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GasparAKAShiggitay

The Otakon 2016 "How Much Money Should I Bring" Thread

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Hey all... so since there's gonna be likely a lot of new Otakonites lol attending this year, I thought I'd start a thread about how much money one should bring with them for the weekend.

☻ As stated in another thread try and have cash on you for not only the Dealer's Room/Artist's Alley but for food places around the Inner Harbor, as this makes it a bit easier and faster for vendors to get paid.

☻ The ATMs tend to empty super fast during such a busy/crazy weekend for the city, so try and take out some money before the con on Thursday to help alleviate that for yourself.


Now, in terms of "how much should I bring?" well that depends on how much you want to spend at the Dealer's Room etc... or how fancy you want to eat when you and your group goes out to eat somewhere. Budgeting is key. I'd say bring at least $300 with you (besides your hotel room share) and if you can budget around that for food and/or swag to take home that'd be great. If you can save/bring more? More power to you. I personally hope to have my paycheck of that week as well as my PTO (Paid Time Off) check available to me for Otakon weekend... which I think should be around $800, but who knows what my PTO is gonna be this year...

That's all I can think of for now, but anyone can feel free to add to what I said so far.

-Shiggitay

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Terrific suggestions!

 

Paid Time Off -- those sure are magical words!  :)

 

Personally, I always budget too low -- food always costs more than I thought, and there's always stuff in the dealer's room and artist's alley that I didn't know I wanted -- so just a suggestion, but you all might want to bring more money than you think you'll need.

 

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15 minutes ago, EdKitten said:

Terrific suggestions!

 

Paid Time Off -- those sure are magical words!  :)

 

Personally, I always budget too low -- food always costs more than I thought, and there's always stuff in the dealer's room and artist's alley that I didn't know I wanted -- so just a suggestion, but you all might want to bring more money than you think you'll need.

 

 

Haha I did that my first couple of years attending cons (not just Otakon) and many times I'd get home with $10 or less left.. >_> <_<

 

3 minutes ago, ed12345 said:

problem with money is no matter how much you bring its really never enough

 

+1.

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59 minutes ago, GasparAKAShiggitay said:

 

Haha I did that my first couple of years attending cons (not just Otakon) and many times I'd get home with $10 or less left.. >_> <_<

 

 

+1.

 

"$10 or less" -- sounds like me, sometimes.  Amazing that buying 2 sandwiches at McDonald's nowadays sometimes costs more than $10.  "Money comes and goes so quickly here."  :) 

 

I totally agree:  "no matter how much you bring its really never enough."  There's always so much great stuff in the Dealer's room and Artist Alley to wonder about buying or not.

 

 

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Another way to have "money" on you is if you're of age to have one have a credit card to use. I have one and it's more than half maxed at $2900/$4500 prolly to due interest building on it... By Otakon I hope to have it lower, but yeah. If you have a credit card and you're more responsible with it than I've been, you could theoretically use that too to get stuff at the con.

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Budgeting is important for any congoer. There's a bit of a balancing problem though, since when you're at the con you'll understandably want to get the most from the experience (and your money) but prices inside the convention center and the Inner Harbor are quite high. A meal inside the convention center will likely be at least $8.00 for the cheapest vendor meal and can easily reach $15.00 or more per person. Meals in the Inner Harbor are usually even higher priced although the quality is much better. Starting from the top, you should determine travel costs and hotel/transit. Hotels in and around the con area will be pricier than if you get a place a couple miles away but if you drive in you have to pay gas and parking. Either way, it'll be about 300-400 a day for a double room near the con, and closer to 100-150 a day if you go farther out. Sharing a room will cut down the cost at the price of privacy, so if you're there for Friday and Saturday only it'll be around 100-150 total for a 3 or 4 way split on a room. Food, if you're running on the cheap end, will probably be around 45.00 a day. I'd recommend bringing water with you for the reg line if you're tight on cash-there'll be locals selling drinks for like a dollar a bottle or so but its still cheaper to bring your own. So bare bones you'll need around 300 not counting travel or the con membership. If you want to buy goodies or spend more on food then you'll need extra. More is always better, of course. I usually bring around 1,000-1,500 for four nights and it leaves me with some money leftover.

