Frugal Living 

Share Expenses with Neighbors

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SharingWe live in a townhouse with about 30 square feet of lawn. Seriously, it’s like a little patch in front of our house and about four square feet is taken up by this unidentifiable tree (it’s not unidentifiable by anyone, just me). So when our lawnmower kicked the bucket and one of my neighbors left his up at a cottage several hundred miles away, we chipped in to buy one from It was a serviceable plug-in electric lawnmower for two hundred bucks.

Instead of both of us owning a lawnmower and having it take up space we didn’t have, we bought only one that we could both use and could swap storage of. It’s really the best solution – we save space, we save money, and we save the environment a bit by not having Amazon ship out two mowers.

What’s another great cost to split? How about internet service? We don’t do this but we have friends who live in a townhouse neighborhood, separated by an entire home, without any problems whatsoever. Why wouldn’t you want to take a $50-$75 monthly service and chop it in half? How much bandwidth does the typical person use? Certainly not enough that you can’t split the bill with at least one other home.

This works best on something where ownership isn’t an issue. In the case of the lawnmower and it’s $200 price tag, it doesn’t really matter who “owns” it. It would be trickier to own something like a $500 lawnmower but at $100 per home, it’s not even worth discussing for something that will last for many many years. And internet service? Ownership is irrelevant, making it a perfect cost to chop in half.

So the next time you think to sign up for a service, ask your neighbors to see if they are willing to chop the bill. In this economy, I’m almost certain they’d be willing to. It’s really a win win for everyone involved.

(Photo: Medmoiselle T)

{ 22 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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22 Responses to “Share Expenses with Neighbors”

  1. Split Cents says:

    Wow! This is a fantastic and innovative idea! For all of us that live within “associations” (condo, homeowners, etc) we already share some of the burdens and benefits of sharing with neighbors. This takes such association to the micro (and probably more useful) scale!

    This might be obvious, but substantial headache could probably be saved by setting some ground rules ahead of time for shared tasks or responsibilities (repairs, maintenance, storage, proper use, etc). Somewhat like family, doing business with neighbors can get hairy should things go pear shaped!

    Another tip, should you go in with more than 2 neighbors, would be to agree that important decisions are to be made by supermajority (i.e two thirds vote: 2/3; 4/6; 6/9, etc). This might sound silly for shared purchases that are so small, but doesn’t it always seem like neighborhood squabbles are over something tiny can turn into thermonuclear war? For a peaceful neighborhood partnership, consider avoiding anything that requires “unanimity!”

  2. Jamie says:

    Our neighborhood splits the cost of the rental for a lawn aerator every year. This past weekend we discussed chipping in to buy a large tent to use for our annual 4th of July bash (rain and shade) and considering all the graduations that will be happening starting in about 3 years. No one wants to store it, so we decided whoever stores it doesn’t have to chip in (I’m thinking we can find space).

  3. Traciatim says:

    Lawn equipment? sure.
    Tools? Absolutely
    Home services, like landscaping driveway paving? If you can get a discount sure!

    I will not have some person torrenting on my interwebs while I’m trying to play a game. I have enough trouble just within the house without having to try to manage even more connections. If you don’t game, then fine . . . but as long as one person in the deal needs something low latency it’s a no-go in my book. Heck, I’m even considering having two connections, one dedicated to my machine and one for general household use so that it’s easier to manage 🙂

  4. cubiclegeoff says:

    My condo association used to hire someone to powerwash the decks and house facades every year, but now bought its own powerwasher to do the same task, plus anyone can use it at any time. Not the same as neighbor sharing, but close enough.

    I think this is generally a good idea for a number of items. It could even be for some cooking equipment (grill, crockpot, etc.) that take up space and aren’t necessarily used all the time.

  5. It seems like yard items are the most common thing being shared between neighbors. My next door neighbor and I share lawn and garage tools all the time. WE even shared a truckload of dirt one time to try and level out some ground between our property.

    I think sharing is a great idea as long as you have good neighbors and everyone is respectable with your “things”

    • cubiclegeoff says:

      Sharing mulch or other things that can only be delivered in a large quantity would make sense.

  6. Dj Hams says:

    We did that in college. We rented an off-campus house and lived there. We got a real good wireless router and shared the connection with the 4 condos around us. I remember seeing 21 people connected onto the router at one time. It made out $40 connection totally worth it! We used to pitch in under a dollar each.

