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Wealth Virtues Journal: March 22, 2010

Relative New beats Actual New by 66%

Filed under: Saving and Investing — Tags: , , — James Ward @ 8:48 pm
© 2009 Poor Richard Web Press, LLC

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I have been skiing for over 30 years. I have had the same pair of skis for the last 20 years. They are a beautiful pair of 195 centimeter K2 Triaxle skis with Salomon bindings. This is a long skinny ski – the last of the real straight board, “he-man” ski, and the last of the major ski manufacturer skis to be made in America. Turning these big boards takes lots of leg muscle, especially when you are navigating a mogul field. I paid about $250 for the skis and another 160 for the bindings brand new in the late 80s or early 90s.

I spent a couple of days last week at Snowshoe, West Virginia (one of the best east coast resorts) for some Mid-March skiing in 40-60 degree weather. The mornings were great and the skis performed well, but when the slush set in closer to noon, my old skis were getting buried and my leg muscles were really working hard. I also notices that out of the hundreds and hundreds of other skiers I saw only me and two others with the long boards. Everyone else has gone to the more common parabolic ski which is wider at the tip and rear, but skinny in the middle where your binding (and feet) are located. I had been resisting change not because of pride, but I just did not want to spend a lot of money on a sport I engage in only about 4-5 times a year. But now at the end of the 2009-2010 ski season, I started to think about making a change that would improve my skiing, while saving a lot of money.

According to Lisa Marie Mercer at (, The average straight skis measured 200 centimeters. Today, parabolic skis are rarely any longer than 185 centimeters. In fact, a parabolic ski with a more pronounced side-cut exerts pressure over more ski length than a longer ski with minimal side-cut. This means that a 170-centimeter shaped ski is equally as stable as a 200-centimeter straight ski.

After the last run, I went around ti all the rental places to see where I could get a deal on some late model skis that had been rented only a few times, usually as a non-traditional “demo” rental. A demo rental costs more than a regular rental ski, but is newer and of a higher quality. I chose a clean, unscratched pair of 170 cm skis with new Salomon bindings that were rented about 3 times this past year. The cost for this combination new would be about $660 or more. I picked these up for $200. Are they the top of the line? No. But as I get used to my “new” boards, I may elect to adjust to a different size or brand. As my children get older, they may want to inherit these intermediate boards instead of paying for a new set. My 66% savings made this decision an easy one. I earn this much in a month from just one of the affiliate advertising programs to which I participate. On top of that, the increased stability will allow me an increased level of control and stability that will gain me more enjoyable time on the slopes, especially on more difficult terrain.

How then can we apply this same thinking to other purchasing decisions? Think about your next car purchase. My current automobile I bought in 2003 with 13,000 miles on it with a savings of $7,000 from a new model with the same features. It has 188,000 miles and was used to get me through the West Virginia switchbacks and up to the mountaintop ski village at Snowshoe. Like anything, good maintenance helps as well. I am now looking at a loaded preowned vehicle with 14,000 miles that costs about 40% less than a new vehicle.

Someday, my 190cm K2s may end up on a wall alongside a pair of 1945 Northbuilt wooden skis I bout for $2 at a yard sale. The hard part is getting my wife to agree with my decorating tastes. Perhaps I can pick up a deal on a mountain cabin. I hear that mortgage rates are still low – for now.

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