5 Ways to Cosplay on a Budget

General Amaya

Cosplay — especially budget cosplay — is something I have been doing for years, and am very passionate about! I love making my own costumes, and bringing my favorite characters to life. But the problem is that it can be expensive, and I oftentimes don’t want to spend several hundred dollars on a single costume. 

Plus, I love convincing other people to cosplay as well, and that can be hard to do when they think it will cost them a ton of money.

Fortunately, cosplay doesn’t have to be expensive! I’ve made many costumes for under $20, some even less! There’s lots of ways to be able to save money in cosplay, and cosplay on a budget, and here I’m going to talk about five. 

Of course, if you want to learn more about cosplaying on any budget, you can always check out my ebook, Cosplay on a Budget, for even more info on how to save money in your favorite hobby!

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

1) Planning Ahead

One of the first things to do if you want to avoid spending a ton of money on your costume is to plan ahead. This may seem like a small thing, but it is actually very important. If you don’t plan ahead, you may find yourself needing to buy more of a certain product, or find that you bought way too much, and ended up spending more money when you didn’t have to.

That’s why it’s so important to plan ahead, to know what you’ll be needing, and how much of it. Plus, by knowing exactly what you’re looking for, you can take your time looking around, to find the best deal.

2) Use what you Already Have

The second way you can save money in cosplay is by using and reusing things you already have. For example, my Lady Loki and my Wonder Woman cosplay both use the same wig — that way, I didn’t have to buy a new one! In addition, a lot of my closet and casual cosplays use the same pair of plain black trousers, which is super handy.

By taking some time to look through your closet, you may find a whole bunch of things that can be used for cosplay, and save yourself some money by not having to buy new things.

And this isn’t just for clothes or shoes, either! You can reuse props, maybe find a new use for an old tool or cosplay supply. There’s no point buying more of something if you can already reuse what you have at home! It’s a great way to save money.

3) Coupons, Sales, and Discounts

But you don’t always have everything you need right at home, and you may need to go out and buy some things. Unfortunatly, buying things full-price can get expensive. Fortunately, there is a solution! Coupons, sales, and discounts.

A lot of stores, whether online or in person, will have discount codes you can find if you look hard enough. Or else they’ll be running a sale, and you can save some money in buying a cosplay item or material you need. This is where planning ahead comes in handy — if you know what you’re looking for ahead of time, you can take your time in looking for the best deals and sales. 

4) Thrift Stores and Second-Hand Shops

Not everything has to be bought brand-new, either. Thrift stores and second hand shops are my absolute favorite places to go shopping for cosplay supplies. Whether it’s for a pair of shoes, a shirt or coat, or some curtains to turn into a cape, thrift store are full of all sorts of useful things. Instead of spending $40 for a pair of shoes I’ll be using for a single cosplay, I can spend $5 for something of similar quality. Plus, a lot of thrift stores help out or run different charities, so that’s always nice to support.

Some cosplays I’ve made almost entirely out of thrifted items — like my Dipper Pines cosplay from Gravity Falls. With the exception of the journal, hat, and wig, almost every part of the costume came from a thrift store! Same with my Mabel Pines cosplay; almost every part of the cosplay was something I bought from the thrift store, and then adjusted to make fit the character.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to make every single part of your cosplay. You don’t have to make any of it if you don’t want to! How much you make vs buy is totally up to you.

5) Get Creative!

The final tip I have for saving money in cosplay is to get creative. Just because something is supposed to be used in a certain way, doesn’t mean it has to be used that way. By taking some time to think things over, you can come up with some really creative (and cheap) solutions! 

You know the saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? That is very true for cosplay! What might be a torn and useless coat for one person might be a great source of free leather for a cosplayer. What might be a random piece of PVC pipe to one person could be just perfect for a cosplayer’s sword. See where I’m going with this? You can find cosplay supplies almost anywhere, and it can help you save a lot of money. It’s also part of the reason why I have so much stuff, because you never know! I could use this random piece of fabric or old pair of shoes for a cosplay some day! 

Final Tips

There you have it! Five different methods for saving money in cosplay! Hopefully, they’re as helpful to you as they have been for me. If they were, and you want to learn more about being able to cosplay for cheap, you may like my ebook, Cosplay on a Budget! It’s packed full of great tips and tricks to help you save money on cosplay, and make awesome things, no matter your budget! 

Because, after all, money shouldn’t stand in the way of you making cool things.

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