10 tips to having more money for cosplay!

Cosplay is such a wonderful hobby. But as most of us know, it can get expensive real fast! So how do you save more money in order to afford cosplaying? Well, you’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for answers.

In this post, we’ll go through 10 tips to having more money for cosplay.

Most of these tips are fairly easy to do right away, while a few others will surprise you. Let’s find out what they are.

Before we begin though, I recommend watching this helpful video on dividing your finances based on your needs, wants and savings. Friendly reminder in terms of finances, your own well-being and life priorities come first before cosplay!

Here we go!

1. Sell your old cosplays (CosSwapping)  

Nisaba.cosplay has a variety of characters that she cosplays. How does she afford all this? By CosSwapping of course!

I’ve seen a lot of cosplayers do this more often these days. I call this CosSwapping.

So after you’re done wearing a cosplay and took a bunch of photos with the costume, it’s time to sell it. They will go on Facebook marketplace groups to sell the costume at a discount, usually much cheaper than buying brand new at a cosplay store because it’s been used already. A lot of cosplayers will jump on the opportunity to buy a cosplay at a reduced cost.

After they sell the costume, they will use that to fund their next cosplay. Then they wear it, use it, take lots of photos of it, and then sell it. Rinse and repeat!  

By doing CosSwapping, you’ll be saving a lot of money and closet space. And more importantly, you’ll have a much bigger portfolio of cosplay photos to share on social media or with friends/family.

2. Save up a portion of your earnings  

A little bit goes a long way, especially when it comes to savings! Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay.

This is an old fashioned advice, but it’s so true. The key to having money for cosplay is by saving up your earnings. So after you take home a paycheque from your job, be sure to put away a portion of it towards cosplay. And you’ll soon see that you’ll have plenty of money to spend on a new costume. Depending on your budget and the amount of money you make, you can afford to spend on cheaper or more expensive cosplays.  

Which brings me to my next point…    

3. Do more casual or closet cosplays  

Closet cosplays look great and can save you a lot of $$$! Photo taken by mayucosart. Edited by eckhardt.photos.

Who says you have to buy or make fancy dresses or armored cosplays all the time? Unless you’re loaded with money, you’ll find that doing these costumes will break your bank account real fast!  

Fortunately, there are lots of budget-friendly cosplay options available. For example, if you opt for characters with regular clothing such as from Pokémon or Slice of Life Anime, it’ll be much cheaper to cosplay as you can find their gear in regular clothing stores.

In fact, there are a lot of characters you can cosplay by wearing the stuff that’s already in your closet! If you’re interested in finding some closet cosplay ideas, click here to check out my article regarding closet cosplays!

4. Compare prices with many different cosplay websites  

See which website has the best offer when it comes to costumes.

If you’re like me and very frugal and picky with money, you’ll likely enjoy window shopping and comparing prices first before buying. Well, you should do the same when it comes to cosplay shopping!   Chances are, you’ll find several cosplay stores selling the same character costume, especially from a popular series (e.g. Genshin Impact).   Here are some things to look for, when comparing:  

  • The price
  • What items and accessories are included with the costume
  • Shipping and processing costs
  • Refund/exchange policy
  • Are the photos real or fake?

 To save money, take the time to go through various cosplay websites and see which one has the best offer! If you want a comparison of cosplay websites, click here to check out my article about it.

5. Reuse older cosplay materials for newer ones

I’ve used these boots for several different cosplays! Photo taken and edited by koryberezowsky.

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.

6. Shop at thrift stores

Love Live! cosplay
You can find some good deals at thrift stores to help build your cosplay. Cosplayer: Breathelifeindeeply. Taken by EvilSanity.

Thrift stores are a popular place for cosplayers. Why? Because you find cosplay materials and footwear at a basement bargain prices! Instead of spending $50 on a jacket, maybe you’ll find one at Goodwill or Salvation Army for only $5.   You can truly save a lot of money on cosplays with thrift stores. However, the biggest downside is trying to find the items you need. Getting the right clothing or footwear or accessory involves quite a bit of luck. Sometimes you’ll find the perfect colored shoe, but it’s the wrong size. Or you find right pair of pants, but they’re way too small for you. Or you don’t find any items you’re looking for at all. If you’re hopping from thrift store to thrift store, you could be spending hours and wasting your time looking for the right items, when you could have bought it online and got it over with.    

