Extreme saving strategies for the 2006 concert season

by Alison Bonaguro
(as seen on AllAboutCountry.com, February 2006)


You are probably well aware that the 2006 concert season is almost here. And you know what that means: Fundraising efforts should start immediately. Not just the meager bake-sale, candle-party kind of fundraising. Serious fans need serious cash. So it's time to return all those ugly sweaters you got for Christmas. Sell the holiday gift cards to coworkers. And promise yourself that any cash you got as a gift will go directly into your concert fund and not into some frivolous cause like your skyrocketing gas bill.

In order to funnel money into the hands of the ticket brokers we love to hate, you need to make some sacrifices. Skip the lattes. Bring homemade lunches to work. And walk instead of driving your gas- guzzling SUV. Another saving technique that a lot of people use is to over-write their checks at the grocery store. For example, if your groceries cost $43.67, write the check for $143.67 and pocket the $100. If anyone asks why it cost so much for eggs, milk and cheese, mumble something about the high costs of dairy farming these days. Yes, it may be a little white lie. But it's not like I'm suggesting you pilfer your children's lunch money. That would be wrong. Lucrative, but wrong.

If you do think about hosting some kind of fundraising party for your cause, be considerate of your friends who are suffering from what experts call "giver's fatigue." Between Tsunami relief efforts, Hurricane Katrina charities and other local worthy causes, giving to your front-row fund may seem inappropriate.

That's not to say that there's not a dire need. Going to concerts, and doing it well, can be a financial hardship. The cost of the ticket being the biggest one. Tickets can range from $20 to $500, the latter being the cost of one good seat. Or as I like to call them, the elbows-on-the-stage seats. I used to see Brad Paisley every time he came to my local county fair. Seats were $15. Now that he's started playing arenas where the seats are quadruple that, I'm not about to stop loving him just because he's made it big.

Another cost that has what I consider to be a very high return on investment is the fan club memberships. At first, it seems like a high price to pay for a little card in your wallet. But when the ticket sales start, and fans get first dibs on presales, you'll be glad you're a card-carrying member.

Then there's the costs incurred at the merchandise booth. What kind of a fan would you be if you didn't stop and get a Phil This thong at a Phil Vassar show, or a Got Tequila? t-shirt at a Joe Nichols concert? You'll also need approximately 10 rolls of film and/or a back-up digital camera battery for every show. If you're the sign- making kind, there's the cost of posterboard and markers. (Always buy Sharpies, so they can double as autographing markers at the end of the show.) And you should always set aside money for the potential post-concert tattoo, a common side effect of live-music euphoria.

For those of you who travel for concerts, saving is even more of an issue. Even if it's done on a budget (driving instead of flying, Days Inns instead of Ritz Carltons, Wendy's Extreme Value Menu instead of room service), it all adds up. If you have children, you may also want to set aside a souvenir fund to offset the fact that you went to yet another out-of-town concert. "I know Mommy went away to another Gretchen Wilson concert honey, but look, I brought you cheese curds from Wisconsin!"

The good news is, if you start saving now, you could be in the front row by the time your favorite artist comes through your town. By the end of the year, you'll have ticket stubs, t-shirts, pictures and memories that are worth every dime you spent. And saving strategies you can apply to the 2007 concert season.