Balancing Life and Cosplay
If you're like me, your life IS cosplay. But not all of your money can go to buying the supplies for your next big build. There has to be balance. Creating a happy equilibrium between your fun weekends and the seemingly long weeks. Hopefully, this article will help you find that balance and create a bit of calm between these two wonderful parts of your life.
As almost anyone can tell you, cosplay is an extremely expensive hobby. You have your wigs, contacts, shoes, outfits, armors, props, makeup, and all the other little pieces. I have an entire ROOM set aside just for storing, and about a third of my basement is my workshop. I have thousands of dollars worth of materials, tools, and odds and ends just for cosplay. Tolia thinks I have a little too much, and I'm sure he's right, but he didn't slave away at those hours. But, I also recognize that I can't be completely consumed by cosplay. I can't have every new Love Live outfit that hits the market, or all the cosplays in my cosplans ready right this minute. I have to budget.
Budgeting is essential because you can see how much money you have, and where it's going. If you have a full-time job, this is made somewhat easier, because you have a guaranteed 38-40 hours paid, every week. Those of us that it depends on the minimum wage job we actually aren't getting paid enough for, don't have it as easy because those hours aren't guaranteed. You should still try to budget where you can and it can be made easier by buying a monthly planner. I honestly should buy myself one, but I am so scatterbrained. I will hopefully be buying one in the near future so I can get my act together.
Now that you've got your planner, you need to write down what bills are due when. "Phone bill due by the 6th, Car Payment on the 28th, etc" that way you have deadlines and remember which days your money needs to be sent out. Writing down how much each bill is when it is due is also helpful so you know exactly how much you have to work with. Most planners also have a writing section so that you can effectively keep everything together and budget easier. Because you may think that you have $130 to spend on cosplay, but when you write it all down and do the math, you realize you only have $75 or $100, or even less.
Once you figure out your actual cosplay budget, spend it wisely. Don't just buy everything you see, plan accordingly. Say you need $150 for materials for your next build. Save up each paycheck's cosplay budget, and get it the next time. It's okay to wait, and even re-wear a couple of cosplays you've already worn before. As long as they are clean, there should be no problem wearing the same few looks you have until you are financially able to take care of it. And if anyone shames you on it, they probably aren't budgeting right and are most likely that kid that only eats 3 times during the con because they spent all their money. Don't be that kid.
You also should probably look into budgeting your time as well. It's imperative to effectively manage your time. It may seem like fun to stay up until 5 a.m. when you work at 8 because you MUST get this piece done, but your work does suffer. You may not realize it right away, but it is important to sleep at least 6 hours to work to standard. Coffee and energy drinks can only take you so far. Besides, if you do this to yourself, you're probably going to lose your job and then what is going to pay for cosplays?
When planning out your cosplays, you should write down how much it will cost financially, and if you are making it, how much it will cost you in time. Try to give yourself a little more time than you think you will need, as well as money for any mistakes that might have to be corrected. Because no one is perfect, including myself. I can't tell you how many times I have to spend more money because of a mess-up. And when I wasn't smart about my money, I would actually go hungry because I would pay for cosplay over food. Don't be me kids. It's not worth it.
I also let cosplay consume me to a point where I didn't hang out with friends, I didn't do anything, and while that's fine to save money, I feel like I missed out on a lot of good memories in my early twenties. Make memories with your friends, they are much, much more important than some strangers on the internet. (Not that I don't love you, Strangers on the Internet, I just don't know you in order to want to make memories. I hope that's not too harsh.) It's also okay to step back from cosplay and give yourself a break. That's the wonderful thing about this being a hobby; you don't have to be in it all the time. If you're in the pool all day, you're gonna get pruned up. It's okay to do other things, or breathe and meditate. There is absolutely no harm in taking time for yourself. You are allowed to make the decision to walk away for a bit, or even entirely, if that's your choice. I know the cosplay community is toxic, so it's nice to get out of Chernobyl sometimes.
I hope my advice makes sense to you and that you maybe take a least a little to heart. You're a good person and deserve wonderful things and to take time to take care of you.