Con on a budget
There are various con’s going on all over the place and all the time. For me personally, the end of the year and the beginning is when con season picks up. starting in September and going to March there are about 6 or 7 events I like to try to get to. When you are an active con-goer, however, its important to keep yourself on track financially. nothing sucks more than missing a con cause you cant afford it or going to a con with no money to afford anything else but the admission. The following are a few bucks here and there and extend your con experience.
So by now, you know that when you’re at con about half your money goes to food and drinks and another chunk is eaten up with parking fees. By the time all is said and done you have less money to spend on the actual con.
Over the years we have come up with, via trial and error and plain old experience, a few tips that help keep your con on track and fully funded.
In another article, “Con Bag 101” we discuss a few bag packing tips that apply directly to this topic. As mentioned a very large portion of your money go to things like food and drinks and parking while out at con. Conventions generally are held in venues that are downtown or close to it. What that means is that the prices of average things tend to go up. Business in the downtown area are used to serving office workers and business professionals. The environment is one where the stores and restaurants have something of a captive audience and the result is that the prices are a bit higher than in other parts of the city. This can make for a fun and new experiences and of course, more of a variety that’s you might get in other parts of town, but most of us cant spend $50 plus for every meal while we’re at con. Parking cost between about $5 and $20 per day on average but unfortunately you cant leave the parking structure or you’ll have to pay again. So how can we stretch our con budget?
The first and most simple trick to saving a few dollars at con is to include a good sized water bottle and well thought out snacks in your con bag. Keep in mind that whatever you bring will be in your bag all day you definitely don’t want to pack things like chocolate or sandwiches with mayo or dairy products. The heat and the time spent in your bag will take their toll. Things such as crackers, hard candies or even good ole pb&j are all option that can spend a little time in your bag without getting soggy, gross or spoiling. You also want to stay away from very fragrant foods cause, of course, you don’t want you our your bag smelling in the middle of a crowded event.
The bottle of water can really be one of the biggest money savers at con. Small bottles of water inside a con setting can go for anywhere between $2-$3 all the way up to over $8 depending on where you are. A good water bottle that can keep water cold all day might cost you about $15 but it won’t be long till it more than pas for itself. The majority of the cons that I attend are in Arizona and water is definitely a necessity. If your planning to cosplay especially in a hot climate you’re going to get hot and need water multiplayer times a day so this will really add up fast.
This one is my favorite, Pizza! Sounds funny but amidst all the more expensive options downtown they’re is unusually at least one pizza place around that will sell pizza by the slice. By the slice places, so long as it’s not a vendor inside of the convention center or event you’re attending can be a low cost and quick meal option that will get you back to the event without taking a big bite out of your wallet.
Public transportation. This may not always be available depending on where you are but if you can take advantage this is normally a much cheaper option than paying for parking. Over a 4 day event as many cons are, you can spend, on average, between $20 and $80 on parking alone. If however you live nearby or have a friend who lives nearby a bus line or train you can reduce this price substantially. Another good way to save some money would be to share parking expenses and carpool or even share an Uber with other people going. This will keep more money in your pocket and you won’t have to worry about that long walk back to find your car in the parking structure after a long day walking around con.
Another trick to shaving a few bucks off your food budget is to eat at home. Having a good breakfast at home eating food you already have will set you off to a good day at con and save you a few dollars you can use later. Every dollar counts at con. We have been going to cons for several years now and we have had cons where we had plenty of money to throw around and cons where we had little more than the price of admission. Making a few wise choices beforehand about how you’re going to manage the things you need and coming up with creative way to save a little here and there will allow you to have a great time at con whether in feast or famine