This article first appeared in print in the October/November 2019 issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.
Editor’s note: The struggle is real! In Revy, the fall season brings the golden glow of autumn foilage and a horde of winter seasonnares looking to get established, some with only IOUs to their name. Here’s our locals’ guide to keeping it in the family by cutting out the petro companies, the telcos, and the thieves so you can save your money for what matters.
It’s been said many times before: Revelstoke is an amazing town. It’s also been said that the high cost of living here can out pace the some of the low wages being paid. If you’re struggling to make ends meet, or if you’re trying to stretch your savings through a winter of full-time skiing, here’s a guide to help you get a bit more bang out of each buck.
You’re practically pro. We overheard. But it’s fall and you need to score some cheap ski gear since the packages from your sponsors generally just contain cookies and a note from mum. The hard truth is that most winter gear is currently going for top dollar. Sorry. Your consolation prize, however, is the summer gear that’s going for pennies on the dollar. Jump on those song-and-a-dance deals now and when spring arrives, you’ll be set and ready to buy up cheap winter gear that someone “needs gone now.”
Seasons passes don’t come cheap; they come free if you work full time at the resort. If that’s not your gig, save a few hundred bucks by getting your pass before the October 15 early bird deadline. If you “don’t do resorts anymore” you will still need a park pass to access the Rogers Pass backcountry. A group pass can be very economical if the cost is shared amongst a household, but an adult pass is half the cost and may be your best option. Alternatively you can tour Macpherson for a six dollar parking fee or XC ski the flats for just a little sweat equity.
We all need to eat and, after housing (which is conspicuously absent from this list), groceries are likely to be your second biggest expense. It’s also where you can shave a lot off your budget. The grocery store sales and the green cheese program (at Le Marche) are a good start but there’s also a seasonal bounty of free organic food available to anyone intrepid enough to forage for it. Berries and cherries in the early summer; apples and plums in August; mushrooms in the fall; and fish for most of the year — it’s all ripe for the taking. Fancy yourself as more of an agrarian than a hunter-gatherer? Gardening can be a worthwhile endeavour, even if its just regrowing your store bought lettuce, green onions, garlic chives, or celery with a little water and a sunny window.
Of course there come the times when you don’t want to cook or do the dishes. For those times there is Mac Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wing Wednesday, burger night, two-for-one pizza, PBR nights, the Pasta Feed, Locals’ Night, and many more. It’s tough to keep track of the current deals but they’re out there if you look. Also keep your eyes peeled for the elusive Passport to the Kootenays coupon book, which is loaded with two-for-one deals.
Phone and internet
If you’ve recently moved to Canada, welcome to the highest monthly mobile phone rates in the world! Luckily it’s easy to cut your bill down to size. First, opt for a used phone over the zero-dollar new one because a two-year contract is anything but free. Next, dodge the data plan and use public wifi or the wifi at home. And if you really like diminishing returns, you can get a ten dollar data-only plan and combo it with a Skype number and still have full phone and text service for about the cost of a couple of pints.
You have a wood stove! That means free winter heat, right? Not if you drop several hundreds of dollars on a few cords of firewood. If you want free (ish) firewood, head to the pole yard, where a truckload of cedar rounds goes for a paltry ten dollars. Sure the BTU’s are lower than birch or fir, but all the additional splitting, stacking, and stove loading will just warm you up that much more. It also should go without saying that simply putting on warm clothes is by far the cheapest way to stay warm … but then again a lot of people are still can’t figure out the roundabout.
Don’t be ridin’ dirty! You need basic car insurance but you may not need to fork out hundreds for collision and comprehensive coverage if your car isn‘t worth much. Without those two add-ons, your basic insurance will still cover all damages if you’re at fault in an accident but it won’t cover the cost to repair your car. Choose wisely! Ultimately, just being a good driver is the cheapest way to roll. Also, join the not-so-secret gas club and save some money there too.
Go to the thrift store. From kitchenware to outerwear, the prices are comically low and proceeds support an impressive amount of community initiatives. Get creative — are they fleece Lion King pajamas or a backcountry base layer? The first Thursday of every month is half price day and their annual ski sale, where nothing goes for more than twenty dollars, is the closest thing we have to a Black Friday Walmart-style throwdown.
No, I’m not suggesting that you steal! I’m suggesting that you watch your belongings so that you don’t have to waste money replacing them. You’re an easy mark at the pub for your jacket, phone, and townie bike if you just leave them laying around unattended.
Lastly, we have a great community of people and businesses that deserve respect. Treat others how you’d want to be treated and be generous with your time and money when you can afford to.
Have a great winter!