[identity profile] numbereleven.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] dragoncon_lj_archive
Does anyone have a year-long-ish budget schedule or anything that they do for DragonCon?

Seems like I end up paying for the entire damn thing in the summer, which gave me problems this year with being unemployed all year, of course. Not to mention that when the hotels went up for booking, they ALL started requiring a deposit, so we had to scramble to ask someone -anyone- with available space on a credit card.

Tickets right now are only $60. I'm trying to talk a friend who hasn't gone for like three years into going again, and he really wants to, but he may be switching to part time- so budgeting and paying for things in small chunks over the months would be AMAZING.

Just wondering if someone has worked this out already, and can toss me some pointers? Thanks!

Date: 2011-09-14 04:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kkatowll.livejournal.com
I know some people might say, "Duh, just save up each month" but that doesn't work for me -- I save and then something happens and I spend what I've saved.
So I buy things -- I bought my ticket already, and next month I will try to buy two days of the hotel at discount sites. I also buy groceries at the con and eat those, with only one meal "out," so I don't have to worry about that -- it's the same cost as being at home.
That leaves me with just two days of the hotel to "buy" once I get there -- and since I share a room with three other people, usually they're paying that part.
In March-ish, I buy airplane tickets. So I've really spread out all the big costs over the course of the year. In the summer, I save up for things I might want to buy at the con (autographs, etc.) and, of course, buy things to go with my costumes.
Hope this helps...

Date: 2011-09-14 06:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sewinggoddess.livejournal.com
I do this for all my big trips. Buy bits of it ahead of time, so I don't have so much to worry about when the time comes. And be maniacle about saving inbetween to hit those milestones.

Date: 2011-09-14 06:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kkatowll.livejournal.com
Yeah, for some reason I find easier to hang onto my money if I know, "In a month I'm going to use this to buy my plane ticket," rather than, "In ten months I'm going on vacation!"

Date: 2011-09-15 02:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lurkrealclose.livejournal.com
This is basically what I do.

I'll buy my membership this week. A friend has put the hotel on her credit card, and I'll send her a check now for my part of the deposit, then another check in a few months (probably after any Birthday/Christmas cash comes in), and then pay the balance of my share at the con. Once I've got the membership, I know I'm going, so I'll keep an eye on airline ticket prices. I usually buy them in the spring or early summer. And then I stop keeping an eye on them, so I don't get mad if I could have gotten a better deal later. That part helps keep me sane and focused on the con, not what could have been.

I also have one friend who drives, and rather than check a bag (especially if your airline charges), I ship a box to her and she brings it in her car. She also usually brings a coffee pot (so we can use the hotel one for water for tea or food), a laptop (so I don't have to bring mine), and stuff like that. Then at the end of the con, I load the box back up, give her $30, and she ships it back to me when she gets home.

Date: 2011-09-16 09:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kitt79.livejournal.com

I've use Marriott gift cards for 4 years in a row now; this year they wouldn't take them at checkin, but a different person accepted them later without even batting an eye.

Date: 2011-09-14 04:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] awillis2.livejournal.com
I have not done that in the past but I plan on doing that this year.

Since you've been to DC before you have a good idea of how much it costs.

The first step is to determine how much money you will need for:

1) ticket(s)
2) transportation (if driving estimate on the high side for gas costs in case prices spike)
3) hotel (include incentals like internet & parking costs)
4) food (do 2 categories if you plan on bringing food or making a grocery run)
5) alcohol (if you drnk treat it the same as with food - bring with or buy on site)
6) any extra spending money

If you're going to share costs with others determine your share of those costs. Once you do that determine how much you need to save per month.

I personnally plan to be able to pay for the hotel room myself but I will probably have a roommate - I have one lined up but it's early yet so she may have to back out so I want to plan for worst case scenerio.

I plan on putting aside at least $100 per month starting next month, plus using any tax refund.

Date: 2011-09-14 05:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dklepto.livejournal.com
That's pretty much the plan I follow, and it worked for me this past year. I was able to put aside about $100 a month and that covered four nights at the Hyatt plus food.

In general, I would suggest having about $250 put aside for the deposit, and if you're saving for four nights, have at least $760 ready to go if possible. That's enough to cover the room by yourself if you have to - I've had to for the past three years due to roommates losing jobs, etc. Obviously, though, if you can get a roommate, you won't need all that.

