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So I woke up this morning and I seem to have found myself back in Boulder once more — funny how that happens, just as school starts. If you’re reading this, I presume that you, too, are in Boulder, probably for some duration of time — so let’s talk about Boulder, eh?

Theoretically, I’m supposed to know everything about being cheap in Boulder; I’m supposed to be your No. 1 source on how to execute that great paradox: have fun and live well, while simultaneously spending little to no money. People pay me for this, you know, but frankly, my skills might be a little rusty.

I spent the summer in Seattle, working as a summer intern. It was great in many ways, but if I learned one thing, it is this: Seattle is not a cheap place to live. Things like delicious coffee and the North Cascade mountains conspired to ruin any plans of saving money I might have once entertained, and I was so busy with my work that I didn’t pay much attention to it.

Then I packed everything back up in a whirlwind of duffel bags on the Friday before school started, raced back along I-80 in my beloved old car, and landed heavily back in Boulder on Sunday night. My car is still full of empty energy-drink cans and apple cores stuffed in improbable corners, I just now finally found a place to live, and to make a long story short: it’s going to take me a bit to get back up to speed here.

What’s the logical thing to do when you don’t know where to start? Well, brainstorm, of course! (Thanks, fifth grade.) So I made a list of things that I like about living cheaply in Boulder, just to get back in gear.

It’s sunny. What does this have to do with being cheap? Many things, I guess: you don’t have to pay to get a tan, even though it might be in an awkward Teva or T-shirt pattern. You don’t need to pay for one of those keep-you-happy lamps they use in Alaska in the winter, and this week particularly, it’s been so hot that we’re all too lethargic to do anything anyway. Most importantly, it just makes it nice to be outside. During the cold and cloudy Seattle summer, if I wanted to get out of my room or office for a while, I had to pay $3.15 for a beverage at a coffee shop. In Boulder, I can just go outside — for free!

We’re also known as a bit of a hippie town. This is great because if a few of my clothes have holes in them, or if I go a bit too long without laundry trying to save the $2.50 it costs at the laundromat, I don’t really stand out. As a matter of fact, sometimes I even try to pass it off as a “look.” Maybe people will think I’m trendy or something. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Last but not least, there are lots of other cheapos around too! Yes, we all know that Boulder in general is filthy rich, with its Pearl Street lofts and gazillion-dollar mountain homes, but underneath all that lurk many other layers of incomes and lifestyles. It’s easy to overlook this fact, because cheaper lifestyles are by definition less ostentatious, but it’s also important to remember: being rich is not the norm. Having friends and peers who live the same way I do makes it much easier to live simply and frugally, and to spread the good cheer to you all as well!

Vivian Underhill is a student at CU-Boulder and writes about livin’ on the cheap once a week for the Colorado Daily.