With summer quickly approaching – The Top 5 Things About Money to Teach Your Child at a Fair or Carnival

With summer quickly approaching, carnivals and fairs soon will be setting up all over the globe. You might not think they have much to teach your child about money, but in reality, these venues can be perfect for getting basic financial ideas across in a very short amount of time. These are the top five things for your child to learn.

  1. Buying more at a time can save you money.

Most carnivals have options about how many tickets you can buy. Although some carnivals charge the same amount per ticket no matter the number you purchase, many will give you at least a small discount if you shell out cash or swipe your card for more. This presents a fine opportunity for you to teach your child about the concept of the bulk discount. At the same time, you can get your child planning about what he is going to do in the immediate future. For instance, it makes much more sense to buy a hundred tickets if you know you have the whole day left for fun than if you can only stay until noon.

  1. Bigger risk sometimes yields a bigger return.

Many cheap, one-ticket games at fairs and carnivals promise a prize every time. The problem, of course, is that the prize is usually something with very little value, such as a cheap plastic whistle. By contrast, for games that require a lot of tickets, the prizes are usually much larger and are worth more. Your child might not win if he plays these games, but if he takes the gamble and does win, he’ll get something better. This represents the basic idea that, although investments with less risk might provide a promise of a return, you often can get more back if you’re willing to go out on a limb once in a while. Carnivals are a great way to introduce this concept because your child visually can see the difference in the size and quality of the prizes.

  1. Not all providers are honest.

Carnivals and fairs are notorious for cheating people, despite the fact that the majority of operators run honest games and shows. Teach your child to look out for problems like slight of hand, weight or alignment imbalances or dull darts. Go online with your child to look up reviews of the operators ahead of time. If there are a lot of complaints, you might want to advise your child to steer clear. These types of situations are also good practice for your child to request a fair deal or to file a complaint with the proper agencies on his own. Later on, this will pay off when products your child will need—for example, his car—don’t perform up to par or someone doesn’t live up to their end of a contract.

  1. It’s sometimes possible to get something you want by trading what you have.

Some booths advertise a trade-up option, which lets your child trade in some of his prizes for something bigger. For example, he might be able to give the game host two small toys for a medium one. The concept here is to get your child realizing that he’s not always stuck with what he has. What he has in his possession has some value, and he might be able to apply that value to a future purchase. Probably the easiest parallel you can make between this and adult finance is getting a car. It’s extremely common for people to bring a vehicle they already own to a dealership so that the sales agent can deduct the value of the traded vehicle off the sticker price of a new one.

  1. Thinking with your head and not your heart can keep you financially afloat.

Carnivals and fairs are designed to entertain, and they’re meant to create good feelings. There’s nothing wrong with that, but many kids get so wound up in the excitement of the place that they don’t realize how much money is slipping through their fingers. An easy way to teach a lesson about approaching money logically and sticking to a budget even when emotions run high is to simply give your kids a set amount of money to spend on what they like and then be firm that they’re not going to get more once that allowance is gone.


Fairs and carnivals have a reputation for sucking wallets and purses dry very quickly. Nevertheless, with the right approach, they can be an excellent venue for teaching your child financial concepts he can use for the rest of his life.