Living Well For Less
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Bibliophiles in the Poughkeepsie area, check out the Bookworm. This unassuming shop near Red Oaks Mill is a reader’s delight, offering older and used books at 50 percent off the publisher’s list price. That’s a good deal to begin with, but there’s more. Return the titles you’ve finished reading, and get a store credit worth 25 percent of the list price; apply the credit towards your next purchase. Their extensive selection of romance novels and young-adult series can’t be beat (845-462-3873).
Museums may be highbrow, but that doesn’t mean they’re high-cost: You can enjoy a number of Valley museums without paying a cent. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in Vails Gate, the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, and the Tilly Foster Farm Museum in Brewster are always free, as are the region’s top college museums, including SUNY New Paltz’s Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, Vassar’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Bard’s Hessel Museum of Art, and the West Point Museum. (Westchester’s Katonah Museum of Art is free every day between 10 a.m. and noon.) The Storm King Art Center in Mountainville and Dia:Beacon normally charge admission, but each site waives their fee for Valley residents on special “community” dates. Just flash some ID to prove you’re from that day’s featured county, and you can roam the grounds all day at no cost, floating from exhibit to exhibit on a cloud of proud frugality. (Dia:Beacon: Columbia, June 13; Orange, Aug. 8; Putnam, Oct. 10; Ulster, Dec. 12. Storm King: Orange, June 14; Rockland, June 28; Ulster/Sullivan, July 11; Dutchess/Columbia, July 25; Westchester/Putnam, Aug. 8.)
Grow your own
Fresh produce might be pricey, but that’s no excuse to go out and buy prepackaged food to cut grocery costs. Why not start your own garden? With a little topsoil, some yard space, and a few seed packets, you could be growing and eating your own fruits and veggies for just a fraction of the grocery-store cost. Don’t have enough space? Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, and get produce grown at local farms delivered straight to your door (or to a local neighborhood center) for as little as $25 a month. Go to www.localharvest.org to find a CSA program near you.
Will work for art
A unique — and free — way to enjoy the region’s arts scene: Become a volunteer usher at the Bardavon Opera House or the Ulster Performing Arts Center. After receiving the proper training, the 150 volunteers choose the events they’d like to work at (and see). The program allows for long-standing relationships — some ushers have been working the venues’ shows for 20 years — which can be bad news for those waiting in the wings; at the moment, there are no openings available (but maybe next year). You can reach coordinator Donna Verteramo at 845-473-5288, ext. 107.
Internet surfers looking to save a few bucks should bookmark www.halfpricehudsonvalley.com. This Web site offers gift certificates to mid-Valley restaurants and other businesses for 50 percent off their face value. (For example, the site recently sold $50 gift certificates to Bella Luna Ristorante in Blooming Grove for just $25.) The featured businesses change every Wednesday, and the number of certificates is limited, so you have to act fast — but the savings will be worth it.
Lengthy vacation rentals can be expensive, but have you ever thought of getting away from it all in your own community? Craigslist, the centralized on-line network of free classified ads, features a section of local vacation rentals. They have dozens of postings in all price ranges; you just have to be willing to dig through them to find the good deals. If you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway, $360 for a couple of days spent exploring Hudson while staying in a newly renovated home might be just the thing — and no expensive flight required. Many of the homes also allow pets (saving you even more dough on boarding costs). So if a month of mountain solitude with a feline friend sounds more your speed, try a quiet cottage in the Catskills for $1100 — that’s just $275 per week. (It goes without saying that, as with all good deals, it’s buyer beware: Since these postings are often placed by the homeowners themselves, taking a closer look at the property before you sign on the bottom line is definitely advised.)