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More than a third of fans will cut back on football expenses

Empower research shows more than a third of fans will cut back on football expenses 

Key takeaways  

  • 38% of Americans say spending on sports brings them joy with almost half of people saying they shell out the more cash on football than any other sport
  • 27% love to splurge during the season when it comes to cheering on their favorite college or professional team
  • 36% of adults are already cutting back on their football-related expenses to combat inflation.
  • Nearly a quarter of people say they are more comfortable drafting their fantasy football team than choosing stocks, while only 37% are confident in managing their financial portfolio. 

If you’re like most Americans, you’re definitely ready for some football.  

But is your wallet? 

According to new research from Empower, 38% of Americans say spending on sports brings them joy with almost half of people saying they shell out the more cash on football than any other sport. Not to be defeated, another 27% love to splurge during the season when it comes to cheering on their favorite college or professional team.  

However, fans across the country may have a new challenge to tackle this year — inflation, which can be hard to beat without a financial playbook. The average cost of an NFL ticket, for example, is up well over $100 from 2022, with admission now hovering around $380 to get through the gates in 2023.1 As a result, 36% of adults are already cutting back on their football-related expenses to combat rising prices, as many families are expecting to spend less than $250 on food, gear, and TV subscriptions.  

“Your football party this year is probably going to cost a little bit more than it did a couple of years ago,” says Keith Jones, a financial professional with Empower. “It ultimately boils down to sticking with a budget.” 

From betting to managing your fantasy team to watching the big game every weekend, focusing on the X’s and O’s of your savings strategy can help you keep pace with your long-term goals and build a winning game plan for your future. 

Here’s how. 

Keep score of your budget

With a budget in place (and, yes, sticking to it!), you can be in it to win it all season long. Overall, our latest findings show 33% of Americans agree that money spent on sports, including football, is well-spent. And just like with any sport, practice makes perfect. Jones says it’s simply a matter of being mindful of your cash on gameday and sticking to a plan that works for you and your current lifestyle.  

“Set a day every week to check in on how much you spent the prior week to make sure you’re sticking to your budget and staying on top of your goals,” Jones says.  

There are plenty of tools out there that can help you stay disciplined and keep track of what you’re spending; for example, the Empower Personal Dashboard provides users with a holistic view of their finances. 

As a kickoff point, Jones suggests considering the 50-30-20 rule, which can keep you headed toward your goals.  

According to Jones, this principle breaks down your spending into three buckets: 50% allocated towards your needs like your mortgage or rent, grocery bills and other monthly expenses; 20% allocated toward savings, like a 401(k), IRA, or emergency fund; and the remaining 30% designated as your ‘fun money,’ or discretionary spending. It doesn’t really matter if you’re spending it on football tickets or shopping, as long as you can keep it to 30%.” 

Huddle up with an advisor

Nearly a quarter of people say they are more comfortable drafting their fantasy football team every year than choosing stocks, which may be why only 37% are confident in managing their financial portfolio. Whether you’re a rookie or a veteran, just like playing football, maintaining your investment mix is a team effort.  

“Working with a financial advisor, can go a long way in helping you feel more confident in your decision-making.” 

Build a "safety" net

In football, a safety is worth two points.  

In real life, a safety net can be worth every penny you put in it.  

According to our recent report, 28% of fans say they plan to bet on sports this season, and close to a quarter (22%) say they’ll drop up to $500 in the process. If you’re fortunate enough to win on any given Sunday, or take the top prize in your fantasy football league at the end of the season, you may be wondering what to do with any championship earnings. Don’t put that cash to waste, Jones says.  

“When reviewing your finances, you may want to consider prioritizing paying down high-interest debt and having an adequate emergency fund for a rainy day,” Jones says. “Address those needs with any winnings you might have; then start looking at ways to make that money grow efficiently for you.” 

Join the crowd (at home)

Last year, fan attendance in the NFL reached almost 19 million.2  

You don’t have to join the crowd.  

Instead, you can save money watching the game at home or going to a friend’s house, an approach 34% of fans are taking this season. In fact, more than a quarter of Americans (27%) say they’ll spend up to $1,000 to upgrade their entertainment space for gameday via a new couch or TV, as well as being 11% more likely to spend on a livestreaming subscription to watch sports than on live event tickets.    

About the Study

Empower contracted Morning Consult to conduct an online survey of 2,205 adults ages 18+ between August 18-21, 2023. The data was weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on gender, age, race, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

 

1 USA Today, “How much are NFL tickets in 2023? See what teams have the cheapest, most expensive prices,” September 2023.  

2 Statista, “National Football League total attendance at regular season games 2008 to 2022,” April 2023.  

The Currency editors

Staff contributors

The CurrencyTM, a publication from Empower, covers the latest financial news and views shaping how we live, work, and play. We keep you current on ways to plan, save, and invest for life.

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