The World Cup has officially begun! For the next month, the streets will be lined with flag bunting and people wearing jerseys from around the globe. Sports bars and restaurants will be packed with cheering crowds at all hours of the day and night.
From now until July 14, the eyes of the world will be firmly placed on Russia as 32 nations duke it out for the ultimate soccer crown. If your nation wasn’t one of the countries to qualify (ahem, America), fret not — you can still be part of the fun!
There are simple ways to stretch your buck so you can make the most of all the festivities without spending excessively. You don't have to be like Paris St. Germain spending $263 million on Neymar last year. Here are some tips for how to enjoy the World Cup on a budget:
- Stick to local restaurants and bars.
- Check out supermarket deals.
- Throw a party at home.
- Shop for jerseys at thrift stores.
- Take advantage of online competitions and giveaways.
- Get free charts from newspapers.
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1. Keep It Local
Many restaurants and bars will be running promotions for the duration of the tournament, with bargains on food and drinks that run specifically during match times. Check the boards outside of your local spots, as well as their social media pages, to keep up to date on who will be running the best deals.
For example, Woodrow’s in Tribeca offers happy hour all night for those who watch the match. And Jack Demsey’s on East 33rd Street offers cheap drinks during all games. What more could you want?
If you really want to save money on eating out, apps like Meetup will also help you find people to attend the game with. This way, you can split the costs.
Make sure you meet them in a public place at the scheduled time, and bring along a friend or two. Watching the games in a large group not only makes it more atmospheric, but also a lot cheaper. Just make sure you’re rooting for the same team when the check comes.
2. Supermarket Sweeps
What’s a soccer game without an obnoxious amount of chips and dip? A lot of local supermarkets and chain stores will run special offers on snack foods for the next month in celebration of the World Cup.
Think two-for-one sodas, bulk bags of pretzels, and lots of wings, all for half the price!
Stay in and watch the game at home rather than heading out to a bar. Both your wallet and your liver will thank you.
3. Throw Your Own Party!
Unless you’re prepared to fly the whole way to Russia, there’s a good chance that you’re not going to feel the atmosphere of a real-life World Cup game this time around. Since America sadly didn’t qualify for the finals (yes, I’m still bitter, okay?), the chances that you'll experience the halcyon days of the 2014 tournament are nil. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the World Cup.
Instead, why not throw your own party at home? Invite some friends over and create an atmosphere that rivals that of the Luzhniki Stadium! Ask everyone to contribute and bring something along so that the cost is split between guests. Everyone loves a potluck.
4. Jersey Thriftin’
There’s nothing like throwing your jersey on and representing the colors of your favorite team, right? Check out local thrift stores and try to find a vintage jersey for the lowest possible cost.
My friend Jack went to the Salvation Army during the last World Cup and managed to find a 2010 US jersey for $15. Sure, you’ll have to wash it a couple of times, but you’ll be the talk of the viewing party when you rock up wearing a classic Landon Donovan #10 shirt! Another low-cost option? Online stores like Fanatics that stock high-quality merch for cheap. And if you really want the real deal, there are autographed jerseys, too.
5. Online Competitions
Both online and local companies will be running competitions and giving away free stuff for the duration of the tournament. WhoAteAllthePies is giving away a shirt by the World Cup collection, for example.
Keep your eyes peeled to companies’ social media during match times and enter as many as you can for a better chance of snatching those freebies. To get the right time, you can check your local time and compare it with the time that the match is being held in Russia, which usually means during the morning for most Americans.
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6. Free Charts
For decades, both local and national newspapers have given away free World Cup charts for you to hang on your wall, and this year is no different. Many publications (such as NESN) will now have free downloadable charts on their websites so you can track the tournament. And who knows? Maybe you’ll develop an unexpected bond with a European country in the World Cup.
How to Enjoy the World Cup: Final Thoughts
There are many easy, inexpensive ways to experience the fun and festivities of the World Cup tournament, from scouting local stores for deals to sharing the cost among friends and mutual supporters. Enjoying the greatest soccer tournament doesn’t have to drain your wallet.