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2 hours ago, ed12345 said:

also a tip is cook your breakfast at home and bring it with you.  Thats what i do for all cons so i save a bit of money each day doesnt make a huge difference but it does help.

I bring my rice cooker plus vegetables and cheese and similar to my hotel room, so I can make a simple yet low cost dinner.

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Awesome suggestions guys. Even though I'm an experienced con goer of several cons besides Otakon these tips are helpful. Keep em coming!

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Major tip for cheap food: My secret go-to place for years now has been Lenny's.  It's in the same building as the Cheesecake factory, right across from it but it's cheap, it's fast, and it tastes great.  It's usually not even crowded during Otakon because it's in a bit of a nook and people pass it by.  As it's our last year in Otakon, I am willing to give up my secret, easy and cheap food spot.  Its cheap and you get a good, hot meal which can really help keep your energy up.

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13 hours ago, KuhnKuhn said:

Major tip for cheap food: My secret go-to place for years now has been Lenny's.  It's in the same building as the Cheesecake factory, right across from it but it's cheap, it's fast, and it tastes great.  It's usually not even crowded during Otakon because it's in a bit of a nook and people pass it by.  As it's our last year in Otakon, I am willing to give up my secret, easy and cheap food spot.  Its cheap and you get a good, hot meal which can really help keep your energy up.

Lenny's Deli? Unfortunately that seems a bit far to walk, especially in the Baltimore august heat...

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2 hours ago, windseeker said:

Lenny's Deli? Unfortunately that seems a bit far to walk, especially in the Baltimore august heat...

Well does a light rail or metro go there?

it's a 20 min walk if you walk it.... or from near the Charles Center metro station you can take a #28 bus (18 min)... 

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/The+Baltimore+Convention+Center,+1+West+Pratt+Street,+Baltimore,+MD+21201/Lenny's+Deli,+1150+E+Lombard+St,+Baltimore,+MD+21202/@39.2878654,-76.6085615,16z/data=!4m8!4m7!1m2!1m1!1s0x89c80360f5a421a9:0xd3299969b90b590d!1m2!1m1!1s0x89c804815d7507c1:0x9aecb91452ba927d!3e2

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On 4/12/2016 at 9:30 PM, windseeker said:

Lenny's Deli? Unfortunately that seems a bit far to walk, especially in the Baltimore august heat...

There was one right in the Harborplace and Gallery, but unfortunately it was removed. I'm betting that's the location the original poster was referencing. Very sad news, it was a great restaurant :( 

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7 hours ago, grimacedia said:

There was one right in the Harborplace and Gallery, but unfortunately it was removed. I'm betting that's the location the original poster was referencing. Very sad news, it was a great restaurant :( 

Seconded.  Oh well, I suppose I'll just have to take the bus to Attman's, then.

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16 hours ago, grimacedia said:

There was one right in the Harborplace and Gallery, but unfortunately it was removed. I'm betting that's the location the original poster was referencing. Very sad news, it was a great restaurant :( 

----, when did that happen? It was there just last year.  Well ----...I have no love or fondness left for Baltimore now.

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On ‎4‎/‎10‎/‎2016 at 4:18 PM, ed12345 said:

also a tip is cook your breakfast at home and bring it with you.  Thats what i do for all cons so i save a bit of money each day doesnt make a huge difference but it does help.

We bring a crock pot and liners for it, and just make all our meals at the hotel. Do your prep work at home, dump into a freezer bag, keep in cooler, dump in lined crock pot before you leave hotel room for the day = yummy dinner waiting when you come back to the room for a break. We might order take-out once during the weekend. Between the two of us we rarely spend more than $30 on food/drink while there.

