consumer-news

Caskets for rent, and we're not kidding

July 31, 2012 at 11:39 AM ET

Mike Kemp / Getty Images stock /
Caskets are among the more unusual items available to rent these days.

Renting a home? That we've heard of. Renting a casket? Not as much.

It's becoming clear that the rental industry — which was once reserved for tuxedos, cars and movies — has become much more, covering everything from cameras to power tools to parking spaces and, yes, burial caskets.

This new trend has a ton of benefits — for one, renting an item you'll only use once or twice is much cheaper (and more sustainable) than actually buying it. Not only that, sites like Rentalic.com let you tap into nearby resources like neighbors and community members to borrow items. Saving money and staying local? Now that's a movement we can get behind.

Here are examples of some unusual items available for rent.

The average American funeral can cost anywhere from  $8,000 to $10,000, with the average casket ringing in at $2,000 (although some models can reach up $10,000 or more). Recently, funeral homes have been giving families the opportunity to rent caskets for a much smaller price — over $1,000 less in some cases. Renting a casket is as simple as asking the funeral director about your options. When you choose to rent a casket, a simple interior container that looks like a wooden box will actually hold the body; at no point will the body actually come into contact with the rental casket. This box is cushioned inside the larger, more expensive casket. After the ceremony, this inner shell can be easily slid or lifted out of the outer casket.

Let’s face it, most of us don’t have the cash to splurge on designer dresses, let alone shoes and accessories to go with them. That’s why we love the new trend of renting dresses: Sites like Rent the Runway and Lending Luxury allow users to borrow dresses for three to five days for as little as 10 percent of the retail value (plus Rent the Runway will send two sizes). To snag a matching clutch or handbag, check out Bag Borrow or Steal.

If you regularly commute to a crowded city, finding parking can be a huge hassle — and parking garages are notoriously expensive. For an easier alternative, consider renting a parking space. Sites like ParkingSpacesforRent, and ParkAtMyHouse allow individuals to list their available parking spaces online. Then, users can search for a space based on location, type and time period, and rent directly with the owner.

Whether cleaning the carpet, fixing up the garden or just taking on a day of home improvement, power tools can often come in handy. But instead of splurging on one-time-use hardware, check out the rental options at your local Home Depot or Lowes. These stores offer everything from power washers to paint sprayers for daily or weekly rentals.

Hooked on Wii Boxing? We understand. Unfortunately, video games can get pricey, and replenishing your collection can be tough on budgets. To keep the variety at a lower cost, try renting games from sites like GameFly and GameMine. These resources are just like Netflix, with a flat monthly rate, quick and free shipping and large libraries of games to select.

There's no denying it: College is becoming increasingly expensive. That's why we love the idea of renting textbooks — it's an easy way to save each semester. While there are a ton of book rental sites, we especially like Book Renter for its library of more than 5 million books (plus free shipping!), and Chegg, which puts a priority on low prices. In some cases, you may even be allowed to highlight or take notes in book margins.

Ever wanted to capture a wedding or a graduation with a professional-grade camera, but didn’t want to shell out thousands of dollars? Sites like LensRentals.com and BorrowLenses.com now allow users to rent lenses or camera bodies much more cheaply than the cost of the normal hardware. With added bonuses like overnight shipping and quality customer service, budding photographers will love these options.

Buying new technology hardware can be a huge investment — but with new models coming out every year, it's so important for businesses to stay current. Sites like Rent Smart allow small business owners to borrow all kinds of tech hardware, from iPads to smartphones, for several years at a low weekly rate. Get ready to upgrade your home office — without breaking the bank.

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