Split the Costs, Keep the Savings

Split the Costs, Keep the Savings

Your parents might have always told you that it's nice to share. But did they mention that it might also be a bargain?

The economic crunch is creating a whole lot of “share and share alike” scenarios that are cutting down on business and household costs:

- Shared executive office space outfits such as Sunshine Suites, Regus, and Techspace are making it easier than ever for small businesses to find office space in places where real estate is expensive. In collectives like these, companies are granted a corporate setting, fax machines, conference rooms and more … at a fraction of the price of a traditional office.

Because office space is incredibly expensive; on the whole, owners of Class A office buildings in Midtown Manhattan are currently asking $72.03 per square foot. According to the New York Times, subletting can shave that price down by 22%. In comparison, shared workspace in NYC from Sunshine Suites can cost as little as $375 per month, without the headache of renting a space on one’s own. Plus, there are no maintenance, office furniture, or equipment hassles.

- Online and at-the-ready, virtual assistants can help you with everything from technical to administrative services, even though they work at home. Typically working with numerous clients at once, these able experts usually charge between $15 to $35 per hour. At that rate, they can be more cost-effective than hiring either a full-time or temporary assistant. Plus, there's also no overhead for supplying a desk, computer or office equipment, and no costs for fringe benefits.

- Babysitting co-op arrangements are popping up across the country, allowing like-minded groups of parents to swap child-care duties. These parenting groups are being casually organized everywhere from daycare centers to PTA meetings to local playgrounds. The premise is simple: Each couple takes a turn staying home and keeping an eye on a friend or neighbor's kids (in addition to their own). In return, that couple is granted a night away from their children without the cost of a sitter. Considering that babysitters can cost upwards of $10 per hour, the savings can mean the difference between a low-key evening and a night on the town.

- Professional services like Rent the Runway and Avelle (formerly Bag, Borrow & Steal) permit fashionistas to share in the latest designer outfits and accessories, wearing them on loan, instead of shelling out big bucks to buy the hottest Prada, Diane Von Furstenberg, or Fendi. Lusting after a Valentino Petale Rose Dome handbag? If you purchase it at Neiman-Marcus, be prepared to fork over $2,495. For a thriftier fashion fix, Avelle will let you rent it for $295 per month or less.

Moreover, the sharing of key talents, tools and resources—instead of money—is starting to become a mainstay in the modern business world. Bartering is back in vogue. Web designers are making deals with fashion designers—sites in return for suits. Publicists are making arrangements with barkeeps—buzz in return for booze. And, so on...

So, you don't necessarily need to check your checking account to see if something is within your price range. You may just need to check your skill set. Who knew that your parents could have been right all those years ago? Sharing is most definitely nice—especially when it comes to your wallet.

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