Spending Money on Life Experiences-NCAA March Madness
Over the past few weeks I have had a couple “money moments” come up that I have either not encountered or reacted quite differently than I have over the past 2 years while I paid off all of my personal debt. Today, I wanted to share the most recent and find out from the world, what life experiences do you spend your money on?
In a previous post I officially announced 2016 would be the year of freedom. I have taken that quite seriously as we have been looking for different ways to travel near and far even looking at events that I normally wouldn’t have given much thought because I was in debt. It’s not that I’m looking to spend every dollar that comes into the bank account, but I am living a little more in the moment instead of planning each financial purchase as it will deplete my financial independence day of May 2020 to suddenly working till 65. If I drive out to see Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, and Mr. 1500 Days, I’ll be able to afford the drive and have a place to stay without breaking the bank. (I really just wanted to include Mr. 1500 days in the same sentence for fun, hope you appreciate that my good man).
— Even Steven (@EvenStevenMoney) March 30, 2016
In fact as you see above my twitter account will indicate I am a fan of March Madness and college basketball in general. I have played and coached basketball for most of my life and sometimes I certainly feel like the financial independence unicorn as eyes glaze over when sports are mentioned in personal finance circles, I mean it’s OK we all have our different loves in life, if we were all the same life would not be as interesting.
I actually made quite the big purchase in relation to my average salary and what some will consider absolutely insane for a sporting event. I am a big fan of the Syracuse Orangemen, I have watched them almost religiously since I was a kid. In fact I have even had the pleasure of working Jim Boeheim’s basketball camp at the Carrier Dome (fill the bucket list Northern Expenditure). Those who follow NCAA March Madness might know that the Orangemen as a 10 seed made it to the Sweet 16, which by my luck was being played in Chicago, where I live. To start things off like any good personal finance blogger who considers himself frugal, I attended the Free open practice. I was a kid at the candy store watching the shoot around and dunks that were on display that I can only describe as Midnight Madness Light.
The games being played were Friday and Sunday, but since the price on Friday was even a little out of my budget I decided against making the purchase. Sure it was 2 games for 1 ticket, but I didn’t have much interest in paying $300 plus per ticket. I enjoyed the game in the comforts of my home on Friday as I usually do. Then something crazy happened, Syracuse won again and would play Sunday. The good news is that the teams that lost on Friday would undoubtedly want to sell their tickets, I immediately went to StubHub, SeatGeek, and Craigslist looking to check out the prices. Saturday morning was like Christmas on sale as most of the seats were selling for a discount from what they originally were selling for earlier in the week, if I wanted to sit a little higher up I could get in for $40 per ticket, much cheaper than the $100 plus earlier in the week just to get in the building. As the day went on the tickets flooded the market and as my C+ in economics tells me on the supply/demand curve that this is a good thing for me, the buyer. I made a decision along with the wife that we should go to that game, as Syracuse does not come to the Chicago area very often and especially right in my backyard. It’s ok to spend a few extra dollars on life experiences right?
After getting on the same page with Mrs. ESM, I then played the Craigslist game and began sending out emails to potential sellers letting them know I was interested in their seats just not at the price they had set. Seats for this game in the 100 Level were $150 face value and tickets in the 300 level were $100 (might have to fact check me on that especially since some of these tickets were sold as a full strip for all 3 games). I usually buy off of StubHub just for the pure safety and peace of mind knowing that if the s*** hits the fun, I can just file a claim that I got bogus tickets and don’t have to deal with Seabass kicking my a** in a trucker’s stop bathroom**. As I was making offers via Craigslist, I had a couple people respond to me. Originally I had set a limit of $100 as the highest I would spend for a sporting event, this one included. During my days of not caring about money I once actually bought great seats to a rivalry game at Wrigley Field where the St. Louis Cardinals took on my very own Chicago Cubs, I paid $100 for tickets, my girlfriend at the time and now Mrs. ESM thought I was damn near crazy. This however was when I had less of a feel for money, personal finance, or anything dealing with paying off debt.
As I disclosed the potential ticket offers to Mrs. ESM, the sensible one in our family I might add, I had sent email/text exchanges of paying $200 per ticket to sit in the 100 level. Now, this took her by surprise as her idea of a deal is getting tickets for free (this actually happens more often that you would think with her work and some of my basketball connections). As she brought me back to earth I realized spending $200 a ticket was too much even for me, crazy Syracuse fan who sees his team play once every 5 years or so. As we talked things over, the more I realized I was comfortable paying $150 per ticket ($300 for the pair) to sit in a 100 level seat to watch the Syracuse Orangemen battle the Virginia Cavaliers and the rights to make it to the Final Four.
On Saturday as I went back and forth with each potential seller I came across a guy who followed up later in the day on my request to pay face value. After some back and forth and good bargaining skills on both our parts we were locked in and I was ready to part ways with $275 of my own money for 100 level seats, just 7 rows off the floor. Mrs. ESM even offered to contribute $75 of her own money to the cause. After we met at a secure location** the exchange was made and I went home with basketball tickets and of course the most I have ever spent to attend a sporting event. I actually spent $135 per ticket because we ended up just forgetting the $5 as I offered to buy him a coffee for my ineptness on bringing exact change or enough for that matter.
As you can imagine I had the time of my life watching the game and could have been the best sporting event I have ever been to. I started out the game even running into one of my favorite Syracuse players now in the NBA in Tyler Ennis and took a picture with him. Syracuse won the game with a dramatic comeback in the 2nd half and the victory sent the team to the Final Four. I high fived the guy next to me about 100 times during the game and picked up my wife in celebration more than once. It was one of those moments where you catch yourself being a kid again and enjoying the moment. If all that was had for a $135 ticket, maybe I should do this again some time.
**All kidding aside when dealing with Craigslist be safe as possible, if it feels wrong in any way, don’t do it. I suggest meeting in a public place and if dealing with money over $200 to meet at your local police station.
What is the most money you have spent to see a live event? (Sports, Concerts, Shows, etc)