I live about 5.5 hours away from Atlanta, so I usually drive and budget about $75 for gas. That's usually the last thing I try to save for because of the fluctuating prices and the possibility of carpooling.

As far as food, I mostly brought things from home and tried to eat cheap at the food court. If you pick up things on sale ahead of time, like bottled water, pop tarts, instant coffee, etc., you can cover breakfast pretty easily. Those sorts of things also have a long shelf life, so you can pick them up any time.

Lunch and dinner are harder because there was no fridge in my room at the Marriott or the Hyatt...not sure about the others. If you want to go really cheap, you can also fix ramen or instant foods with the in-room coffee maker. If not, and if you're paying for yourself, plan on at least $8 per meal. If you're a couple, I'd suggest around $15. I covered meals for myself and my roommate this year, and I don't think I ever spent more than $20. We ate eight meals at the food court, so next year I'm planning to budget about $150 for food, which should more than cover it.

As for tickets, get them as early as possible, because they're only going to go up in price from here. They're $60 through Friday at midnight, so if you can't pick them up by then, plan for at least $70 each.

I don't personally drink, so I can't help you there, but I would suggest again looking for local sales rather than buying at the con or in Atlanta.

So looking forward at my own budget based on this year, I'll need about $1300 total to make sure I cover anything. Of course, about $300 of that has to come out within the next few weeks, so between November and August of next year, I'll have to save up roughly $1,000, so putting back $100 a month should get me there.

Date: 2011-09-14 06:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dark-blade.livejournal.com
An electric water kettle really is worth it. Heats the water to boiling quickly, and avoids that faint burnt coffee taste in your tea, ramen, macaraoni, etc.

Date: 2011-09-14 10:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glasscannon.livejournal.com
Seconding. I fly in from California so I have to pack light. I had a costume prop this year that required boiling water in the hotel room. I picked up an immersion heater (http://www.rei.com/product/781694/rei-immersion-heater-120240) from REI, and really liked it. Less bulky in your luggage than an electric water kettle, if you're worried about space as well.

Date: 2011-09-17 11:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dklepto.livejournal.com
An awesome idea! I'll look into that!

Date: 2011-09-14 06:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kkatowll.livejournal.com
I've dealt with the lack of a fridge in two ways:
1. pick up a cheap styrofoam cooler in Atlanta, or bring with you. Then you can use hotel ice to keep little things cold -- like sandwich meat and cheese or salad.
2. eat non-fridge meals, such as PB&J, pita stuffed with veggies, Trader Joe's Indian meals (the eggplant and the chickpea ones are perfectly good even if they're not warmed up in a microwave), rice balls, those bags of cooked tunafish, if you get really inventive you can take canned beans and mash them to create interesting salads...lots of other ideas if you look for them. Walk through the non-refrigerated part of your grocery store and think, "What can I make without heating/cooking this?" Remember that most things can go a few days without refrigeration -- even hard cheese.

Date: 2011-09-14 08:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] awillis2.livejournal.com
I always bring a cooler with ice and the last couple of years got a fridge for the room, but with them charging $15 per day I doubt I wil do that next year. I got lucky this year and it was comped because of problems I had the previous year.

I plan on investing in a plug in cooler in addition to the regular cooler. Heck, I might even invest in one of those really small fridges (smaller than the ones the hotel provide).

Date: 2011-09-17 11:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dklepto.livejournal.com
I actually did bring a small cooler this year, but when we returned to the room Friday night we discovered it had leaked. So I freaked out and tossed it. *LOL* Luckily it was on the countertop, so most of the water had pooled, and when it dried it didn't leave any stain. XD

PB&J is a good alternative, but I'm usually too lazy to make stuff myself! :p Although if things keep going the way they're going, I see a loooot of Ramen and PB&J in my future. ^_^;

Con on a Budget

Date: 2011-09-14 04:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aldeygirl.livejournal.com
If you really want to go inexpensive. 1. Buy membership now. 2. Use expedia and book a nice room near airport. The hotel will free shuttle you to airport where you can marta into the con. These hotels have free parking, free shuttle to airport, free wifi, and free breakfast. You can also drive in and park (usually about 10 per day.) Bring snacks and drinks. 3. Each month set asside one day's expense. The airport hotels are about 89 per night, sometimes you get special for 59. Figure your food cost and add to that. Roomies help cut the cost. Just think if you have 4 people in the 89 per night room how cheap that is.

