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Today is a huge day for college football fans: Rivalry Week. And no rivalry game is bigger than the Iron Bowl featuring the #1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide versus the #6-ranked Auburn Tigers.
The winner takes on the University of Georgia in next week’s SEC Championship game. The winner stays alive in the race for one of four spots in the College Football Playoffs.
As you can imagine the game is one hot ticket. In fact, a quick check of ticket prices on the secondary market look like this:
- Stubhub – $250
- SeatGeek – $280
- Craisglist – $300
That is not a typo, and yes, that is the cost of just one ticket. For one game.
Today’s game is also broadcast live on CBS. Cost? $0.00.
Avoid Making Value Judgements
The argument for or against paying such a price to watch a football game live brings up a broader point. Many times we make value judgements against how other people choose to spend their money.
The same arguments against paying $300 for a ticket to a football game could be made against paying $300/month for cell phones, or $300/month for a new car payment.
In other words, what seems crazy to us may be perfectly normal to others.
Perhaps spending $500 for two tickets to attend a college football game creates a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a father and son.
A few years ago I paid $200 on a whim for a helicopter tour of the beach for me and my son. It was his first time flying. We saw sharks and dolphin and beautiful views of the ocean not available at less than 1,000 feet.
It is something we will remember forever (too bad my daughter chickened out!).
The Opportunity Cost
It is hard for someone interested in personal finances to justify such seemingly frivolous expenses when you consider the long-term opportunity costs for spending those dollars.
Take today’s Iron Bowl for example.
It would cost well over $1,000 for a family of four to attend this year’s Iron Bowl game. If that family decided to stay home, watch the game on television and invest that $1,000 in a decent mutual fund it would be worth roughly $3,000 by the time Junior heads off to college.
$3,000 is not exactly life-changing money, but multiply that by several such decisions made throughout the year. Do that enough times and you soon have one year of Junior’s tuition paid for at Auburn or Alabama.
Striking the Right Balance
The key to personal finance success is finding the right balance between frivolity and frugality.
If you want to see a football game live, perhaps consider a lesser game with a more reasonable ticket price. Save up cash in advance so the cost of the game doesn’t negatively impact your budget.
Or, if you have your heart set on seeing a game of Iron Bowl proportions, create a sinking fund and drop in a little money from each paycheck during the off-season.
When the game rolls around you will have the cash on hand and should have no guilt about enjoying the fruits of your disciplined saving.
As for me, well, this year I will be enjoying Rivalry Week from the comforts of my own home. My only expenses will be some boiled peanuts and a cold beverage.