7. Borrow exchange with friends

Me and my friend temporarily exchanging cosplays. Another wonderful way to save money on cosplay!

This is a great way to utilize cosplays and save money. Maybe you’re bored of cosplaying Evelynn from League of Legends, but perhaps your friend always wanted to be a KDA member…what better way than to borrow and exchange costumes with each other? You’ll both have a new cosplay to wear at the next convention, and you’ll also have some new cosplay photos to share on social media! And how much will it cost to do this? 0 dollars!

With that said, you and your friend will need to be a similar size and height. Therefore, if you’re a smol bean and your friend has bigger curves, your costumes probably won’t fit each other.

However, you don’t need to be EXACTLY the same size. I know when I exchanged costumes with my friend, I’m quite taller than him and he is a bit bigger than I am. But our costumes fit perfectly fine on each other. At the very least, you can always try it on and see.  

Also, you want to be sure to keep your friend’s costume in good condition while it’s in your care. It’s one thing to wreck your own cosplay, but another to ruin your friend’s costume! Hence, be extra careful with it.

8. Buying used cosplays  

Cosplayers are always selling their costumes, so be on the lookout so you can pick them up at a discount.

Buying a used cosplay will always be cheaper than commissioning one brand new. Most of the time, used cosplays are in great shape!  

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!

9. Collect coupons and wait for sales/discounts

I got this Kaeya cosplay at a reduced price!

Coupon hording not only works for buying groceries, but also for cosplay! If you like to make your own costumes, then you’ll be pleased to know that many fabric and art stores regularly give out coupons for their products. The best thing to do is to collect these coupons and wait for a big sale to use them, which is quite often actually. When you wait for a sale to buy some fabric, buy in bulk and on top of using your coupons, you’ll be saving a lot of money! And saving a lot of money is never a bad thing as cosplayer.  

Even if you’re like me and generally only buys cosplays, you should also keep an eye out for money-saving events such as:  

  • Flash sales. Sometimes these stores will have sales for 1-3 days.
  • Limited time offers. Cosplay stores always have cosplays on sale or at a reduced price!
  • Pre-sales. i.e. opt in to buy a costume before a store decides to mass produce. If they don’t, you get your deposit back. If they do, you’ll get your costume at a big discount! That’s what happened to me when I bought my Kaeya cosplay!
  • Clearance deals on cosplay websites online. If a costume is old or not selling well, they’ll usually end up in the clearance section where you can buy for much cheaper.

Speaking of Clearance section, that brings me to my last point:  

10. Consider buying older cosplays  

Ryuko Matoi from Kill La Kill
Ryuko is still a popular and fun choice to cosplay! Photo by Stefan Schubert. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Yes, you’ll get more cosplay hype and engagement when you do current popular cosplays. But they’re also the most expensive to buy. So definitely consider cosplaying characters that are older and less popular now, especially if you enjoyed them in the past.   Good examples are Kill La Kill, Danganronpa and Gurren Laggan. All these series are older and past their peak hype, but they’re still popular in the community! And if you buy from a cosplay store, they’ll definitely be cheaper now because they’re older.    


To summarize, here are the 10 tips to having more money for cosplay:  

  1. Sell your old cosplays (CosSwapping)
  2. Save up a portion of your earnings
  3. Do more casual or closet cosplays
  4. Compare prices with many different cosplay websites
  5. Reuse older cosplay materials for newer ones
  6. Shop at thrift stores
  7. Borrow exchange with friends
  8. Buying used cosplays
  9. Collect coupons and wait for sales/discounts
  10. Consider buying older cosplays  

And there you have it; 10 tips to having more money for cosplay!  

Let me know what you think in the comments below, and what your cosplay plans are!

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