Re: Con on a Budget

Date: 2011-09-14 05:18 pm (UTC)
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
From: [personal profile] feuervogel
The downside of that is that Marta doesn't run between 1 and 5 am, and if you want to drop your swag off in your room, change your costume, or take a nap, you have a Marta ride plus hotel shuttle each way, which is a right pain in the arse.

Re: Con on a Budget

Date: 2011-09-14 06:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eidolon-bird.livejournal.com
I don't know how likely it is that it will pop up this year since they have been hosting events and panels for a few years now, but people were able to get the Westin for $75 a night last year. That's cheaper than the $89 airport hotels, much closer to the action and comes with D*CTV (and none of the hassle of spending an hour on the MARTA each day, and missing out on most of the late night concerts and parties).

Re: Con on a Budget

Date: 2011-09-14 10:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kawaii-nyako.livejournal.com
We paid $73 a night for the Westin this year on Hotwire for Thursday through Monday, one hell of a good deal!

Re: Con on a Budget

Date: 2011-09-15 04:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nippyfrog.livejournal.com
How! Teach me! :P

Date: 2011-09-14 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neovenom.livejournal.com
So your badge is taken care of (could always transfer it later, and possibly even make a profit if something comes up). I'd save for hotel next, whether that's saving for a deposit, or saving for total cost if you're using a hotel that doesn't require a deposit.

If you've been before, you probably know how much you'll need for transportation. I like MARTA for flying in and for local drivers such as myself, including their much cheaper parking rates.

After that, it's just using the summer to save for food/spending money. That depends on whether you browse the dealer halls or collect autographs or like to party it up at night!

Date: 2011-09-14 05:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kittydesade.livejournal.com
Since most of what I buy is autographs, I keep an eye on the list, and every time I see a name I want to get, I transfer the average cost of an autograph from last year from my checking account to my linked savings account. I buy the memberships for me and my boyfriend, he takes care of the hotel, and that takes care of most of the expense since we're close enough to drive in.

Then, towards the spring, I go over the restaurant map for the con area and price out meals and sock THAT into my linked savings account, too. Portions of gift money, birthday, Christmas, whatever... also go into the savings account.

Then when it's time I can just transfer back to checking, make a budget spreadsheet for my device (or, really, just print one out), and go!

Date: 2011-09-14 06:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] datavortex.livejournal.com
Step 1) Set a budget you want to have available for 2012.
Step 2) Tell Mint.com about your budget goal.
Step 3) Obey Mint.com.

Date: 2011-09-14 06:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mhaithaca.livejournal.com
Once you know where you're staying, set aside money for the hotel stay not in a bank account where you might spend it, but in hotel gift cards. Keep buying $25 or $50 or $100 gift cards from Marriott (or whichever chain), and you'll get to Atlanta next summer with your hotel stay completely taken care of. Even better, people will hand you money for their share of the room, and you'll have bucks to spend!

Date: 2011-09-14 10:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glasscannon.livejournal.com
Also, if you have a credit card that accrues points as you use it, check and see if you can exchange your points for hotel gift cards. Gift cards are often the best point-to-dollar exchange you can get, so it's a good way to spend your points. I've done this with both the Hyatt and the Marriott in the past (different Marriott, not for DragonCon), and it worked great.

Date: 2011-09-14 10:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mhaithaca.livejournal.com
Not a bad idea! I know I can exchange Marriott Rewards points for gift cards, but I've never done it. Of course, I have now enjoyed two entirely free hotel stays at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis over my several years of Dragon*Con, so that's also fun... :-)

Date: 2011-09-14 07:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ydnic.livejournal.com
Try a savings account at a place like SmartyPig that is tailored to saving for a specific goal: http://www.smartypig.com/

(Another commenter suggested Mint.com, which is good, too)

Date: 2011-09-14 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] paradisacorbasi.livejournal.com
I always buy my tickets at the end of con or right after. And then I put a little bit away off every payday into an account I never see until con time.

