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Making the Switch From Buyer to Borrower

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By Linda Descano, CFA®, president and CEO, Women & Co. and managing director and head of digital partnerships, North America Marketing, Citi

Growing up, sharing was mandatory. The six of us shared one TV and one bathroom. To be honest, all I wanted back then was to have my own bedroom, bathroom, TV, phone -- the works. Eventually, I turned that wish/dream into reality.

Of course, along the way, I have made some trade offs for love. But when Scott suggested we perhaps might consider sharing a computer, the look on my face said it all and we promptly bought two. However, after speaking to Sharon Schneider, I've been rethinking my non-sharing ways -- at least in a few areas.

Sharon is the founder and CEO of Good Karma Clothing for Kids, a subscription service that enables parents to "borrow" like-new baby clothes in sizes newborn through 24 months, rather than having to spend a small fortune keeping up with their fast-growing tiny bodies.

Peer-to-peer sharing companies like Good Karma, SwapStyle, Bag Borrow Or Steal, Borrow For Your Bump, and Zipcar are examples of a new form of social enterprise that is based on borrowing, renting, sharing and accessing stuff -- baby clothes, handbags, maternity clothes, toys and cars -- rather than buying and owning outright.

As Sharon pointed out, the concept of collaborative consumption really isn't new: libraries and community gardens have been around for years. What's different today is that social networks and the Web are facilitating the sharing of goods and services across geographies and time zones.

Initially embraced by eco-conscious consumers for its "reuse, reduce and recycle" principle, Sharon believes that more consumers are taking advantage of "collaborative consumption" options today for practical bottom-line reasons: to be able to do more and have more with less out of pocket cost.

What about you? Have you ever participated in one of these services? Were you motivated by environmental or financial reasons, or a little of both? If you've been on the sidelines, like me, are you ready to make the switch from buyer to borrower? I'd love to hear your story.

About the Author:
Linda is President and CEO of Women & Co., a service of Citi that brings women relevant financial content and thoughtful commentary. She also serves as a Managing Director and Head of Digital Partnerships for North America Marketing at Citi. A recognized expert on the topic of personal finance, Linda is also the featured contributor on womenandco.com and Manilla.com, for which she serves as their women and money expert. Her writing, tips and commentary have appeared in countless publications including: Huffington Post, MORE Magazine, American Banker and MSN Money to name a few. She is the recipient of a 2011 Luminary Award from Womensphere® and was the New York recipient of the 2009 Corporate w2wlink Ascendancy Award.