One thing you might not know about Eric Wasson, CFP, of AZTEC Financial Group, is his love for skiing. When he’s not helping individuals and businesses to define their financial goals and providing solutions, Eric enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and skiing EVERY chance he gets. He’s no novice to the sport and has skied in some of the most beautiful places on earth.
Skiing Doesn’t Have to Drain Your Wallet
If you’re a skier or have a ski enthusiast in your family, you probably have an idea of what it costs to spend a day on the slopes. While skiing is a great way to spend time in the mountains and get some exercise while you’re at it, it is not a cheap sport by any means! So how can you get in on this fun winter sport without completely emptying your wallet? Here are a few tips.
Buy tickets early/online, half-day, or multi-day tickets.
Many resorts will offer discounted prices for buying tickets ahead of time vs. the day of. However, the pandemic has changed the way many people plan for a ski day, weekend, or week-long vacation, and now many resorts will only allow you to buy tickets online. There are still often discounts for multi-day lift passes, so if you’re planning to ski more than one day at a resort, it still pays to plan ahead. Or, if you don’t think you have a full day of skiing in you, half-day passes are available at most mountains for a lower price.
Go during off peak times.
Of course, weekends are the most popular times for skiers to head to the mountain, and tickets for these days are priced accordingly. If you can take a day or an afternoon off during the week, tickets are usually priced a bit lower. This goes for both one-day lift tickets and season passes. It’s also recommended to avoid federal holidays if you’re trying to save money, as these are typically priced the same as a weekend, regardless of what day they fall on.
Work at the mountain.
College students and retirees looking to save money on lift tickets might consider working at their favorite mountain, as free passes are often a perk of employment. Gunstock Mountain, for example, is relatively close to the New Hampshire Seacoast and often has many positions available at the start of the season. Many positions offer a free season’s pass as part of the benefits package.
Don’t stay at/on the mountain.
If you’re traveling to ski, you’ll get a better price if you stay near the mountain vs. on the mountain. If you don’t have a vehicle with you, just be sure there is affordable (or free) transportation to get you there. Many ski resorts offer free shuttle service to nearby lodging facilities.
Rent your gear off-mountain.
If you don’t have your own gear, there are usually many places near a mountain to get rentals, some of which offer season-long rental deals. Renting per day directly from the mountain will typically cost you the most.
Bring your own food and drinks.
While it may be tempting to visit the onsite food court and/or mountain restaurants after a day on the slopes, their prices are often pretty inflated. You can save a significant amount of money by bringing your own snacks and beverages.
Using any combination of the above tips will definitely lower the cost of your ski season, but If you’re looking to avoid paying lift ticket prices altogether, while also avoiding the crowds, there is another option…
If you consider yourself to be in good shape and are up for a challenge, this alternative to traditional alpine skiing might be a fun experiment for you. There’s definitely a technique to it and will take you a lot longer than a ride on a gondola! You won’t get in nearly as many runs, but you will likely remember and appreciate every one of them.
It’s called skinning because you literally put skins on your skis that help you make your way up the mountain without sliding backward. No lift ticket required! The gear you’ll need is slightly different from regular ski gear, including special alpine touring bindings, alpine touring boots, and ski skins (cut to fit your skis). You’ll also want to have a lightweight backpack for storing the skins on the way down, and maybe a pair of sunglasses for the way up.
Most resorts don’t charge a fee for skinning, or if they do, it is minimal, so you can enjoy the outdoors and take your turns for free in most cases. Some resorts have rental gear available, but it’s wise to check before heading to the mountain. Or, you can go all in and buy your own gear. While the initial investment in skinning gear may seem a bit high, once you have everything you need, subsequent skinning trips will be much less expensive than traditional lift tickets.
And, speaking of investments, the best approach to skinning can also be compared to how many people approach investing. When skinning up the mountain, it’s best not to go straight up from the start because you’re more likely to slip, and you’ll run out of steam quickly. Instead, it’s better to climb or “skin” side to side and make your way up the mountain at a steady and safe pace. This way, you’ll arrive at the top feeling good and ready for a well-earned trip down the hill.
Similarly, with investments, it’s important not to be overly aggressive right out of the gate, or to put all of your money in one high-risk stock or fund, because you could lose a lot of money in a short period of time. It’s better to be more strategic with where you invest. Throughout your life, you may need to change the level of risk depending on where you’re at with your retirement goals, so you can arrive at retirement with a solid portfolio that you can live comfortably off of.
See You on the Mountain
Happy ski season, everyone! If you need help identifying and/or reaching your financial goals, give our office a call at (603) 343-4515! Otherwise, maybe we’ll see you on the mountain.