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For Football Season, Four Money-Saving Tips on Game Day


You wake up to College Game Day with Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso on television every Saturday morning. The air is cool and crisp. Your weekends are planned around important games. Fall…and football season…is in full effect! And every true college football fan knows that no weekend is complete without a full day of tailgating and enjoying the game.

But like anything else, being a football fan can cost money. Here are a few tips to help you save money on games day this fall.

1. The clown car technique.

Tailgating usually revolves around where you decide to park, and parking can be expensive no matter where you go. But fans and landlords alike know that you want a spot close to the action…and you’re willing to pony up the cash for it.

I’m only hip to the Midwest tailgating scene, so I can only speak for the parking spot price tags around the area: for big games, a close spot can easily set you back $30 or $40 bucks. Avoid saving several spots for your crew and wasting tons of money in the process by only parking one car at your tailgate. This could mean carpooling to the game or it could mean parking all but one of your cars far from the event and having everyone jump in one car to park—as long as everybody has a seatbelt of course.

2. Make friends with season ticket holders.

I’m not the biggest sports fan, but I do enjoy going to a couple college games every season.

Instead of buying an expensive face value ticket, I network instead. I’ll put out the feelers for any available tickets about a week before a game that I want to attend. I’ve been doing this for about four years and I’ve always managed to find a free ticket to a game (it might be different for certain teams or big games). Many season ticket holders are bound to miss at least one game during the year and their missed games are my opportunities. Get to know your fellow football fans so you can form a network to snatch up any unused tickets during the season—especially if you only like to go to one or two games a year.

3. Bundle up…ahead of time.

Although the football season starts with 60, 70, or even 80 degree game days, before we know it, the temperatures will plummet to 20 and 30 degrees in some states. Sometimes, the weather can take a turn for the worst and be snowy or rainy on game day. Hit up the local discount stores for ponchos, gloves, wool socks, and sweatshirts before the game. If you end up at a game under-dressed, you may be tempted by overpriced gear at the stadium.

4. Create a tailgate crew.

If you go to games every weekend, form a regular tailgate crew if you don’t already have one. That way, you’ll know which friend has a small, portable grill so you don’t have to go out and buy one. You’ll know which friends cook the best appetizers and who has the awesome tailgating tent for those rainy game days. If you’ve got a frequent crew that knows in advance what part they play in the tailgate, it’ll save your money and make your game day that much more enjoyable.

Most of all, safe and have fun.

Game days are meant to be fun and to support your team, so always remember to stay smart and play it safe. Use these tips to get the most out of your Saturdays, plan a tailgate to be the envy of all the other tailgaters, and save a little money in the process.

What are your best game day and tailgating money-saving tips?

Published or updated on October 21, 2010

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About Amber Gilstrap

Amber is a twenty-something CPA from Kansas City, Missouri who loves writing, working out, and---of course---finding fresh ideas for saving money. Follow her on twitter @amberinks.


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  1. Lisa Morosky says:

    I went to Penn State, so I’ve done my fair share of tailgating and such. 😉

    I think the biggest thing (like you said) is to have a crew – a group you can share the parking fee, cooking responsibilities, shopping, etc with. Cuts down on costs a ton.

    Or be lame like my husband and I now and just find a good bar/restaurant and watch the games there. :)

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