When you have small kids, it seems like you’re constantly looking for ways to save money.  For some things though, saving a few dollars can just add unnecessary stress.  Sometimes we need to actually spend a few bucks to make these experiences worth while, because as an experience parent I’ve learned that you’ll pay one way or another!

I was reminded of this as we decided to venture out to the country fair this weekend.  In the past at fairs and events, we would drive around looking for the cheapest parking spot – and end up walking so far with kids both there and back that we’d have to make promises and bribes just to keep the little ones going.

This year, I felt like a real adult.  Sure you could save $5 by parking another 10 minute walk away.  But we spent $10 on parking at a local church (as part of a fundraiser – it’s for the kids) and walking there and back was nice and easy.

Since some events don’t let you bring any food in, I usually feed the kids before we go.  Of course, the sights and smells of the amazing food there will instantly make you hungry.  This year I swung through the drive through and got them each a $1.50 cheeseburger.  So, it still felt like they got a treat and we didn’t have to buy them each a $7 hot dog.

Tickets to ride can also be painfully pricey.  We decided to splurge on 40 tickets for $45 and those lasted 2.5 rides for three kids… and it was time consuming to walk around and watch each ride to decide if that would be “the one”.  Next year, I think I’ll convince them to put aside some birthday money and buy them each a $40 all day pass.

I also highly recommend the promise of ice cream… anywhere outside the gates of any event.   You can buy three ice cream cones at McDonald’s for under $5 – a cheap price to pay to buy your way out when it’s time to go!