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Own Your Own Winter Sports Gear

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip for December, 2000 -- Vol. 4, No. 8

How about if I told you that you could ski any time there's snow--for about five bucks a shot?

You can--if you own your own skis.

My wife and I bought cross-country ski sets, brand new, though on sale, for $100 apiece--in 1983! These included skis, bindings, boots, and poles. I had to replace my boots about four years ago, but I'm still using the orignal set other than that--and my wife is still on her first pair of boots. We usually ski five to ten times a year, and often just go right out the door or to a nearby park (i.e., no trail fees). Even using the lower figure, five times a year, that means it has cost my wife $1.25 per time. Since I have an extra pair of boots to factor in, my cost per time is $1.75.

About fifteen years ago, my dad picked up some used downhill skis at a yard sale. They were so old, they were made out of wood--but they served him reliably for about eight years, until he gave up the slopes to winter in Florida. Yes, he still had to pay for a lift ticket (though as a senior, skiing on weekdays, not very much)--but nothing for equipment rental.

Ski sets, snowshoes, sleds, and other winter gear often show up at yard sales, charity benefit ski sales, college ski clubs, even ski centers (they need to rent out the latest and greatest, so they often have last year's available, cheap). A ski center near us even offers our children a trade-up plan; as they outgrow their existing skis, they get bigger ones for $5 or $10. And then, of course, there are classified ads in the paper.

In short, the stuff is out there, and while someone paid $300 for it a year or two ago, you can probably snap it up for $25 or $50 and save money from then on. This year, we hope to find ourselves some snowshoes, and meanwhile, we still have those trusty skis.

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