, Airbnb estimates that the average Sydney host earns an extra $4,505 each year renting out the home they live in. You can make significantly more if you happen to have a spare house to rent out.

You can start the sign up process here. It’s free to list, with Airbnb charging 3 per cent host service fee, which is deducted from any bookings you make.

For many hosts, renting out space via Airbnb (and other platforms like it – see options below) has grown over the years from spare cash to career. Many started by renting out their holiday home when they weren’t using it. This soon grew to purchasing investment properties purely to turn into Airbnb accommodation. A small industry has grown up around this, with stylists like Sarah Andrew and Simone Mathews developing workshops and masterclasses to teach people how to make the most from Airbnb rentals.

Other share economy sites like Airbnb:

  • Stayz aka HomeAway (from Expedia)
  • Flipkey (from TripAdvisor)
2. Swap your house for a holiday

You can save loads on your accommodation costs when you travel by swapping homes with someone else via sites like Home Exchange. You pay to get access to listings and you have to list your own home to be able to stay at other homes.

It’s pretty easy to get involved. You can either do a simultaneous swap by staying in the home of the person at the same time they are staying at yours. Or you can stay at each others homes at different times (if you have a holiday home, etc). If you want to be particularly friendly, you can also host people in your home, and later they will host you.

There’s also the option of accruing ‘guest points’, where you don’t have to stay at the home of the people who stay at yours. Instead, you use your points to stay at a different home.

Other share economy sites like Home Exchange:

3. Offer your couch is another great way to save heaps of money when you travel. If you’re not shy and you’re not fussed about where you sleep, you can basically travel the world with zero accommodation costs.

After you sign up and pay an annual fee of AU$21.99 or a monthly AU$4.49 to the site, you get access to thousands of worldwide listings. You can then arrange to stay on someone’s spare couch, air mattress and (if you’re lucky) their spare room.  It’s as much about building communities as it is about finding somewhere cheap to stay. Most users say it’s a great way to meet people.

4. Welcome campers

You love your garden, now other people can too. In fact, Campspace lets campers from all over the world book a tent spot in your backyard. You pick your price, you choose when people can pitch their tent at yours and you choose who comes to stay.

You’re guaranteed they’ll be adventurous, wholesome types and what’s not to love about that? Don’t worry, you’re not ‘hosting’ in the traditional sense. If you don’t want to speak to the wholesome people, you don’t have to…

Share your space

5. Rent out your car space

Even your car space can make you moolah. Judging by the listings on Parkhound, you could make up to $750 a month by leasing your unused car space to someone who needs it. The $750 a month requires you have a CBD lock-up garage, but there’s money to be made no matter where you live.

Sydney marketing manager Scarlett Evans rents out her two car spaces on Parkhound as she doesn’t need a car due to living in the Sydney CBD. The $6720 a year ($560 a month) she makes from her commuter space renter offsets the cost of her rent.

Find out how it works here and sign up your car space here.

Other parking share sites:

6. Take on someone else’s excess

Self-storage facilities are popping up all over Australia and you can essentially join them. Sites like Spacer let you lease out your attic, garage, spare bedroom or study so people can store their excess stuff with you. It’s basically the same as having your sister leave her boxes with you while she goes travelling. Only this time she’s paying you for the privilege.

It’s free to list your space – a fee is collected from the renter each time they rent from you. Spacer estimates that you can earn up to $4,200 a year.

7. Share your office

Through Rubberdesk, you can rent out your office for co-working or as a dedicated office space for someone else. You can list as a permanent annual office space, or for people to rent by the month. All kinds of small businesses, freelancers and start-ups are looking for either company or space. It will help you keep your own business costs down, or provide a new revenue stream. You’ll pay nothing as the host, but your renter will pay Rubberdesk 10 per cent on top of your fees.

8. Share your pool

Even your backyard pool could make you good money. You can rent it out by the hour or day via the ‘Airbnb for pools’, Swimply. Swimply reports that the average pool owner earns $2,500 a month, or $30K a year. That’s some serious extra cash!

Find out how to list your pool here.

Share your vehicle

9. Rent your car

It’s not just accommodation people regularly need to rent. Renting out your car one of the best share economy ideas ever. That’s because there’s really not a lot to it.

  • Own a decent, fully-insured car
  • Sign up at a site like Car Next Door
  • Ensure you’ve got a full tank of fuel
  • Park your car and share the GPS coordinates
  • Leave your keys in a designated lockbox or arrange to meet borrower to hand over keys

That’s pretty much it, but full details here.

Car Next Door estimates that Cars that sharing your car occasionally could earn you an average of around $300 a month. Cars, utes or vans shared full-time can make you up to a tidy $2,000 per month. Bear in mind, you’ll have to pay fuel and other car costs out of that.

