Back in September, J and I had a few drinks during Sunday Night Football, and decided to go see the Seahawks-Cowboys game in Dallas. At the time, we were going to share a hotel with a friend who would also be there. That plan fell through a few days after we bought our flights, so the trip ended up being a little more than expected. In order to save money, I decided to cut back on current expenses.
It ended up being a really successful method so I figured I’d share some tips and tricks I learned with you on how to budget for an NFL game.
Use the Envelope System
Right now I deposit my check in person, and withdrawal my allowance for the two weeks of each pay period. Instead of living off of this amount, I cut my allowance in half and put the other half in an envelope that had “Cowboys Ticket Allowance” written on it. Every once in awhile if I had a dollar or two in my wallet and remembered, I would throw it in the envelope too. I left the envelope in a safe place and didn’t carry it around with me. I also didn’t let myself count it so that I wouldn’t be tempted to spend it.
Using this process, I had planned to save $240. Somehow, when I did a final count, I had $261. I was so surprised by this. Frankly, I didn’t miss the extra allowance because I knew it was going to something super exciting. I also didn’t have the urge to spend it like I would if it were in my bank account because it was as if the money wasn’t even there. I consider it proof that out of sight, out of mind really does work!
Consider Buying Directly From Ticket Holder
J was in charge of our tickets. I am type-A and he definitely is not. He’s also a pro at going to professional sporting events and has been to many Seahawks games in Seattle. He was certain if we waited until the game got closer, we would get a better deal on tickets.
This idea was really hard for me. I was watching Ticketmaster and StubHub every few days and the prices only seemed to be going up. I was pretty nervous that we wouldn’t get tickets at all. Then Tony Romo got hurt and the Seahawks weren’t doing super amazing… and the prices started dropping. Tickets that were $800 a piece were going on Ticketmaster for $600, then $400, then $350. Because this was a once in a lifetime trip for me, I was willing to spend $350 on good seats.
Until you factor in Ticketmaster fees. What the heck are those about?! You mean a person buys a ticket, gets charged an outrageous fee, then decides to sell it to someone else and they also get charged an outrageous fee!? The fees were almost 20% of the ticket. I was not interested in spending more on tickets than our flights so I continued to watch the websites while J assured me over and over (even after I tried to peer pressure him into buying them) that we just needed to wait.
We flew to Dallas without game tickets. Talk about stressful for a planner! But I trust J and any time I got nervous, I reminded myself that he knew what he was doing and hadn’t let me down before, even when he planned things last minute.
Sure enough, we found someone on Craigslist who seemed legitimate. He was a season ticket holder who couldn’t go to the game and didn’t want to pay the Ticketmaster sellers fees. We met him at a local Starbucks on Saturday. $400 TOTAL later, we had seats in section 143. ONE HUNDRED SECTION. I couldn’t believe it. And the total price was cheaper than we would have paid for four hundred level seats on the days I was trying to get J to buy tickets. Don’t be like me. Relax and wait it out because the closer you get to the game, the more desperate people are to get rid of their tickets for something, even if it’s a bit of a loss.
Also, seriously, what the heck, Ticketmaster?!
Splurge in Healthy Ways
I had $261 saved for game tickets, but only needed $200 since J got an awesome deal on tickets. I’ve been wanting a new jersey. My BFF is a huge Cowboys fan and is convinced my Tony Romo jersey is bad luck. Plus, I’ve had it since 2005-ish. I am not too concerned with a curve fitting jersey and am lucky enough to fit into youth sized jerseys. So I was able to grab a Sean Lee youth Medium jersey at the AT&T Stadium Pro Shop for $69.99. Then, I walked past a bin of pom poms and couldn’t stop myself. With J’s military discount I got both for about $65.
I totally justified this splurge by the fact that I’ll wear this jersey every Sunday for the foreseeable future and I saved $61 on tickets. It was basically a wash and didn’t have any impact on my food and drink budget for the rest of the weekend. Wahoo!
Research Your Tailgate Options
J was also in charge of the tailgate planning. I’ve never been to a tailgate (unless you count the one I went to in college when I was 18 and couldn’t drink). I had no idea how to even start thinking about a tailgate plan. He also wanted to join up with a group of people so that we could socialize and make friends. He’s really good at that even though I’m super awkward at first.
He found a few interesting ones on Facebook and then came across the Texas Seahawkers. They were hosting an all you can eat and drink tailgate before the game. Tickets were only $40 a person! That’s definitely a steal and it helped us integrate into a group, which was fun. The night before we had gone out to a really cool bar, and J of course had to talk to every person he saw in a Seahawks jersey. He made friends with some people who were going to the same tailgate and staying in a hotel near ours (we’d walked to this bar). After a few hours of getting to know these people we had secured a car pool group to the game! It was $25 a couple (at the time we were leaving, we checked Uber just for fun and it was a $70 ride to the stadium), and the people we met were super nice.
Small world, I ended up getting a free ticket to a Seahawks home game a couple of weeks ago and ran into one of those couples in the hallway there!
All in all, $25 for a ride and $80 total for all we could eat and drink was cheaper than parking at the stadium, let alone parking AND bringing our own food (probably cold sandwiches) and drinks. Instead, we got barbecue pulled pork, yummy drinks and a lot of attention for being a “house divided” in our conflicting jerseys. Ha!
Bring A Bottle of Factory Sealed Water
We took the AT&T Stadium Tour on Saturday. It was INCREDIBLE. I would highly recommend it. We did the self guided tour so we missed some things, but we also saw what I really cared about, which was the locker rooms and the field. We also got to meet some of the cheerleaders! I nearly died I was so excited. Since I was planning to buy a new jersey I got some autographs on my Tony jersey and was able to retire it after the tour.
One thing I didn’t plan for was how thirsty I would be. I had to buy a bottle of water. A generic water (although it did have a Cowboys star on it, which was cool) was $5. FIVE dollars. It’s like being at the airport! I learned that day that you can bring in factory sealed bottles of water! NFL stadiums are really strict about what you can and can’t bring, so that was super exciting news. Save yourself $5 and bring your bottle of water from home, just don’t open it until you’re past security.
I think I’ll share another post later about the tour and the game. For now, let me know if there are any tips I missed! How do you save money for big events? Do you have any tips on how to budget for an NFL game?