Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cons on a Budget

Do you want to be like the cool kids and go to all of the popular cons? Of course you do, but once you land on the show floor, the $ falls out of your wallet like rain? Or you have to scrap together the cash just to make enough room on your credit card to buy your ticket? If this is you, don't despair. You are not alone.

If you are like me, you keep seeing all of these tweets and posts about the cons people are attending and you are super jealous. I wish I could attend them all but my money tree won't grow! In order to make it to the cons I do attend, I have a few budgeting rules I follow.

1. Do your Research - Your new Golden Rule
Really, this is the only rule you need to follow. Knowing prices well in advance makes all the difference to your wallet. You need to plan your con trips out well in advance, and not just to make sure you can get a ticket. Every booth will have awesome stuff and some will even release a list of con exclusives. Going with an idea of how much you will spend will prevent an extra trip to the atm and those pesky fees. Also, make a point to look for local, inexpensive food. Buying food in the convention is crazy overpriced and it rarely tastes good.

2. Save your change
I know it sounds cheesy, but it really does add up. The change I save goes straight into my separate Con $ account. I save it up for spending cash and my con tickets. It really is pennies a day so you probably won't even notice it.  If you really get into the savings kick, try throwing a few singles in there too.

3. Buy a Water Bottle (or get one for free)
I know this sounds cheesy but buying beverages is the biggest ripoff ever anywhere! Save the $5-30 a day for stuff that lasts. Not a fan of water? Spend a buck on a box of individual drink mixes for flavor. If you are going to reuse one from childhood that looks stupid, take all of those free stickers they hand out and slap them on there. 

4. Make Sacrifices
I know that you want to go to every con, every year. Or you just can't live without getting every season of every TV show you watch on DVD. I get it, really. Sometimes, if you want to get to go to the good stuff, you gotta sacrifice.  Every time you want to buy something, think about if you want it more than a signed graphic novel, a con exclusive figure or a photo with your favorite actor. 

5. Volunteer
I went to MoCCA for free this year because I was willing to spend a few hours a day monitoring panels. In return for my service, I got to see a few packed panels, meet some awesome comic celebs, free food and walked away with a ton of free swag. I know that this wasn't the most expensive event, but I really had a blast volunteering experience. Every con needs volunteers to happen and you get a ton of perks for your service.

Hopefully these tips will help you on your way to your favorite con.   Let me know your favorite tricks to save for cons and how you finance your geek trips!

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