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Top ten ways to take advantage of the 'sharing economy' [Photos]

From sharing rides to sharing spare rooms, the so-called sharing economy has become one of the most exciting developments to come out of the tech world.

Thanks to companies such as Airbnb, Uber and Lyft, consumers are becoming more familiar with these new ways of doing things.

Including sharing boats, Wi-Fi and even dog sitters, there's a lot more to the sharing economy than just extra rides and rooms.

Here are the top 10 ways you can become part of the sharing economy.

1. Ride sharing

The most-talked-about part of the sharing economy is ride sharing.

Users can hail rides with smartphone apps, which connect with drivers who are available to pick up passengers. At the end of a ride, users pay for the lift with their apps.

There are various ways to do ride sharing. Uber, for example, connects riders with professional drivers who can pick them up in regular cars, personal cars or personal SUVs.

Lyft and Sidecar, meanwhile, connect users with regular joes who are using their own cars to make extra cash. And Taxi Magic as well as Instant Cab connect users with taxi drivers.

2. Room sharing

The most-well-known company in the sharing economy is Airbnb, the service that lets users rent out rooms they have.

Users can list their extra rooms or even their homes to travelers looking for places to stay.

And the sharing isn't limited to traditional types of houses. Airbnb's website says users can even stay in treehouses and castles, among other options.

Others in this space include Roomorama, BedyCasa and Wimdu. Recently, another service called LoveRoom made headlines for combining the idea of Airbnb with online dating.

3. Dog sitting

Users who need someone to watch their dog can turn to the sharing economy to find others who will watch their pet.

Sites such as Rover.com and DogVacay.com connect dog owners with trusted dog sitters who live near them. Dog owners get to leave their pets with someone else at their home while dog sitters get extra cash and get to hang out with a furry friend.

And of course, the rates of these services are generally cheaper than those of kennels. Rates on Rover.com range from $20 to $45 per night while DogVacay says rates start at $25 per night.

4. Free airport parking

Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston users who don't like paying for airport parking can get around it by using FlightCar, a service that will rent out users' cars while they travel and have the vehicles back to them when they return.

The new service works by having users drop off their cars with FlightCar, which then gives them a ride to the airport.

While users are gone, their cars are listed and made available for rent at low prices to travelers who have been approved by FlightCar. If someone rents a user's car while he or she is traveling, the company as well as the user will make money from the rental. FlightCar says five-day trips and rentals can potentially make a user $30. And while cars are out being rented, FlightCar insures them for up to $1 million.

Once users return from their trips, FlightCar will pick them up from the airport and take them back to their cars. The cars even get a free car wash while their owners are away.

5. Share parking

Besides free airport parking, the sharing economy can also be used to find cheap parking.

San Francisco's Park Circa and London's ParkatmyHouse.com are services that let users share their driveways and parking spaces with others. The parking spaces listed are cheaper than traditional parking spaces, and users who share their spots get money when someone parks there.

Both services are relatively new, so they aren't widespread just yet. But Park Circa seems to have plenty of spaces in San Francisco.

6. Wi-Fi sharing

Wi-Fi sharing hasn't caught on in the United States, but it seems to be all the rage in Europe, thanks to a Spanish company called Fon.

The way it works is you pay about $50 for Fon's special router, and it'll portion off your home bandwidth for use by other Fon users. In exchange, you have access to other users' Fon Wi-Fi signals while you're on the go.

Fon just arrived in the United States, but the company says it has more than 12 million Wi-Fi hotspots, most of which are in Europe. If you look at the company's map of available Wi-Fi signals, France and England seem to be littered with Fon hotspots.

7. For tasks

Users who need help with tasks can turn to TaskRabbit to find others out there who can help them out for a small fee.

Through TaskRabbit, users can post a specific task they need completed -- such as picking up their groceries or waiting in line for an Apple gadget -- as well as how much they are willing to pay for the job. Then other users, or Task Rabbits, request to do the task.

Once the poster selects the Task Rabbit and the task is completed, the user pays through the service, with 80% of the money going to the user who completed the job and the rest to TaskRabbit.

8. Boat sharing

Boatbound is the boat-renting version of Airbnb.

Boat owners can list their vessels on Boatbound, which then rents them out to pre-screened users who are at least 25 years old.

Those users can then rent out all kinds of boats, from single-person kayaks for $25 per day all the way up mega yachts for $8,500 per day.

9. Office space sharing

Users looking for cheap office space can turn to Desktime, an app where businesses list extra space they have where others can work.

Like Airbnb for the office, Desktime lets users rent space for a day or for a full month. Rates range from as little as $10 a day to $800 per month. Users can browse through the available locations to find a space that fits their needs.

Businesses who list with Desktime pay the company 2.5% of the payments they receive.

10. Share anything

If you feel like sharing everyday things, you can use Zilok.com to rent anything you own.

From sewing machines to inflatable bounce houses, users can list all sorts of items on Zilok and rent them out to others for a day.

Users can list their items and wait for others to rent them. Users looking to rent, meanwhile, simply search for whatever they need. Once a match is made, the two meet and exchange the item. Once the renter is done with the item, he or she returns it and pays for the rental.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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