By Stephanie Booth
Nearly 30% of Americans don’t know their neighbor’s first name, according to a 2017 survey by home security company Safe Home. That’s a shame! Especially since being friendly with those on your block has a range of benefits ranging from boosting your mood to actually protecting you from a heart attack.
And did you know that being neighborly even has advantages for your bank account?
“Neighbors can help you save here and there, and every dollar adds up,” says consumer finance expert Andrea Woroch.
After all, your neighbors don’t just conveniently live nearby; they also have diverse talents you can tap. (“Hello, doc! So glad you moved in next door! Can you look at this thing on my arm?”) They have appliances you can borrow. (Why not test the Instant Pot before you actually buy one?) And if you’re lucky, they’ll offer invaluable kindness that will extend much further than the occasional cup of sugar—and save you money in the process.
Here are a few ways that knowing your neighbors can help you increase your cash flow.
1. You can save big bucks on house sitters, baby sitters, and pet sitters
We’ll start with the more obvious benefits: When you need someone to watch your loved ones, keep an eye on your house, or check your mail, it’s easiest—and cheapest—to head next door.
“When we go on vacation, my neighbors and I watch each other’s house, so no cost for a house sitter,” says Sheena Nancy Sarles of Marblehead, MA.
On several occasions Amanda Ponzar has turned to her neighbors for last-minute baby-sitting needs. (They’ve asked the same of her.)
“Each time, it saves me $25 to $50—possibly more,” says the Alexandria, VA, mom. “But it’s not just the money. It’s someone you trust watching your kids.”
If your dog makes some furry friends nearby, you’ll save a veritable fortune on pet-sitting and boarding fees, too.
2. You can save money on bills
Over 165,000 neighborhoods across the country use Nextdoor, a private social network for communities. The platform offers regular updates on what’s top of mind with your neighbors—yard sale notices, complaints about late-night noise, and folks trying to offload furniture are just part of the fun.
But if you’re savvy, you can use the discussion forums to your financial advantage.
For example, residents in one neighborhood shared that they’d received a higher-than-normal water bill and asked if anyone else had as well.
“The entire community discovered their bill had increased, then used Nextdoor to organize and work to get the bill lowered as a group,” says Anne Dreshfield, a spokesperson for Nextdoor.
Moral of the story: You’ll never know how much less you could be paying until you ask around.
3. You can save money on rides and rooms
If you’re friendly with your neighbors, you might be able to hit them up for rides to and from the airport or other places you need to go. If you’re really friendly with your neighbors (and if they’re forgiving souls), you might be able to take their hospitality a step further.
“We’ve given each other rides to the airport and used each other’s extra bedrooms when we have lots of guests, which save us hotel costs,” Sarles says.
Your dotty Aunt Irma may drive you nuts as a houseguest, but your neighbors may find her perfectly charming. Your emotional cost savings? Too large to be calculated.
4. You can save yourself from a costly emergency
Certain home problems—especially ones that involve water or fire—are time-sensitive. Every minute can cost you a little bit more. If you know the peeps around you well enough, they’ll be your eyes and ears when you’re not home.
“Just last week my neighbor heard water rushing. Our garden hose malfunctioned. If she hadn’t called me, I’d have had a hell of a mess in my basement,” says Bobbe White of Quincy, IL. “I told her how to go inside our gate to disconnect it.”
Problem solved, money saved.
5. You can go in together on big purchases
You like Costco. Your neighbor likes Costco. Go in together on an annual membership and you’ll not only save money, but also carpool to go get your ginormous tub of cheese balls.
But don’t stop there. Dreshfield has seen neighbors organize on Nextdoor to get a discount on lawn care or pool cleanings.
“We’ve also heard from neighbors that have banded together to get group discounts on home services, [from] gas bills to solar panel installations across the neighborhood,” she says.
6. You can get valuable intel on affordable services
All the online reviews in the world can’t compete with a stellar word-of-mouth recommendation. That’s why Scott Browder of Charlotte, NC, taps into his neighborhood’s brain trust when he needs work done on his house. Gutters, lawn care, roofer, tree company—each time, his hood’s delivered.
And if his neighbors don’t have a guy, they’ll find one.
“When I had a scratched windshield and so did my neighbor, we had a contest to see who could find the least expensive—but also reputable—glass repair folks,” Browder recalls. (His neighbor found the winning candidate.)
7. Your toolbox will always runneth over
The internet can’t agree on whether a standard homeowner’s toolbox should contain 12 tools or a whopping 99—they’re all so necessary. But unless you’re a tradesperson or sell random orbit sanders for a living, you probably don’t have everything you need.
If you team up with your block, however, you’ll have tools for days—your own “tool library” of sorts.
“Everyone knows I have a backpack blower they can use, and I know if I need to borrow a chain saw who to go to in the cul-de-sac,” Browder says.
8. You can get free stuff
Why spend time looking at listings on eBay when you can send a group text to your neighbors asking for that random banana costume/extra phone charger/nostalgic “Breakfast Club” poster you’re looking for?
For Woroch, bartering among the block is a regular occurrence.
“From a stroller to a rocking chair, my neighbors have offered us free items for our baby now that their kids are grown,” she notes. “We’ve also given their boys items we no longer use, like a hydration backpack for when they go hiking.”