Happy New Year Cosplayers!

With Con season right around the corner, make it a point not to panic about the repercussions of getting into this incredibly fun but also pretty costly hobby. Remember: your Cosplay builds don’t have to be pricey! Cosplay is whatever you want it to be, even when you’re going for a big, detailed build. So what are some ways you can budget when it comes to Cosplay? Let’s get started.

ALWAYS Plan Ahead of Time

One of the best ways to begin to budget for what you want to build when it comes to Cosplay is to create a list of what you’d like to work on for the year at the BEGINNING of the year. Though of course your list might change a little over the next 12 months, do your best to stick with it. Doing this will help you plan out how much you need to spend in addition to how much work you need to put into the costumes themselves.

Create a Detailed and Itemized Budget

Creating your itemized budget will entail gathering up all the reference images you can possibly find and make detailed notes on what all might or would be involved in the build. Do some preliminary online shopping to get your prices as accurate as possible and don’t forget to take stock of what you already have to keep costs at their minimum,

Always prepare for a worst case scenario and put down retail pricing. Sometimes those big sales don’t lineup with payday, so getting that discount you want so bad is a no go. However, by planning on retail pricing, those discounts become a  pleasant surprise, but not something you rely on.
Once you’ve set your budget, you’ll need to figure out how much you’ll have to set aside each month to make your costume happen.

Take Advantage of Sales

When you’re planning your month-by-month cosplay savings plan, don’t forget to plan around things like “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday”. Sometimes the companies selling wigs and other Cosplay build materials drop prices for these two days, so find out what’s on the menu and plan accordingly. Just in case though, make sure you have the money to buy it outright. Plus, if you do get it on sale and you still had set aside money to get it full price, you can put some extra spending money away for the next Cosplay Build up your sleeve!

Become a Couponer

When it comes to big craft stores like Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Jo-Ann’s, and Hancocks, couponing could very well be one of the greatest weapons for a Cosplayer. Each of these particular stores almost always have coupons available. You can download their apps, get them in the mail, or just Google for coupons. It’s not difficult to track them down at all! And incredibly, these are usually for around 40% off, so no matter what, make it worth your time and SAVE THOSE DOLLARS!

Trade Skills and Thrift Away

If you know someone who can sew a costume for you, consider thinking of a service you can offer them that equals the time and effort they might put into a costume for you. Trading work and skills can be a super cheap and very rewarding experience for Cosplayers.

In addition, keeping an open mind about free bins and the thrift store is almost always a good idea. You never know when you might stumble across the perfect costume or accessories at the thrift store, so keep an eye out!

Don’t Feel Like You Have to Build Everything From Scratch

We can’t stress this enough. A lot of Cosplayers feel like it’s not really Cosplay if they don’t make their whole costume themselves and build the whole experience from the ground up. But the truth is, you can find a lot of almost finished costumes that, with a few minor tweaks would be perfect for the next big Cosplay event. If you can be open to not always building everything yourself, there are opportunities for money-saving in the Cosplay realm you’re probably looking over. Think repurposed fabric, old Halloween costumes and more.

Don’t Always Just “Go Cheap”

Yes, you want to save money, but do yourself and your wallet a favor and DON’T GO CHEAP when it comes to things like colored contact lenses or cosmetics.

Cheap contact lenses that aren’t prescribed by a doctor aren’t just illegal, they’re NOT SAFE to be used on your eyes. If you really want to save, avoid hefty emergency room and doctor bills by simply going the extra mile and paying for not only decent, but good service and lenses.

The same is true of cosmetics. Don’t go cheap when it comes to your skin. Cheap cosmetics applied with unsanitary applicators destroy your skin and leave behind residue.  If a product is not made for a human face, then don’t put it there! This includes even though things that are labeled as “non-toxic” like children’s paint and/or glues. Don’t go shopping for makeup at the dollar store, either. Preserving your skin means using real products.

Now of course this doesn’t mean go splurge on the most expensive makeup. Most products at a typical drugstore will work fine. But keep in mind that cosmetics marketed to pros have significantly simpler packaging than products that are pushed to the public, so skip anything that looks too….exciting.

Saving money on Cosplay might seem daunting, but it can actually be lots of fun. Just remember: don’t go so cheap that you’re instantly regretting the decision the minute you have a breakout from cheap makeup or don’t feel confident in what you’ve created. That being said, don’t make yourself feel like a cheap Cosplayer just because you’ve repurposed items from last years build, or got your shoes at a yard sale. This isn’t called being cheap, it’s called being smart. And when you’re a smart Cosplayer, no build is “off-limits”. The only advice we have for you is to play it safe, play it cool, and most of all: have fun.