And I supplement by paying cash for my meds, and then having my Flex Spending account reimburse me for it right before con, which allows me to end up with some spending money.

Date: 2011-09-14 11:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] awillis2.livejournal.com
I try to wait and get my flex spending a couple of weeks before as well.

Date: 2011-09-14 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] luckymorgan.livejournal.com
I transfer a certain amount per paycheck into my savings account for fun - D*C, other cons, random travel, shiny new toys, etc. I also make per-paycheck transfers into the savings account that are allocated for property tax, and for general savings. Rather than relying on the bank's balance and my memory, I have a spreadsheet that lists the entire year's transactions - past and future - and what each transaction is for. So I can see how much I have allocated for fun, tax, or general at any time. It's really helped me save and budget. I know exactly how much I'll have available, say, for con plane tickets if I have to blow a bunch of money on, say, kitchen sink repair. Breaking the account up like that has really helped, rather than having one pool of money with no well-defined plan of what to do with it. Yeah, I'm a spreadsheet nerd :)

Date: 2011-09-14 10:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] earendilgrey.livejournal.com
For me I have half of my car payment plus 40 dollars taken out of each paycheck and direct deposited into a savings account. So over the year that 40 extra bucks a payday builds up pretty well. Then I also take half my tax refund and put it in savings for D*C. I also keep a change box in my room that I try not to break into during the year and that usually yields another 30-50 bucks in change (Coinstar is my friend!)

I also set up a budget spreadsheet on my computer and layout exactly what each major item is going to be. That way I know how much needs to be set back for tickets, hotel, gas or plane tickets, food. Once you get all that handled then you can start working on your fun/spending money.

Date: 2011-09-14 11:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pixiekingtom.livejournal.com
I like the idea for the gift cards! If you're staying at a hotel that doesn't have gift cards, you can make pre payments on the room through a simple form, thus paying off the room over the year. And in case of emergency cancellation, you can get it refunded

Date: 2011-09-15 04:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malruniel11.livejournal.com
I didn't know about pre-paying. That could be useful!

Date: 2011-09-15 01:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] awillis2.livejournal.com
What malruniel11 said. Does Marriott have this? If so where can I find it?

Date: 2011-09-15 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] myras-girls.livejournal.com
I automatically save money each month into a special savings account. It does the job for me!

Date: 2011-09-15 04:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerorea.livejournal.com
First, figure out how much in total you spent on D*C this year. Include next year's pre-reg badge (get it now!) and room deposit, plus spending money, meals, hotel balance, travel, etc. Add 10-20% as a cushion. Trust me, just do it. Divide it up by 12 and put that much away every month into an ING Direct savings account (it's free and you can set up auto-deposits, though I do it manually). Then, as you pay for each item, move that amount from the savings account to your checking to cover the costs. By the time the con rolls around, you'll have the money to pay for it. Re-evaluate your spending next year and modify the goals/monthly amount for 2012/13.

Date: 2011-09-15 05:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] orcapotter.livejournal.com
- I always buy my reg for next year at the current con. Even if something happens and I can't go, I know I will be able to transfer it to someone else.

- I drive to the con, so I always have at least one other person to help split gas and parking costs. This year I did it a bit differently and joined up with a larger caravan as I'm more strapped for cash this year.

- Because I drive, I can bring food and drinks with me. I bring soup that only needs hot water added to it, protein bars, and water. This shaves off at least 2 meals per day. I think I spent less than $50 total on meals this year, probably even a lot less than that.

- If I drink any alcohol, it has been brought with me or my group.

- I've outgrown the need to buy every fandom souvenir in the dealer rooms. I try to stick to just $50-$80 spending money at most.

- One of my friends books the room, and we keep a minimum of 4 people in the room to help with the cost. This is where the bulk of my con saving goes to.

- Throughout the year, I just save all the cash gifts I'm given. I have family that prefers to just give me cash for holidays and birthdays, so I just put those away and viola ... come con time, I've got a good nest egg. Anything else I have comes from my tax return. Otherwise, if that fails me, I would sell off any unwanted costumes or items (have yet to need to do that).

