Everyone has a place they would consider perfect for them, and for me it is Colorado. For those of you who haven’t been, Colorado is a land of flatlands, desert and high mountains where pot is legal and the sports teams don’t (completely) suck. Colorado is one of the healthiest states in the country due to the outdoor-centric lifestyles of its residents. It is also the ski and snowboard epicenter, even more so than Europe as the snow is a fine, light powder and the food actually fills you up. If you haven’t caught on to this by now, or are a new reader who has yet to join my mailing list or follow me on Twitter, I am sort of big into snowboarding—about $4,000/year into snowboarding. You might think that is insane, and you are right. Trust me, that is a shoestring budget in alpine sports.
So given my love of snowboarding and the big mountains, I try to go out to Colorado every year (sometimes Utah). These trips ain’t cheap, as you will see. Since I operate largely in a network of fellow personal finance bloggers I thought it would be interesting to try to justify this completely anti-frugal annual trip of mine. Seriously, I think an early retirement extreme persons head would explode, as I spend about 15-20% of their annual budget in one week. The breakdown:
I think I got the air fare pretty cheap, and the Wi-Fi for the plane rides is because I dearly love my loyal readers (all six of you) and wanted to write and post while flying. How productive of me. The rental car I split with my father, who used a hook up for the “family” rate. My non-existent cousin is very generous. I tried my best to be frugal when it came to dining and other miscellaneous expenses, and since we had our own kitchen we mostly cooked our own food. My super-frugal readers (all three of you) are certainly nodding in approval. I think I drank three beers the whole week, largely because my father is prone to altitude sickness which alcohol worsens. Otherwise, I could easily double the line item, so thank goodness he felt horrible all week, right?
Lift tickets are always the most expensive portion of a snowboard / ski trip, but unlike on the East Coast (“Ice” coast) where you spend $100+ clams to wait in line, have crappy conditions and be called a queer by some New Yorker, the conditions are perfect, the lines are short and the mountains are roughly 10X larger. Considering this, the prices are actually a great deal. This time however, I went on a solo expedition via CAT vehicle into the Steamboat Springs backcountry (backcountry is literally just the mountains, no lifts, no ski patrol, no grooming: it is all natural). Although I have been in the backcountry before, it has technically been “side country”, meaning it is accessible from lift-serviced areas of large resorts. Think take the lift and then hike to the middle of nowhere. Being in the backcountry, among endless powder and large cliff drops has been a life-long dream of mine. So now I have done it, and due to the CAT vehicle tour I got 16 runs (if I was hiking, I would have perhaps done 4 runs, and without the hot-lunch and beer at the end). Well worth it but more expensive than a coke habit.
To wrap this up, I bought my fiancé a pair of skis (the romantic readers of mine are blushing in approval right now, all two of you), which I negotiated from $700 to $277—another post, perhaps. I also bought myself some racing gear since the largest manufacturer is located in CO (the selfish douche readers are laughing right now, all one of you). All in: $1,935 (in case you are one of my blind readers, all none of you).
Justification: each week I spend in Colorado is a week I day dream about for the rest of the year, until I have a chance to return. Colorado is where I would like to live permanently. I can afford to take these vacations and still save 40% or more of my gross pay. If I didn’t take these trips I feel I would have less of a life worth living, and that I would eventually begin to resent this whole “frugality” thing. Is it outlandish? Not for most people, but perhaps for someone who claims to be “frugal” and runs a website focused partially on such (me).
Please, let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. Since the average internet blog post receives comments from roughly 10% of readers, I expect at least one reader to think about posting, perhaps draft a comment, and then look at porn and forget to click “submit”—otherwise known as half a comment. Come on guys, I am depending on all six of you to not embarrass me.
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 Don’t believe me? Nationally competitive snowboarders sometimes go through TWO racing boards per season; at about $2,000+ a pop (I replace mine every two years). Bindings run around $400+, isolation plates around $1,000, boots around $600, and then there are the racings clothing, etc… all in you are looking at about $4,500 just to show up at a race in competitive condition, let alone register. Can we say “rich people sport”?