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Virtual villagers helping each other and saving money
By Tammy May

Online communitiesThe internet was originally praised for its power to help us share information. Now it’s also helping us create virtual villages where people can share skills, ideas and even the stuff they own. Here are three websites that connect people and provide affordable solutions to everyday problems.

Open Shed is an online community that puts you in touch with neighbours who are willing to share their power tools and other equipment — everything from lawn mowers to paddle boards. Why buy a $150 drill when you could borrow one for $5? You could also make yourself some pocket money by listing idle tools you have at home.

Do you need help assembling Ikea furniture? Someone to weed your overgrown garden? You’d be surprised how many people are willing to help complete strangers at very low cost. Airtasker connects people in need with people who can help. As I write this, Monica in Gordon Park is willing to pay $25 for someone to bolt a clothesline to the wall in her garage and Chris has offered to help Natalia in Coogee who needs help moving furniture.

AirBnB connects people who have spare room in their home with people who need a place to stay. You can list and search for beds, rooms or whole houses/apartments. It’s a cost-effective option for holiday makers or anyone who needs short-term accommodation. Nightly costs can be as little as $5. Members say it’s a great way to meet people, find an affordable place to stay or make some money from unused space in your home. What about trust and safety? AirBnB claims to have a sophisticated screening process, and it must be pretty reliable - they have 350,000 hosts worldwide and 11 million guests who have used the service.

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