I confess. I am a basketball junkie and I go mad in March with the other basketball crazies. It’s the one time of year where I drag out the old TV and actually plonk myself down in front of it. This has happened every year since I was a kid, but I never realized that March Madness, in addition to providing hours of entertainment, might actually save me money. However, since I’ve started writing about personal finances, I am far more attuned to what saves me money than I used to be and I’m happy to report that March Madness is one of those things that is saving me money.
So how does bingeing on basketball save me money? Reduced spending on gas is the first thing I notice. For four days each week (Thursday through Sunday) from early March to early April, I refuse to leave the house (good thing I work from home). Basketball goes from noon to late night and I’m watching it all. If I’m not going out four days of the week, I’m not spending nearly as much on gas as I normally would during a similar time period.
I also save money on entertainment. I’m not a huge spender on entertainment as it is, but for the month of March Madness, I don’t do much for entertainment beyond watch basketball, and that’s free on CBS. I put the Netflix plan on hold for a month because I know I’m not going to use it much, so I save that fee. I don’t go out on the weekends because I’m watching games, so that’s no trips to the movies or to any other entertainment venues. I don’t even read as much. Although my library books are free, I’m making fewer trips to the library to get them so I’m reducing my gas cost even further (see above).
My spending on food goes down as well, although that’s probably not true for all basketball crazies. Some people call out for pizza on game nights or go to sports bars to watch the games, increasing their food costs. As I’m curled up on my sofa in my sweats, I don’t do either of these things. I make my own pizza. I don’t go out to eat during March Madness. Normally I’ll go out once or twice a week, but when the games are on, I stay home so my dining out expenses go way down. I don’t go to the grocery store as often, preferring to eat from my stockpile.
I stay out of the stores so I spend less on everything else. Since I’m not leaving the house, I’m not in the stores. If I’m not in the stores, I can’t spend money. I don’t run to Target for “just one thing.” Home improvement projects go on hold, so no trips to Lowes or Home Depot for materials. Craft projects go on hold, too, so no trips to Michaels. Unless something is a necessity of life (like toilet paper), I don’t go get it. I’m not a huge recreational spender as it is, but during March Madness I find myself spending less simply because, if I’m not out and about and I’m not working on any projects, there’s no temptation to stop off and buy something.
How else do I save money by going basketball crazy? I don’t travel during the Big Dance, so no vacation expenses crop up. I don’t schedule medical appointments during this time (unless I’m clearly ill), so no copays. Lastly, I’m too busy watching TV so I’m not surfing the Internet and buying things online.
All of this is good to know. The next time someone tells me that my addiction to basketball can’t be good for me, I can reply with confidence that, if nothing else, I’m saving money. My brain may be turning to mush, I may be on my way to couch potato status, and I may be getting way too involved in something that others consider stupid, but the month of March is seeing my savings account go up. Heck, I might even make money. I’m participating in a bracket pool and the prize is a $50 Target gift card. If I win, I’ll actually profit from March Madness.
Image courtesy of StuSeeger