The Cost Of Free

I mentioned in my last post that I went to San Francisco to see a baseball game with my dad. We went to the game because we were given free tickets to it and this got me thinking that “free” can often be quite expensive. The truth is that if we had not been given the free tickets to the game, we would have never gone on our own. That meant that all the expenses that were related to the game were for the most part extra expenses and money we could have saved had we not gone to the game.

Most people who are given free tickets would probably drive to the game (in our case about $20 in gas round trip), pay for parking ($12 at the lot I saw there) and purchased food and drinks at the game for two ($30 as a conservative estimate). In this case, those free tickets ended up costing $62.

Of course, you could do it the cheap way too like we did taking public transportation ($15) which meant we didn’t need to park a car ($0) and bought lunch outside the stadium ($10) for a total of $25.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not proposing that you never accept free tickets due to the costs associated with them. I’m merely pointing out that what may seem to be free can actually cost a lot of money when you think about all the expenses associated with it. This is especially true if you take the attitude that the tickets were free so there is no reason to try and cut back on the related expenses (“oh, the tickets were free so let’s buy whatever we want at the stadium”)

Something to keep in mind in the future when considering whether or not you want something that is free…

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11 Responses to The Cost Of Free

  1. Max says:

    … time spent with your Dad – priceless.

  2. Or.. says:

    You could take public transportation ($15 or less) and not buy lunch. Thus, it’s a $15 trip.. not $65.

    The tickets being free has nothing to do with what you should spend at the stadium. Prices add up if you let them. The cost of the trip would be far more if you had to buy the tickets, so, while it’s free, there’s still transport and time cost involved. But, if you didn’t go to the game, would you really sit home all day and do nothing to save $15 on gas, or would you go elsewhere and spend money anyway?

  3. DrToast says:

    If you didn’t go to the game you wouldn’t have eaten lunch?

  4. pfadvice says:

    If you didn’t go to the game you wouldn’t have eaten lunch?

    Would have eaten, but would have done so at home which would have been less

    But, if you didn’t go to the game, would you really sit home all day and do nothing to save $15 on gas, or would you go elsewhere and spend money anyway?

    We wouldn’t have stayed at home, but certainly wouldn’t have driven as far if we had driven at all. Dad likes bike riding so that would probably have been the call which would have cost nothing, but who knows…

    Again, the point of the post wasn’t in any way to say that it is bad to do these things, just to realise that sometimes free things come with added costs and to be aware of this. I had a great time at the game and the money was well spent (look at Max’s comment), but to believe it was free because the tickets were free would be a bit misleading and I know a lot of people that think that way.

  5. Or says:

    Yep. The *game tickets* were free.


    Transit and incidentals were not.

  6. sf mom says:

    I have always kept this in mind when we get “free” things. In fact, we do tons of free things in the City (we live here in SF.) We probably would have eaten before we left for the game and brought our own peanuts for snacks. You could seriously break the bank if you try to buy beer there!!! You’ve inspired me to write about all of the free things we do here in the Bay Area. My husband and I may be pros at it.

  7. Pingback: Mighty Bargain Hunter » Roundup for week of 17 July 2006

  8. mapgirl says:

    I used to get “free” tickets to Candlestick from my roommate. Fortunately they were right behind homeplate in the first level, $30-40 seats I’d never get for myself. While we’d pay out the nose for beer and parking, one time we got the extra perk of 12 innings and a fireworks show, as well the super special bonus of freezing our buns off! Gotta love that free stuff! LOL!

    Anyhow, I often wonder about ‘free’ things I get from friends, like how much does it cost me to refurbish/repair it to work again, repaint/touch up, etc. Sometimes I decline just to free myself of bringing another possession into the house.

    Game tickets? I’d almost always take them since I probably wouldn’t go otherwise and free tickets are usually better seats than ones I’d buy for myself.

  9. mtbjunkie says:

    going to a Giants game is pricless, going with your Dad is too. How much was the face value of the tickets? probably the same $60+ you spent on other convienences was saved from not having to buy tickets. To be at a game is pretty special. I went to 6 of 7 games last week all for free from season ticketholders. I purchased my food and drink outside the park and brought it in everyday. How much money did I save, even know i may have bought two beers in the park each game for 8.00 each, and paid for parking, bridge toll, gas? It all washes out in the end with free tickets. You must really not like Baseball if you complianing about free tickets and how much you spent to enjoy your free game in the park. Do you usually eat and drink everyday, or only when you go to a baseball game? Your belly acking for nothing if you ask me. Stay home and watch the game on your discounted cable bill.

  10. pfadvice says:

    lol…I wasn’t complaining at all and have stated I had a great time at the game. I was simply pointing out the fact that when you receive free stuff, there may be costs involved. Let me give another example:

    I had a friend that won free airline tickets to Mexico in a contest. Unfortunately, lodging wasn’t included and he took the opportunity to spend freely on a lot of stuff he probably would not have bought had he not gone. He refers to it always as his “free trip to Mexico” although the trip actually cost him over $1500 out of his own pocket.

    Maybe a better example is when cable companies offer premium channels for free for a couple of months if you sign up for them. They are free, but if you don’t cancel then you end up paying for them for the long run. Not all free things come with extra costs, but many do that a lot of people don’t think about.

    Again, this isn’t necessarily bad. People just need to be aware that receiving something free can have costs and you need to weigh those costs with the value. This is especially true for those trying to get out of debt or on a tight budget

  11. minny says:

    Public transport and take a picnic – the picnic is free as you would have eaten at home.

    That makes it a cheap day out at $15 – and that $15 gives you a lovely day out, father and son. What more could you ask for?

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