We saved a bundle on parking while attending a recent Miami Heat basketball game at American Airlines Arena. Similar savings are available in other cities. A neighbor gave us two tickets for a Sunday night came versus the Charlotte Bobcats.
To attend the game, my 12-year-old son and I commuted by Miami-Dade Transit bus. Our combined fare: $2.25.
As we approached the arena, the bus driver pointed out the difference between our fare and the parking rates surrounding the arena. At the various lots (formal and make-shift), parking was priced at $15 to $25. Parking inside the arena: $35 to $40.
"See how much you saved," the driver said. "More people should take the bus to the game."
Here are my tips for using public transportation:
1) Check the schedule. Many public transportation systems have either online or phone-based trip planning services, with routes and times. Request return trip information.
2) Look for special-event shuttles. For major events (cultural and sports), the organizers arrange free or low-cost shuttle services at easy access parking lots that are outside of the high-cost, high-traffic event hubs. I have seen shuttles for boat shows, football games, art fairs and other high volume gatherings.
3)Wear comfortable shoes. Public transportation often involves a bit of walking. I feel better about saving money when I'm comfortable.
4) Check out discounts. As a student, my son qualified for a student bus discount. Other discounts are available for senior citizens, veterans and others.
Meanwhile, the Miami Heat lost the game. My team rallied from a 16-point deficit. The fourth-quarter rally came up short, but I learned four financial lessons from the game:
1) Avoid digging yourself into a deep financial hole. It's hard and very stressful to get out of money pits.
2) Once in a financial pit, focus on a slow, steady rebound. Forget quick get-rich, hot dog plays.
3) Don't give up. The fans who walked out of the arena during the middle of the fourth quarter, really missed the best part of the game. The last few minutes were very exciting and the game was really decided in the closing seconds.
4) Keep your eye on the ball. A few sloppy passes cost the Heat the game in the last few seconds. I've had my share of sloppy ball-handling and life really works better when I'm disciplined.
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