NO NEED TO FEAR!: How to Budget for Your Geek Convention

This post contains affiliate links which means I earn compensation from purchases made through product links to Amazon.com.

So you’ve finally decided to attend a con! Congratulations! Attending a con is a great experience that you never want to forget.  But to make it memorable, you have to spend money. Let me repeat that: YOU WILL HAVE TO SPEND MONEY AT THE CON. 

www.pixabay.com/OpenClipart-Vectors

(You right now.)

 But if you plan ahead, you won’t have to survive on hot dogs and cereal the month after the con! Here is a list of things that I learned after attending my first one. Yep, I went in with eyes wide open and left with a very empty bank account. After that fiasco, I made sure that I was better prepared the next time!

www.pixabay.com/Alexas_Fotos

(Happy and Broke 2: Convention Aftermath)

  1. Start planning at least 5 months in advance: This gives you time to research the con, figure out how much money you will need, and save.  Use this time to decide how many days you will attend the con and take off from work. I always ask for days off as SOON as I know that I want to attend a con.
    www.pixabay.com/stevepb
  2. Registration: Why are you attending this con? This is something that you should ask yourself before your register. If you only want to game, get a gaming badge. Concert? Just pay for the concert. But if you are looking to enjoy the entire con experience, buy a pass for the appropriate days. Most cons have single day or weekend badges. Larger cons typically have premium badges that offer extra perks. For example, Tokyo in Tulsa’s Sakura Club offers cool swag such as a bag, t-shirt, first dibs in artist alley and in the vendor room, first row access to all events and so much more! But if you cannot afford a premium pass, PREREGISTER! If badges aren’t mailed, get there early to pick up your badge!
  3. Transportation: How are you getting there? If you live close by, you obviously want to drive each day. However, you still need to pay for gas and a parking pass. This amount will vary but consider these costs when preparing your budget.  Search the website for parking procedures. If you can’t find it there, contact a staff member for help! If you’re going to fly, try to buy your ticket as soon as you get your days off from work approved! This should be done as soon as possible. You also want to schedule the flight so that layovers won’t destroy your con time. So if you are dying to ask Nozawa Masako a question at her panel on Friday at 5pm, do not schedule your arrival for Friday at 3. You’re cutting it close. Nozawa-san will not wait for you.
    www.pixabay.com

    (Kame-hame-nope!)

  4. Hotel/Lodging: Many cons have partnerships with certain hotels and will offer discounts if you book with that particular hotel! Or, you could stay with a friend or relative at their home and drive in each day! There’s no wrong way to do it! I’ve done both! 😊 But be sure you know how many days you need and book ahead! Sometimes you have to book through the link on the con’s website to get the discount. Pay attention and be aware. If you are going with friends, you can easily split up the cost of the room! 😊 Don’t forget about parking! If you’re driving, you’ll have to park so make sure you put back money for parking! Depending on where you are, this may be $10 or more! Check the website! Anime Expo, for example, clearly displays parking information on their site.
  5. Call your bank ahead of time! I learned this the hard way! Prior to attending an out-of-town con, I made sure to pay all of my “first of the month” bills before I left. I had just gotten paid so there was nothing to worry about! Right? Wrong! At the con later that day, my card was declined while trying to purchase Princess Jellyfish on DVD! I freaked out because I immediately thought that my account had been hacked! But when I checked my bank account, my money was there. Then it dawned on me: I forgot to let my bank know that I was going to be out of town. My bank has many security features in place. One is  freezing your account if too much money comes out too quickly or if you leave town. I quickly called to notify them and they were able to increase my spending limit for the weekend. Try and do this the day before you leave so that you do not hold up the line.
  6. FOOD! Eating is important! You are a human. You must have water and food to survive. The last thing you want is to get sick and have to go home! If you are staying at a hotel for 3 days, you will need  to set aside at least $100 for food. MOST CONS DO NOT ALLOW OUTSIDE FOOD AND DRINK!  Some have free water but some do not. Make sure you are prepared.
    www.pixabay.com/MikesPhotos

    (Nom nom)

  7. Merchandise: Budget at least $200-$300 for merchandise. I am so serious. A big part of conventions is purchasing things. Bands have tons of cool merch available.  Artist alley and the vendor rooms are full of manga, Blu-ray/DVDs, t-shirts, wigs, games, and other unique items. You are going to want to buy it. Now should you buy every single thing you want? Absolutely not. Take a moment to walk around and make a list of things that you want to purchase. If you still want it the next day, go ahead and buy it!  Now, if there are only a few copies of something left, get it!  (Note: Avoid mystery bags. You are NOT getting $50 worth of merchandise for $20. Trust me. I’ve messed up like 3 times. T_T) 
    www.pixabay.com/Myriams-Fotos

    (Me each time I open a mystery bag full of trash.)

