The crack of the bat. The swish of the net. The chant of “We will rock you!” Who doesn’t love going to sporting events? But if you’ve been to a game lately, you know one thing is true—it’s not cheap. Here in Nashville, going to see the Tennessee Titans play football costs about $100 a pop (for a cheap seat up in the nosebleed section).
And that’s just for one ticket. If you’re planning on taking your whole family to a game, you’ll be spending a small fortune. And let’s not forget about the extra costs like parking, concessions and that all-important foam finger.
With prices so outrageous, it’s not surprising that many families are giving up sporting events for cheaper things to do. But the good news is that if you try hard enough, you can actually score a deal on the cost of heading to a game. You just have to know where to look for discounts and make sure your budget is ready. We’ll tell you how.
How to Go to a Sporting Event on a Budget
1. Wait for discount nights.
A lot of teams have discount nights throughout the season, so keep your eyes peeled. Some baseball teams even have family nights with packages that include tickets, parking and concessions. You just need to do your research and stay in the loop so you know when you’re actually getting a good deal. When the schedule comes out before the season, circle the discounted games on the calendar so you can start saving up early.
2. Buy from sellers online.
You don’t have to buy tickets directly from the team. Check websites and online auctions like eBay, Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. But whenever you buy things online, remember this—make sure you’re buying from a legit seller. Check their ratings and read the buyer feedback to make sure you’re not getting scammed.
3. Don’t fall for buy now, pay later plans.
Want to buy a $20 shirt? Oh, that’s just four easy payments of $5. These buy now, pay later plans are everywhere these days. And now they’ve even hit the ballpark. Buy now, pay later plan suck you in with this lie: “Don’t want to cough up $400 to see a game with your family? Just pay $100 a month—no big deal.” Sure, the plans are interest-free (until you miss a payment), but if you have to put something like that on a payment plan, you can’t afford it. Plain and simple. Don’t be fooled by these payment plans.
4. Sit in the upper level.
Okay, so we mentioned the nosebleed section before—that’s what people call those seats at the far back, upper level of a stadium. You might be not as close to the action, but you’ll pay a lot less. And whether you’re going to a professional football, basketball, baseball or hockey game, one thing’s for sure when it comes to ticket prices: the higher you sit, the cheaper the tickets. Plus, you’ll get plenty of exercise walking up all those steps.
5. See minor league teams.
If you want to go to a sports game, here’s a shocker—it doesn’t have to be a professional game. What! Yeah, it’s true. Going to a minor or amateur league game can be just as fun. Hockey, football and baseball all have minor league options, and chances are, there’s a minor league team in a city near you. It goes without saying that tickets to these games are a heck of a lot cheaper. Plus, you never know—you could be watching future pro sports superstars!
6. Ask around.
Unless your team has the hottest ticket in town, there are probably thousands of empty seats at every game. Some tickets are never purchased, and sometimes, people buy tickets but don’t actually use them . Crazy, we know! Ask friends and coworkers if they know of anyone who has extra tickets (like season ticket holders). They may be willing to give you the tickets, or you can probably at least negotiate a good deal. The closer it is to the game, the more desperate they’ll be to sell their tickets.
7. Remember your goals.
If you’re working through your debt snowball, ask yourself if dropping a big wad of cash on one game is a good idea. Sure, you might have saved up for it in your entertainment budget—but is that the best use of your cash right now? That’s a question only you and your family can answer.
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Here’s the reality: Depending on ticket prices, the cost of one game could actually cover something else in your budget, like a handful of date nights or even—gasp—an extra debt payment. It’s good to get away with the family and take a deep breath from the intensity of paying off debt, but $200 for a Yankees game probably isn't your best option.
How to Budget for the Big Game
Bottom line: You can go to a sporting event without busting your budget. But you have to be smart, plan ahead, and budget for it. And having a sinking fund is a great way to save up for the game over time. It’s pretty easy too. We’ll walk you through it:
Step 1: Figure out how much you need to save.
Let’s say the tickets for the game you want to go to are $50 a pop and you want to take your family of four. That means you need to save up $200 for tickets.
Step 2: Figure out how long you need to save.
If tickets go on sale in two months, that means you’ve got two months to save up—aka you need to save about $67 each month.
Step 3: Add a sinking fund to your budget.
A sinking fund is a way you can save up for big-ticket items or even big purchases that happen yearly (like car repairs, vacations, subscriptions—that kind of thing). Our free budgeting app, EveryDollar, makes it super simple to set up your sinking fund.
On a desktop computer, log into EveryDollar and just click “Add item” under the budget category you pick. Then name it “The Big Game” (or something like that). Look to the right side of the screen and then click on “Make this a fund.” Boom. You did it!
Now you have a line item for the tickets to the game and can save up over the next three months. Your wallet will thank you!
Don’t have EveryDollar yet? Well, what are you waiting for? It’s a free and easy way to take control of your money and tell it where to go every month. Get ready to be a budgeting pro in no time!