Lessons from Lollapalooza

Concert revelers

Last weekend at the ripe age of 32, I finally attended my first music festival, Lollapalooza 2010. I had an idea of what to expect, but also knew that I was in store for some surprises. Besides some fantastic live music (my favorites were Arcade Fire , DEVO and The National), I expected to be hot, sweaty and in close quarters with similarly affected strangers. I was not disappointed.

DEVO in concert

And as is typical of any event that attracts an average of 80,000 revelers per day, we observed our fair share of drunken idiots and had more than our fill of secondhand marijuana smoke. However, as I jostled my way past outlandishly dressed hipsters and dazed-looking frat boys, I also had a few pleasant realizations about this festival that I thought worth sharing.

Dressed for Lady Gaga

Green Music
First, despite hosting a record-breaking 240,000 concertgoers in Grant Park for the weekend, Lollapalooza was actually quite green and clean. How did they do this? Quite simply it turns out, with a genius play on people’s penchant for anything free. There were ‘Rock and Recycle’ tents scattered throughout the grounds, offering participants a free t-shirt and a chance to win a bike if they collected a garbage bag full of recyclables.

Whenever we finished a beer or Diet Coke, rather than crushing the cans and bottles into our backpacks to take home for recycling (yes, I’m that avid about recycling!), we just sought out one of those little worker bees and it was a win-win! I might be alone in thinking this was brilliant, but come on – aren’t we used to seeing people trashing concert grounds rather than cleaning them up? All it took was a measly free t-shirt. I love it.

Money Lesson (You know I had to have one!)
Second, as I observed my fellow music lovers shelling out $7 for a 16 oz. can of Bud Light, I was reminded again of a basic principle of personal finance that is often overlooked when people take an initial stab at budgeting: discretionary spending. Between the cost of public transportation, food, libations, and a commemorative t-shirt or two, the cost of attending Lollapalooza easily ran more than $100 per person for us. And that’s not including the cost of the ticket!

So just a friendly reminder that when you’re setting up your savings goals and establishing spending limits to be sure and build in some extra cash for events like concerts and festivals. They are much more enjoyable when you don’t have to stress over the excessive cost and I find them to be entirely worth the money in terms of living life to the fullest.

Day 3


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