I was recently up in Manchester for the weekend with a couple of friends to see one of my favourite bands, Sabaton, at the O2 Apollo. I am usually pretty good with money but it is always interesting to see how others treat it. One of my friends spending a lot, one having little to spend and myself wanting to save where I could.
Like any concert trip, unless you live there or very nearby, you will have to decide whether it suits you to stay a night or if you will be able to travel back during the same night. This was my longest drive to date being around four and a half hours each way. I wanted to spend the night in a hotel and get some needed rest after the concert. We had even agreed that we would share a room to save money by spreading the cost between us. My friends also wanted us to spend another night in Manchester for the simple reason they wanted me to let loose a little and not worry about being able to drive the next morning. Ultimately this choice did drive the cost up a bit more. This gave us the option of not having to rush around the next day which was so much of a relief to me. We also got to explore a little around town.
I used hotels.com to find us a hotel because my wife and I love the reward program, where you earn a free hotel stay for every 10 nights you stay. The two nights in Manchester has allowed us to reach our next free hotel visit.
Sharing the travel costs
The average cost of getting the train from my area to Manchester is £38.60 and that is only one way! As such we wanted to drive because it was cheaper for us to split the cost of fuel than buying a ticket to Manchester each. You can get fantastic deals on train tickets however booking ahead but it all depends on destination and availability.
Also do not be afraid of using an Uber in a city you do not know, especially if you agree to share the costs of the Uber between you. Same as a taxi but that bit cheaper and using an app. If you join using the code tonyd3653ue your first ride will be for free!
We chose driving as the cheapest method of getting us all to Manchester, me doing the driving and they paid for the fuel between them, and this was cheaper than a single train ticket!
I am not a big drinker anymore (maybe I am getting old?) but I have always been a slow drinker so could easily drink the same bottle over the time it takes most to go through two or three! At the end of the day though most venues do not have the best prices when it comes to selling alcohol. My friends and I were drinking though I saw many people who didn't drink anything other than water, they was more interested in seeing the groups than drinking, so definitely a cheaper night for them.
We actually started back in the hotel room with alcohol I had brought up with me that I had gotten for free via apps like checkoutsmart, shopmium (use the code KHEMYGGZ when joining for a FREE Lindt Chocolate bar) and mystery shopping. We also drank at the venue as well, for myself it was a little treat as I rarely drink, but I had also set myself a budget for the night which I will speak about soon.
The majority of a venues profits can come from the selling of alcohol and food during concerts. However at the end of the day do you really need to be drunk at the concert? You are there to enjoy the music and experience of seeing your favourite group/artist perform live in front of you. I will admit though it can be hard when you are there and experiencing the energy of the place. Singing, yelling, screaming and dancing do take their toll, so you will strongly feel the need to have something to drink, so try drinking moderately or drinking water (tap water is always free!).
The venue didn't serve food but some do, though overpriced and expensive. I have never had food from a concert location as I would feel like I would be unable to experience the concert as much, when having to deal with heaving lines before trying to eat as fast as possible so that I can head back in. I have also seen a few people take their food into the concert then spend their time trying not to have the food go flying whilst everyone dances around them.
I would always recommend eating before the concert and a quite filling meal, it will help you resist the temptations of the food at the venue and it will also be of better quality and value. We shared a large pizza from Domino's for just £9.99.
If you are a Cineworld Unlimited card holder then you can save 10-25% off of food at three restaurants, Chiquitos, Pizzahut and Frankie & Benny's. These might be near the venue and are great choices in which to go and have something to eat before the concert especially since you will be saving that money with the Unlimited card. For more on the Unlimited card please check out my post on 5 ways to save money at the cinema.
Other than a main meal out at Jamboree, which cost us £13 each, we ate food that we had brought up ourselves. Some of which were items I had gotten via the checkoutsmart and shopmium apps as well as mystery shopping.
Do I need the merchandise?
You go to any concert and there will at least be a stand or several with band merchandise on. Usually it is expensive since it is another method in which the band/artist can make some money. This can be a really good way to support the band/artist but ultimately do you need to buy a band tshirt for £30 (price of the Sabaton tshirts) when you can support them by buying the same tshirt online? As after all, most band/artist merchandise sold online by companies will be supporting the band/artist, and be a hell of a load cheaper for yourself.
There will also be plenty of people outside the event before, during and after that will be selling a mix of unofficial or older merchandise at cheaper prices. These personally will always be more of a risk simply due to you don't know how genuine the items are or sometimes the quality. One bloke after selling my friend the last XXL he had, was very persistent in trying to sell me a hoodie in XL size when I had asked if there were any in XXL but he assured me that it would be alright as it was made in the USA their XL is our XXL. He didn't like me telling him he was wrong and to prove it I tried it on and asked if it looked XXL to him now. Needless to say he didn't get a sale from me and when we checked my friend's new hoodie it was an XL, not the XXL he had needed.
You will also be having to think of how to keep a hold of whatever you buy. Either carrying it around the concert, wearing it or paying for a cloak room space.
One of my friends spent £125 on merchandise! That is an unbelievable amount to spend, especially since I had £150 for the whole weekend! We did miss the first group playing properly whilst he queued for his merchandise but at least he brought a shoulder bag with him so he didn't have to worry about them really. As you can tell we made him get the next two rounds of drinks for making us wait out there for him. Later in the evening there was no queue at the merchandise stall with plenty of stock in all sizes.
Going with a budget
After the ticket, travel and hotel costs I chose to limit my spending during the weekend. I chose a budget of £150 for the whole weekend, of which only £55 was for the actual concert night. With these tips I actually only spend £110 – leaving me more money to buy my wife's birthday presents with.
Having a budget makes you really think about what you want during the event, you will not be buying another few drinks or several pieces of merchandise on a whim. You can keep track of your budget more effectively by taking your budget in cash, which is what I did for the concert night. After all how can you effectively keep track of your money via card?
Sticking to a budget can be extremely hard but feel extremely rewarding when you manage to do it. Believe it or not my friend had a budget, it was just higher at £400 for the weekend! My modest budget in comparison doesn't seem like much, but I did come back with more money than he did, though the next day we did go through town and find out Manchester seems to have several comic book stores thus he was lured in and spent some more money! I helped him out at least, I found the reduction shelf in Forbidden Planet for him!
So there's how I saved money on the last concert I went to. If you have any tips then I would love to hear them.