Personal Finance

Own All the Latest Gadgets by “Renting”

Back in June of this year, I really wanted to get the new Kindle Oasis that came out. It was going to be even more expensive than the Kindle Voyage that I already dropped $315 on, but I really wanted it! I liked the new one-handed design and the battery that was built into the Kindle cover.


I was able to exercise a little bit of self-control and didn’t buy the Oasis as soon as it came out–okay fine, to be honest, it was actually sold out online, which is the real reason I couldn’t purchase it right away. But once I found out about a month later that it was in stock at the little Amazon stall near my office with a 10% discount to boot, I knew I had to have it. I was able to justify my splurge by convincing myself that I was merely “renting” the device.

Here is a quick rundown of what I mean by renting:

  1. Buy the gadget you want.
  2. Use it as much as you want, making sure to take care of your device as if you were really just borrowing it.
  3. When you’re ready to upgrade or you’re just done with your device, list it on Craigslist or eBay for about 60% of what you paid for it.
  4. Subtract your selling price from your original purchase price and divide by the number of months you owned the device to find your monthly rent price.

Here is an example of how I applied this renting concept in real life:

  • I purchased the Amazon Kindle Voyage for $315 in October 2014.
  • I used the Voyage pretty heavily for the next 18 months.
  • As soon as I upgraded to the new Kindle Oasis, I listed and sold the Voyage for $180 on eBay.
  • This means I essentially paid $7.50 a month to “rent” the Voyage for those 18 months, which really seems like a good deal to me, especially combined with the fact that I was getting all my books for free.


Tips for Implementing This “Renting” Trick Successfully

  1. To make sure your renting cost is as low as possible, obviously, try to buy your device at the cheapest price possible. Look for deals and also check out eBates to get cash back. Even just 5% off list price is helpful.
  2. ┬áBe sure to save the box and any manuals. Your resell value is significantly higher if you have the box that the device originally came in. In my example above, I do think I could have sold my Kindle Voyage for at least $200 if I had the box. I normally keep all my gadget boxes, so I’m not sure what happened there. Won’t be making that mistake again.
  3. Craigslist should be your first stop for reselling since you get to keep all of the cash and don’t have to pay a commission, unlike on eBay or any other site. Craigslist is great for selling high demand items like iPads, iPhones, and Macs, but more specific items, like my Kindle Voyage, need to be listed on less local sites, like eBay. Listing on eBay does mean less profit for you, so try starting with a higher seller price than you would use on Craigslist.

How to Rent for Free

If you play your cards right, you can sometimes even rent gadgets for free. You do this buy purchasing the gadget second-hand to begin with. When you go to sell it again, you can often sell it at the same price you bought it for. This typically works best if a year or less has gone by since you first purchased the device, and also if there haven’t been a lot of new releases of the device.

I bought a refurbished LaCie hard drive, for example, and I know I’ll be able to sell it later for close to what I paid for it. Similarly, my husband and I always buy our cars used, knowing we can sell them in a couple years for close to what we paid for them, essentially allowing ourselves to “rent” cars we like at a low cost. This is a pretty extreme and risky example of the renting concept, however.

Not Just for Gadgets

I’ve been focusing on renting gadgets and devices throughout this post, but really you could apply this same technique to other purchases, like furniture or purses. IKEA furniture, for example, has a surprisingly high resale value (maybe because people like the idea of buying the furniture already put together). You could buy one of those popular Malm dressers for $200 and sell it two years later for $150 if you keep it in good condition. That’s a rental cost of just $2 a month.

When Not to “Rent”

Renting works well for common goods that people are always looking for, from reputable brands. I wouldn’t try to do this for something very specific that would be hard to sell later, like a custom mountain bike or something. I also wouldn’t try to do it for items that people don’t typically buy second-hand, like vacuums or really big appliances.

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