If you’re a sports fan, tailgating is probably pretty high on your list of fun fall activities. Tailgating can be a fun way to catch up with friends, revisit your alma mater, and gear up for the big game with delicious food and activities.
However, if you tailgate a few times throughout the football season or even attend a reunion for your old college’s homecoming game, costs can quickly add up. On the flip side, you can tailgate as much as you want so long as you keep it affordable.
Here are some practical tips to help you enjoy fall tailgating on a budget.
Get a Cheap Location
Parking fees can be a major hidden cost when it comes to tailgating. You’ll need to pay to park in most lots near the college and some places even rent out seasonal spots for frequent tailgaters.
Try to scope out the area and the prices ahead of time and consider parking further away to save money. You may even find free parking. Sure, you may need to walk further to get to the game but consider it exercise.
You can also plan to carpool with other people if you have to pay for parking to split this expense.
Don’t Get Catered Food
Believe it or not, some people go all out and pick up catered food to eat at tailgating parties. This seems like unnecessary spending because if you were going to buy ready-made food, you could have just eaten at the restaurant.
Instead, use this opportunity to pack your grill and cook fresh burgers and hot dogs. See what’s on sale that week at your local grocery store and use any coupons you find online or on sales flyers. If you want to have other snacks or appetizers like wings, prepare it at home in advance then bring it to the tailgating site.
If you own a camping stove, you can bring it to keep some of the food warm.
Have a Potluck
If you’re meeting up with friends, ask them to bring a dish to pass so you’re not in charge of providing all the food. You can prepare the main dish, but make sure you have someone to bring sides, snacks, desserts, and paperware.
Don’t worry about buying a ton of alcohol and have everyone BYOB as well.
Shop at Bulk/Warehouse Stores
Put your Costco or Sam’s Club membership to use and buy some of your food items in bulk for cheaper. You can stock up on things like water, burgers, buns, chips, and other items.
Your friends can pitch in for the potluck simply by giving you some money to go shopping at Costco and get all the supplies.
Borrow Chairs and Tents
If you’re a regular when it comes to tailgating, you may already have lots of the supplies needed like chairs and a tent. However, don’t worry about buying new things if you don’t have the money at the time.
Ask around and see if any friends or family members can loan you some of this stuff. Ask everyone to bring whatever they have so there will be enough seating for everyone.
Free Games and Entertainment
Don’t get overwhelmed trying to find free games and entertainment for everyone. Bring some board games or a ball for kids to play with. You can also bring games like ‘corn hole’ and a few bean bags.
Download the charades app for free on your phone and play a few rounds with everyone or break into teams. Get creative and play some sports trivia.
Gather a playlist in advance and download the songs to your phone then connect it to a BlueTooth speaker while you tailgate.
Buying shirts, hoodies and hats with your favorite team can get expensive. Try buying sportswear on sites like Amazon and using a coupon or earning cash back for shopping online with Rakuten (formerly Ebates).
Reuse outfits each time you tailgate and mix and match. You can even wear your favorite team’s colors if you don’t have a special jersey or shirt to help save money.
If tailgating is your idea of fall fun, don’t let the costs weigh you down. Use these tips to make football tailgating remotely cheap while still scoring some fun with your friends and family.