The Deal Mommy

When is an experience worth full retail? Here’s how I decide

Do or do not. There is no try.

The whole point of my blog is “getting the best for less”, but occasionally even The Deal Mommy is willing to pay full price. Today I spent $57 to get myself and the Deal Kids into the Star Wars Identities exhibition at the Montreal Science Center. We had free admission, the $57 was over and above admission. I spent it gladly and would recommend it to anyone visiting Montreal, Star Wars geek (guilty!) or no.

In New York I spent $291 on dinner (no drinks) for the Deal Family at The View Restaurant, in the Marriott Marquis Times Square. At 48 stories high, the entire restaurant spins around once an hour enabling you to get a view of the city that is literally impossible any other way. I spent a fair amount of time fretting about it beforehand, but once we got there and I saw how mesmerized the Deal Kids were by the place (Deal Dad and I were too, but had been there before) I let go and was glad to have spent every penny.


Here is a list of questions I ask myself before committing to a full price item:

  • Can this experience be achieved in any other way?  Are the tradeoffs worth the savings?:

    Here in Montreal, this Star Wars exhibition is having its world premiere and many of these objects have never been on display before.

    In NYC there was a cheaper option (that would have cost $150), eating in the lounge at the buffet.  However, it would have involved standing in line with the kids and missing the guarantee of a window seat, which was the whole point.  There are other restaurants above Times Square, but none of them spin!  An example where the tradeoff WAS worth the savings: taking the Staten Island Ferry for free to see the Statue of Liberty versus paying $36 to take the Liberty Island ferry (where you get to walk around Liberty Island and visit the Ellis Island museum).  I loved Ellis Island when I visited, but didn’t see it for the kids first trip.

  • Is this memory so unique that it can’t be achieved at home?:  An example of this is the Disney World Character meal.  No where else can you get the level of joy you get from personalized attention from your best cartoon friends.  Pluto attempting to steal Deal Daughter’s roll during our character meal at Garden Grill at Epcot comes up regularly a year after our visit.  An example (to me, I know others disagree) of an experience that DOESN’T meet this criteria is Great Wolf Lodge.  Water-slides are great, but available at the local pool.  Instead of spending $300+ a night, I’d rather get a $100 or less deal on a condo and fly to warm weather!
  •  Am I saving in other ways to cover this expense? : In both this trip and New York, our hotels were free thanks to Loyalty Points so that put some extra in the trip budget.
  • Is this experience the best single “Wow” experience compared to other ones? :
    Here in Montreal, Deal Kid’s jaw dropped when he heard about the exhibition, and even Deal Girl thoroughly enjoyed herself…and I had the most fun of all!
    In the case of our New York Weekend, my other thought for a blowout item was a Broadway show.  The absolute best deal I could find on a show our family would enjoy was $300 for 4 tickets to Mary Poppins.  I thought about what the Deal Kids would remember most about the trip and decided spinning over Times Square trumped flying Nanny…but it was close!

I hope this list helps you as it helped me over the years in deciding what to spend our hard earned money on and what to skip.  What fun is saving if you can’t spend every once in a while? Please share your choices for experiences “worth full retail”.

One thought on “When is an experience worth full retail? Here’s how I decide

  1. Pingback: HOT Star Wars gift alert! $2.66 shipped super saver for 3D Millennium Falcon owners guide « The Deal Mommy

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