Bonnaroo. CMA. Firefly. Lollapalooza. The summer calendar is filled with music festivals where attendees have the opportunity to hear live performances from dozens of great musical artists in just a few days.
Unfortunately, attending concerts and festivals can really add up. A three-day stint at a big music festival can quickly drain your pocketbook and leave you broke for the rest of the summer (and beyond).
Thankfully, taking just a few simple steps can drastically reduce expenses without taking away any of the fun. Here are six options you can take to save yourself money at summer music events.
Volunteer. Many festivals and outdoor concerts rely on volunteer labor to get things done, including moving items from one location to another, unloading trucks, organizing lines and doing other simple tasks.
While it may not sound like loads of fun, volunteers do get perks, such as free food, merchandise or tickets to the event.
Your first step should be to look for official volunteer programs for the festival you wish to attend. If there are still slots available, send in your application as soon as you're sure you want to attend. Aside from that, you can talk to vendors on-site and volunteer to help them in exchange for food or merchandise. It never hurts to ask!
Bring your own food and water. On-site vendors selling food and water are expensive. Most outdoor concerts are required to have some source of free drinking water, but that source is often crowded, so you'll probably want to avoid using it regularly.
The solution to both problems is to bring your own food and drinks. Pack a small bag with high-energy snacks, like trail mix, that will fill you up. You should also bring a few water bottle already filled with water. Considering bottled water often ranges from $3 to $5 per small plastic bottle, and food prices are often outrageous, bringing your own can save you a lot of cash.
Share a ride. Any time you travel far to an event by car, it makes sense to carpool. Every person you add to the car shaves the cost of gas by a significant amount (assuming they chip in), plus having a car nearby provides a place to store some of your items.
If someone in your group has access to a SUV or a van, you can easily transport six or seven people together and still have plenty of room for items.
Buy merchandise after the festival. On-site merchandise -- T-shirts, hats and so on -- is often expensive. However, the vendors usually have a bunch of items to liquidate after the show, and you can usually find them online for lower prices.
You can sometimes get merchandise really cheap at the very end of the event when vendors are packing up to leave. Offer them $5 for a T-shirt at that point, and you'll often find the seller takes you up on the offer.
Use a money belt. With thousands (and sometimes hundreds of thousands) of people standing around, a few of them are probably going to be dishonest and have their hands out to sneak into your pockets and obtain your wallet. Be smart. Don't let that happen.
Whenever you're in a crowd, it's a smart idea to wear a money belt -- a special belt you wear under your shirt that provides a pocket to carry your wallet and a few other small items. It is extremely difficult for someone to take items out of your money belt. Thieves will move on to the other low-hanging fruits, and you'll keep your cash and your wallet.
Take only your daily cash allotment. Speaking of cash, it can be really easy to spend more than you think in a festival environment. The best solution is to only carry a small amount of cash with you -- your daily budget for food, merchandise and other necessities.
If you only have a little cash on you, you'll be smarter with it and skip over the nonessential items for sale. After all, you don't really need a lot of that stuff -- you're there to enjoy the music and the party atmosphere.
Music concerts and festivals can quickly drain your finances if you're not careful, so taking little steps like these can easily save you a lot of money without taking away one little moment of fun.
Trent Hamm is the founder of the personal finance website TheSimpleDollar.com, which provides consumers with resources and tools to make informed financial decisions.
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