The financial irrationality of entertainment at the fair

I finally went to the Canadian National Exhibition a.k.a. “The Ex” last summer for the first time since I moved to Toronto, to mostly look (NOT EAT) at this infamous deep-fried butter dish.

One word: YUCK.

Anyhoo, as I was strolling around the fair look at what they had to offer, I stopped under a couple of game stalls out of curiousity (okay, okay, so I was trying to avoid getting soaked by the rain :P)

As I watched people put in quarter after quarter in a little machine to win a little stuffed toy, I was struck by how much money they were spending.

I saw a couple put in about $20 worth of quarters to finally win a small, stuffed devil. All for a toy that I’m sure you could find for $10 or less (thrift stores!).

$20!!! šŸ™‚ For a super tiny, cheap stuffed toy!!

I totally get that they spent the money to be entertained at the fair, and winning a stuffed toy is part of the fun… but I guess it just isn’t my cup of tea.

Unless you’re skilled being able to beat these carnies by consistently rolling the ball into the 50 slot, or managing to get the bowling ball to stay in the curve, you’re really out of luck in trying to win a stuffed toy for less than $1, which is the basis of carnie marketing.

I remember doing similar things as a teenager at other fairs, spending $5 – $10 to try and win a stuffed animal. In the end, know where they all ended up? In the garbage or at the thrift store.

I don’t own a single stuffed animal that I don’t cherish (for the record, they’re 2 heavily-loved teddy bears).

I have a real distrust of playing anything that has a low chance of success because of my uncoordinated body, and I don’t see the point of spending money on winning a toy I eventually won’t keep.

Perhaps this is why I don’t gamble either.

Then I thought about all the other ways I spend on entertainment that I actually enjoy — going to museums, seeing exhibitions, going to the theater.

I don’t get anything physical out of it unless I buy a museum souvenir (unlikely), save for the memories and photographs from such an experience.

Yet, a lot of people might think it’s a waste of money, looking at a bunch of paintings. šŸ™‚

To each their own.

Have any of you kept any carnival toys from your life?

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.