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Saving Money at the County Fair

by Mike

Today I’m proud to offer you a guest post from Matt Davis of www.bettermeself.com.  Matt has some great tips for enjoying yourself at the county fair without spending a fortune.

As summer time is in full effect, nothing screams good times louder than a local fair. Up in NH, we get this one time a year, right at the beginning of August, and it’s a time when the community really comes together. Bands play, Artists share their craft and everyone pulls out their Junkers for the Demolition Derby, which is always the hit of the fair.

Yet, with all the excitement, the greasy food, the awesome atmosphere, people are SCARED to go to the fair (and not just because of that suspicious looking Carney.)

People are SCARED to blow all their money on the fairground, because these guys are literally paid to beg for your money, day in and day out.

So, in the spirit of saving money, I’ve devised a list of rules to help save everyone some money during fair season.

Food
This is without a doubt my biggest expense when it comes to the fair. The food. I LOVE IT, and look forward to it every year, but it absolutely kills my wallet. The French fries, fried doughs, lemonades, YUM! It’s clogging my arteries just thinking about it.

This year, I’m going to do myself a service and eat BEFORE the fair, lessening the amount I can eat, and thus lessening the amount I can spend on food. I’m also going to bring a water bottle FULL of lemonade. Why would I buy lemonade for $4 a cup when I have a bottle full already in my hand? And finally, I’m going to look for the deals. According to a friend of mine, fairgrounds commonly make more food than necessary, so at the end of the night, it needs somewhere to go. Who better to sell it to than the stragglers? With a little negotiation, I’m sure it will be very possible to score some half-priced goodies. If they don’t sell to me, they’re just throwing it away anyways.

Events
Along with the demolition derby, there are several other events going on at a time that typically cost money. The price is usually $5-$10, not a lot on its own, but if you watch three different events, it adds up. I’m going to choose one event, and watch only that. This will keep me happy, and will save me nearly $20.

Games
As satisfying as it is to win your honey a prize, it can really kill the wallet, so if you must play one, pick 1 game, and only play it once. Don’t play until you win. Don’t let the Carney say “just try one more time, you’re so close”. Play once, if you win, great, if you don’t, better luck next year.

With that, some games offer a guaranteed prize, while others are rigged beyond belief. Watch the people running the games, often times they will show you “how easy” it really is to win. If they do it differently than you’re allowed to, or can’t win at their own game, don’t play it, as it’s probably rigged.

Attractions
At my fair, on certain days they sell a wrist-band for $15 dollars that lets you ride all the regular rides, all day, an unlimited amount of times. This is by far the best deal, as some of the rides cost nearly a dollar per ride, so you can quickly recoup your costs by buying the bracelet.

Special Attractions
My county fair typically has rides which cost a few dollars extra just to ride. AVOID THESE. They’re generally not worth the extra money, and you will save tons by avoiding these.

Hide your money
Never show your money. Not only will you be more susceptible to theft, but the carneys will try to attract you with special deals, and bigger prizes, to get you hooked. Keep your money in different pockets. That makes it easier to walk away by saying you’re out of money.

Souvenirs
AVOID THEM! They’re gimmicky, and over-priced. I mean, what exactly are you going to do with the blow-up baseball bat in a weeks time? Don’t waste your money on these, they’ll be broken before you know it. Instead, take pictures and make a scrapbook. All of the memories will stay there, and you won’t have to spend a dime.

Follow these money saving tips and you’ll be able to have a great time without breaking the bank!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Everyday Tips

Fairs sure can suck the money right out of your purse/wallet. Our city decided to cancel their fair this year because of the economy. My kids are so bummed, but it will save me a couple hundred dollars!

Regarding the food – hey if you love it, indulge! It is just once a year :)
Everyday Tips´s last [type] ..Retiring Before the Age of 40 How Realistic Is That

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Mike

Do they usually have zeppoles? I looooove zeppoles!

Reply

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

I loved the county fair when I was growing up! I’m a sucker for the carnie games…

Another key to saving money is to take a planned amount. I always limited myself to less than $30…it was enough to have a great time, but I couldn’t go hog wild on stupid stuff. Also, we’d take advantage of the the free entertainment…petting zoos, art contests, etc.

Reply

Mike

Good advice…and leave the ATM card home!

Reply

Money Reasons

I’m sad to say that I haven’t taken the family to a County Fair yet this year.

We did go to an Amusement Park though, so they got a bit of exposure to a similar environment. Still, it’s not quite the same.

The last fair we went to, Beatles impersonators sang (my parents loved it), and they were spot on! It was a great show!

Reply

Mike

Hard to believe the beatles music is almost 50 years old!

Reply

Matt

Thanks for featuring my article Mike!
Matt´s last [type] ..Niche Blitzkrieg- Day 1

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Mike

No problem Matt! It’s great to help promote good content!

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Matt

Sunday was fair day, and I got to put all of these back to the test again.

And yeah, it worked, big time.

We went with two of my friends, one which had some free passes to get in, instantly saving us $10.

We bought fries and a drink early, before the demo, which totalled $12 between two people. (ouch!)

We bought our demo tickets ($12 for two people), and looked around the fair for a while before settling into our seats.

The demo lasted around 3 hours ($2 per hour, per person. Not bad) and it was actually pretty cool. Afterwards, we spent more time looking around the fair, and I easily scored a sausage grinder for half-price.

All in all, my advice worked. We spent around $28 for the two of us, which is much lower than any of our friends spent for just themselves.

One of my friends spent $70, just on himself. DAMN!
Matt´s last [type] ..Twitter- Great Investment or a Waste of Time

Reply

Mike

Cool! thanks for the update…that’s a great real-life example!

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