As someone who’s frequented conventions enough in their lifetime, and have been through the good, the bad, & the ugly of the ‘capitalism on parade‘ which is the Dealer’s room, this is advice to live by. I guarantee you, whatever it is you wish to buy, there’s almost always another table farther back that is selling the same exact thing for half the price ~.~
Also, since usually it’s a situation of being a “No Refunds” policy for every dealer, walking around and taking note of the different tables and what you would like to buy is definitely a good strategy for saving the most money possible. There’s also the strategy, since you most likely have a smart phone, of checking Amazon.com or Ebay.com for whatever it is you want to buy, namely DVD box sets & Gundams/models/figurines, since you usually can find it way cheaper online -.- I’ve been burned far too many times to tell you that this is totally true; reason why I bought Gankutsuou from a dealer (P*ndora’s C*be) at Otakon for $50 vs. the S.A.V.E. box set that was released by Funimation a week later for $40 and available for as low as $20 from other sellers on Amazon.com X/ Sometimes you may just want to avoid buying certain things at the Dealer’s room altogether since this is usually the case, like DVD box sets.
Also, another strategy I’ve learned is to always delay buying wall scrolls until you’re absolutely certain that that’s what you wan to buy. Too many times I’ve bought it impulsively only to see something that I really want later on that I can’t afford now due to buying the freakin’ wall scroll ~.~ This, however, applies to most things you may want to buy impulsively from first site, which is another reason why you should walk around before buying stuff.
Another thing to be aware of is that things are cheaper on Sunday, since they’re trying to get rid of as much as they can before they have to ship everything back. One possible strategy is to, at the risk of whatever it is not being available on Sunday, waiting until Sunday to buy something so you can get it for cheaper than if you bought it Friday or Saturday.
Lastly, always remember that these dealer’s have physical locations to sell their inventory outside of the con premises, and to always ask for business cards. Just because you don’t have the money then and can’t afford something, doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to buy it ever again. These businesses almost always have an online site to sell their stuff that will ship at least nationally, so don’t be discouraged and feel pressured to buy things then, when it actuality you can wait until you’re in a more stable financial situation and can actually afford buying whatever it is you so desire.
As general advice, you never want to spend during the con to the point that you’re in dire financial straits post convention that you can barely afford paying for things you actually need to pay for…like gas, rent, and the like >.> These room’s are organized to make sure people coming in spend ALL THE $$$ in their possession and then some, but no one can afford to just buy everything they want and you should never spend a ton of money on the wants vs. the needs. You ‘needed’ to pay for the gas for the car, the parking, the hotel (depending), registration, and food, you ‘want’ to buy the $200 Gundam model, the $50 box set, $30 worth of manga, and so on but they aren’t necessary for you to survive, they’re luxuries (at best).
Perfect example, last year I spent
nearly all my money on going to Otakon 2011, which I couldn’t afford in the fist place. I had to ask my parents to foot the pre-reg and hotel bill…and for gas (something I haven’t done for the last few cons and in actuality hate doing), with the people I was carpooling paying for parking (which was only fair), and even then, I barely could afford the basics, let alone the wants. Fortunately, I’m not foolish enough to spend myself into debt, but I was foolish enough to ‘try to make this happen’ and I blame nobody but myself for doing so. Quite frankly, I plan to pay my parents back for the money I asked from them and then some, because my pride and guilty conscience could never let me live it down, and, fortunately, I’m not in that same position this Summer for Otakon 2012; granted, the job market being the way it is makes it severely difficult for anyone to find a job, let alone full-time employment, Go! post graduation uphill battles -.-
Anyway, the point is to be very cautious what you spend money on at a con, and to realize that it’s totally possible for you to buy the things you missed buying at a con at a later date when you actually can afford it. Don’t feel pressured to buying everything your eyes land on, which is most likely the case when it’s your first con (especially if your first con is at a convention center like Otakon or Anime Expo), and try to pace yourself and remember that there is life post con and you need to have money for that far more than having money for the few trinkets you find in the belly of the Dealer’s room.