Happy Saturday, everyone! I'm getting mentally ready for A-KON coming up next weekend, and I'm taking advantage of this weekend's Memorial Day Sale to get some fabric shopping done. Lately, I've been really trying to save money. And by that, I really mean trying not to waste money. Since I have minimal bills and no children to take care of, I make an okay salary for myself. I'm able to have a decent amount of "hobby money" - but I don't want to blow it all if I don't need to!
Cosplay can be an expensive hobby - it doesn't seem that way until you start making one and seeing your bank account cry. Of course, you should never prioritize cosplay over rent money - but if you're like me and you have a bit to spare, why not stretch it out as much as you can?
I've been addicted to Pinterest lately, finding lots of small ways to both save and earn money by doing things I already do. (Hufflepuffs make excellent finders, I like to dig around!) And as I started reading up on it and trying out these methods myself, I realized that although most of these "earn an extra $300/month" tricks were great for everyday things....they really could apply to cosplay and conventions as well.
Let me show you what I've learned and what I found!
*The following post contains some referral links (marked with a *), which means I get some sort of reward/incentive if you sign up using my link (and you'll get $10 just to try it out yourself!) Keep in mind that this means I have signed up for an account and tried it out myself, so I am not blindly recommending something I haven't personally tried!
Ways To Save
Coupons, coupons, coupons - this is what every cosplayer recommends, and for good reason - we are obsessed with them. Good fabric can be expensive, especially when you need 4 yards of it at $14.99/yard. For one part of your cosplay. Unless it's an emergency, I never pay full price for any fabric. If I don't buy it on sale, I always have a 40% coupon handy! I do this by signing up for mailed coupons from Jo-Ann and emails from Michaels. If you use your normal email for 300 different things, I suggest making an email just for cosplay coupons, badges and hotel reservations! Many places will also text you coupons right to your phone, so you don't even have to print them off! There's really no excuse, y'all.
Plan your cosplays out over time - in general, it's always a good idea to have a breakdown list of everything you need to buy - the pattern, the fabric, the wig. Then sit and wait for things to go on sale. For example, Arda Wigs does semi-annual sales that are huge money savers, and a lot of my friends will buy multiple wigs for every cosplay they know they're going to be making for the rest of the year. You can't do this method if you decide to make a new cosplay three weeks before the con, but if you plan out the next 2-3 costumes on your to-do list, you can get different elements at the best times.
For example, I'm buying the fabric and supplies for my next cosplay this weekend (Memorial Day coupons!), but I'm buying a pattern I need next Wednesday because it's only $1.99. I knew people that didn't know patterns ever went on sale for $1-2 and would pay the regular $13-$15 for them. If it's not an emergency, why would you ever pay way too much?!
MAKE. A. MUSLIN. - it doesn't even have to be made of muslin fabric, it can be something silly from the dollar bin! Mock ups save you from making a garment out of your expensive fabric and accidentally making it too small. Don't pay for two cosplays just to get one rushed one.
Hoard your leftover supplies - this can get chaotic, and it's hard for cosplayers to throw anything away. I'm not talking about extra fancy ribbon you have 3 inches left of or really any fabric in general. I'm talking about things like snaps, velcro, thread, elastic - if you have some left over from a finished cosplay, don't toss it. You will always need it again. And always hold onto your patterns!
Prioritize - every cosplay has one or two parts that don't need to be top notch quality. There's no need to spend the same amount of money on tiny details like earrings that are half hidden under a wig as you would the wig itself.
Invest in a durable cosplay - take the time to get some interfacing for those collars and getting fabric that isn't cheap and crappy. By spending a little bit of extra money into a cosplay, it won't fall apart after wearing it for an hour and that means I can wear it more than once at another future con.
Install Honey* - this is free browser app that automatically finds and applies every coupon code possible when you shop online! Since we often need to buy all sorts of weird knick knacks online to complete a cosplay, this is so vital. If it finds a valid coupon code, Honey will automatically apply it to your order at check out. PLUS, every purchase you make with Honey will earn you HoneyGold points, which you can then cash out for Amazon gift cards!
Ways To Earn Back Money
Ibotta* - this is a free app that is mostly geared towards grocery shopping (which is handy when you're packing snacks for the weekend) but also can be used for makeup (those fake eyelashes get expensive) and toiletries! It's so easy - just pick a rebate, scan the barcode and take a picture of your receipt, and you're done! These work at grocery stores, gas stations and drug stores but I have also seen deals for some clothing stores, Jo-Ann and Michael's - this is a great in-store purchase alternative to Ebates, which is for online purchases.
Ebates* - this gives you a percentage of your online purchases back in your pocket and works for almost every online store - Target, Walmart, eBay, Kohl's, JcPenney, and more! They even work with hotel sites, so you can get something back when you reserve your room!
To make this list even more convincing, I'm keeping track of the money I saved on my next upcoming cosplay (a rather easy one!) and the money I gained back from my orders, just to show you a real life example of using these tricks. (EDIT: Here it is!)It may not pay for your entire cosplay, but it just might get you a few extra bucks for the artist alley or for lunch at the con! Bottom line - if you can earn a few dollars for making purchases you have to make for your cosplay anyway, why not take advantage of it?
Anyway, I'm off to the fabric store! Hope these tricks help you out in your convention adventures! Let me know if any of these interest you or if you have any tricks of your own!