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Budget Bulge: How Spending Less Brought My Family Closer Comments

Instead of this: Recently some friends from out of town invited us to join them on a tour to the top of the Empire State Building. I initially thought that my kids must experience this landmark New York City experience! What mother would deprive them?! Then I checked  the prices: nearly $70 for the basic viewing deck experience. Cue sound of tires squealing to a stop.
 
We did this: Every month or two my kids and I repeat one of our favorite adventures: We drive from our home in Astoria, Queens, to Roosevelt Island — a sliver of land in the East River between Queens and Manhattan — and use a Metrocard to take the tram to the city, drinking in the gorgeous views for $2.75 per trip (kids under 44” tall ride free). From there, we walk two blocks to Dylan’s Candy Bar, a mammoth purveyor of all things sweet and delicious, and get a treat, the kids opting for a variety of gummy animals priced by the pound. I suggested our friends join on this outing, which few tourists know about. They were thrilled to get an insider’s look at the city and joined along.
 
Spendy activity price: $70
Budget activity price: $12
 
Verdict: I believe strongly in trying new things. But it is perhaps even more important to embrace ritual. My kids are far more likely to remember our tram tradition as adults since they will have done it dozens of times. Added bonus when we can share our special experience with people we care for. Plus, it’s way cheaper.

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