Festival tickets are expensive enough, so we asked some festival fanatics at the Financial Ombudsman Service – the free service with the power to sort out problems between consumer and banks or insurance companies – for tips they wished they’d known earlier to stay festival finance savvy. Here’s what they had to say...
1. Car share
Even with your young persons rail card train travel can be very expensive. Sharing a car with as many people as possible is the best way to keep costs down. If you can't find enough people you know to do it, you can find others on sites such as goCarShare, festivalbudi, Festival Rideshare and Liftshare. Also the festival itself is likely to have a webpage for connecting people to share transport.
2. Book trains in advance
Whilst car sharing is great, it's not always possible. If you do have to get the train, make sure you book it in advance to save as much money as you can. Having a seat booked on the way home will feel like luxury after three or four days sleeping on the soggy ground.
3. Dig out the old nokia
We’re not good at maths, but even we know that smartphones + festivals = not a good idea. All you need a phone for at a festival is to track down your friends after you’ve been on a beer run, so rather than risk losing your all singing, all dancing smartphone, take the old brick that’s been sat in your drawer for five years. It’ll do the job, plus if you get bored you can try to beat your old Snake record.
Oh, and a MASSIVE added bonus, is the battery won't run out - charging a smartphone can either be a huge pain, or basically impossible...
4. Be a savvy food shopper
Before you get to the festival make sure you’ve done a supermarket run. Your average questionable horse burger or generically Asian noodle dish in a modern festival will cost you upwards of six or seven pounds, so by the end of a four day festival you could be looking at £50+ solely on food.
Whereas you could buy all your meals for under a tenner. Think sandwich supplies, nuts and energy bars - things that are filling, easy to transport and that won't get too squished.
5. Research the rules on alcohol
There’s no point spending all your money on alcohol if you get to the arena - crates in hand - only to find you have to dump it all. Look up what is/isn’t allowed before you arrive and adjust your tactics accordingly.
6. Take enough cash
There’s nothing worse than having to spend cash to get cash, and festivals are one of the worst offenders when it comes to ATMs that charge you to access your money. Plan a budget before you leave home and make sure you withdraw enough cash (for free) to last you the weekend.
Depending on who you do it through, volunteers at festivals can get free tickets, travel, accommodation and food. Yes, obviously it does mean you’ll have to do some work, but often this will be a few shifts across the entire weekend.
8. Print off the lineup & map beforehand
One of the biggest festival rip-offs is the fact that they charge you for information that is available online for free. A festival map and band schedule will usually cost you ten big ones once you’re inside the gates, so make sure you print off all relevant information before you leave the house. Take THAT, festival owner person.
9. Only buy merch, clothes and trinkets on the last day
Band T-shirts, CDs and other items at various stalls are notoriously overpriced at festivals. However if you wait until the last day - when the vendors are desperate to get rid of stock, especially date-specific stuff - prices will be significantly reduced.
10. Share suncream
Perhaps we’re being overly optimistic here, but it’s not totally unheard of for the sun to make a fleeting appearance or two at British festivals. And as no one really expects it, people are often caught out, leaving them a lovely shade of pink. Sun cream is surprisingly expensive, so split the cost amongst your whole group to keep the cost to a minimum.
11. Ask yourself 'Do I really need it?' before you leave
While it may be tempting to take your best sound system, I-pad and all your bling, check whether any insurance you have will cover you should these items get damaged away from home. Even if it does, do you want to go through the hassle of making a claim should they get stolen or damaged? Leave the posh cameras and designer sunglasses at home and stay worry free for the weekend.
12. Collect cups
Most festivals offer a cup recycling scheme - usually offering 10p for every cup your return to the bar (or at one festival we've been to 50p!). Twenty minutes of scrambling around on the floor could leave you with enough beer money to last the day. Plus you’re helping the environment, you little eco-warrior you!
13. Sleep with your valuables
The biggest potential cost resulting from festival indulgence is probably losing your valuables. Having to spend £400 to replace your smartphone will make that Monday morning journey home that little bit more unpleasant.
The best way to make sure your phone, wallet and other valuables safe during the night is to keep them in your sleeping bag. Just try not to roll onto your phone and call your ex when you're sleeping. We speak from experience...
We hope that following these tips will help you manage your money at festivals this year. But if you do have a problem with a bank or insurer that you can’t sort out the ombudsman might be able to help – 0300 123 9 123 or www.financialombudsman.org.uk.