10 Ways that Football Season Can Blitz Your Finances

Being a football fan is all fun and games — until it starts making you broke. Cut the financial damage off at the pass by recognizing 10 money traps that the gridiron holds. (See also: How Everyone Can Cut the Cable — Even Sports Fans)

1. Fantasy Football Buy-Ins

If you're into playing fantasy football, you're probably familiar with the league buy-ins and fees that go towards a winner's prize at the end of the year. Although the cost is often low, it can fall anywhere between a few dollars to several hundred. Should you decide to join several leagues, that could really start to add up and cost you a big down payment. Not to mention, the odds of winning that money back are fairly poor. Try to limit yourself to just one league, or join a few leagues that don't require a buy-in.

2. Over-Priced Out-of-Market Games on TV

Satellite and cable companies will provide programs that allow you to watch out-of-market football games at an extra cost. Unfortunately, that cost is usually pretty high. In addition to your regular bill, you'll pay several hundred dollars for packages that allow you to watch out of market games. A good compromise is to settle for the games that are shown on prime time (Sunday and Monday nights), as well as the games that make it onto your local stations.

3. Junk Food

Hosting friends and family on a weekend where there's even the possibility that football will be on often carries with it the expectation of some kind of junk food or snacks available during the game. Avoiding this responsibility could save you a lot of money, so if you do host a watch party, try and cook ahead of time, perhaps by throwing together Crock-Pot or freeze-ahead meal, which are cheaper than snacks and will satisfy people's hunger during the game.

4. Impulse Buy Fan Gear and Memorabilia

It's always tempting to christen the new football season with a shiny new jersey or fancy piece of memorabilia for the TV room. If you have the extra money, it's not necessarily a deal-breaker, but I'd be willing to bet that most people haven't "budgeted" for a new football jersey. The best alternative is to abstain and wait until after the season is over when apparel and memorabilia will be a lot cheaper.

5. A Shiny New TV

Most major retailers will have huge promotions on TVs right around the time football season is starting, which does create the optimal buying time but tends to lure those who don't need a TV as much as those that do. Only buy a TV if you need one and don't let football season be the deciding factor when you make that call.

6. Alcohol

Of all the things on this list, alcohol might have the most power to separate you from your money because of its price, regular consumption, and easy access. Most people will just run to a gas station to pick up a case or two of beer because it's convenient. But that'll cost you. Instead, plan ahead and buy a more economical case at Costco or another bulk retailer. If you buy in bulk, it'll last longer and you'll pay much less per beer than you would almost anywhere else.

7. Tickets and Game Attendance (Gas, Food and Drink Costs)

The tickets themselves expensive, but then add in the parking at the stadium and over-priced drinks and food and it all adds up quickly, even if you just go to a few games. Think of attending games as a rare treat, as in once a year or every other year. Otherwise, you're better off to enjoy the games in the comfort of your own home.

8. Distractions at Work

Although they aren't likely to cost someone working hourly (unless you get fired because of low productivity), being distracted by checking your fantasy team, scores, or highlights while you could or should be working can cost those who get paid by work output. While there's no easy solution aside from consistent self-discipline, you can set your own computer and smartphone policies by committing to stay off the "football grid" during work hours.

9. Miscellaneous Betting

There is a lot of money going around in the world of NFL betting, but most who bet are more likely to lose money than come away with a profit. In almost all cases, the more frugal decision is to avoid getting into this habit completely. A good alternative is to stick to smaller bets among friends, perhaps by betting items you already own or paying for a lunch out.

10. Living Room Remodeling and Accessorizing

Much in the same way that many football fans are tempted to buy a new TV at the beginning of the season, a number of them will also use it as an excuse to spend money on their living room, man cave or whatever part of the house they'll be watching the games in. If you want to spiff up a room for football season, look for some frugal home decor ideas instead of going out and buying new things that you might not need.

Be a Responsible Football Fan

Football season is a lot of fun and we shouldn't feel guilty for enjoying it or even spending money on it. Just make certain that you're not sacrificing too much of what you earn for something that isn't really going to give anything back to you. In other words, football season expenses should always be limited and should always be in the "entertainment" category of our budgets.

What do you find to be the most consuming and expensive aspect of football season? How do you cut down the costs? Let us know in comments below!

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Being a football fan is all fun and games — until it starts making you broke. Cut the financial damage off at the pass by recognizing 10 money traps that the gridiron holds. | #savemoney #footballhacks #sportshacks

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