One of the big advantages of living in Denver is that spending big is optional. It’s not hard to find what you need and what you enjoy without breaking the budget. Here are 10 ways I’ve found to trim expenses without cutting your quality of life.
1. Good Food. In addition to shopping sales and couponing, Denver has club and warehouse stores with discounted pricing. Families can also join food co-ops and order packages of foods, mostly locally produced, on a monthly basis. Some enjoyable volunteer hours may be required. Many of these organizations also benefit the community through charitable activities.
2. Family Fun. Most of Denver’s museums and other admission-based attractions such as the zoo, science museum and art museum have a membership program which quickly pays for itself in a few visits. I joined the zoo and the art museum, and visit whenever I want to. Many memberships also provide special events during the year, especially for children. The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District sponsors free days at many museums and the botanic gardens throughout the year.
3. Easy Travel. Gasoline-based travel is a little easier with grocery and club store discount pumps. The regional transit system will deliver you and your family to lakes, parks, even the mountains. Amtrak trains from Denver’s Union Station are an economical and relaxing alternative to flying with a wonderful view from the upper deck lounge chairs.
4. Community Education. Denver has low-priced classes at a variety of public and private facilities. Adults and kids can learn to swim, learn arts and crafts, and even pick up a trade such as clock repair or hairstyling. The hair-cutting students also cut and style the public’s hair for a bargain price under supervision. They do a great job!
5. Discounted Utilities. There are many programs from Xcel Energy to encourage energy thriftiness, and companies and individuals are starting to add features such as solar panels and wind generators to their buildings. If you’re considering moving within Denver, there are new housing units, often near transit stations, that have been designed with energy savings in mind.
6. Fun and Fashionable Clothing. Recycled clothing is an art form in Denver. There are plenty of thrift stores both charity based and commercial, and some have taken over stylish storefronts. Businesses offer second hand designer gowns, teen clothes and other fashions without the premium prices, so don’t think second hand, think style with savings! Vintage clothing is also popular. Look for stores in the Capitol Hill area.
7. Healthy Pets. Pet care can be a budget-breaker, especially for families and low-income individuals. Many animal shelters in the Denver area such as the Denver Dumb Friends League, Maxfund, and the Cat Care Society offer low-cost care to help avoid high-cost problems. Pet lovers are also welcome at these shelters as volunteers or visitors to spend some quality time with the creatures.
8. Live Culture. Denver has many musical and dramatic offerings, and some have regular discount ticket offerings and 2-for-1 deals.
9. Enjoyable Hobbies. Combining creativity, skill development and social activities, there are many places to learn and practice low-cost hobbies in Denver. Most stores that sell supplies offer free or low-cost classes as well.
10. Affordable Self Improvement. If you’re going through a rough patch and need a counselor, or if you want to work on your physical, mental or spiritual strength, there are groups and organizations that offer opportunities. Denver offers a low-cost mental health service. Graduate counseling students at religious and secular institutions provide inexpensive services.
More from this contributor:
Free Days at Denver’s Museums, Zoo and Gardens in November and December
Denver Public Transit Saved My Soul
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