(NerdWallet) – I don’t have Taylor Swift tickets. I didn’t survive Ticketmaster’s Great War, I haven’t been blessed with a magical code, and Mama Swift likely won’t pluck me from obscurity to watch from the VIP section.
None of this has stopped me from buying friendship bracelet-making supplies, multiple concert outfit options and a clear stadium-approved bag — and I’m not alone.
Since Taylor Swift embarked on her record-shattering Eras Tour, her fans have brought shocking economic activity to each city she visits. Resale ticket prices alone are in the thousands, but participating in the Swiftdom extends far beyond a seat at the show.
Who’s Taylor Swift anyway?
Why are people so willing to spend enormous amounts of money on a concert? Well, this isn’t just any concert.
The Eras Tour is a rewind through not just Taylor’s most formative years, but mine as well. How often can you hear songs that were played at your middle school dances on the same night as the songs that kept you company during the pandemic? For many of us, Taylor Swift isn’t just the music industry, she’s the soundtrack to our best and hardest moments.
And for some Swifties, the Eras Tour makes up for shows they didn’t get to attend in the past.
“I couldn’t afford to go to Reputation or 1989,” Ginnie, a New York City-based Swiftie content creator, says of previous concerts. Ginnie, who prefers not to disclose her last name, runs the @thethriftyswiftie TikTok account. “So the last tour that I went to was Red, and when she did the Rep[utation] set and the 1989 set, I was like, ‘This is insane, I feel like I’m getting to attend those tours that I’m so sad that I missed.’”
But Ginnie is quick to point out that her finances were top of mind when it came to attending.
“I could go to this tour because five years ago, I didn’t go into credit card debt going to a different show,” she says.
One for the money, two for the show
Attending the Eras Tour is not a passive event: It’s an opportunity to embrace enthusiasm and spend hours meticulously crafting an outfit that aligns with a song that may not even be on the set list (looking at you, “Christmas Tree Farm” die-hards). Some of the most ambitious fans are re-creating Swift’s custom Versace bodysuits to the tune of $200 to $300 in materials and hours of labor.
Small businesses have also found an opportunity in the mayhem. An “Eras Tour” search on Etsy shows pages of fan-made merchandise and specialty items.
“We are so thankful to our Swiftie customers — every time Taylor drops a new album, single or music video, we see the love from her fans,” Kristin Cassel, owner of the Dot Dot Goose Etsy shop, said in an email. Cassel, who sells Swiftie-related keychains, said that the Eras Tour has been no different.
In fact, Cassel said her sales have increased 55% since the start of the tour in March.
Make the friendship bracelets … and buy a shirt
Friendship bracelets, a newfound ritual born from the lyric, “So, make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it,” are another expense. Some fans are purchasing them pre-made while others are buying the supplies and assembling them. Some bead shops are even hosting Eras Tour bracelet-making workshops.
Small businesses of all kinds are piggybacking on the tour’s momentum. Pre-parties, silent discos, themed cocktails, pop-up shops, brunches and makeup experiences pave the way to the concert itself.
Those dollars are spent before Swifties even get to the show. Once they’re there, there’s food, drinks and the almighty prize: merch.
Social media, particularly TikTok, has put the Eras Tour in front of the eyes of everyone sitting at home. Concert attendees return and quickly start showing off their merch hauls.
“Being on TikTok, you scroll and you scroll, and it feels like everyone has everything. When the reality is, a very small subset of people have everything, and then a lot of different people have a thing or two,” Ginnie says.
With the median price of Eras Tour merch at $50, it’s easy to spend hundreds on just a few pieces.
You don’t have to get a job at the yogurt shop
If you’re Taylor Swiftly spending all your money, here are a few ways to cut corners. Ticketmaster is doing last-minute drops before shows that offer face-value tickets, and responsible resellers, such as @ErasTourResell, say they are doing their best to keep resale tickets at their original price. In a worst-case scenario, you can watch on TikTok, where lots of content creators are livestreaming the show each weekend.
As for the add-ons, consider whether you need the limited-edition vinyls and new sweatshirts. Ginnie asks herself before buying if each new thing will actually make her happier or bring her joy.
“If you love Taylor and you’re kind to everyone in the fandom, you are a fantastic Swiftie and you don’t need to do anything else,” Ginnie says.
And no, I don’t have to get an Eras Tour manicure, but if I’m driving five hours to a show that I don’t even have tickets for yet, I might as well.