Money Talks, So Should You

Cheapskate Culture: Getting through playoff season on the cheap

Alyssa Vitale
by Alyssa Vitale, Dimespring 30

I would never say I’m a huge sports fan. In fact, that might be one of the last ways I would describe myself. That being said, I do live in Chicago, and I have a serious attachment to the concept of Chicago sports teams. Both sides of my family are obsessive (and perpetually optimistic) Cubs fans, and my mother raised me to recite the ‘96 Chicago Bulls roster like a prayer.

Naturally, I can’t help but think Chicago teams are the best out there.

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The past month has been an especially sporty one, with the Chicago Bulls in NBA Playoffs, the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL Playoffs, and the Chicago Cubs opening up their MLB season. While I profess no real investment in the games, my good friends are all hugely into the spectacle, so I have found myself watching  and becoming increasingly attached to  the players and their progress.

While seemingly harmless to my wallet in the beginning, the fact that Chicago teams have thus far been performing really well means hitting up bars for communal game-watching has taken its toll.

I began to realize my bank account funds rapidly depleting within the first round of the NBA Playoffs, as beers, bar food and celebratory shots hit the table. In theory, you might tell me to start watching at home, but as I’m saving funds by shunning cable TV, I don’t have that option. Inviting myself over to friends’ apartments to watch has worked once in awhile, but depending on friends to have cleaned their apartments and to want a group around for two to three hours isn’t always the most reliable situation. Of course, that dilemma hasn’t stopped me from inviting myself, but it only works in small doses.

More often than not, a group plans to go to a bar, and, not wanting to miss out on hang time or the game, I find myself tagging along. The bar near my work initially seemed like an ideal spot, since it was nearby and routinely plays every Chicago sports game when they’re on. Soon, though, after a few rounds of $5 drafts and some overpriced nachos, I found myself back in the same broke situation.

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So with a finite supply of open, cable-enabled apartments, unseemly bar tabs and dwindling funds, I nearly ditched my newfound affection for sports. Luckily, several of my friends are also thrifty. Also luckily, Chicago bans bars from having happy hours and instead requires that bars who offer any kind of deal must do so for the entire day. With a little sleuthing power, and a decent amount of manpower, we came across a list of the cheapest deals in the nearest neighborhoods for the days games were playing. Game on Thursday? No problem! We have a bar with 25 cent wings and $2 drafts. The Hawks are playing Tuesday? Great, this bar has $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon cans and $1 sliders.

I want to be able to spend time with my friends in our 20s while we’re relatively responsibility-free, but needed to preserve as much cash as possible for my monthly bills. And again I find with a little research and a lot of willpower, I can enjoy my time without breaking the bank ... even if it means watching sports along the way.

Alyssa Vitale is navigating the waters of thrifty entertainment, one penny at a time. Alyssa is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and attitudes on personal finance.