Let’s face it. No matter who you plan to vote for in the election next month, we can all admit the economy has been moving at a snail’s pace for the past four years. And when jobs are scarce, hours at work are hard to come by, you need to look closely at where you are spending your money. We all love our teams and we all want to have the best game day experiences and that includes tailgating. But tailgating doesn’t have to be the one activity that breaks the bank. You can’t control ticket prices, parking fees or the price of a gallon of gas to get you to the game. But, there are ways to cut down on how much you spend on tailgating. Follow these eight simple money-saving tailgating ideas and you’ll be assured with the money you save you’ll be able to afford season tickets next season.
1) Remember the magnitude of the event – Are you tailgating the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party or are you just having an intimate tailgate with a few friends? We as tailgaters tend to go all out and treat every tailgate as if we are auditioning for a role on the next season of Top Chef. Sometimes a regular season game in the middle of October warrants breaking out the hot dogs and hamburgers. Don’t worry, if your team makes it to the playoffs, there is plenty of time to go hog wild and try and do filet mignon in section H12.
2) The same applies to your beverages of choice – If you are scaling it back on the food for a ho-hum, mid-season match-up, why not reel it in on your drink choices too? We all like the expensive imports but if you are going to cheap it up with what is on your grill, will having something pricey in your hand really improve that $1.99 package of beef wieners? Harken back to your broke college student days and pick up the cheap stuff and play some beer pong. Who says “you can never go home”?
3) Team up – I don’t know of anyone who packs the car full of tailgating gear, drives to the stadium, sets everything up only to not have anyone to tailgate with. Chances are you are either going with other people in your car or meeting more people there. Don’t be shy about asking others to contribute to the effort and coordinate who is bringing what. Make sure that the really critical items are brought by those people driving in your car. Assigning the folks meeting you there the task of bringing the propane or the charcoal and they somehow forget, that could be a real bummer. Have other people who are meeting you there bring the things that go on the grill or in the cooler. This also applies to if you are carpooling with other people in your vehicle. Don’t be shy about asking everyone to kick in a little for gas.
4) Bulk up – No, we’re not talking about doing a cycle of stanozolol but rather encouraging you to buy your food and drink in bulk. There are numerous warehouse stores out there including Costco and Sam’s Club that offer great prices but the catch is you have to buy items in a larger quantity. This isn’t so bad seeing how tailgating is a group social activity and there are usually large groups tailgating in the parking lots. The same idea applies when it comes to buying booze. Hit up the local liquor warehouse stores like Beverages & More or Liquor Barn. And whatever you do, don’t shop at the last minute. Stopping and getting a 12-pack from the convenience store will kill your budget. You are paying for that convenience and there is a reason beer and other items are nearly twice as expensive at convenience stores.
5) Be smart and plan ahead – I know we sound like a broken record but do your homework and know the lay of the land before you head out to the stadium. Use technology to your advantage by mapping out the shortest route to your destination. By doing this you not only save on gas but will save some time which translates into more party time in the parking lot. Also, use resources like Tailgate Wiki to find out which places have the cheapest parking and which areas are more relaxed about tailgating and partying. If you know ahead of time that a certain area of the parking lot doesn’t allow glass bottles, you can save yourself that unintended expense of a ticket written by a cop with little sense of humor. Also, the most obvious parking spot may not be the best. Find out that if you pack up your tailgate five minutes earlier and walk an extra 100 yards, an off-site lot may save you a bundle on parking fees compared to the stadium owned lot.
6) Cheap gear is still the most effective – Your rusty old hibachi grill on your back patio will grill up food just as well as a huge propane grill and the good news is, you don’t have to buy it because you already own it. Sure, you won’t look like a tailgating grill master on a little grill but when it comes to saving money, this isn’t a beauty contest. At this stage you get to still enjoy the tailgate party lifestyle without having to take a loan out on your car in order to do it. If you don’t have a ton of tailgating gear at your house, borrow some. I am sure a neighbor or a friend will loan you some folding chairs and a table so long as you bring them back in good condition. Need some tunes? Roll down the windows and crank that car stereo.
7) Be sneaky but not too sneaky – What we mean is you can sneak in some things past the security pat down area but you need to be smart about it. Concessions are expensive once you get inside the stadium so we would suggest filling your belly to the brim on the outside so you can resist buying that $5 hotdog or the $9 beer. Going to the game is not like going to the movies where you can load up your girlfriend’s purse with candy and other munchies. Stadium security guards check all bags and backpacks and will find that sub sandwich you stuffed in there. If you want to booze inside the stadium we would suggest advanced smuggling techniques like using the Freedom Flask to smuggle in 750 ml of booze past the security. Also, know the policy of the stadium on what you can and can not bring inside. Most stadiums will allow fans to bring in two unopened water bottles but the key is to know what size water bottles they allow. If you bring a size too big, they will end up taking them away and now you are back to buying that $7 bottle of water from the snack shack.
8) Drink responsibly – I know, I know. You hear it all the time but you hardly ever hear this message in regards to saving money. If you get after the bottle too fast and too soon, more than likely you will not make it to game time. If that is the case, you should have saved yourself the time and money and just gotten smashed on your couch and watched the game on TV. If you do somehow make it in the game but are too hammered to know what is going on, the money you spent on tickets was just flushed down the toilet. And lastly, designating a driver will not only get you home safely and protect the lives of others, but a DUI is the most costly expense that could come out of tailgating. Last year, MSN Money estimated a typical DUI costs about $10,000 by the time you pay bail, fines, fees and insurance, even if you didn’t hit anything or hurt anybody. Just be smart and drink responsibly and leave the driving to someone else.
Those are the top eight we can think of that can be an immediate savings in your bank account when you go tailgating. We would like to hear from you the readers to suggest more money saving tips when out in the parking lots. Please leave your tip in the comments section below.