Con ticket prices (some for events six months away) have already been announced for many major South East Asian cons, and the steady creep upward has been felt from Penang all the way to Manila. That’s laissez-faire economics for you — short of setting up a revolution and overthrowing the current government, there’s nothing much you can do to change things.
What you can do though, is give yourself a leg up when it comes to finances. Attending cons and cosplaying isn’t cheap, you have to plan for it — both short-term and long. Besides, it’s much more satisfying to save up the money and fund your own costume and con pass — plus, you don’t have to deal with all the bullshit that comes with “sponsored” costumes.
Don’t know where to start? Here are our top five tips to save money for cosplay and conventions.
Set up a Con Fund
Goalsetting is step number one; figure out how much money you need to save or make to create your costume and attend the con. Let’s say you want to save PhP 5,000 (about USD 100 or SGD 150) — which will cover con passes for the entire weekend plus two separate costumes. Now set up a con fund — it can be as easy as an empty potato chip can to squirrel away money in, or a bank debit or cash card when you can deposit money easily (pick a bank that has zero inter-branch processing fees).
Now, set up a savings schedule and stick to it. If you have three months to save PhP 5,000, that means you need to put away at least PhP 55 per day. You have the option of saving PhP 55 per day, or PhP 385 a week, or whatever — the important thing is to stick to the schedule and not skip any days. If there are times when it’s really impossible to save and you need to skip a day, make sure you fill in the deficit as soon as possible (i.e. skip PhP 55 today but save PhP 110 tomorrow).
Save Money on Food
Eating out may not seem expensive, but if you add up your food costs every day then you will realize how much money you are shoving down your gullet. Save money from food costs by limiting fast food meals as much as possible, and bringing your own bento or a sandwich in a brown bag. Same goes for bottled water — instead of buying them from convenience stores, bring a refillable bottle and fill it with water from the office cooler or food court dispenser.
Stop going to Starbucks! There — I said it! As much as I love them, paying PhP 150 for a Grande Frappucino isn’t really helping your con budget (and your waistline)! So shoot two birds with one stone and refrain from buying too many sweet foofy drinks that you can probably make yourself at home (protip: one pack of 3-in-1 coffee mix and one pack of hot chocolate mix in the same mug tastes the same as a tall mocha).
Cut Your Utility Costs
If you are already working and paying for your own utilities, there are ways to save on your bills. Instead of paying for both cable and internet, discontinue your cable subscription and just stick to DSL. Let’s face it — when was the last time you watched TV anyway (not with Netflix around)? You can also save on your power bills by turning on the AC only at 25 degrees, and running it only for two to three hours at night (use the timer function).
For students, there are also ways to save. If you have a postpaid mobile subscription plan that you are paying for out of your allowance (unless your parents pay for your bills, in which case you are such a lucky bastard), ask your folks to cut it and get a pre-paid SIM instead. Cut your data plan, and rely on free wifi instead (they’re everywhere anyway). And don’t call or text if you can help it — use apps like LINE or Viber instead.
Sell Stuff You Don’t Need
Remember that time when you were obsessed with K-ON and bought all the merch — but now you are more in to KanColle and couldn’t care less? Maybe it’s time to thin down your collection and make a little money on the side. There are many ways to sell stuff these days: Ebay, OLX, even Facebook. Cull your collection, clean up the ones you intend to sell, snap some pics with your cam phone, upload it to the service of your choice, and watch the money roll in.
If face-to-face selling is more your thing, you can set up a garage sale and sell your stuff to neighboring geeks. But for top ROI (return on investment, to the unfamiliar), try setting up a garage sale at a local anime or cosplay con. Not only are you closer to your target market, you can also sell your stuff at a premium because hardcore collectors pay more than the average neighbor. Share a booth with other sellers and split the costs — that will save you even more money that can go to your cosplay fund.
Get a Job or Do Freelance Work
And by getting a job, we don’t mean advertising yourself as a “cosplay model” or other such nonsense. That shit only works if you have millions of fans and enough brand recall for advertisers to sit up and pay attention. Go for more realistic options like getting a job at a local fastfood (that works with your uni schedule), offer to do chores for your folks in exchange for additional cash, or teach English online to Japanese or Korean students — the possibilities are endless!
If you are particularly talented (and well-disciplined), you can also take on freelance design or writing work from online services such as ODesk, WorkShift, and RareJob. Simply sign up, search for jobs that suit your skills, and make an application. If you win a contract, you can earn anywhere from PhP 1,000 to PhP 10,000 in one go — depending on the type of work offered and the amount of compensation indicated in your contract.
There is a saying in Filipino that goes, “Kung gusto may paraan, kung ayaw may dahilan”, which translates roughly into the English proverb, “If there is a will, there is a way”. If you are genuinely interested and majorly determined to cosplay at a con, bitching at the organizers to lower ticket costs is not the way to go. Neither is setting up a Kickstarter fund to beg for money from strangers in exchange for (skeevy) favors.
So while there’s still plenty of time, get cracking and start saving — and enjoy the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes with working hard for something you love.