Date: 2011-09-15 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] princess-eowyn.livejournal.com
as said above, this type of plan doesn't work for everyone, but here's what works for me:

i save $20 cash every week. also, i save up all of my change. the average person handles $600 a year in change (though i don't think i have nearly that much, though it's at least $350-$400 every year.)

this works for me because i'm taking tiny bites out of the whole amount every week. in addition, by the time i need to start thinking about airfare, i have a tidy sum saved up. when my friends are talking about how much everyone's share of the hotel room is, i can just hand them a wad of cash - who doesn't like being handed wads of cash? :D and i save money by buying next year's membership at the current year's convention.

Date: 2011-09-15 08:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] terracinque.livejournal.com
There's a particular book in my library. Once a month I put a $100 bill between the pages of that book; this is my "Dragon*Con fund." By Labor Day weekend each year, there's enough in there to pay for my hotel room, anything I want to buy in the Exhibitors' and Dealers' rooms, parking, food, and my onsite preregistration for the following year.

I also ask for a refrigerator in my room, and I fill it with sodas and snacks. At the Hilton the fridge is supposed to be an extra $15, but this year they didn't even bother to charge me.

It helps, I suppose, that I live in Decatur, so I don't have to worry about flying in from anywhere.

Of course, I cosplay, so I spend a lot more on costume stuff through the year.

Date: 2011-09-15 08:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tempus-teapot.livejournal.com
I buy rolls of dollar coins and put them in my Dragon Con piggy bank whenever I can. No lie. I took nearly $700 out of my piggy bank right before the con. That paid for all my luxuries (food, booze, presents for my boys, etc.)

Otherwise, I buy everything I can as far in advance as I can. Membership for 2012 is paid for. Plane ticket will be booked way in advance. Hotel room will be budgeted and shared with friends.

Dragon Con's my one big expenditure of the year, and even chronically underemployed as I am, I still manage it.

Date: 2011-09-15 10:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eklecticamy.livejournal.com
I pay $100 a month to the hotel where I am going to stay. Just keep track of it and bring your receipts with you to the hotel when you check in. I also call them periodically throughout the year and ask for my balance. Put your confirmation # on your payments. After the hotel is paid off, I put $100/mo in my coffee can for spending money. I usually pay for the airfare with a credit card and pay it off later as I can. If you have friends that can share the cost of the hotel room, that would help immensely. It's a very expensive joy ride but it's so so fun.

Date: 2011-09-15 10:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eklecticamy.livejournal.com
Forgot something - You can rent a frig at the Sheraton. Just make sure you have it reserved on your reservation because I hear they ran out this year.

Date: 2011-09-16 04:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nolifeking21.livejournal.com
Personally, I just use what I can of my Tax Returns to help pay off off at least half of the con...the rest I just start saving after Christmas....It all helps to just plan what your expenditures are going to be and stick to a set schedule of saving. I put aside at most 150 and at least 100 for con. Also decide what you are going to be spending the money on at con for trinkets and stuff(like if you decided to just get autographs or just nicknacks from the dealers room.) My food budget is like 150 for the weekend and I try not to use all of that(consuite is a lifesaver.) As for rooming, if you don't mind being with a few people, there are always some souls looking for help in paying the room bill...just depends on how desperate and how willing you'd be sleeping in the tub(Ive done it, don't judge me.) hope this helps

Date: 2011-09-16 02:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] charismaryllis.livejournal.com
speaking of which: don't forget, today's the last day to get a badge at $60.... although i suspect everyone on this thread already has theirs. ;)

Date: 2011-09-16 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] adrienneorpheus.livejournal.com
Can you reserve a fridge at the Marriott? This is relevant to my interests. Making your own food / buying it at a grocery store is really the easiest way to save money at con in my opinion, but of course there's only so much you can do with a coffee maker. Take away food is expensive especially if you eat it for all meals. I didn't realise until this year that consuite has food (been going since 06, I'm slow I guess) and despite my dietary restrictions I could actually eat a lot of what they offered so I'll definitely be hitting that up a lot next year

Date: 2011-09-22 07:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] milanthruil.livejournal.com
I have all the details for my upcoming Cons and my budget until next D*C listed out on a color-coded spreadsheet (in a kind of calendar form).

Though, due to random happenstance, I'll probably have to nix one of my cons because I won't have the money when it rolls around. :(


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