By: Kristin Helf, Staff Writer
In just over a month, we’ll be free from school for summer vacation, and it’ll be time for us to spend all that cash we made while working during the school year—just kidding.
For many students, myself included, a two-and-a-half month break from school isn’t a break from work.
It’s the time we spend working to make up for the too-much-money we inevitably spent during the fall and spring semesters.
Of course, everyone needs a few days off in the summer to unwind at a concert in the city or channel your inner free spirit at a music festival—where tickets can go for hundreds of dollars a pop. You deserve those days to let loose and have fun!
But do it the smart way, and don’t spend the equivalent of an entire season spent waiting tables on one day of overindulgence at Bonnaroo.
There are ways to see AND support your favorite bands without breaking the bank.
1: Work at the venue.
Or volunteer, depending on the site and the availability of jobs. It might just sound like more work, but every teenage Merriweather Post Pavilion employee I’ve ever spoken to has been able to catch the set of a performer they were totally stoked on, without spending a dime.
Plus, you might even get to work the meet-and-greets that super-fans spend hundreds on.
2: Buy tickets early and on-site.
Many festivals offer discounted early-bird tickets—general admission tix at lower prices, just for buying them a few weeks earlier than you would have otherwise. It’s still April, which means you still have time to check if your festival-of-choice is offering cheap presale tickets.
Also, if you live close enough to the venue, be sure to buy your tickets there in person rather than online: this way, you avoid the exorbitant and totally unnecessary processing fees.
Even if you can’t get your tickets in person, buy directly from the festival’s website—unaffiliated ticket-selling sites are known for hidden fees and raised prices.
3: Designate an amount of money to spend, and bring only that.
This economic advice surely predates Woodstock, but it’s tried and true.
Leave your debit and credit cards at home, set a budget and only bring the amount of cash you want to spend.
Even when you’re tempted by funnel cakes or merch you don’t need, you can’t spend what you don’t have.
4: Pack a lunch.
Sometimes venues will make you throw out any food you bring, and even bottles of water before entering the site, and that sucks. Check online for the venue’s rules about bringing in outside food, and if you can, stuff a snack and plenty of water in your purse.
Even stopping at McDonald’s before the show would be more cost-effective than purchasing festival food. Also, stay away from eight-dollar beers—they’re just not worth it.
5: Buy merchandise after the show.
It’s super tempting to buy every t-shirt, CD and limited-edition vinyl your favorite artist has for sale in their merch tent, but be strong. Vendors often have unsold merchandise to liquidate after the show, which means if you check online afterwards, that t-shirt will be selling for much cheaper.
Also, depending on the event you’re at, try approaching vendors as they’re packing up to leave once the show’s over. Especially if this is a one-day festival, or the band’s last stop on tour, offering the merch guy five or ten dollars for an unsold shirt is a totally reasonable thing to do.
6: Wear a fanny pack.
Just kidding. But keep your wallet secure and on your person at all times—when everything is overpriced, some concertgoers will go to extreme lengths to take home that signed poster. Also, aren’t fanny packs kind of cool now? I don’t know, but stay safe and have a great time.