Deep Thoughts on Expensive Ice Skating

If you’ve been following my adventures on Twitter or Instagram you’ll know that we schlepped two kids around NYC for the past 30 hours or so. It was a pretty ridiculous trip in every sense of the word, but one of the most ridiculous things I saw was the “VIP Igloo” at the skating rink at Rockefeller.

It feels as if every Christmas movie set in NYC has some obligatory skating at Rockefeller scene. If you are a plebe, you can line up and pay $32 during peak times (plus $12 for skate rentals) to skate. However, if you are rolling in it, you can drop $125 for the VIP Igloo. In addition to getting to cut the line, you get free hot chocolate and skate rentals! Score.

Not cheap!
Not cheap!

Now, when I first saw that price I thought I could never see myself paying that much money (honestly, I can barely see myself paying $44). But then I thought to myself, wait, what if I just MSed that $125. That’s just $6250 on something like the FIDO Amex (RIP btw), so if I wanted to make that $125 I could do it in pretty short order.

That’s when it struck me – why exactly am I considering my “funny money” any different than the money I make in real life at my real job? I mean, if I really wanted to drop $125 to drink free hot chocolate, I could do that on my current salary (BALLIN’). So why, if I theoretically wanted this experience, would I feel better about paying that $125 through MSed money? I can’t really think of a good reason why it should make a difference to me, but it would, just as I’d feel better buying a first class ticket with MSed cash than my “normal” cash.


So after I gave up my dream of doing triple lutzes under the tree, I thought to myself that I should be careful not to miss the forest for the, um, trees. There are multiple factors involved in this ice skating business.

Why pay $125? To save time.

What would MSing that $125 do? Result in usage of extra time.

It would be a case of the means to achieve a goal interfering with the actual goal.

There are plenty of other cases when this can happen. You try to maximize miles and points in order to spend time traveling with family, but you sacrifice time with family at home in order to do so. You want to book a premium cabin in order to relax, but you take two extra connections to make that happen. You plan the most amazing Disney trip ever for your toddler only to find she is completely burned out and overtired by Day 2. OK the last one might not be a great example but it is a legitimate fear I have for an upcoming trip!

So as my time gets more and more limited, one thing I’ll be asking myself as we turn the page to 2016 is: “Am I keeping consistent with my goals and my means of achieving them?”

Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less

3 thoughts on “Deep Thoughts on Expensive Ice Skating

  1. The reason you are comfortable spending MS money is that MS gives you an easy yardstick of how much marginal time and effort you would have to ‘work’ to get the payoff. For example, using your figures, to MS $125, you will need to buy 13 VGCs and it will take you X amount of time time (say 1 or 2 hours, it can be done in a single trip to Simon and Wally).

    So then you can say, “Would I sacrifice 2 hours of my time at home to have an iconic experience and to save an hour of standing in line on my 30-hour vacation?” or conversely, “Would I rather spend one hour waiting in line to skate in NYC or 1 hour at the Money Center?”

    Both of those are much easier questions to answer than, “Is it WORTH $125 to skip the lines and get VIP treatment?” because that question has an endless number of answers and an endless number of possible tradeoffs and makes you start to question your life goals and write a navel-gazing blog post. 😉

    1. Well put and touche. Though for the record, I have little interest ice skating there – already convinced her to marry me, can’t see any other conceivable reason to skate there besides impressing someone 😛

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