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Something that's helped me out in the past would be to bring $20 in cash as emergency money - don't plan on spending it, just keep it on you at all times.  You never know when it might come in handy!  

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On 4/20/2016 at 0:21 AM, Irvette232 said:

We bring a crock pot and liners for it, and just make all our meals at the hotel. Do your prep work at home, dump into a freezer bag, keep in cooler, dump in lined crock pot before you leave hotel room for the day = yummy dinner waiting when you come back to the room for a break. We might order take-out once during the weekend. Between the two of us we rarely spend more than $30 on food/drink while there.

That's an awesome idea! How much is a good crock pot? What kinds of food did you guys make? Also, isn't it dangerous to leave it cooking when you're away at the con all day?

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5 hours ago, GasparAKAShiggitay said:

That's an awesome idea! How much is a good crock pot? What kinds of food did you guys make? Also, isn't it dangerous to leave it cooking when you're away at the con all day?

You can buy actual "Crock Pot" brand ones for like $20-30 now. They have them in all sizes. Mine's a 4 quart. We do pretty much anything we want in it. Last year we had: Stuffed Peppers, lasangna, and beef stew. Previous years we've done spinach mac-n-cheese, pasta dishes, stews, and chicken and dumplings. We do ALL the prep work at home and store it in freezer bags or those plastic take-out containers in the cooler. So we don't make a mess we always bring the slow cooker liners. Easiest clean up ever - just throw it away.

As for being dangerous, i don't feel it is. I'm sure there will be varying opinions on that. It's really no different than leaving a light on when you leave the house. Unless there's a power surge, someone deliberately knocks it over, or you have a dumb and put it on a fabric surface, then you should be ok. It's made to be set on your counter or table, turned on and walked away from for hours at a time. They even advertise that it's great for working families who can put their meals in it in the morning, turn it on and leave the house for work and school, then come home to ready dinner. It pretty much amounts to as long as you're not being stupid or irresponsible about how you're using - then it should be ok.

 

I also have a fire retardant silicon mat - made to set hot casserole/pots/dishes on - that i put underneath the slow cooker - ontop of the solid FLAT surface of the desk as an additional "just in case" precaution.

 

Quick edit: I leave mine on at home all the time. I used to work quad shifts and had no desire to cook when i came home. Set it in the morning - ready when i got home. When it's done cooking it just switched to "warm" to keep the food heated.

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A crock pot is a great idea if you're driving, but might add some extra weight to your luggage if flying. Still, bringing your own food (so long as it's healthy) is a great idea. If your hotel room has a fridge or one of your roommates has a cooler, try to coordinate to have everyone bring something for room meals to cut down on eating out when possible. 

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One year I opened a credit card solely for Otakon. Do I really need to elaborate on how that was a terrible decision?

Anyway, this year I'm keeping it to $100 for food and another $200 for merchants and artists. I'm running out of room for all this stuff.

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Know another good way to mitigate expenses? Gofering! I've gofered the last 2 years and had a great time. Every 4 hours you get a meal coupon for the BCC which gets you a decent enough meal. Work enough hours and you can get a badge refund and hotel reimbursement. If you don't want to miss any programming you could just gofer two shifts on Thursday and get two meals (plus a gofer t-shirt).

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I actually don't spend a lot in the dealers room. I don't like having tons of stuff, and I only live in a one bedroom apartment. I use a lot of my money just getting to Otakon. Gotta get a plane ticket from Cali.

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On 5/15/2016 at 7:22 PM, totalanimefan said:

I actually don't spend a lot in the dealers room. I don't like having tons of stuff, and I only live in a one bedroom apartment. I use a lot of my money just getting to Otakon. Gotta get a plane ticket from Cali.

I'm in the same boat. I just have way too much stuff already, I can't justify adding more! My exception used to be artwork, but now all the walls are covered :) 

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On 5/10/2016 at 6:27 PM, Otaku Ru said:

One year I opened a credit card solely for Otakon. Do I really need to elaborate on how that was a terrible decision?

