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Sharing Economy

05/04/17 Sharing Economy , Travel # , ,

How We’re Saving $4,000 on Summer Vacation With a Home Swap

How We’re Saving $4,000 on Summer Vacation With a Home Swap

The three main costs of a vacation — transportation, lodging and food — can be so high that affording a getaway can be difficult. Eliminating one of those costs with a home swap, however, can make it affordable — especially during the high season of summer vacation when more people take time off.

There are free ways to fly (credit card rewards points for free flights) and you can find cheap food anywhere. But you still have to come up with some cash to eat and to earn the rewards points.

Lodging can be trickier. There are cheap options such as renting a room in someone’s house or staying for free at a relative’s or friend’s home. But wouldn’t it be better to have a home to yourself for a relaxing vacation?

A home swap can do that for free.

A month in Europe

This summer my family is going to Europe for free for almost an entire month. We’re visiting Paris and Brussels for a week and staying in hotels — at a discount with a travel package through an airline — and then staying in a home in the Netherlands for almost three weeks for free by exchanging our home in the Bay Area with a Dutch family.

We made the swap through HomeExchange.com, a service that has more than 65,000 homes in 150 countries. You just search for homes in areas you want to visit, then email the homeowners to see if they want to do a swap.

At about $200 a night for a hotel room, I’m estimating we’re saving about $4,000 by exchanging homes. Continue reading

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04/24/15 Sharing Economy # ,

A Sharing Economy Fail: Organic Produce

A Sharing Economy Fail: Organic Produce

In my quest to try more parts of the sharing economy this year, I’ve revisited a favorite that I’ve enjoyed in the past: Groceries. Specifically, organic produce delivered to my door.

It didn’t work so well with a delivery in April. Though most of the organic produce delivered by Farm Fresh To You tasted great, the $27 charge for a small box of vegetables and fruit seemed exceedingly high. The same items were a little more when delivered by Safeway, which I’ll get to in detail later, but the delivery is about half of the total cost.

Pictured here is what was delivered by Farm Fresh To You:

  • 3 Navel oranges
  • 1 Hass avocado
  • 2 kiwis
  • 1 bunch red radishes
  • 1 package blueberries (about 4 oz.)
  • 1 bunch lettuce
  • 1 bunch Nantes carrots

All are organic and all tasted great, though the lettuce was a little wilted. Quantity and the delivery price, not quality, was where it failed for me.

Driving is worth the savings

I drive a few miles to my local farmer’s market every week, and I rarely buy organic produce. I don’t think organic is necessary on items with thick skins, such as oranges. And while not everything at the farmer’s market is organic, I talk to enough farmers there to know that an organic label is too much hassle for them, and that many of their crops are pesticide-free anyway.

The debate over organic produce aside, I still thought $27 was too much for what was delivered. I spend about $30 or so per week at the farmer’s market for twice as many fruits and vegetables.

Delivery service must eat up most of the cost for the organic produce that was delivered to my house. I expect to pay extra for delivery, but paying $10 more for organic produce I could have found at a nearby farmer’s market or grocery store seems steep.

$27 for $17 worth of organic produce

Here’s how much the same organic produce would have cost at Safeway, according to the grocer’s website. All of the items except for the avocado and blueberries were offered as organic at Safeway: Continue reading

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02/11/15 Sharing Economy , Travel # ,

Travel Like a Local and Get $10 to Start

Travel Like a Local and Get $10 to Start

 

If you’re going to travel like a local, you’ve got to save for it. It can be an expensive pleasure, and even when it isn’t too expensive because you’ve found deals, it still costs money to travel like a local.

It’s too easy getting sucked into visiting the landmark highlights of a new city. The Eiffel Tower is a must-see, but a tour by a local of the best places to photograph in Paris at night is a sidetrip that’s a little more difficult to find.

Travel like a local

After you’ve gone through the travel guide and gotten tips from your friends who have been to your travel destination before, how do you find the best activities to do there? And at a reasonable cost? Enter Vayable.com, a website I discovered while researching an earlier post I was writing for CashSmarter.

Vayable offers unique tours from locals with inside information that you might not get anywhere else.

For example, for $14 you can meet a local in Amsterdam over a beer and hear their tips for places to visit. Or for $75 you can skip the line at the Louvre in Paris and get a one-hour tour of the highlights, then stay on your own to explore it more. Continue reading

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01/22/15 Minimalism , Sharing Economy #

Favorite Parts of Sharing Economy Worth Trying

Favorite Parts of Sharing Economy Worth Trying

The term “sharing economy” has always kind of flummoxed me, in that many of the services within it aren’t really sharing in the traditional sense of the word. To me, sharing is something you do for free. It’s not charging someone to use your car, bike or rake, but is something normally done with friends.

What the Internet did with sharing was to actually turn it into an economy where strangers could exchange a service for a fee, without having to deal with a large company between them to do the transaction.

But there is still a company between consumers and the services they want online, though maybe not as big as brick-and-mortar companies. If you want to sleep in my extra bedroom for a night, or have me watch your dog for a few days, we can do that with a middleman taking a cut. Continue reading

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Hi, I'm Aaron Crowe. Welcome to CashSmarter. I'm a personal finance freelance writer who enjoys spending my money wisely and using minimalism to make my money last longer while increasing income.