Get It on the Cheap

I don't know why there are so many McMansions popping up in this town when many of us don't seem to have two damn cents to rub together. (Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we spend everything we make, I don't know.) But if trickle-down economics has turned out to be just another dog peeing on your leg, then it looks like you're one of Bozeman's vast number of cheap bastards too. And now that it's getting too cold outside, here are a few ways to take your parsimonious, panhandling ways indoors and entertain yourselves for the next few months.

Arm-wrestle your friends to see who gets to bring the guac, chips, and salsa. If you win, you spend practically nothing, you cook nothing, and, because the one or two vegans at the party have no choice but to eat what you brought, you clean nothing. Meanwhile, your carnivorous buddies serve up the main entrees. You eat whatever animals they shot back in October practically for free. Plus, in perfect Bozeman fashion, you may even score leftover Tupperware, plates, and scraps. And you thought you could just break even.

No not e-mail. The real thing. You know—paper, envelopes, stamps. Amid the pile of glossy catalogs, Ed McMahon sweepstakes, doomsday nonprofits trying to stop the Antichrist, and other catalogs selling the life you can’t afford, it certainly is nice to pull a letter from the pile. A real letter with pen and ink that someone took the time to sit quietly and compose makes both the sender and receiver feel human again. Send a few, and you might receive a few.

Indoor Camping
A few sofa cushions flipped up and a blanket for a canopy, and you have yourself a fort or tent, depending on what your kids imagine. The best part about this is they’ll actually do most of the work. Use the microwave to melt your s’mores. Spend the night in the living room. You don’t even have to hike.

Old-School It
Turn off the Xbox. Then commit yourself to learning the games that your grandmother and great-grandmother played—Cribbage, Rummy 500, Bridge, Backgammon, Go, Mah-jongg, dominoes, etc. Or check out those ultra-old-school card games like Pitt from 1904, Oh Hell from the 1930’s, or Rook from 1906. They’re under $12 apiece, and they’re retro.

Pretend You’re Smart
In Bozeman, it’s been said that you can’t throw a cow without smacking a post-graduate in the face. With so much erudition in town, you simply can’t be caught with that CliffsNotes knowledge about King Lear from high school. Pull those old schoolbooks down from the shelves—you know, the ones the MSU bookstore wouldn’t buy back but you couldn’t bring yourself to throw away—and hunker down and read. Or be honest. If textbooks make you nod off and drool, sell them at Vargo's and get a cheap massage at Health Works Institute downtown. Now that’s smart.

It’s free. Well not really, but it’s certainly time for you and your squeeze to hunker down and cash in all that time and effort you spent in courtship. Now that it’s cold outside, CASH IT IN! Rebate. Rebate. Rebate. If you weren’t so lucky and all you’ve got is solo dividends—master-rebate; it’s free and a testament to your Montana rugged individualism.