  8. Autographs: Guests often have autograph policies and prices. To be honest, the most I’ve ever spent was $5 to take a picture with a guest. To me that was reasonable. However, there are some some guest who charge way more than $5. Prices can range from free to hundreds of dollars. Some guests only sign their merchandise. So before you bring that Haruko wall scroll for Kari Wahlgren to sign, make sure she is able to sign it! ( I actually have a wall scroll that I want Kari Wahlgern to sign ^_^) Big cons sometimes have the guest sign one poster/item to keep the line moving. FIND OUT WHO YOU WANT AUTOGRAPHS FROM BEFORE YOU LEAVE SO THAT YOU AREN’T DISAPPOINTED.
  9. www.pixabay.com/piviso
    Cash: As stated in 10 Tips to Survive Your First Con, you need to have cash on you. With so many people attending the con, the ATMs will run out of money. Also, debit readers can malfunction and some vendors only take cash.  A good rule of thumb is to have at least half of your spending money in cash.
  10. Emergency Money: Anything can happen while you are away. Flat tires, torn cosplays, illnesses. Make sure to include a “con emergency fund” in your budget.  You want to make sure that you have at least $60 set aside for this.

For my visual people, here is a chart showing my con budget:

Expense Price Total
Food $10 per meal x 2 meals per day=$20 per day  

 

 

$60 for 3-day con + $20 for extras like water and snacks=$80

 

 

Badge Approx. $180 for a premium badge $180.00
Lodging Hotel= approx. $100 per night

Plus tax

Approx. $325 divided between 2 other friends = $109
Parking Approx. $10 per day Approx.  $30
Transportation Gas money= It depends! About $50 divided between 2 others= ~$17
Merchandise Vendors, Artist Alley, and Extras= $200

Autographs= $20 (I have yet to spend more than $5 for autograph sessions)

$220
Emergency $60
 Total  $696

Obviously, money does not buy happiness. But conventions make me happy and conventions cost money. If you take time to plan and budget accordingly, you can have a great time without killing your bank account.  The price that I pay to attend cons is nothing compared to the experiences that I gain in just 3 short days. I get to hang with my friends, cosplay, and buy cool stuff. Don’t let the cost to hold you back. Make a plan and stick to it! 🙂

www.pixabay.com/CreativeMagic

How I Painted Connie’s Sword

This post contains affiliate links which means I earn compensation from purchases made through product links to Amazon.com.

One of my favorite characters to cosplay is definitely Connie Maheswaran from Steven Universe. She’s smart, funny, and a KNIGHT!  Like many SU fans, I fell in love with her character after the episode “Sworn to the Sword” in which she is trained by Pearl. Not only is the animation beautiful but the inclusion of the song “Do It For Her” is nothing short of genius.  In this episode, Connie declares herself Steven’s knight. She states that although she is human, she can protect him. This episode also has a few anime Easter eggs.

FreeImages.com/Gary Scott

(Steven Universe be like: )

In this post, I will describe how I painted a toy sword to match the one that Connie uses during training. I am NOT an expert. This is only my third sword and it isn’t perfect.  I am simply describing what I did.

  1. First, I gathered my materials. Masking tape (thin and wide), paint, brushes of varying sizes, a paper plate, and a toy sword. I chose the X-Shot Foam Sword.  (This sword can be purchased at Walmart in-store or the Toys “R” Us website.)
  2. Second, I grabbed the masking tape and started wrapping the yellow plastic portion of the sword. (If I had left it uncovered, the paint would chip easily. I figured this out from experience. :p) I made sure to place the tape as neat a possible and to smooth it out as much as I could. I ended up using two layers of tape.
    Photo of my freshly taped sword

    (All finished!)

  3. Third, I mixed the paint. I needed gray, so I mixed black and white. I kept mixing until it looked just right.  I made sure that I had enough paint so that I wouldn’t have to mix it again. I didn’t want to have a bunch of different shades on the handle.
    I had to add a LOT of white.
  4. Next, I started painting! I just held the black part of the handle and went to town. I used brushes of different sizes so that I could paint every nook and cranny without messing up too much. I ended up using three coats of paint. I allowed it to dry for a few minutes.
    Semi painted sword
  5. Next, I needed to paint the black portion of the handle. To do this, I flipped the sword upside down and held the blade at the base. This way I could have control and not touch the sorta-dry portion of sword. I should’ve waited for it to dry completely but I’m a rebel.
    FreeImages.com/Audrey Johnson

    (Rebel.)

  6. Then, I really let it dry. Like overnight. I propped it up and left it to dry. 
  7. Lastly, I transformed into Connie!
    Connie the Knight <3
    Like I said before, I’m not an expert. In fact, I’ve only been cosplaying for 3 years.  But I think that for someone who isn’t the best painter in the world, I did a pretty good job! I want to keep working at my skills so I can make more complex weapons and props! Like Connie, I’ll continue to strive for excellence! <3

10 Tips To Survive Your First Con

This post contains affiliate links which means I earn compensation from purchases made through product links to Amazon.com.

