Rent these big-ticket items and save

Need an expensive item for a short period of time? Pay a fraction of the cost, then return it!

From a digital camera for your family vacation to a dream dress for a formal function, you may be surprised to learn how many items are available for short-term rental -- and how much money you can save by renting them.

ELECTRONICS

  • What's available: Digital cameras, camcorders, computers, projectors, GPS devices, cell phones, speakers, video-game equipment, TVs and more
  • When it pays to rent: If you want to try a pricey item before you buy, or if you need it only for a vacation or a project
  • Where to find it: Atsrentals.com (camcorders, projectors, GPS devices), meetingtomorrow.com (computers) and cellhire.com
  • Keep in mind: Before renting a communication device (anything that requires connection to a service provider), always inquire about usage fees.
  • Cost Comparison: Canon camcorder - $30 to rent for a weekend and $450 to buy; Laptop computer - $139–$255 to rent for a week and up to $1,800 to buy

TOOLS AND APPLIANCES

  • What's available: Power washers, generators, lawn mowers, carpet steam cleaners, electric saws and drills, washing machines, dryers and more
  • When it pays to rent: If you are fixing up things around the house or renting a place short-term, don’t purchase something that is likely to gather dust after one use.
  • Where to find it: Homedepotrents.com and grandrental.com, and appliancewhse.com and azuma.com (large appliances)
  • Keep in mind: Find buying guides, video tutorials, safety tips and instructions for using tools in the How-To section at homedepot.com.
  • Cost Comparison: Carpet cleaner - $25 a day to rent and $1,000 to buy; Whirlpool washer or dryer - $22 a month to rent and about $450 to buy

WARDROBE

  • What's available: Designer dresses, jewelry, accessories, even maternity evening gowns
  • When it pays to rent: For special occasions, like weddings or formals, or just to feel like Cinderella for an evening
  • Where to find it: Adorn.com (diamond jewelry), renttherunway.com and bellybumpboutique.com
  • Keep in mind: At renttherunway.com, you get a free backup size, plus dry cleaning. Shipping is included.
  • Cost Comparison: Nicole Miller open-back gown - $75 for a weekend to rent and $550 to buy