Can You Save Money While Skiing?

by Guest Contributor · 7 comments

Skiing is one of the most expensive winter sports available. It may seem like there would be no way to save money and still enjoy a season’s skiing, but believe it or not, with a little planning you can hit the slopes in style and still save yourself some serious dough.

Saving on Equipment Costs

If you ski more than a couple of times a season, you will definitely want to invest in your own skis and boots. The best time to purchase these is in the early spring, March and April, when stores are trying to get rid of their stock to make room for the summer sporting goods. You can get fantastic deals, sometimes in excess of 50% off if you shop at the right time and are flexible about what you want. It makes sense to shop for boots at night when your feet are at their most swollen.

The same applies to purchasing jackets, pants, goggles and all the rest of your equipment. Try to stick with basics. You don’t need the newest and hottest colors to ski well, you need warm, comfortable clothes that wick well and keep you protected from the elements. Avoid replacing the whole outfit at one time; space out your purchases, one major item each year, to prevent over spending.

Remember to maintain your equipment methodically. Don’t put skis away wet, have them tuned regularly and air out your boots. Taking care of equipment means fewer replacements as the years pass.

Lift Tickets

Lift tickets are one of the biggest expenses you will encounter once you have your equipment. Your best bet if you are going to ski for more than seven days total is almost always the season pass. Many passes are available in October or November and last through the very end of the season, usually early April. For example, at Monarch Mountain, a day ticket costs $54, but a season pass, purchased early is $319. It pays off in just six visits.

Another great way to save is to go to less popular destinations like Monarch as opposed to Aspen. At Aspen a one day lift ticket costs $96. Since the resort is better known it draws bigger crowds and you will get fewer runs over the course of the day. Another good way to save money is through the use of coupons. Many coupon books run 2-for-1 specials or offer discounts, so make use of them wherever possible.

Bring Your Own Food

If you have ever fed a family at a ski lodge, you know that you can spend $10-15 per person on a mediocre lunch. Add in a few hot drinks and you are easily increasing your costs by $100 for a day. Pack your lunch and snacks and purchase your hot chocolate there. You will save a lot of money and still enjoy sipping a hot drink while watching the other skiers when you take a break.

Timing

If you are going to ski on a per day basis, stick to midweek and early or late season skiing. Out west the ski season usually starts by late October or early November, depending upon snow fall and conditions. It can last well into March or April. The prices for mid-week skiing or non-prime ski season can be as much as 30% less than weekends, holidays and prime season. Even better, the crowds are usually thin so you get in more skiing each day.

The fact remains that skiing isn’t a cheap hobby. Keeping your expenses down and saving money while enjoying skiing is certainly possible, it just takes some practice.

This is one of the articles included in the How to Save Money on Everything ebook that I’m giving away for free. If you want your free copy, just sign up for the frugal newsletter by clicking here.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Michael Harr @ Wealth...Uncomplicated says:

    I am an avid skier, but haven’t had as much time the last couple of years to get out. These tips are terrific.

    Just one to add, many of the resorts offer multi-day or once-a-week passes where you can go during off peak without spending quite as much as the season pass. It’s a great option if you have a fairly set schedule. I’ll be taking the kids this year to gauge their interest and see if they want it to be a regular activity. If they love it, we’ll get all the gear after the season is over; if not, I’ll be getting some sweet new boots.

  • FinanciallySmart says:

    Never been skiing because of the country I live in. The tropics but I can see that Ron is really a business man. Whenever one puts in enough effort to achieve something then the dividends always pay off.

  • I’m not into skiing, but I snowboard. Bringing your own food is by far the best way to save money. All those people who laugh at you will have their jaws dropping when they see prices in the ski lodge restaurants. You can even just pick up some breakfast burgers before heading up the mountain.

  • Snowboarding/skiing is partly the reason why I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Just a 2.5-3 hr drive gets us up to the world class mountains of Lake Tahoe. Squaw Valley USA and the Resort at Squaw Creek are my favorites.

    Craigslist is the easiest way to save money on lift tickets. Bringing food and gorging on fast food beforehand is a good idea. But skiing really is a luxury activity that’s hard to save money.

  • Ron says:

    Man, do I ever LOVE to ski. Another tip I’ve used in the past is to check out the airline unclaimed baggage center in Scottsboro, Alabama (of all places). Their site is unclaimedbaggage.com. Usually in September they will begin selling their winter sports equipment and they have some fantastic deals. They don’t offer online purchases yet, but if you can find your way there, the deals are incredible.

    • MoneyNing says:

      I’m always surprised at how many people leave their luggages at the airport. I mean, do they actually forget that they have them or something?

      • Ron says:

        I think it probably goes to the wrong airport and doesn’t have a tag on it or other identifying information. Or the information on the luggage tag may be illegible or incorrect.

        I’ve bought a lot of things at postal auctions where the address was unreadable. Once I bought 6 five piece sets of leather luggage for $20 each and resold them in the classifieds for $150 each. Bought 100 “Rambo” knives for $2 and sold them for $10. You can make some money if you’re willing to put in the work. There wasn’t any ski equipment at the auctions I attended, but I bet there probably is at the “dead letter branches” of the post office in ski areas.

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