Hooray! You’re finally off to your first [insert geekdom] convention! While cons are a ton of fun, there are things that you MUST know so that you have an enjoyable experience. Sure, you could just go and figure things out as you go. Or you could read this article to give you a heads up. Here are 10 tips to help you survive your first con!

FreeImages.com/Davide Guglielmo

(Obligatory symbol of good luck)

  1. SAVE UP!  Be prepared to spend money at cons. $50 may seem like enough money but it’s not. I’m serious. First of all, you need to eat. That’s most important. But since cons are often held at convention centers and/or hotels, you have to buy convention and/or hotel food: this is expensive.  (More on this later!) Sure, you may think you can limit yourself to one Miroku pin, but you may come across a spectacular Sherlock print in artist alley. And a cool Detective Conan keychain…and that Princess Peach hoody…and that wig you need for your next cosplay. So yeah. MONEY.IS.IMPORTANT. (NO NEED TO FEAR: How To Budget for Your Geek Convention). Attending a con is a special event. Make sure you enjoy it!
  2. STAY HYDRATED! Simple. You’re going to be running around a con center full of excitement. Have fun but don’t forget to drink water. Not all cons allow outside food and drinks so be prepared to buy water. However, most of the cons I’ve been to had free water.
  3. EAT! Same as above. Make sure you eat at least 2 meals per day. You can eat a granola bar and/or fruit for breakfast. Just make sure you EAT TWO MEALS. This is important. If you are staying an entire weekend, be prepared to purchase 6-7 meals.  Round the price of each meal to about $10. So set aside at least $70 for food. You never know if you’ll need to buy an extra bottle of water. Or maybe you just want a big breakfast one day.
  4. REST! It’s okay to take breaks during the con. This is the perfect time to charge your phone and your body. Play with your 3DS or PSP. Talk with your friends. Scroll through your social media feeds. Read that new comic that you just bought. You have time to enjoy the con so allow yourself to rest. I know that you are excited but don’t exert yourself. I personally love people watching and playing Animal Crossing during this time!
  5. EMERGENCY KIT! Make sure you have a repair kit for your cosplays! Face it, things happen. My first cosplay featured lots of faux pearls. Although the dress was complete, there was a possibility that they could fall off. And of course, I lost 3 string of pearls. Thankfully, I was able to fix it without having to run to a store! 🙂 I made extra strings of pearls beforehand and had white thread so I could fix my dress with ease. Some things to include in your kit would be thread, needles, tacky glue, extra fabric, and double sided tape. Include anything that could possibly break, rip, or tear on your costume.
    FreeImages.com/Julia Freeman-Woolpert

    (“Here they come to save the daaaay!”)

  6. CASH. It’s 2017 but cash is still king. Yes, many vendors have debit card readers but some do not. In my case, the debit reader broke while I was trying to get an autograph from Johnny Yong Bosch! I ran to the ATM downstairs but lo and behold, it was out of money! Thankfully, I was able to get my autograph from Vash the Stampede the next day. With so many people in the venue, the ATM machines often run out of money or break down so be prepared!

    (“FONDNESS AND TRANQUILITY!” just doesn’t have a ring to it.)
  7.  RESPECT! Please use common courtesy when interacting with others. You’re excited, I know. But running into people and pushing them to get to a panel is just plain rude and dangerous. Many venues will throw out con-goers who are being obnoxious. Also, please respect the guests. Screaming “I LOVE YOU!” in their ear is not respectful. Wait your turn in the autograph line and thank them for their time. And please, for the love of chicken nuggets, do not hug them without asking. No groping, no kissing. If you want a hug, just ask. The worst they can say is no. Please, just use common sense.

    (Me with Christopher Sabat. He called me a doll. 🙂 )
  8. BATHE! Please remember to bathe everyday. Not only do you need to be clean, but being stinky is rude to other con-goers. If you’re a sweaty person, bring deodorant and/or body spray. I’m speaking from experience. I’ve been next to people who had BO so bad that I almost threw up. This just ruins the experience for everyone.
  9. PICTURES. Make sure you ask people for their picture before you take it. I turn in to a pile of goo when I see my favorite characters out and about (this On Melancholy Hill Noodle cosplay was FIIIIRE) but ask that person before you take pics of them.  If someone asks for your picture, you have every right to decline but please be courteous when doing so. I personally always say yes. Then I turn around and ask for their picture. In my Robot Chicken Skeletor voice “IT’S COMMON COURTESY!”
  10. HAVE FUN!!! Seriously. Do your thing. But please be safe, be smart, be kind, and be courteous and you’ll have a great time!

    FreeImages.com/themiz