As you guys know, I am a broke college student. So one question I always get is “can you afford to Cosplay”? The answer is simple: I coupon, look at sales ads, remember sales patterns, and plan ahead. I used to work at Jo-Ann’s Fabric and Crafts so let me give you a few pointers to help minimize your costs!
Before you start shopping you need to plan. Here is what you need to do for the planning phase:
1- Check the cosplay store’s coupon and transaction policies. You need to see how many coupons they take per transaction and other policies related to coupon usage.
2- See if they take competitor coupons and how many you can use per transaction.
3- Print out ads for price matching, to see what is on sale and what is not, and for the coupons on the adds.
4- Look at how much fabric you need per costume and plan how much you want to get and can afford.
5- Print and clip many coupons. If you get coupons via email you can print many of them to use!
6- Memorize sales patterns. I will write another mini article to help you learn.
Remember that Cosplay is an expensive hobby but with some math and proper planning you can save some dough using the points above. The basics of Cosplay couponing reside in basic arithmetic that can be done in Excel. You will use your basic multiplication, addition, percentages, and subtraction (you just need to input the formulas into Excel so it does it for you). You also need to print out the coupons to plan dates for purchasing, the number of transactions, and how much to purchase.
In order to plan your shopping trip make note of each item in Excel. You will need to follow these steps:
1- Write the Yardage you need for every fabric item, it’s current price, and item number (in case you need it found ,custom ordered, on a rain check, or if they run out)
2- Note if the item is on sale when you plan to go in (stores do not add % off for item if its already on sale and the %off total purchase is not applied to sale items)
3- Look at the coupons you have and apply the highest % off the most expensive items first on your list. Then go down to what is the least expensive and put the lowest % off on those items.
4-You can only use one of each coupon per transaction since the register will not accept two printed versions of the 50% of Jo-Ann’s coupon or of the mobile. You also cannot use a 40% of from Hancock Fabrics and then a $10 off total purchase from Hancock Fabrics; And you can only use ONE TYPE competitor coupon per transaction. You can use a coupon from Hobby Lobby, Micheal’s, and Hancock Fabrics in the same transaction, but you can only use one coupon from each store. Use this to split it into proper transactions.
5- Put all the on-sale fabrics on one transaction since coupons aside from % of total do not apply. Separate transactions based on number of coupons you have as shown in the image.
When you go shopping at Jo-Ann’s, have them put each transaction of fabric on a separate ticket or this will not work for you.
6- Separate transactions based on items on sale. Put all sale items in one transaction with your small items (buttons, zippers, etc.) to use the % off Total purchase. All items with a larger coupon should be split based on the picture shown.
7- When at the cut counter. You need a different ticket per transaction. If you put it all onto one ticket, then you cannot split orders.
8- Put the coupons in a labeled envelope for the listed transactions
9-The register is the scary part! Be able to recalculate on the fly if you wrote something down wrong. Sometimes registers have issues when you use too many coupons and I have managed to crash the register at Jo-Ann’s twice! To avoid the crashing risk, try using 4-5 coupons per transaction (I crashed it with about 8)