Hello fellow otaku! By now, you guys have been working all winter on your new cosplays (or at least thinking about them …) and the big summer convention season is about to begin gearing up in just a few more months. With all the biggest conventions across the globe on the horizon and cosplaying itself being an expensive hobby, how does you budget out not only new cosplays but also attending the conventions you really want?
The most important part is planning in advance, and most of the time that begins with budgeting. This is especially important for some of the larger conventions (SDCC, NYCC, and Anime Expo) where badges and hotels sell out months in advance. It can become a competition due to the volume of people attempting to purchase tickets.
Make sure to visit the websites for all the conventions you know you want to attend. Mark a calendar with any important deadlines or sell dates for tickets or accommodation purchases. If you will be traveling out of state or even out of the country, note when you should buy your plane tickets. A general rule of thumb is that the best airfare prices are found on Tuesdays at 3 pm, six weeks before you need to fly out.
If you are driving, figure out the cost of gas for your trip by looking at the miles you will be traveling and your average gas mileage. Don’t forget to add in tolls if any of your routes require them and snacks/drinks for long road trips.
To save money on hotel rooms, consider splitting a room with friends. Choose a number of people that will make the room affordable but also comfortable for everyone staying there. It’s always a good idea to try to room with people you trust not only with making timely payments but also will be a good fit for others in the room.
Now that you have a timeline of when you need to make payments for things, it’s time to budget out your finances. Perhaps it’s easiest to put aside a specific amount of money each week in a “convention fund” to avoid having to make large payments all at once.
One of the big pressures some cosplayers feel is the need to have a new cosplay for each convention they attend. There is no reason for this added pressure. A new convention means a new group of attendees who haven’t seen your previous cosplay. Don’t feel the need to rush or financially strain yourself to build something new constantly. Revamping and updating an existing cosplay will give you something new to show off without straining your budget.
If you do want to make a new cosplay for an upcoming convention, again, preplanning is the key. Some of the cheapest supplies, accessories, or wigs/contacts can be found online, but often the best prices have a long shipping time as they come from overseas. By planning ahead for this, you can take advantage of cheaper prices on everything from supplies to entire cosplay sets.
Remember, conventions should be a fun experience and being prepared financially plays a big part in that.