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The race that stops the nation: how much is it really costing you?

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It’s an industry that polarises many, but for most of us, Melbourne Cup day can be draining on the hip pocket. Whether it’s paying for transport, enjoying some champagne or placing a bet, the festivities can certainly add up — even if it is only over the course of one day.

According to Just Horse Racing, the Melbourne Cup will be worth $6,200,000 in prize money in 2017, so it’s fair to say there’s a lot of money at stake. And Australians are notorious for getting involved on the betting scene.

A finder.com.au survey of 2031 Australian adults in early 2017 found three in five Australians (61%) have placed a bet on the Melbourne Cup. Interestingly, more Aussies have punted on Melbourne Cup day compared to those that have played backyard cricket (51%).

Additionally, a recent finder.com.au poll of 1673 respondents found two in five Australians are planning on betting this Melbourne Cup, with the average Aussie planning to bet $70.

Women are planning to bet less than men, with an average of only $7, compared with $86 for men.

So it’s fair to say Melbourne Cup can be an expensive day out, so what are some strategies you can adopt to ensure your finances don’t go off track (pardon the pun)?

  1. Bet responsibly (and with your head)

If you’re thinking of placing a bet, identify your budget — the amount you’re willing (and can afford) to spend on betting. When setting this budget, take a conservative approach and assume you’ll lose the entire amount. That way, any winnings are an added bonus. Just make sure you set the budget before you arrive.

It’s important to exercise caution when betting (especially when there’s alcohol involved). When asked about their financial fears, 14% of Australians said addiction to financial habits like gambling, risky investments or unethical practices like pyramid selling was their greatest concern. Interestingly, more males (19%) were concerned about this compared to females (12%).

  1. Leave your card at home

Withdraw funds before you arrive at the venue so that you can only spend what you have on you – this will also deter you from buying lunch or a round of drinks on your credit card.

  1. Don’t splash out on fashion

Buying a fancy frock and a fascinator can be expensive, but there are plenty of ways you can get around this. Whether it’s consulting a friend or family member to borrow a fascinator, checking out online deals, or shopping at vintage stores, find out how you can reduce fashion-related costs this Melbourne Cup.

Some online retailers are offering up to 60% off some spring items, so it could be worth securing a discount online.

  1. Plan your transport in advance

Travelling to and from the race track can be expensive, so check out if transport is included in your ticket.

In NSW, pre-purchased race tickets include travel to and from Royal Randwick Racecourse on selected train services, and regular bus, ferry and light rail services. If you can, avoid catching an Uber or taxi as it’s likely fares will be inflated (or you’ll cop a surcharge).

Heading out on Melbourne Cup day can be a good occasion to spend time with friends, colleagues or family, but make sure you adopt some money-saving strategies so the festivities don’t break the bank.

Written by Bessie Hassan

Bessie Hassan

Bessie Hassan is a money expert at Finder.com.au.

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