Mention the word ‘co-op’ and readers of a certain age will recall hippies in a college town selling granola.
But cooperative efforts are still relevant today. And they can save you considerable money and time.
Here are twelve ideas for co-op efforts you can organize with neighbors and friends; they can benefit all parties involved!
- Baby Sitting – alternate date nights with another family who has children of similar ages. With the going rate for a babysitter at $10 per hour, a date night might cost $30 or more just for the babysitting. By alternating baby-sitting duties once a month, two families would each save $360 per year!
- Pet Sitting – use the same strategy as co-op baby sitting. Boarding fees can range from $20 – $50 a day, or higher. (This arrangement would be contingent on all the pooches or kitties getting along.)
- Tools – Form a tool co-op; borrow and lend tools with neighbors and friends. Frequently an expensive tool is purchased for a project and then gathers dust for years. I’m guilty; I once bought a mitre saw for a project. The saw then sat in the garage for 10 years until I sold it on CraigsList. But do exercise consideration when borrowing: return the tool promptly in good condition. Lend as well as borrow. When returning a tool, give the lender a $10 -$25 gift card to Lowe’s or Home Depot. That’s still far cheaper than renting.
- Rent tools together – a variation on #3. Join with neighbors when renting a specialty tool (say, a tiller, log splitter or lawn aerator) Typically, a full-day rental is not that much more than a half-day rental.
- Gardening – community gardens yield a bounty of benefits: a source of fresh produce, savings on groceries, a great experience for kids, bringing a neighborhood together and reducing crime.
- Gourmet Supper Club – rather than dining out at high end restaurants, form a gourmet club that rotates hosting. It’s an opportunity to practice and showcase your culinary skills.
- Clothing Exchange – particularly worthwhile for infant and children’s clothing.
- Toy Exchange – we all get excited about new toys (or at least toys that are new to us).
- Books, Magazines, Videos – share magazine subscriptions, books, DVDs and CDs
- Education – home schoolers are known for co-op organizations that teach art, music, drama and science. Swapping books and other educational materials is another option. Do you have a particular skill or expertise? Share it by teaching and mentoring others.
- Car Pooling – save on auto expenses – whether commuting, shuttling kids or running errands.
- Banking – Credit Unions are a type of co-op; they are owned by their depositors – review my posting on Credit Unions: Credit Unions are Divine. They Can Show Your Finances a Better Way.
I’m sure these twelve ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. What co-op ideas would you like to share? Cheers, Paul
© 2017 Paul J Reimold