How The Sharing Economy Is Changing My Life

There are a few reasons why I am super interested in the emerging collaborative economy and I’d like to share how my life and sense of community have greatly improved through it over the past 12 months.

We are in the nascent era of collaborative economy and it’s developing in a time where many people are moving into urban areas, no longer living close to their families and technology is disconnecting us from real world experiences with strangers. What really excites me about the collaborative economy is that it helps people build community with others despite these changes in our lifestyles, because we need to share culturally and economically with others. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the collaborative economy can also help us save some cash, produce less environmental waste and provide a unique product or experience.

I believe that as the collaborative economy grows into a mainstream business model with all sorts of niches and variations we’ll all build more meaningful lives because we’re finding mutual interests and sharing experiences with people who would otherwise be strangers. Here’s how the movement has affected my family, community and travel.

1. Nanny Sharing and the Modern Family

The first way I have benefited from collaborative economy is that my toddler joined a nanny share care. This means that our nanny watches both my daughter and another toddler. This brought down our hourly rate by 20% and our nanny gets paid more. Everyone wins. Plus, there are other benefits: our daughter gets socialized (she knows the word “share” in sign language) and we have become close to the other nanny-share family.

We often have Friday night dinners together and help watch our kids if one of us needs to work late. We’ve built community with our neighbors and we have found this to be very meaningful.

2. All Hail Ridesharing

In my travels, I prefer to use Lyft, an on-demand ridesharing service, that has pre-screened drivers pick you up for a ride in their car instead of a taxi driver. For Lyft rides you sit in the front seat and fist bump the driver, which I first thought was incredibly hokey and awkward, but now I find is a nice way to break the ice. Lyft rides are supposedly 10% cheaper than a taxi ride. Yet for me it’s not about the money, it’s the experience. Here’s a link to some of the more unusual Lyft cars that you’d be lucky to have pick you up.

Some of my Lyft drivers have been fascinating people. For example, one guy who drove me to the airport is filmmaker who fundraised the production of his short film on Kickstarter. We talked all about it and I learned that you need to come up with a plan to motivate people to fund you after you’ve reached your goal. I also met another driver, a CIA-trained chef, who is starting a poutine food truck. (How awesome is that?)

3. A Vacation Rental That Feels Like Home

I’ve also used Airbnb instead of staying at hotels. I love avoiding all of the tacked-on hotel fees and feeling like I am at home when I am on the road. I used to live on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and miss it dearly. I found a wonderful Airbnb room that feels like my old pre-war apartment and is close to my favorite bra shop. Additionally, the host is a member of the synagogue that I helped to start in NYC. My old Rabbi gave a Kabbalah workshop in the apartment one of the nights I was there. In Hebrew, we call that beshert, or “meant to be” destiny.

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You can use peer-to-peer home rental services like Airbnb, VRBO and Couchsurfing, depending on your budget. Here’s a nice list of all the various options.

The collaborative economy as a community movement is still in the toddler stages and just like my daughter, we are learning that it is not always easy to share. There needs to be boundaries, guidelines and agreements set in place. Also, it’s unfair when the terms of the sharing agreement no longer fit your needs or there’s broken trust with your fellow collaborators. I’ll write about these experiences and include advice on how to negotiate issues around the collaborative economy in a later post.

Until then, if you want to learn more about collaborative economy companies Jeremiah Owyang, an industry analyst and partner at the Altimeter Group, is doing a fantastic job covering the topic and listing all of the startup companies getting in on the action.

For now go forth, collaborate and build a more meaningful life. I’d also love to hear about how the collaborative economy has helped you and what services you’ve enjoyed. Please post your experiences below.

Posted on 9/25/2013

Rachel MastersWritten by Rachel Masters

Rachel Masters is a partner and co-founder of Red Magnet Media, which helps creative brands such as Hearst, Linkin Park, Duran Duran, Chef Michael Mina, Soundhound, TheHunt, and Skaist Taylor develop unique and effective marketing strategies. Her mission is to better connect people to other people, products, services, resources, ideas or experiences so that they will live happier more fulfilling lives. She is also Lilah’s mama and partner to Dan in lovely San Francisco.

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