The Hidden Cost of Leisure

Our daughter is 15, so she is at an age when music and friends are the two of the most important things in her life. There is a big concert in town in over a years time (!) so she asked for tickets as an early birthday present.

We settled on mid-range tickets which for a big event like this was $72. But the big kicker is that on top of that $72 was $18 on fees. That’s a $5 processing fee, a $2 facility fee and a $13 service fee.

While of course businesses need to make money, companies like Ticketmaster and LiveNation are effectively a closed shop. There is simply no other way to buy tickets, gone are the days when you could just walk up to to the venue and buy tickets at a kiosk, so the client is basically held to ransom.

This got me thinking about other hidden fees on leisure activities. Movie tickets are similar to concerts however you at least have the option of buying at the kiosk. For big movies on opening night though you really have to book online which means companies like Fandango will charge you an extra $1-$2 a ticket which could add 20% to the price.

The other big hidden cost is tipping, especially in restaurants. The whole tip culture is a very odd phenomenon. Tipping should be for good service, but in reality even in the event of a poor meal you would be expected to tip maybe 15%. Unfortunately in today’s society, restaurant staff are paid under minimum wage so have to be subsidized with tips. It would be interesting to see what would happen if a restaurant opened in the US with a no tip policy, but of course paid their staff better. Interestingly this is actually how things work in parts of Europe. When we lived in Norway you weren’t expected to tip in restaurants, but the prices were extremely high. On the plus side the staff are well compensated. It’s a balance.

It’s a little outside the initial concept, but cable and cell phone bills are by far the biggest culprits when it comes to hidden charges. Those bills always seem to be considerably higher than expected.

When you are living frugally, doing due diligence on the actual cost of things is important or else you might find yourself paying more than you budgeted for.

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