Tag Archives: festival

Budget on Fyre: Are You Floating?

There was some sort of major sporting event last night that a lot of people were watching on TV.  Since my husband and I were uninterested in the game, we decided to cook up a bunch of football food (my best chicken wings ever!) and settle in front of the TV to watch something we are very interested in:  documentaries about a music festival.

Both Netflix and Hulu are currently running documentaries about the Fyre Festival.  This April 2017 festival was advertised as the ultimate in luxury.  An island getaway for beautiful Millennials. Live music, fancy accommodations and food, excursions, and famous people. The ultimate place to see and be seen.  It sounded too good to be true.  Because it was too good to be true.  It was actually a Ponzi scheme that somehow came to an ugly fruition.  The more money the festival collected from the unsuspecting ticket holders, the more impossible it became to cancel the festival.  Ultimately the festival ended up being canceled after the guests arrived at the island to find FEMA tents with rain-soaked mattresses rather than the promised luxury villas.  There was no real food.  No real infrastructure.  The festival creator Billy McFarland had been spending the next month’s money before it came in to cover last month’s expenses.  When he paid the bills at all.

When I watched last night how McFarland had been spending money before he had it, I couldn’t help but think about how people often live on credit card float.  It’s a simple enough trap to fall into.  You use your credit card to pay for everything (reaping the credit card rewards), and then pay the bill in full at the end of the month.  It seems like you are doing everything right.  But what you’re really doing is falling behind.  You are spending next month’s money on this month’s bills.  And once you fall into it, it’s a difficult cycle to break.  The easiest way to avoid it is never to fall into it.  If you are a credit card reward junkie (like I am) you should make sure you aren’t falling into the float trap by having at least one month’s income in your savings account.  If you aren’t able to restrain yourself in that way, it’s best not to go down the float path at all.  Limit yourself to cash and debit card—forget about the rewards.

People tend to make some really bad decisions about their money.  In the case of the Fyre Festival, Billy McFarland made some really bad decisions about other people’s money (and is now serving six years in federal prison because of it).  Don’t be a Billy McFarland.  It’s best not to float.

Similar Experiences: Very Different Prices

I spent much of my summer (weekends and a few random times when I was away from the office) attending concerts and music festivals.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead, and I agreed to indulge my boyfriend (Nick) with as much Grateful Dead related music as we could afford to attend.

What I learned throughout this journey is that there are many different price points on very similar experiences.  For example, Nick and I went to Chicago for the Grateful Dead reunion Fare Thee Well concerts July 4 weekend.  We bought cheap seat tickets (behind the stage in the upper deck) for face value on Ticketmaster.  We drove my Prius straight through (ten hours), so transportation was cheap.  We stayed on a friend’s futon in Chicago, so lodging was free.  So in total, we spent only the cost of tickets and food on this amazing experience.  At the same time, however, many other Dead Heads were blowing the bank on the same concerts.  Airplanes.  Hotels.  After market tickets at inflated prices.  VIP packages.  What cost us only hundreds in total cost others thousands per person.  And we all saw the same concerts.


I’ve found the same thing with music festivals.  You can choose a small local festival with mostly lesser known bands and one or two big headliners for a very low price.  Or you can go to a bigger festival with a killer line-up and pay a lot more money.  Or you can go to that same bigger festival and buy VIP or Super VIP tickets and pay even more money.  The variety in price points for these things amazes me.

Personally I love music festivals.  (I’m at one right now!!!)  I find it’s the best way to get the most bang for your buck in the live music world.  You can see several days of music for the same price as one or two individual concert tickets.  But I prefer to do my festivals on the cheap.  I limit myself to one big (relatively expensive) festival per year, but squeeze in as many smaller (much less expensive) fests as I can.  I camp in a tent.  I avoid vendor food as much as possible and cook at my camp.  I buy my tickets early (when prices are cheapest).  And the music that I get to enjoy is exactly the same music that is being heard by folks who spent thousands more on the experience.  Very different price point.  Very similar experience.

Entertainment and relaxation is important.  But it doesn’t have to cost a fortune for a wonderful experience.  Be smart.  Do it on the cheap!