By: Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach, who appeared on "Anderson's Easy Money Hour."
The summer Olympics have brought out the sports fan in all of us. But the high cost of tickets to sporting events can take a huge bite out of your wallet -- dampening the enthusiasm of even die-hard sports fanatics.
Organizers of the 2012 Olympics in London learned this the hard way, as some seats at the Olympics are going empty because ticket prices are too expensive.
If you're like most Americans, you probably can't afford to hop on a plane to London and then fork over hundreds of dollars to snag a seat in Olympic Stadium.
What you can do, however, is score tickets to live, local sports in your own town or city. In fact, you can get sports tickets on the cheap -- or sometimes even free -- if you know where to look.
Here are 10 ways findaffordable tickets for sporting events practically in your backyard -- all without blowing your budget.
1. Bid for Tickets
Most of us know aboutservices like Priceline.com or Hotwire.com that let you bid online for discounted airline tickets. But many people aren't aware that you can do the same thing for sporting tickets.
ScoreBig.com allows sports lovers to name their own price for tickets to tennis and soccer events, professional basketball, football, baseball games and more.
Savings range from 10% to 60% off the face value of tickets.
2. Go for the Gold
Why not copy those Olympic athletes you've been watching and "go for gold" yourself? In your case, that means checking out GoldStar.com, a discount broker that offers big price cuts on sports tickets nationwide.
For example, the San Diego Padres are taking on the San Francisco Giants in mid-August at Petco Park in San Diego. Ticket prices to watch these National League West Division rivals will normally set you back $34.75 to $48. But through Goldstar.com, you'll save 50% and score the tickets for just $17.50 to $24.
Similar deals are available on the east coast too. So instead of shelling out $80 to $95 for full price tickets when the New York Yankees host the Texas Rangers, get discounted tickets to Yankee Stadium for just $40 to $47.50 on Goldstar.com.
To score freebies, besure to routinely check the site's list of "Comp Tickets," and sign up for Goldstar's daily deal alerts about free offers and promotions for live events.
3. Rev up Your Engine
Lots of online sites offer tickets to live sporting events, but how do you know who has the best deal? Rev up your search by using the search engine SeatGeek.com. It's an aggregation site that scours hundreds of Internet ticket sellers and then ranks each ticket so you know if a deal is great or lousy.
SeatGeek also lets you know if you should wait to buy tickets because they'll likely get even cheaper in the future.
4. Major in the Minors
To go easy on your wallet, realize that professional, big-league sports aren't the only games in town. You can also have a great time -- and keep costs down -- by watching minor league sports in your area.
Because they typically play in smaller venues and cities, minor league sports teams don't usually charge the same sky-high prices you'll often encounter at their major league affiliates. So if you're a National Hockey League fan, also check out the league's farm teams within the American Hockey League. The National Basketball Association's affiliated minor league is the NBA Development League, otherwise known as the "D-League." (Think of it as the "Dollar League" -- as in the dollars you'll save). And, of course, there's minor league baseball also.
5. Think of Her Too
Another money-saving strategy to nab cheap sports tickets is to attend sporting events featuringwomen. This isn't the case for all sports -- like tennis, for example. But in traditionally male-dominated sports, such as basketball, tickets to watch competitors in female leagues are a relative steal and package deals abound.
So if you're an NBA fan, consider being entertained by the impressive skills of the professional women basketball players in the WNBA. You'll definitely get your money's worth with exciting teams like the Seattle Storm, the Chicago Sky, the Atlanta Dream, and the Connecticut Sun.
For the 2012 season, the Dream are offering a "Weekend Flex" promotion letting you see five weekend games for $80, or $16 per ticket. Meanwhile, the Sun have a "Family 4 Pack" which boasts 4 tickets, 4 hotdogs, 4 popcorns and 4 sodas for only $60, or $15 apiece.
6. Tout Your Status
Are you a student, senior citizen, or happen to be celebrating your birthday? At some stadiums and for certain sporting events, your personal status could earn you discounted seats or promotional packages. So don't forget to ask whether any special deals exist.
7. Use Your Membership Discount
You can shave the cost off sports tickets by taking advantage of discounts sometimes afforded to those who belong to certain organizations. Union members, AAA members and those who belong to AARP often get offers to purchase discounted sports tickets. Be on the lookout for these offers, or simply call those organizations to which you belong and ask if they have any specials.
8. Tap Your Credit Card Perks
Many credit cards offer entertainment rewards, but these perks may go unused if you're not aware of them. To avoid this problem, review your credit card benefits and make a note of cards providing discounts or pre-sale deals for sporting events.
9. Check Craigslist
Spend time scouring Craigslist and you can frequently find people offering sports tickets for sale. Sometimes, they're other fans that can't go to a game for one reason or another. In other cases, season ticket holders may be looking to unload tickets.
Either way, waiting until the last minute -- a week or less before an event -- can get you steeply discounted tickets. Just be careful of con artists offering fake printouts of tickets or bogus seats.
10. Get In It to Win It
As a last resort, if you're simply broke and have no money at all to spend on sports tickets, you can always try to win admission to your favorite game or sporting event.
Listen to your favorite radio station for giveaways, inquire about free passes that your local community center or YMCA may be giving away, and be sure to go on your hometown team's social media sites to look for easy-to-enter contests.
For example, just by "liking" a team's Facebook page, you could be entered into weekly or monthly drawings in which free tickets are offered to sports fans just likeyou.
See more tips from The Money Coach:
Web Exclusive: How to Cut One Household Expense by 70%
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Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, YFrog.comThe Money Coach, is a personal finance expert, TV and radio personality, and the author of numerous books, including the New York Times bestseller "Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom," and her latest book, "Perfect Credit: 7 Steps to a Great Credit Rating." Get free financial advice from Lynnette's blog, AskTheMoneyCoach.com, or by following her on Twitter @themoneycoach.
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