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Budget Bulge: How Spending Less Brought My Family Closer Comments

  • By Emma Johnson
  • November 08, 2013

Instead of this: On the subject of tradition, I find apple picking to be pretty awesome. It’s fun, it takes us out of the city, it has the agro-education element and it reminds me of my rural Midwestern childhood. But even this quaint ritual can comes at a steep price if you go to a farm anywhere near New York City. There the experience can come with the temptation to spend multiple Andrew Jacksons on bouncy houses, corn mazes, pony rides and pumpkin painting.
 
We did this: We still went apple picking. The outfit charged a flat $25 for a half-bushel bag, which we were invited to fill to the brim. The kids and I tried to hunt down as many varieties as we could find. We plucked a gigantic Macintosh — seriously, the largest I’ve ever seen — and wondered if it was delicious. We munched on cider doughnuts — 75 cents each — because they were right out of the fryer and only a miser would say no. Same for two corn dogs, which were steep at $4 each, but really our only lunch option. But I did say no to the bouncy house and instead focused the kids’ attention on the bluegrass band playing. Then we visited the chickens in their coop. Because, as I said before, pointing at caged animals is a family bonding experience.
 
Spendy activity price: If I’d agree to all the activities on offer, my wallet would be $100 lighter
Budget activity price: $35
 
Verdict: When we came home, my kids told their friends, “We went apple picking.” That was a big deal for children ages 3 and 5. Why would it have been better if their answer was, “We went on a hayride and bouncy house and corn maze and ate kettle corn and a giant barbequed turkey leg that cost $10 and, oh yea, we also picked some apples”? Sometimes, less is more. And when I couldn’t figure out what to do with all those apples, I filled little sacks and sent the kids around to neighbors in our apartment building to give them away. And so the experience grew far beyond our Saturday afternoon. It grew into a memory which we shared with each other and those around us.

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