Budget Buster: Family Trip to the Circus

by SPF on March 27, 2012


I guess it was only a matter of time, being that my child is getting older.  I knew eventually, we would start venturing out of the house, to events targeted for children.  I had performed the calculations in my head, as to how much it costs to partake in children’s entertainment events.  Boy oh boy did I get a wake-up call when we went to the circus a couple of weekends ago.  Similar to an unplanned work lunch, not budgeting for “fun with the kids” can potentially bust your budget.  Take a look at what it could cost you to go to the circus:

  • Tickets were roughly $30/person.
  • A box of popcorn, similar in size to a small box of cereal, was $8.
  • Cotton candy, yeah, that’ll run you $12.
  • Various light-up toys…anywhere from $10 to $25.
  • Flavored, shaved ice in a “collector’s cup”, $10 friggin dollars!

Now, I only have one child and, even though she may want every toy she sees, it doesn’t work that way.  We did get her one light up toy.  The three of us munched off of one box of popcorn and a bag of cotton candy (I wanted to see how she reacted to cotton candy).

Seeing as how the circus was held in the arena where our basketball team plays, the regular concession menu is available as well (hot dogs, nachos, etc).  I have no idea how much other items cost (like shirts or pictures) b/c I was quick to avoid those booths.  But, can you imagine the total if you had say, 2 kids?  How about 3?  And, what if these were older kids that could put a dent into some popcorn, or a hot dog?  Jeez!

I think in the end, it’s okay to have a good time and partake in some of the extras but, it makes sense to plan for these ahead of time.  I plan on making a “children’s entertainment” fund/jar, where I’ll throw a few dollars into and let it build up.  We don’t go out a lot (her first time going to the movies was to see The Lorax…I think I had more fun than she did) so, I have time to build this up before she really starts getting interested in going places.  Right now, she’s content to go outside in the backyard and run around while I do yard work!

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SPF  (20 Posts)

SPF is a wife and mother trying to change her family's financial tree. This blog will serve to document the journey to eliminate debt, so that wealth can be built, all the while hoping to inspire people along the way. You, the reader, motivate me to keep writing. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, or by subscribing for email updates.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle March 27, 2012 at 1:59 pm

You know….kids deserve to be taken out for treats sometimes. Mine were on break this past week and we took them to the zoo (free), but ended up buying them a frozen treat while there. Then, we went to Dave and Buster’s (ugh..hate that place!) and gave them $20 in game money and bought them ice cream sundaes, so spent $25 that day as well. It’s not as bad as the circus prices you quoted, but they were little treats that we wouldn’t buy ourselves right now. The difference is my kids are so good and sweet…and it’s not their fault we got into debt. Your “children’s entertainment jar” is a good idea!


From Shopping to Saving March 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I think the children’s entertainment fund is a good idea. Once I have kids I think this will be the biggest fund I will contribute to haha. I can’t imagine having kids right now since I can barely fend for myself financially. I respect people with kids very much, especially my parents. The amount of sacrifice and hard work that goes into parenting is crazy! Kudos to you… and I like the circus :)


bogofdebt March 28, 2012 at 10:40 am

I think that it’s a great idea to have a childeren’s entertainment fund! I don’t have children (yet) but I adore my nephews and am looking forward to my future sis-in-law’s daughter. I have went to the circus a few times and loved it.


mycanuckbuck March 28, 2012 at 11:11 pm

It is amazing how it all adds up! When I babysit my nieces or nephew, I try to avoid taking them “out” much because it does just add up. That being said – I took the 4 of them out just for a snack to Wendy’s and it cost me almost 25 bucks because I really didn’t plan ahead.


Well Heeled Blog April 6, 2012 at 4:20 am

When I was young, I almost never asked my parents for anything in terms of souvenirs, toys, gifts, etc. In fact, I remember once we went to the LA Zoo, and we were in the gift shop. My mom and I saw a little pink plastic giraffe on a ribbon, and I thought it was really cute. SHE was actually the one who suggested we get it. I was so shocked because my mom never buys anything, much less something that is purely decorative. But we got it and I still have it, and everytime I see it I smile a little. It’s when I first realized that oh my gosh, my mom is also human and actually WANTS things.


TB at BluecollarWorkman April 25, 2012 at 10:42 am

My wife and I decide on how much we’re going to spend before we go anywhere with the girls. Always. Becuase tlittle expenses just keep popping up and then of course there’s the “Oh daddy, pleeeeeease?” But we tell the girls beforehand how much we’re spending that day/night and so they can help make spending decisions, too.


The Blonde February 13, 2013 at 6:27 am

It can be difficult sometimes when you want to be saving money, but then there are social occasions where money is required to be spent. I`ve often found myself being drawn between these two things. On one hand I really have to save some money as my budget is really tight (I`m a student) but then on the other hand, there`s that gathering of friends that I haven`t seen in a while on a pub, that I know will cost me a lot of money. I guess sometimes you just have to forget about saving ALL the time, and just go out and have fun, but try to not overspend.


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