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Plan ahead so you have money to enjoy fair and other special events

August 15, 2012

Thanks for coming to Sterling, Dierks!

I imagine some of you came home from the Logan County Fair one of the nights and looked into your wallet and said, “What was I thinking?”

The county fair is a great time, but the expenses can quickly add up:

$50 for an unlimited ride wristband

$6-10 a meal or some type of meat on a stick

$50 or more for concert, rodeo, demolition derby tickets

$10 or more for carnival games

Thousands of dollars for therapy after not being able to figure out why you couldn’t drop three discs and cover the whole circle while the carny made it look so easy.

Spending can get out of control at the county fair, a night on the town, a vacation, or a special event. If you’re not careful, you can quickly break the bank.

When you are dealing with debt and a tight budget, if you splurge too much and end up with credit card debt, you can add 15% or more to the bill you paid. This can turn a fun week at the county fair turn into a nightmare.

It is easy to save money and have a great time at the fair. For example, you could make sure you eat all your meals at home before going, or you could pack a lunch. You could make up your own homemade games and rides to try and entertain the family as opposed to spending at least $3 a pop there. You can even stand outside the gate and listen to most of the Saturday night concert for free.

These all are options, but they also can take away some of the fun of the fair. To make the fair or other special event really special, make sure you save up the money to really enjoy it, and not regret your purchases later.

The fair probably will be back next year.  Christmas once again will be Dec. 25. You probably will have the urge to take a vacation next summer. These things generally are constants.

The problem is, it is tough to budget for events that only happen once or twice a year. Most of you probably have a pretty good idea on what your monthly fixed expenses are with rent, utilities, food, transportation, et cetera. The problem is, this is what many people fit their budget around, and what is left is throw-away money.

Rather than wasting your extra money every month, save it for these special events. Write down what you want to do in the coming year and estimate what each will cost. Then, add 10% to 20%. After this, you know about how much you’ll need to save.

For some events, if you can save $10 to $20 a month during the year, you’ll be in great shape. The problem is, if you don’t save up and are spending money you don’t have, it multiplies the amount you’ll have to pay back for the same entertainment.

It doesn’t seem like it is that hard, but it does require taking the time to think ahead and delay gratification. This is getting more difficult to do as we live in a society where we can get almost whatever we want when we want it, but it is the key to long-term success.

With a little planning ahead, you can order that $6 BBQ pork brisket from Jimmy L’s (which was delicious, by the way), buy the $28 Dierks Bentley tickets, and even stick around for one more round in the beer garden. Later, as you walk the empty fairgrounds, you’ll be happily thinking “every mile is a memory” as opposed to feeling broke and having a “long trip alone.”

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