How to Budget for Cosplay
I know I talked a bit about budget in my "Balancing Life and Cosplay" and my "Commissioning Artists" articles. But you also know just how broke everyone in the cosplay community is, and you look at your wallet at 6 on Friday wondering where all your money went and then, 'ohhhh yeahhhh,' it went to the vendor's hall and poorly budgeting when it came to building your cosplay. Specifically today, I'll be talking about budgeting for builds that you personally are making. I feel I touched pretty much all I wanted for making a budget for commissioned builds, so we're going to focus on a DIY build.
I honestly think the hardest part of figuring out WHICH cosplay you are going to do is narrowing it down from the probably at least 20 cosplans you have. I go through this every time I try to make a schedule for what cosplays I want to do. Last year was a mess. I was constantly making and it was all over the place, so this year, to combat that, I made myself 12 cosplays I knew I could build within a month, and potentially compete in, and budgeted. What you are going to have to do, is first figure out how much the cosplay is going to cost.
How much is the wig going to cost? Shoes? Fabric? Makeup, contacts, foam, etc? Spend HOURS figuring out how much everything is going to cost. You don't always have to go to the most expensive places, but also budget in case you aren't able to find the stuff you need in store. Most of the time I buy my foam online, since the stuff around the Saint Louis area isn't that great. It all depends on your region and resources.
For example. For Kurama, I spent $50 for the fabric, I had a $5 pair of shoes from a previous cosplay, $3 for the rose, $40 for the wig from Arda, and have contacts that I would have spent $20 on to ship them to me had I not already had them from a previous cosplay. So all in all, I spent about $95. I also made sure to hunt for coupons because this stuff probably would have been more expensive if I wasn't such a nerd for coupons. Definitely consider adding at least $30 onto your budget to make sure to cover any mistakes you may have to replace.
Once you've figured out your budget for your cosplay, make a budget for your real life. Phone, car payment, rent, insurance, etc. are all important and should come first. Cosplay is an awesome hobby, but shouldn't put you in debt just to impress other people. For example: Phone: $130, car payment $250, rent $400, insurance $153, groceries $150 every two weeks. Add it all up and see how that compares to your take home pay. If you have enough to work with at the end of the week, definitely buy what you need. Or if you can't, but you know you can buy bits and pieces, that's okay too. If you stay on your goals and deadlines, it shouldn't be too much to handle. And if you aren't able to buy anything for a while, that's alright too. Be on the lookout for sales and try to budget a little tighter if you can, if you are absolutely sure that you are wanting to do a specific cosplay.
Also remember that if you are in a group cosplay that you have to budget for those outfits as well. It's extremely important that if it's a serious group, you'll want to make sure you take that seriously and budget not only your time but you money accordingly so that you don't let down your group. There is no shame in dropping out of a group because you aren't able to financially commit. When I was in Pretty Guardians, those builds came before my own because I was a part of something greater. I kept my priorities straight and made sure that everyone knew how serious I was. You will have to do the same in figuring out where your priorities lie and if they match up with your group's.
Making this budget monthly is really important and keeps you consistent on what needs to be paid and also organized. I really hope this helps and can create a bit of ease on your conscience so that you aren't as stressed as you probably are. It will be okay. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please always feel free to reach out to me! I do my very best to reply to everyone and be a shoulder if you need it.
If you are interested in supporting me (since this is my job), you are always more than welcome to send me a ko-fi! It's only $3 and helps me with my goals! Everything is appreciated, and right now I'm working on the Hoenn (3rd) generation quilt, and every ko-fi is a ticket into that raffle, so you could potentially win a quilt ($700+ value) for $3! Thank you so much for your support!