But you’re still gonna be broke. Accept this.
It’s con season y’all and conventions are expensive. If you walk away with nothing else from this, walk away with that. You will spend more than you intend to, I’m sorry but them’s the rules. But I’ve attended a few cons in my life and just recently returned from Anime Central 2017 and I have thoughts about what you can do to minimize the damage. So in addition to my decent haul of artwork, I’ve brought back some tips to share with you to save at least some of your cash during this awesome and trying time.
5. Bring! Your! Own!
Hotels are expensive. And since you’re already paying for your badge, your room, and that absolutely necessary figma of your favorite character, you gotta save your money somehow so do it by bringing your own liquor and food. It was $16 whole ass dollars for the breakfast buffet at ACen. The lunch buffet they had for con goers was 8 dollars for a sandwich and bagged chips. The food trucks (which were a really nice addition to be honest) were roughly 11 dollars for a whole meal. It was an 8 dollar minimum for one of those ACen themed mixed drinks at the Red Bar, and a regular Angry Orchard was 7 (SEVEN!) dollars.
Protract that over a weekend and you can pretty much forget about walking home with that DVD box set. So save yourself the trouble and bring your own food and liquor. (Obviously you wanna ask if that’s okay with your hotel first. Just in case.) If your convention is in a major area, look for your local McDonald’s or eat off-site if you can because if you’re eating anywhere near the convention area it’s not going to be that great (with exceptions–that breakfast buffet was nice) and it’ll rob you broke.
4. Minimize time in the Dealer’s Room
In addition to fan panels and the cosplay masquerade there will be 2 other places you’ll spend the most time: walking the pathways to the convention floor, the dealer’s room, and artist alley (so that’s 3 places but you knew what I meant). Absolutely drop all your cash in Artist’s Alley, it’s supporting your favorite artists and allowing them to create more of the art you love, but when it comes to the dealer’s room, use extreme caution.
All that stuff (and it’s stuff: it’s t-shirts and DVD boxsets and figmas and doujins) I guarantee you can find online at any time or find online for cheaper. An artist’s print is rarer, they don’t usually have those to sell outside of a con the way a t-shirt dealer may. They create a set amount to sell specifically at a con and a lot of times if they do have an online shop, the prints they do bring to cons are exclusive runs. All the extra stuff in the dealer’s room, you can get online at virtually any time (and sometimes for cheaper). Spend your money on the better deal: the art.
3. Visualize and ATTACK
Try to set a budget (go on, I dare you) you’ll break it. There’s always something, the one print, that one fanart of your rarepair that’ll bust your budget like a Spirit Bomb on Namek. So instead of worrying about that, minimize your impulse buys by walking through the artist alley and the dealer’s room at least twice if not three times before you buy anything. These places (the bigger cons anyway) are PACKED, you’ll always miss something. And it sucks dropping your last $20 (your last you swear!) on an art piece you kinda like only to find on your third go ‘round that one piece of art that will complete your entire existence.
2. Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!
You want to support your faves. Do so emphatically with your wallet as much as you can. But if you’re thin on cash, wait to buy anything until the last day of the convention. (Be aware this is a gamble. Weigh your risk versus reward and hey, ask!) Artists will usually start marking stuff down and offering ‘buy 3x get y free’ sales. Also buy original art! Original art is HELLA cool and often way less expensive than art from the anime/video game du jour.
1. It’s Dangerous to Go Alone
Not only is it dangerous personally to go alone (you never know) it’s also dangerous to your wallet. Con rooms are EX.PEN.SIVE. But they don’t have to be. A) we live in the era of AirBnB. A weekend at ACen can cost $1600 but in an AirBnB it could be only $500 (plus the cost of transportation and parking but and even with all that, your costs will run less than a grand). B) there are tons of singles and doubles that also want to go but can’t afford a hotel on their own. Social media is your friend. Ask on the con Facebook group or reddit forum if there’s any folks who are interested in sharing a room. You’ll make new friends and split your costs into something infinitely more manageable so you can spend your money on what really matters: a shark kigurumi.
I hope these tips help you manage your money this con season, and I hope, in the future, I actually start listening to my own damn advice. If you have your own special little trick that helps you escape con season with all your kidneys, share ’em below.