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10 Items You Should Rent Instead of Buy

Though it's tempting to purchase these things, think about how much use they're really going to get

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    Vacation Homes

    En español | Owning a place in an attractive vacation spot can be an enticing dream, but in reality it means spending time and money to keep up a second home that you may only occasionally use. And it probably also means you'll vacation in the same spot every year. Keep your options open — and more cash in the bank for vacationing — by renting rather than buying.

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    Musical Instruments

    Your child is convinced he wants to be the next Wynton Marsalis and play the trumpet in the school band. Before shelling out the $300 to $500 for a beginner's model, rent a comparable instrument first.

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    RVs

    Maintenance, repair and storage costs can be very high, and new RVs depreciate in value quickly. If you've never traveled by RV before, definitely rent before you buy in order to make sure the RV lifestyle — and the driving — is right for you. Even then, it may still make more sense to continue renting if you plan to use an RV only for occasional road trips.

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    Wedding and Formal Wear

    Guys have traditionally rented their wedding attire, but now rental gowns for bridesmaids — and even the bride herself — are increasingly popular. Websites such as BorrowingMagnolia.com and RenttheRunway.com rent out formal wear for weddings and special occasions at a cost that's about 10 to 30 percent of the retail price.

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    Medical Equipment

    Unless you know you'll need specialized medical, orthopedic or rehabilitative equipment for a long period of time, it's usually better to rent or borrow than to buy. Many health care providers, as well as health-related services and civic organizations, provide loaner equipment at little or no cost to those in need. Do an online search for "medical equipment rentals" to find what is available near you.

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    Boats

    Unless you're going to spend a lot of time on the water, it's probably best to rent, or "charter," your vessel of choice rather than pay for all the upkeep, storage and transportation costs that come with boat ownership.

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    Party and Event Equipment

    Whether it's an inflatable bounce house for a kid's birthday party or a fashionable tent for a backyard wedding, chances are you'll come out way ahead by renting instead of buying, given how infrequently you'll use it again. If you don't have the space in your garage, storing these large items can pose an additional expense.

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    Expensive Specialized Tools

    From garden tillers and jackhammers to power washers and air compressors, my rule of thumb is that if I'm going to use a specialized tool only once or twice a year, I'll rent rather than buy. A wide selection of rental tools is available at home improvement centers such as Home Depot and Lowe's, and at some hardware stores.

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    SUVs and Trucks

    If you don't regularly lug around a lot of gear and people, why not own as small and fuel-efficient a car as possible and then simply rent an SUV or truck when you actually need one? If you do the math, it's often more cost-effective to rent these types of vehicles for long trips than to put the miles on your own car. Before you go out and purchase a truck for hauling big items, know that some home improvement centers give you the option of renting a truck by the hour if you need to make short trips to the landfill or other deliveries.

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    Camping and Outdoors Equipment

    If you're a newcomer to exploring the great outdoors, consider renting the gear you need from an outfitter or outdoor retailer before you fork over the big bucks to buy it. Even if you're a seasoned outdoors enthusiast, it may still make sense to rent rather than buy some specialized items, such as deepwater diving equipment or extreme-cold-weather gear.

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