Anyway, this year I'm keeping it to $100 for food and another $200 for merchants and artists. I'm running out of room for all this stuff.

I actually opened a credit card just for booking hotels for Otakon. I mostly don't regret it, but it tends to get used for food purchases that weekend too. 

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4 hours ago, grimacedia said:

I actually opened a credit card just for booking hotels for Otakon. I mostly don't regret it, but it tends to get used for food purchases that weekend too. 

Yeah, I do like to throw incidentals on my credit card as I don't like the hotel putting dents in my main cash source over the weekend. 

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I've always saved a good deal of money by not purchasing anime in the dealer's room. Most of the stuff you can get for half the price on Amazon or eBay and I prefer to save my money for unusual things that you're more likely to find at a con. Point in case, several years ago I held off buying a collector's box set and was a lot happier when I had enough money to buy a rare set of Claymore mini-figs from Japan that I found the next day.

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Really the only reason to buy anime at the convention is if you want to get some of those pre autographed covers that Funimation will give you if you buy 2 or more items.

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I used to buy figures at cons, but once I started collecting seriously I saw how much the prices were marked up at events and stopped buying them at cons. Unless I find one of my holy grail figures, I'll probably just be getting a few charms or keychains here and there. Anything Overwatch related... :P But I'm bringing about $250-300 for merch and food.

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10 hours ago, Kristin Garrett said:

I used to buy figures at cons, but once I started collecting seriously I saw how much the prices were marked up at events and stopped buying them at cons. Unless I find one of my holy grail figures, I'll probably just be getting a few charms or keychains here and there. Anything Overwatch related... :P But I'm bringing about $250-300 for merch and food.

See, here I was completely fine with my humble budget of $300, but you had to go and mention the possibility of Overwatch merch... RIP wallet.

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The past few years, about $400-$450 does it for me. And then I feel dirty for spending so damn much money, but not dirty enough to not do it again next year.

But I also live nearby in the county, so I don't pay for a hotel, I can hit ATMs that actually have money in them around here, and the light rail is like, $15 for the whole weekend or less. And I tend to bring food with me, because getting food anywhere down there tends to take forever. I spent a lot less at Zenkaikon, but it was also a smaller con with a smaller dealer's room, and I had to spend money on a hotel for that one. So I spent about $200 instead.

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On Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 3:38 PM, Sonaeru said:

Yeah, I do like to throw incidentals on my credit card as I don't like the hotel putting dents in my main cash source over the weekend. 

Dude! That's an awesome idea! I'mma steal it. Thanks! haha

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On 6/7/2016 at 8:06 PM, Sonaeru said:

See, here I was completely fine with my humble budget of $300, but you had to go and mention the possibility of Overwatch merch... RIP wallet.

Right? I wasn't caring about Overwatch earlier this year, then I DOVE headfirst into it in Open Beta and... oh lawdy am I obsessed. Cosplaying DVa, gonna buy ALL the merch @_@

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In the past few otakons, I've honestly pre-cooked a lot of my meals. Since I stay at a friend's spot during the weekend and he lives like 8 mins away from the harbor, there's no real point in eating at a restaurant a majority of the time. So I figure it's better to meal prep and actually sustain some healthy eating regimen. I bring a few Tupperware with me so I can keep to a stable eating schedule. Also, I'll bring some health snacks like fruit and almonds in case I don't really have time to heat up my meal. I may go out to eat once or twice during the weekend. As far as having money for merch, I might buy an original work or booklet/manga which I know the actual artist will be there and get it signed. In most cases, I'll just buy what I saw off eBay or Amazon since it'll be half price.

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My minimum OTAFUND is going to be less than I originally thought this year.  Mainly because there really isn't a whole lot of stuff I want to splurge on down in the Dealer Room & Artist Alley.  Part of it may be the fact I have to also keep $$ in hand for the State Fair and perhaps the Balto. Comic-Con.  As a commuter, I usually set aside about $50 for food, drink, and transportation.  The rest I spend on the goodies, and while there are plenty of goodies I still want, it's still best to shop smartly.  Sometimes there will be something really sweet for less that you may discover in the 'Alley than you would find similar in the 'Room.  Sometimes it's the other way around.

