Let’s face it, we ALL want to cosplay on a budget because we’re broke and cheap cosplayers! Whatever your situation may be, you want to cosplay as much as you can without breaking your wallet. Well look no further; this post will give you 10 amazing tips to help you do cosplay on a budget!
1. Buy second-hand cosplays to save more money for your budget.
The first and foremost advice for cosplay on a budget – you don’t have to buy or commission a brand new cosplay all the time; save money by purchasing cosplays from cosplayers who are selling theirs! Join a local Facebook sales group and buy second-hand cosplays from another cosplayer.
In most major cities, there are Buy/Sell/Trade (BST) groups on Facebook for this purpose. Either cosplayers are looking to sell their old costumes to make money for a new one, or they’re looking to buy used cosplays for cheap. These are usually cheaper than buying it new and you can resell them if your cosplays are collecting dust in the closet!
2. Purchase your budget cosplays from one source.
If you’re buying cosplay from a website like eBay or Taobao, sometimes a particular store may offer discounts or shipping incentives if you purchase multiple items at once on top of the cosplay, such as wigs, accessories and shoes. Why?
Because this saves the store the extra shipping and handling fees than if you were to purchase all of these items from different sources. You’ll also receive them packaged together, so it’s easier than having to track down multiple orders or having to pay custom fees multiple times. Let’s say you’re buying a Sasuke cosplay for example.
So rather than buying the wig, outfit and sandals from different retailers, you should buy them from the same store to save not only on shipping costs, but to also receive a discount from the store for buying a cosplay package.
3. Purchase generic items for your cosplay.
If you only need one particular product and not an entire cosplay outfit, it’s much cheaper to buy a “generic” item.
Did you know that when you buy a full cosplay set, you’re paying extra for the extra accessories? Many cosplay stores/suppliers market a specific wig or item for a specific character and mark up the price several times more than the exact same generic version of the item!
So next time if you only need one particular item, search for the generic product instead of a specific character. For example, if you wanted to cosplay Nezuko from Demon Slayer, try opting for an “80 cm black wig” instead of searching for “Nezuko wig.” You could have the same wig for half or less than half the price. You may even find a colour that suits your complexion and outfit better than the “character wig!” With that said, be mindful with wig quality; you want one that’s synthetic. That’s what cosplay on a budget with better quality; killing 2 birds with 1 stone!
4. Re-purposing your cosplay materials for multiple uses.
Cosplay on a budget isn’t just about saving money; it’s also making use of what you got! Who says that one cosplay can only be used for one character?
You can utilize specific parts of one cosplay for a different one. For example, those boots you wore for your Lucina cosplay can be used for the next Anime cosplay character that also wears boots. I personally have used my Roy Mustang cosplay boots for many other characters, like my Marth from Fire Emblem!
Versatile items that can be used for multiple cosplays and re-purpose items for new cosplays. You aren’t going to wear two cosplays at the same time, so if say, shoes can work for two characters, why not? If you don’t care too much for accuracy, you can pick something that looks similar to what a character wears and use them for multiple cosplays.
5. Save on shipping with group cosplay orders.
Chances are that you’re not the only one trying to cosplay on a budget. So get your friends together and buy in bulk!
If you are purchasing from online, shipping from overseas can get expensive. So purchase with friends to split the cost of shipping, and maybe even get free shipping if the order is large enough. This is especially true for contact lenses and orders from Taobao.
6. Sell your old and unused cosplays.
Going back to #2, sell your old cosplays after you’ve finished shooting with them or don’t plan on wearing them. Or trade them between friends. Unless you enjoy collecting cosplay (or are just a pathological hoarder), why not give older cosplays new homes and let someone else get some more wear out of them? I have an entire guide on selling used cosplays if you want to learn how to do this!
7. Create a Frankenstein’s Monster!
You’d be surprised with what you can do with a cosplay with stuff that’s lying in your home.
Got old clothes lying around that you don’t need anymore? How about that old curtain and bed sheet you’re thinking of replacing? Consider using your old stuff as material to make a new cosplay from scratch!
Thrift stores are great to buy lots of old clothes (aka fabric). Here are some ideas on how to recycle your old cosplays for better use.
8. Do Time-For-Prints (TFP) photography.
When it comes to cosplay photography, there are paid photoshoots and there are TFP shoots. While most experienced photographers will do paid photoshoots, you can opt for TFP shoots while budgeting. Time-for-prints (TFP) means neither party pays the other. This helps you as a cosplayer network with up-and-coming photographers, where you get content, and they can build up their portfolio. Win-win!
9. Attend local budget-friendly conventions.
Unlike out-of-town conventions where transportation and hotel costs are necessity, you literally save hundreds of dollars by not needing to book a hotel or transportation for a local con. Considering forgoing that U.S. convention and go to a smaller local one instead. You’ll be able to afford new cosplays as a result. As for having fun, smaller conventions can be just as fun as the big ones!
10. Make a birthday wish list, even if you do cosplay on a budget!
Is your birthday coming up? Are your friends asking you for ideas on presents? Why not make a Ko-Fi where everyone can contribute to a goal that lets you afford that next cosplay, and wear it to your party? Some people even gift entire cosplays!
Sample Patreon tier reward list
|My eternal gratitude for supporting me||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Vote in Patreon exclusive polls||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Regular selfies and updates||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|WIP, BTS, and preview my photos before anyone else||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Livestream once a month. Watch me game or do other stuff (I take requests!)||✔||✔||✔|
|Exclusive boudoir photoshoot never released anywhere else!||✔||✔|
|Choose a cosplay for me (<$100, no nudity, message me before pledging)||✔|
While watching Cosplay Music Videos on YouTube and browsing conventions photos on Facebook, you might be thinking most cosplayers are loaded with cash to afford all these costumes. But that is far from the truth! Many of us budget and use strategic options to afford new cosplays.
Let’s go through the 10 tips for doing cosplay on a budget:
- Buy second-hand cosplays to save more money for your budget.
- Purchase your budget cosplays from one source.
- Purchase generic items for your cosplay.
- Re-purposing your cosplay materials for multiple uses.
- Save on shipping with group cosplay orders.
- Sell your old and unused cosplays.
- Create a Frankenstein’s Monster!
- Do Time-For-Prints (TFP) photography.
- Attend local budget-friendly conventions.
- Make a birthday wish list, even if you do cosplay on a budget!