Happy New Year! Yes, contrary to what the "doomsdayers" predicted, 2013 has in fact arrived and with it the ubiquitous resolutions we all set for ourselves annually: Exercise more, get organized, reconnect with friends, master a new hobby, save money.
Each one is certainly an admirable goal with its own set of challenges to address. And while a good dose of resolve, dedication and sacrifice will be needed to stay on track, it never hurts to stack the deck by accepting a little help wherever available along the way.
Enter the Department of Natural Resources' Passport Perks discount program. With discounts offered on services and products at more than 1,000 businesses statewide from pizza and oil changes to camping equipment and hotel reservations those who take advantage of this program can easily reduce spending in 2013.
So how can you participate? Simply by purchasing your Recreation Passport for $11 when renewing your vehicle registration through the Secretary of State.
The Recreation Passport is the state's new and improved version of the old state parks sticker it gets you into all of Michigan's state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, nonmotorized state trailheads and state boat launches.
When the Recreation Passport was implemented in October 2010, the DNR's Parks and Recreation Division partnered with private businesses to create the Passport Perks program as a thank you to Michigan residents who chose to get the Passport and support state recreation facilities.
When the program first started and was growing to dozens and then hundreds of "Perks Provider" locations, Recreation Passport holders were told they could easily recoup the money spent on the Passport by taking advantage of these discounts.
Now that the program has expanded to more than 1,000 businesses, with hundreds located in the Upper Peninsula, we are hearing from Recreation Passport holders that they are actually saving much more than that throughout the year by using the Passport Perks program in many cases, enough to pay their entire annual vehicle registration costs and then some!
A searchable database of Passport Perks provider locations is available online at michigan.gov/passportperks (searchable by city, zip code, county or keyword), and we are currently putting the finishing touches on an updated version that will better integrate with mobile devices.
To take advantage of available discounts when shopping at a Passport Perks provider location, mention you'd like to take advantage of their Passport Perks discount and show your vehicle registration, which will have a "P" logo indicating you are a Recreation Passport holder.
Once you've become familiar with which local businesses are participating in the Passport Perks program and begin taking advantage of the discounts, it shouldn't be long before the resolution to "save money" is crossed of that to-do list for good. You can thank us by being sure to purchase your Recreation Passport again next year!
To learn more about the Recreation Passport and how to get it, visit michigan.gov/recreationpassport. Business owners interested in becoming a Passport Perks provider can complete the online registration form found at michigan.gov/passportperks.
Debbie Munson Badini is the DNR's Deputy Public Information Officer. Contact her by phone at 906-226-1352, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @MichiganDNR_UP.