Budgeting for Con Season

Ok, so technically it’s not REALLY a con, but Wil Wheaton, whom I fangirled as a teenager for his acting and fangirl as an adult for his writing (seriously, go get Dancing Barefoot like, RIGHT NOW and read it all), informed me about Star Trek: THE TOUR.

*takes a deep breath*
*passes out ded from the squee*

However, as the nearest ST:TT is several hundred miles away, this will take planning. Not just to find my Bajoran ear cuff (you know you’re jealous), but financially.

Cons aren’t exactly spontaneous things. Typically you have several months to prepare. Some are planned years in advance (I’m aiming for ComicCon in 2010). There are four sets of numbers you will need to pull for a Con:

1) Vacation Time – Yeah, sure, most of them are over the weekend, but Thursday Night Parties. Do I have to say more?

What you need to ask yourself is do you have enough vacation time to cover this and still be able to go see Auntie Em at the Lake? If that answer is no, then the question is can you afford unpaid time off?

If you’re going the Unpaid route, figure out how much money you’d earn during the days you’re gone, and put a big minus sign in front of it. We’ll use this number later for a Very Painful Decision.

2) Room, Board, and Con Fees – Unless you’re a lucky bastard who lives in Seattle, you’re going to have to find a place to stay for PAX. It may be on the floor of a friend you met on the Internet’s apartment with 40 other fangirls or fanboys, but I’m getting too old for that stuff, myself. I like to sleep when I want to sleep and not share a bathroom. Figure the rate for every night of your stay, add about $15 for incidental taxes.

Food is going to be damn expensive in the Convention Center district. Same with booze, if that’s your thing. Figure about $50 a day. No, I’m not kidding.

Then there’s the cost to get into the Con itself, which can run from ‘ouch’ to ‘holygodsabove’. This may cover a few meals, if it’s one of THOSE kind of Cons, so knock $15 off your food budget for each meal covered.

Add up all those numbers, put a big minus sign in front of them, and put it under your Vacation Time number.

3) Schwag – You’re going to a con. You’re going to find something you absolutely cannot live without. And you’re still going to need to pay rent next month. I suggest going to all the vendor stalls before you actually buy something, to avoid blowing your entire budget on a scale model Puddlejumper when there’s a sonic screwdriver five tables down.

Again with the minus sign and add it to your little list of numbers.

4) Travel – Plane, train, shuttle, automobile, taxi, river raft, parking, tolls… You know the drill. Add ’em up and put a big ol’ minus sign in front of it, and put it on your list.

Now that you have all the hard part done, here comes the math: Add up all your negative numbers, and that’s how much this Con is going to cost you. Divide the total amount this Con is going to cost you by how many months are left until that Con, and take a good, long, hard look at that number.

That’s how much money you are going to need to put away each month between now and then to pay for this shindig. Is it a number you’re comfortable with? Will you be taking money away from your savings and investing and debt-reduction (see point two of the Fangirl Financial Plan: Credit cards are evil and must be vanquished)? Basically, can you afford this?

If the answer is no, well, that sucks. Oh well, there will be a KoLCon next year.

If the answer is yes, start socking that money away now.

And don’t forget your camera. I want photos, damnit!


The Experiment

What happens when I put as much time and energy into keeping track of my finances as I do in keeping track of my fandoms? Let's find out!

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