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I always budget at least a couple hundred dollars for various stuff throughout the weekend. I tend to spend a lot in Artist's Alley, and after getting familiar with it last year, some of it might go into the Art Show again depending on if anything catches my eye. Dealer's Room, on the other hand, is a place where I've learned to reign in my consumption, as the range of stuff I'm willing to buy in there has shrunk over time (I tend to avoid buying t-shirts, most anime sets unless they're hard to find or offer incentives from the publisher, and most if not all manga as I consume it too quickly.) My food plan gets augmented by some of my perks of staffing, but I always have an ample stash of snacks and drinks to power through it all. My personal must-haves in that regard is at least one large, sharable bag of Skittles and a gallon of lemonade iced tea. They're practically my convention life-blood.

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The first year DH and I attended, we had newb written all over our faces because we spent WAY too much (not including hotel). What gets us every year is the auction because we really enjoy finding original art for sale and not just prints - own too many of those and had to dial that back. Though, we have noticed the auction getting more cut throat each year and the great pieces we won in 2012 for starting bid would now likely go to live auction well before the end.

Anyway, we use a mix of check card and cash for food (usually check card outside of the con; cash inside the con), but most of the cash goes toward dealer's room/artist alley. We charge the hotel and the auction because we get rewards for it and pay it all off the next month. As the years progress, we've reigned in our spending a lot because we know other places to buy certain stuff cheaper and we have too much stuff with no where to put it! I like getting t-shirts there because I can feel and hold them up to see if they fit. We don't collect figures and usually hold off on DVDs because online is cheaper.

We do save a bit on food because we'll bring muffins, croissants and small stuff in the room for breakfast. The croissants also double as lunch by bringing some lunch meat/cheese with condiment packets. Granola and protein bars are good to bring into the con because they take up little space and hold up well. Last year, we attempted bringing sandwiches with us into the con for lunch but that didn't work well...they slid and were a mess. Something I'll repeat this year is making and bringing homemade mac n cheese in a big container that we reheat in portions in the microwave - turned out great! We also stock up on Ramune for the fridge and bring festive snacks like Pocky, Choco Baby, and Every Burger - yum! Last year, we also brought these and they tucked right in our stuff...reused them by giving them a quick wash in the sink!

This year, we'll probably bring about $300 in spending money since we have no other vacations planned this year.

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I'm very pleased that people are still posting to this thread, especially since I started it back on April 8th. All of you have been giving awesome spending/money management advice that even for me being a going 8 year come this year Otakon veteran has helped me a lot (yeah that phrasing sucked, but I'm sure you get the idea). 

35 minutes ago, MalefiStitch said:

The first year DH and I attended, we had newb written all over our faces because we spent WAY too much (not including hotel). What gets us every year is the auction because we really enjoy finding original art for sale and not just prints - own too many of those and had to dial that back. Though, we have noticed the auction getting more cut throat each year and the great pieces we won in 2012 for starting bid would now likely go to live auction well before the end.

Anyway, we use a mix of check card and cash for food (usually check card outside of the con; cash inside the con), but most of the cash goes toward dealer's room/artist alley. We charge the hotel and the auction because we get rewards for it and pay it all off the next month. As the years progress, we've reigned in our spending a lot because we know other places to buy certain stuff cheaper and we have too much stuff with no where to put it! I like getting t-shirts there because I can feel and hold them up to see if they fit. We don't collect figures and usually hold off on DVDs because online is cheaper.

