Large Family, One Income, and a Day at the Fair (Possible?)


I am a person that is big on adventure. I love to go, do, and see things. Out of necessity and desire, I go, do, and see on a budget. A small budget. 

I’ve come across people, with smaller families and bigger income than us, that think it’s impossible. My neighbor, married, with two kids, and a double income family was just lamenting yesterday about how much her boys want to go to the fair, but it costs so much. I looked at her and said “We went yesterday, we spent $109”. Her eyes bulged out of her head. “How did you do that?”

Taken from our county fair website, here is the breakdown of prices for the fair and our family (our 20 year old chose not to go this year):

3 adult admissions (and since when is a 14 year old considered an adult, other than when it’s financially beneficial for you????): $30

2 children admissions: $14

Child under 6: Free

3 ride bracelets: $75

Ride Coupon book (for the hubs and I, who don’t ride more than a few rides): $23 for 25 coupons

Parking Pass: $6

Total: $148

That total actually makes me feel a bit queasy. Then when you add in the price of food and games… Oh, my, that day at the fair just made mommy throw up and I didn’t even get to ride the Yoyo.

So how did we do it for just $109? 

1. Our kids get a small spending amount every month. We told the kids “Allowance or fair, but not both”. They actually did the math! “How much does it cost to get into the fair and ride rides?” They found out the benefits they got with the fair far exceeded what they would get in cash. 

2. Next question! “Rides or games?” I told them I would give them $25 for games or they could have a ride bracelet. They chose the ride bracelet. 🙂 Smart kids.

3. We pre-purchased our tickets! My neighbor did not know you could do this, but yes! Several outlets around here sell the tickets before the day of the fair and they are considerably cheaper:

  • 3 adult tickets: $24
  • 2 children tickets: $10
  • Child under 6: free
  • 3 ride bracelets: $66
  • Coupon book of 30 rides (as opposed to the 25 at the gate): $20
  • Parking Pass: $5

Total: $125 We would have saved $23 right there.

4. Blood donation. My 20 year old donated blood at the Red Cross and received 2 free tickets to the fair. My mama didn’t raise a dummy. My 20 year old gifted those to us, I used them for 2 adult admission tickets. Savings: $16

5. I’m not entirely a big meanie. We told the kids we would advance their next allotment of spending money, if by chance they saw a game they wanted to play, a food they wanted to eat or a toy they wanted to have. My son wanted a Mt Dew. He came back and said “$3???? I’ll wait”. My 9 year old spent hers plus $1, but since I ate half of her cotton candy, I forgave that dollar. 😉

6. Food. So how did we handle the food? Well, we did what we always do. As stated above, the kids had some money they COULD spend, but they knew it was coming from THEIR money and not MINE and they are always a little more careful with THEIR money than they are MY money. I told you my mom didn’t raise a dummy. I digress. Back to food. We brought it with us. Yep, carted it in my husband’s HUGE lunch bag. We made four PBJ sandwiches. I cut each sandwich into 4 pieces so they were grabbable. These went into a large Rubbermaid food container. My husband made meat tortilla wraps. I cut up cheese into bite size pieces, my husband made some Peanut butter celery bites. I grabbed a sleeve of Ritz and a sleeve of graham crackers for any snacking needs. Each of my kids owns a Thermos water bottle and they filled those before we left. The night before the fair, we froze half of a gallon of water, filled it with water the next morning and brought that for refills. 

I know there are people that think you can’t experience the sights! the sounds! the taste! of the fair without doing it ALL, but my kids did not complain. They knew they COULD do some things, but they WOULD have to give up others. (I like CAPS) It was their choice. It wasn’t their mean mama telling them they couldn’t. When they knew they could buy a corn dog, but there were some free sandwiches, they chose the sandwich. My kids aren’t dummies either. 

So, that’s how we did the fair on $109. Yeah, it’s still a bit spendy, but if I’m being honest, it really only cost me $9 out of my pocket. I listed an item and sold it for my parents and the deal was if I did that, they would pay me $100. It was perfect timing. 🙂 When you subtract out the spending money the kids DIDN’T get, because they chose the fair, I think I made money. Woot! 

I want my kids to experience all the sights and the sounds of life, but they also need to know there is a cost to all that. I am pretty darned proud of them and their spending choices. I’m proud that they can walk right by the barking carnies and say “nope, I like my money more than I like that stuffed animal that I will donate in 6 months”.

Smart, eh?

And, really, they look like they were having fun!


Are you going to the fair this year? 


2 thoughts on “Large Family, One Income, and a Day at the Fair (Possible?)

  1. love it! We do the same thing. Pack lunch, somehow get a couple free tickets because my husband works for the village where the fair is held and end up spending very little money for a full day.

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