  7. At my workplace, we have a small library. We have literally hundreds of books and audio books that anyone can borrow. It offers cost savings and convenience.

    And, for those who are the primary donors (I have probably donated 40% of the items), it provides free storage 🙂

    There are probably 5 people who use it regularly and another half dozen or so who borrow infrequently, so there are always plenty of items to borrow.

  8. A pretty good idea for most things; I think especially tangible items. But its usually against terms of service to share services such as cable, telephone and internet across households.

    • Ben Mordecai says:

      I’m no lawyer, but I would seriously question the validity of those terms of service.

      Imagine you bought a Toyota Camry and in the terms of service it said, “By purchasing this car you agree to only drive it in the state where you purchased it. If you wish to drive it in other states, you must buy a second car.” That would be ridiculous and infringe on your property rights because once you own that car, Toyota no longer can tell you what to do with it.

      I know it’s not the same with an internet connection, but I think the principle should still apply. If I paid for it, I should be able to use it however I want. Even if that means sharing it with the neighborhood.

      • Wireless routers allow you to easily share your internet connection and thus make people think things should be legal just because they are easy to do. Think of as if you were running a coax cable to your neighbor’s house so he can watch the cable television you subscribe to (especially HBO or other pay services). Just because its technologically easy to do, does not make it legal or ethical.

        It is more akin to saying “You and your neighbor are not both allowed to drive this single car in two different directions at the same time.” Like I said, tangible items are better share amongst neighbors because they can not be shared at the same time. Their sharing can not be abused.

        • Billy says:

          your internet connection only has so much bandwidth, and one person is paying the ISP for the whole bandwidth. If your not using it all, why shouldn’t you be allowed to sell your unused portion to someone else?

  9. pinch says:

    We live in a rural sub-division and put out very little garbage each week. We share contracted pick up service with our neighbor, who also has little waste each week.

  10. Shirley says:

    My son lives in an apartment complex where they have a swap table in the rec room. Residents are welcome to bring anything they no longer use and take anything they can use. Items remaining after one week go to a goodwill service. They also have a bring-one-and-take-one bookcase.

    My brother and a friend share a large garden at the back of their adjoining properties. They split the cost and both work in it as they have time. It has turned into a definite win-win situation.

    A young couple in our neighborhood borrowed our lawnmower and then mowed our lawn too. He can’t afford one of his own and so this has become a weekly summer routine. We make sure it is in good working order and full of gas and he mows both lawns. Works out great for both families.

  11. Joe says:

    So you recommend illegal activities like sharing internet service? That could certainly turn off readers of your blog when you don’t think through things before publishing on your site.

  12. Len Penzo says:

    How about season tickets for sports and other entertainment?

    Another thing multiple neighbors can do is pool their collective buying power to extract better account deals from contractors for their lawn service, new fences, and other services.


    Len Penzo dot Com

  13. I really like those ideas. Saving money can be rolled into one word “creativity”. You got it right with these ones!

  14. jojo says:

    How about the legal risk of the outside Mr Clean neighbor downloading illegal porn/music ( doing illegal stuff on the internet ) and then you are on the hook to prove that they downloaded the stuff & not you.

    Not worth the risk to save $20.

    Sometimes people develop this tunnel vision on saving $20 and forget the big picture.

  15. dawn says:

    Great idea with the internet connection. I don’t play online games so maybe this will be feasible for me. But, I think sharing lawn mowers and tools will not really work for me. It’s nice to share but some people are just messy and careless in regards to their things. If I would share with someone, I would want them to clean “our stuff” the way that I do. I know being a perfectionist is bad, but that’s just how I treat my things…it is so they will last longer. Indeed setting firm ground rules would generally do the trick. But with my attitude most likely I’ll pick an unreasonable fight with my neighbour and cause more drama than it is worth. Spending a couple of dollars to give myself a sole ownership of the product would be more worth it. I know I would be short of some fast cash, but I’d rather have peace of mind. As I believe a good relationship with ones neighbour is crucial.

  16. eric says:

    In college I knew plenty of people who shared internet across apartments. I think the record I heard was SIX of them but it involved a lot of signal repeaters.. 🙂

  17. William says:

    I have cable internet at my dads house (next door), and use a wifi extender to connect the two houses. Sure saved time and money on running network cabling.

    As far as the idea that it is illegal, it isn’t. Yes, cable can’t be run, but network can, as you are running a network extension, and not the modem, to the extension. This equally applies to wifi extenders, as well.

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