We do save a bit on food because we'll bring muffins, croissants and small stuff in the room for breakfast. The croissants also double as lunch by bringing some lunch meat/cheese with condiment packets. Granola and protein bars are good to bring into the con because they take up little space and hold up well. Last year, we attempted bringing sandwiches with us into the con for lunch but that didn't work well...they slid and were a mess. Something I'll repeat this year is making and bringing homemade mac n cheese in a big container that we reheat in portions in the microwave - turned out great! We also stock up on Ramune for the fridge and bring festive snacks like Pocky, Choco Baby, and Every Burger - yum! Last year, we also brought these and they tucked right in our stuff...reused them by giving them a quick wash in the sink!

This year, we'll probably bring about $300 in spending money since we have no other vacations planned this year.

^ ^ ^ ^

Especially the above quote. Keep it coming guys. I'd say feel free to keep posting until the automatic archiving of threads that happens every so often. Information for the masses!

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I second the practice of 'cash at the con, card outside of the con'. I use my cash as my actual convention merch budget. My fiance and I have a joint banking account, and we use that for our meals during conventions. Having my convention budget (this year $300) as cash makes it impossible for me to overspend, and for me, really helps me visually see how much I have left in my funds.

What I strongly urge, though, is that you do NOT bring all of your con budget with you to the con floor. I tend to bring $100 or so the first time I go so I can scope things out, and then I come back with whatever I need. You don't want to have $300 napped out of your bag/pocket.

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Hi,...Lot of the money seems to be spent in the dealers room I think . As time moved forward, vendors gravitated to charge card options as opposed to cash only. This seems to be the major dent. So the rest is just regular spending that you would spend anywhere really. Don't forget to budget in tips you are going to leave at your hotel. You do need to carry cash. How much is your personal choice. You can use an ATM to get more if you need it. Even a cash card opens security concerns so good ole cash. Accepted everywhere. Lol.  Spend it wisely. As a suggestion Do not buy bootlegs if you find them. Since it's not the real thing .  You probably won't run into that but If you do I would  notify Otakon Staff walking the floor about it. 

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I usually bring $500 cash- it helps limit my spending, and I also take parking expenses into account (I drive and stay in the same garage all weekend)  Our hotel has an amazing breakfast, and we bring copious amounts of food to share so the only night food is an addition expense is when we go to diner Sunday night.

That usually leaves me more than enough for artist alley, dealers, and gifts for friends.

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$300-$350 for Dealers Room, Food, etc.

That's my limit!

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Between hotel, food, and merch, if I can leave Baltimore having spent less than $1200, I'll be pretty pleased.  My usual budget for all con expenses is around $1500, although that's generally pretty flexible.

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I just need to know when the list of Artist Alley will be out. I tend to like buying webcomics there, then I'll have a better idea of how much I plan to spend, but they seem to be taking their sweet time on this

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I'm in the middle of planning for my wedding in November, so I need to be tighter on my budget this year. So probably no more than $500 max.


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I am hoping to go with at least 500-600 for spending. Not all on dealer's room more like:

Food: $50-100 in case i have to eat at pricey places

Dealer's room/artist alley - merchandise of course and always best to have cash on you for artist alley. Its easier to keep track of what you spend than always swiping your card.

Parking - at my hotel it says it is about $29/day though I have help I need to make sure this is covered as well!

Anything else if if i only REALLY REALLY want it and think I won't find it anywhere cheaper or online or at other cons. Always keep this in mind. It best to scan through the dealer's room first then sum out which booths have the best prices because a lot of times, tables tend to carry the same things as others ^_^

I did not include cost of hotel only because I have others staying with me and I do not count that as the budget towards attending the con because if that was the case it would probably be like I have to bring about 1k or so.

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It helps to have a few things in mind that you definitely want to get. For me, I am hoping that Funimation has High School DxD season 3 early. Then I will get something else at the Funimation table for their usual buy 2 and get an autographed cover deal. Other than that, I may see if the Video Games New York table has the Gal Gun USA version limited edition for not way too crazy of a markup. The retail price on it is $100, so I wouldn't be surprised to see them trying to sell it for $200. I'm hoping the exclusive DLC is cross buy so I can just get the regular version for Vita.

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