Every week I share five frugal things that I’ve done during that week just to show you that the small things you do all add up to a great frugal lifestyle where you can learn to live a fabulously frugal life.
I’ve been in New York this week with the kids and although I get that New York isn’t really a budget holiday destination, indeed some of you might not consider a holiday of any sort to be frugal, but to me, things like this are what make all the saving and counting the cost of things worthwhile.
We’ve really tried hard to stick to a pretty strict budget over the week and I think (although I may be biased) that we’ve done a brilliant job. The kids haven’t asked me for a single thing other than to buy the sweets they wanted to bring back for their friends and have been more than happy to be outside, despite the cold on most days, exploring this amazing city.
I thought some of you might be interested in some of the things we did in a bit more detail so I’ve written a bit of a travel diary for each day which I’ll share over the next few weeks. The first is here if you want to have a read about what we did on our first day and the rest will be along very soon. 😉
1) If you saw my Instagram post from earlier this week then you’ll know that the American Museum of Natural History was not our favourite part of our trip to New York. 😉 It turns out that teenagers (or at least my teenagers) are not fans of museums – no matter how many stars they get on Trip Advisor and how many people say that a trip to New York is not complete without a visit here.
But… We might not have had the best time but we did save money getting in!
Basically, you can book tickets online for $23 each, you can turn up on the day and pay $23 each or you can turn up on the day and ‘pay what you wish’. I’d read online that you could genuinely pay any amount you wished and found people sharing how much they’d paid for their entry – some as low as 25 cents each.
I’m not going to lie, I was a bit nervous about telling them how much I wanted to pay and in the queue outside I changed my mind a couple of times about paying a reduced amount as it felt really cheeky and I was convinced that cashier would judge me. Don’t get me wrong, I had no intention of going in with a ridiculous amount because I fully intended at that point to be in there for the day exploring with the kids but I had no idea what they would think was cheeky and what they would be OK with.
I got to the front of the queue and was super polite, asking the lady if it was OK if I just paid $20 in total and she was absolutely fine. No judgement, no eye rolling and no attitude. Even then, I felt like I needed to justify my lower offer as I explained that we were only going up to see the dinosaur exhibit – a total lie but I didn’t want her to think bad of me.
How ridiculous was I? I really overthought something that shouldn’t have been an issue at all! I definitely have a bit of a tendency for doing this but usually, I say it out loud to Mr Frugal and he tells me to stop being silly and I’m over it – this time I just dwelled on it and make it a much bigger thing in my head. I’ll blame lack of sleep. 😉
Anyway, I saved $49 on our entry which is a very good thing considering how little time we ended up spending there!
2) We walked a lot during this trip, much more than the last time we were there as we weren’t nearly as confident when it came to exploring and getting around as we are now.
This time we used Google Maps and discovered just how easy it was to get around on foot!
We stayed in the same hotel as last time and had no clue that St Patricks Cathedral and Fifth Avenue were literally a five-minute walk away from us. Last time we visited New York, we got an Uber to the top of Fifth Avenue and because of the way the streets are laid out and the fact that a lot of them are one way, the driver had to go a long way around so it seemed much further away in the Uber than it really is when you’re on foot and can just literally walk the most direct route.
3) Food wise, we tried to spend as little as we could on food and I think we did pretty well considering where we were.
We explored the area behind our hotel and found a Chipotle and a Panda Express where we are for less than $10 each. We also found a pizza shop that sold an 18-inch pizza for $8 which fed us all on another night.
Breakfasts were usually a bacon and egg bagel from Starbucks which were about $3.75 each or melon that we bought from the supermarket near the hotel. There may have been one day where someone had a slice of cold pizza for their breakfast.
The most expensive meal we had was at Shake Shack (so not really on the scale of expensive when it comes to New York) but that was well worth every penny as it was somewhere the kids really wanted to go and it tasted amazing!
4) We did lots of free things – walking across Brooklyn Bridge and along the Highline, getting lost in Central Park, discovering St Patricks Cathedral and visiting places like the New York Public Library and various statues and famous sites around the city.
We balanced that with a couple of things we wanted to do that weren’t free but limited ourselves and pre-booked what we could so it didn’t interfere with our budget while we were there. We ended up booking the One World Observatory, a bus sightseeing tour and the 9/11 museum which were all well worth every penny and helped make the trip so memorable.
5) This one isn’s so much what we did when we were there but it made a big difference to us enjoying the trip so I thought I’d include it today. 😉
None of us are on contracts for our phones but we do have monthly SIM only contracts that we renew every year and last year because we’ve started travelling more, I made sure that we took one that allowed us to use our included data and minutes anywhere in the world. Some don’t allow you to use any of your included minutes or data anywhere outside of the UK without some sort of add on which you pay for and even those that do allow you to often limit this to Europe.
We shopped around and got a fantastic deal (and I mean fantastic) through EE on a deal that allows us to use our free minutes and data anywhere in the world as if we were here in the UK so no extra charges or add-ons needed. We literally get off a plane and switch our phone on and we’re good to go which is amazing.
We each get 20GB data which is more than we’ll ever use and can transfer data between us in seconds and I think we pay around £60 for all of us which I think is fab. It works out even cheaper when you take into account the fact that we got rid of our house phone seeing as we all have so many included minutes in our contract.
Anyway, the fact that we have so much data that we can use anywhere meant keeping in touch with home super easy – we face-timed Mr Frugal every night (he couldn’t come as we were limited to half term with it being exam year for Miss Frugal) and the kids were able to keep in touch with their friends which was great and something they really liked. They even face-timed them when we were out and about if there was something they wanted to show them. 😉
Also, I had no idea that you could be so creative on Facetime! I think I’m supposed to be that girl from The Ring above. 😉
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