Other sites like Car Next Door:

10. Rent your van

If you’ve got a campervan, motorhome or caravan gathering dust in your driveway, read on. Camplify is like a cross between Car Next Door and Airbnb – rent out your van when you’re not using it. #vanlife

You don’t have to have a motor home to participate, either. You can save a packet on holiday accommodation and car rental by merging the two with a Camplify rental. There are heaps of different vans to choose from that suit singles, couples and families. Daily hire can cost under $100 for both your bed and transport (fuel costs extra), so the savings are very real.

Other places like Camplify:

Share your things

11. Share your fashion style

If you secretly always wanted a job in fashion, now’s your chance. At places like The Volte you can rent out your luxury duds for a pretty penny so you can make money to spend on more duds.

You’ll have plenty to go around, too. A designer dress that cost you $1,500 can rent for $300 a pop. So rent it just six times and you’ll be making a profit.

Criminology student Niki Weibrecht supplements her job taking 000 calls, with renting out her wardrobe on The Volte. She makes more than $12,000 a year. Her first listing was a Bec & Bridge Caroline minidress and she says, “ As soon as I bought it, I was like, ‘if I’m going to have this designer dress addiction, I need to share it with others’.”

Weibrecht’s story isn’t unusual either. Elizabeth Benson (pictured above) makes anywhere from $900 to $1500 a week renting out her designer dresses. Get onto it!

Other sites like The Volte:

12. Join a Library of Things

If you need something, you don’t have to go out and buy it. You can borrow it instead. The first stop is obviously your neighbours and friends, but you can search further afield by joining a Library of Things. The Sydney version lists everything from AFL footy goals to a yoghurt maker. You borrow what you need and list what you can lend.

If you can’t find a Library of Things in your local area, you can always start one up yourself. You don’t have to store all of the stuff together as some libraries do. Instead, just have a way for lenders to get in touch with lendees and they can arrange their swap directly.

13. Share your groceries

Community grocery shopping is a growing thing, with farmer’s markets and hubs like BoxDivvy and local food co-ops becoming mainstream. You can do your shopping and support your local community at the same time. You’re often cutting out the middle person, so you’ll also save money on a regular weekly shop at the supermarket.

You can also share your time to support initiatives like The Community Grocer and Lentil As Anything. If you’re a gardener, you can also get involved in crop swaps and permabees.

14. Start a street library

Street libraries are popping up across the suburbs like literary ports in a storm. They are easy to start (you just need a few books you’re willing to lend) and the benefits are numerous. They include bringing neighbourhoods together, getting a ton of new books to read and consequently saving loads of money because you won’t have to buy new books. Everything you need to know about getting started is here.

And don’t forget to pop into your OG local library sometime soon. Not only are there free books to browse, your council will also give you free access to PCs and printers, free toys, free movies, free magazines and newspapers and, if you’re lucky, free workshops and guest speakers.

Share your time

15. Mind someone’s pet

List yourself as petsitter with Madpaws and do animal lovers in your local area a huge favour. You can look after pets in your own home or your new clients’. Madpaws does charge quite a hefty 20 per cent fee, but if you can get this little share economy business up and running, it may well be worth it.

If you’re not keen on signing up to a website, you can also list your services on your local Facebook community page.

16. Look after a house

Offering your time looking after someone’s property or pets while they’re away can be lucrative. The work is simple (you live in their home like it’s your own) and the money is good.

Most house sitters charge in the region of $60-90 per night, depending on what’s expected. Watering the garden, looking after pets, brining in the mail or being required to be at the home at certain times during the day or night all mean you can charge more.

Some people make housesitting their full-time accommodation option, saving bucketloads on rent. It’s a risky move, but if you have a reliable back-up (like your parents’ place), it’s doable.

Sites like Housesitters make it easy, but you can also list in your local Facebook groups or put an ad up at the shopping centre.

Other sites like Housesitters:

17. Do some odd jobs

At Airtasker you can offer to do the work other people can’t. It’s especially lucrative if you’re a tradie or IT expert, but you can also clean homes, cook meals, stack bricks, weed gardens and do plenty of other odd jobs that don’t require a qualification. A quick check of the site reveals that if you can manage to put together an IKEA bookshelf, the world’s your oyster.

Share your money

18. Peer-to-peer investing

Lending money directly to people who need a loan is a growing form of investing. Instead of putting your money into shares or property, you can loan it to a business or person who needs it. You make money on the interest you charge, so your return is therefore guaranteed at a certain rate. Online platforms make it easy to set something up, but you can always lend to a friend or family member (provided you’ve got a solid legal contract in place).

Try one of these P2P platforms:

19. Invest in start-ups

If you’ve got an appetite for risk, investing in start-ups through a company like ThinCats could be the ticket. It connects businesses looking for capital with everyday people looking to diversify their investment portfolio. You’ll be supporting the Australian small-medium business market and, you never know, one of them could be the next AfterPay. As with any higher-risk investment, be sure to speak to a financial adviser before you take the leap.