How Budgeting Can Set You Free!

I used a simple budget to make this year’s state fair experience the best yet!

By quickly setting up a budget, and planning ahead of time, it allowed for my family and I to enjoy the day and spend money guilt-free.

The Great Minnesota’s Get Together.  This is the slogan that is refrained throughout the Minnesota State Fair season. A few weeks ago the 12-day, 2019 Season was wrapped up. 

The Minnesota State Fair is a pretty epic event.  It continues to break attendance numbers, and this year was no different. 

The MN State Fair broke daily attendance records several days, with an overall record of 2,126,551 people.

In addition to many exhibits, showcases, entertainment, and amazing food, each night had a major headline performance at the Grandstand Stage.  Some of which were sold out performances by acts like “Weird” Al Yankovic and Hootie and the Blowfish with the Barenaked Ladies.

Each year they have tons of new food. This year there were over 80 new food and drink offerings.

For years and years, I have gone to the state fair and it has always been a stressful experience.  It was stressful for many reasons. It was crowded, hot, you were tired, long lines for anything you wanted to do. To top it off, everything was expensive. Very expensive. In the end, you’d feel guilty and ripped off. You’d be tired, beat down, exhausted and ripped off. Did I mention ripped off?

2019 was different.  I had prepared for the Minnesota State Fair.  I had budgeted and allocated for the expenses. I created a day of guilt-free spending. 

In the past, we’d drive to the fair, pay for tickets. My three teens and me. So four tickets for admission.  We’d walk around, and hesitate on what I should buy to eat. It is worth it to purchase a drink. I typically would find those food vendors that had Square and could swipe a credit card.  I would always feel guilty to swipe to pay for an $8 pork chop.

Now, in 2019 I had known and planned the kids and I were going to the Fair, and we were going to see “Weird” Al.  We had planned on buying cookies and checking out the butter sculptures. Having purchased the concert tickets months in advance.  I had paid for the tickets out of an entertainment budget.  This concert was announced back in January.  This now kicked off my 2019 Minnesota State Fair Budget. Boom!

I had approximately six months to prepare for the fair. I let the kids know, we’ll be spending the day at the fair.  They are at an age where they may NOT wanna hang with their dopey dad. 

Similar to the old school envelope system, and using cash, I started saving money for the fair.  Setting aside about $40 a month wasn’t too difficult if I was intentional.  Taking this from the other money I’d typically be transferring into savings, or taking $20 from each of my monthly Grocery, and Dining budgets.

I then paid attention to when discount tickets to the fair went on sale.  I purchased our 4 tickets early at Cub Foods, for $12 each, saving $12 right off the bat.

The big day was approaching, and I was excited to eat all the fair food, watch all the crazy weird people from all over that attend the “great Minnesota sweat together” as our local 93X radio station often calls the Fair. 

The day had arrived…  The kids and I were going to the fair.  We didn’t leave too early for a couple reasons. One, the kids were used to waking up at noon during summer break. Two, I was at the Iron Maiden show the night before. If you wanna see amazing pics from the front row, check this link!

Around 11:30 we were headed to the fair and used Twitter to review park and ride and Parking lot statuses.  It was crazy that in all my years of going to the fair, I had never experienced both the Fair Parking lots and all of the park and ride locations were full. When we arrived at the Fair Grounds, we took our chance at the Fair Ground parking lot. NOPE. DENIED. The lots were full. I was not too rattled. I just casually drove up and down the residential streets. Searching for a spot, it didn’t take long to find someone that had a spot on their lawn. This is a common practice that peeps with homes and yards near the fairgrounds.  The one we found was $20 for an all-day spot. I pulled a $20 bill from my money clip, and we were parked. The best part was it was wicked close, and we literally made it to the fair gates in a short 5minute walk to the front gates. Purchasing our tickets also saved time. No need to wait in the ticket line. 

The interesting thing, even though we had record attendance the day it really didn’t seem too crowded. The weather was GREAT!  It wasn’t too hot, and there was a gentle breeze. I did rain a few times, but it was short and we had been prepared. I brought a backpack and had disposable rain ponchos.  It was funny, we had been stopped a few times by other fairgoers asking where we had got the ponchos.  

Because we had the backpack, I have also brought a water bottle and could fill it up at any of the drinking fountains around the grounds, dramatically saving money on drinks. 

The great thing about planning ahead of time, and allocating money for this day. I didn’t feel guilty when we spent it on food and activities.  It’s what the money was for.  

We continued to get a Pork Chop On a Stick, Garlic Cheese Curds, and Deep Fried Alligator.  As long as I had the cash it was actually fun and ya know what?  I think the food even tasted better without the aftertaste of guilt lol.

After a bit, my daughters wanted to go off on their own. I mean they didn’t wanna walk through the education building, home improvement building, and Health Fair.  I pulled $30 for each of them out of my cash, and they were off. Getting Smoothies, Cookies, and other goodies. 

My son and I continued to hang out together most of the time, checking out exhibits and vendors.  When the girls met up with us again we got Corn Dogs. But not just regular corn dogs. These were Double Bacon Corndogs! AMAZING! My favorite fair food this year hands down. 

As the weather started to cool down, and it got later, we made our way to grandstand and found our seats for the “Weird” Al Concert.  The concert was delayed just a bit because it was kinda windy.  And Al had an entire Symphony Orchestra on stage! WHHHAAATT!!  And we couldn’t’ have their scores blowing all over the place.

The “Weird” Al Show was Amazing!

I then went to grab a tub of popcorn and a couple pops. Again Guilt free. 

In the end, the show was spectacular, and the day at the fair was great! It was one of the best times I had at the fair. I think it was in part of being prepared and budgeting for it.  It was also the mindset. I have already allocated money for this day, and I shouldn’t feel guilty.  As Ramit Sethi says in I Will Teach You To Be Rich, “Live your rich life.”  Great book by the way, check it out!

This was living my rich life, spending time with my kids, and having a good day at The Great Minnesota Get Together.  

Fam at the 2019 MN State Fair

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