A Melbourne woman has proven Australians in isolation can earn a handy second income using a common household asset.
Josie Baynes from Melbourne claims to earn up to $1,000 per month by lending her car out to strangers.
"I'm not the most financially savvy person in the world but I found it was a real surprise – a happy surprise," she told Yahoo Finance.
Baynes used the Car Next Door platform to make it available to potential renters in her area.
With many white-collar Australians currently working from home, the car is an item that would be sitting idle for most of the time. This makes short-term rentals an attractive way to earn extra cash.
After seeing an acquaintance make a full-time living out of it, Baynes took the plunge about three years ago – but with a big difference to most people.
Rather than put an existing car on the Car Next Door platform, she bought a car especially for lending out.
"I did my research on what sort of car people in Melbourne might want to use, before deciding on… a Toyota Corolla," she said.
"Almost straight away, I was really surprised with the amount of people that wanted to rent it out."
Remarkably, in less than two years she made enough money from rentals to cancel out the cost of the car.
Baynes found car rentals are more popular in warmer weather, because more borrowers want to enjoy outdoor destinations.
Car Next Door only charges $5 an hour or $25 a day for her car. But this is not where she makes her big bucks.
"What also happens is that it charges 33 cents per kilometre. That's where you really earn the bucks," she said.
"When you see someone who says 'I'm taking it to the beach', they're travelling more kilometres so they're the winning trips that you look for."
Because borrowers within the local area are more likely to be attracted to the lender's car, repeat business from regular customers is common.
"My favourite ever customer was a family who lived right near us. When I told them we were [moving out of the area] they left a card in the car saying 'We are going to miss you'."
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"The Car Next Door community is fantastic, borrowers and lenders alike. It's kind of like Airbnb – there's definitely a mutual respect there."
While demand has quietened during the lockdown period, Baynes still saw some business.
One customer borrowed her car three times to go to the airport – to drive his parents for an international trip then he was forced to pick them up again after the flight was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She sees business roaring back as government restrictions are lifted around the nation.
"It is good to see some people coming back… For anyone who doesn't have the financial confidence to do a side hustle, I just thought [car rental] is worth trying."