Aspen Times Weekly: Aspen Untucked with Barbara Platts | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Times Weekly: Aspen Untucked with Barbara Platts

by Barbara platts

One of the classic sayings my uncle is famous for stating time and time again is, "You don't go on a vacation to save money." He tends to pronounce this on a trip after my family has dropped a pretty penny on a nice dinner or gotten carried away with a shopping excursion. It's true, taking a vacation is not a lucrative business and most expect to be lacking in funds once it's over.

But what do you do if your life is a vacation?

There is no getting around it; we live in a pricey town. Aspen is expensive. And for the younger generation, who are entering the workforce, presumably cut off from parental support to some or full extent, keeping a balance in the bank account is not easy.

I would like to say that there is some secret formula to it, a way to save money while keeping experiences and material possessions plentiful and ever-coming. But alas, one does not exist. There are, however, strategies that may keep you from indulging in spendthrift ways.

When it comes to retail…

We may not be shopping at Louis Vuitton or Burberry anytime soon, but luckily, affordable shops in Aspen still exist. Consignment shops like Susie's Consignments or Amber's Uptown Consignments offer a myriad of options, all in good shape. With perseverance and a little bit of digging, you can often find true gems in these stores. I have seen everything from a fleeced cheetah-print onesie for Highlands Closing Day to a Prada leather jacket for a night out. If you're not finding what you are looking for, venture downvalley for more consignment and thrift stores.

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When it comes to dining and imbibing…

If you've spent even a short amount of time in Aspen, you probably realize the financial benefit of sitting on a bar stool in a nice restaurant. The appetizers and entrees are about 50 percent off. Bar menus in town are a great way to sample amazing food at restaurants like L'Hostaria, Rustique and Jimmy's, without ending up with a horrendously large tab at the end of your dining experience. The meal size and quality are the same as the dishes in the dining room, plus the bar offers a lively and fun scene. Always make friends with your bartender or server. You never know when they may top off your wine glass or buy you a round for a special occasion…or just on a random Monday night.

When it comes to exercise….

A ski pass is anything but cheap. Even if you have one it may not be the only source of exercise you desire in the winter. Gym memberships tend to come with a hefty fee and running outside on icy roads invites danger. Invest in simple gear like snowshoes or Yaktrax to get the cardio blast you need at a reasonable price. Most trails are still open and accessible in the winter with a pair of snowshoes. And Yaktrax are the perfect tool for hiking up the slopes of any of the four mountains.

These are just a few of the strategies I learned in my first year here. Sometimes they work and other evenings I find myself paying a tab that far exceeds my budget.

But, at the end of the day, I have to remind myself that by living here I am getting more than my bank account is worth. I get the privilege of living on vacation all of the time. What many people from around the world refer to as a first-class destination, I get to call my home. So, perhaps that is a good trade on my investment.

After all, you don't come to Aspen to save money.

Not everything has to put a strain on the wallet. Here are some activities in Aspen/Snowmass that are free of charge:

• Local Artists Showcases at Belly Up (check bellyupaspen.com for more details)

• Bud Light Hi-Fi Concert Series

• A ticket to the Aspen Art Museum

• Yoga at the Sundeck on Aspen Mountain (pass required)

• Downloading on all four mountains after a skin or hike up

• Ice skating at the Rodeo Lot in Snowmass

• ACES ski tour at Wapiti Wildlife Center on the top of Elk Camp lift in Snowmass

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