I wrote in an older blog post, that eventually I would get around to writing about Andrew Thigpen’s talk Thrifty Hopping at ILHC this past August.  If you would like to see the whole presentation he used, you can click on this link.

Below are the three main points I got out of the talk, for those who only want a quick summary. The TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read) version will be for the rest of you after that.

Three Points I Got From the Talk

  1. If you procrastinate on making preparations for attending an event, you pay for it.
  2. Learn how to wisely spend money at events/in general.
  3. Know what you want, so you can get the most out of your money.

TL;DR Breakdown

1. If you procrastinate on making preparations for attending an event, you pay for it.

Many people get indecisive about events, especially when they are on the same weekend. A perfect example of this out East is Jammin On the James and Hi-De-Hon (Baltimore Lindy Exchange) happening next week. I know several people who are still deciding which event to go to.  However lets say they decide to attend Jammin On the James. Housing filled up a week ago, so because they decided late most likely they will have to pay for a hotel room, which can be easily be 100+ dollars for the weekend.

To make this sink in, lets say I want to go to the Lone Star Championships. We will do a comparison of how much it would cost me if I prepared as early as possible to the situation if I wait until the last minute.

Type of Expense Early as Possible Last Minute
Registration 99 149
Flight 311 493
Food 120 180
Total $530 $822

For the flights I did a comparison of booking a flight for this weekend to Austin, compared to the date of the actual event. For food I did a comparison of eating out every meal (average of $15 per meal) compared to $30 a day, assuming one went to a local supermarket to stock up on food and only occasionally eat out a few times the weekend.

Savings = $292

So in short the longer you wait to make arrangements for events, the more likely you are to not be able to afford to go to other ones.

2. Learn how to wisely spend money at events/in general.

In his talk, Thigpen mentions eliminating “shadow” expenses. Basically the random unnecessary purchases you make on based impulse decisions. While frequently small, they can quickly add up and cost you potential swing dance events in the long run. Perfect example is this hand-puppet I have been wanting to get. Do I need it? No. Do I want it? Hell yes.

A way mentioned in the talk to save money at an event is limiting or eliminating eating out. If you are at a hotel event and eat out in the hotel every day, it is going to get expensive fast. But if you go to a nearby grocery store and get some food, you save a considerable amount of money.  This effect multiplies when you apply it to your everyday life. There are other ways to cut corners as well mentioned in Thigpen’s slides such as volunteering, not competing when it is expensive and et cetera. One way I have gotten into two events for free as a college student was finding events that gave scholarships/had raffles for free passes for college students and applying for them.

Also remember everything has an opportunity cost. Say you get a brand new television for the Superbowl that runs you about $600 dollars. In result you are now unable to attend several swing dance events because you used that cash. However it doesn’t just apply to money, often it can come to a situation of attending an event that has a great band versus an event that has competitions and long time friends you haven’t seen where there is an emotional opportunity cost. So when choosing to spend your money, pick things that will give you the most return for your buck which leads to the last point.

3. Know what you want, so you can get the most out of your money.

Do you ever have days that you think, “Man, I really want to spend money on something I don’t really want”. I’m going to guess no, yet oddly a lot of people will attend events not just in general but in the swing dance world based on just because its convenient or a friend is going even though it does not align up with their interests at all.

Like in Thigpen’s talk, listing out what you want is a great idea. I’ve done this like in the slides below:

Apache’s Event Preferences:

  • Has Lindy Hop, Balboa and/or Collegiate Shag
  • Party Atmosphere and/or Serious Learning Atmosphere
  • Has Some Form of Competitions
  • Has Either High Level of Dancers and/or Dancers I Know

Events I Have Attended Recently:

  • Camp Hollywood, ILHC, Lindustrial Revolution

In addition to knowing what you want, one thing definitely to do is research what people who have attended it think so you know the event fits what you are looking for. Ask friends you know who have attended the event, search on yehoodi or post a topic about it, look for event videos on youtube, just do whatever it takes so you don’t blindly make a decision.

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