Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Budgeting National

Yesterday I finally got my prep/packing list done and my schedule organized. Like MaryF and Ember Case, I have a color-coded Excel spreadsheet of my whole schedule, including workshop possibilities. It's too big to print so I'm going to transfer the highlights each day. Usually the program has a place to fill in your schedule, and there are some author groups that make schedule cards for the goody room. They promote their work and the schedules are really handy.

So I was doing laundry this morning and started thinking about money. Some budget items are already spent, which is both a relief and misleading, because the conference registration and flight are half the cost of the whole event. I don't count new clothes in the budget, because they usually carry over to non-conference stuff. But then the little things really add up--tips for everyone, food, drinks, lattes, books, souvenirs...I start getting anxious thinking I won't be prepared.

Here's how my budget breaks down, beginning to end:

Conference registration, early...$325
I always plan to attend, and save the money to attend, so far in advance I can easily catch the early-bird registration fee.

Flight, booked in March...$320
I hate this part. I search and search for good fares, wait a little bit hoping they'll go down, then suddenly they jump up and I kick myself for not getting it when it was $265. Then someone else books a month after I do and pays half what I did. *sigh*

Shuttle from aiport to hotel and back, booked this morning...$29.00
The Atlanta Link, half the cost of a cab and easier than MARTA, save $2 each way booking online! But I'll be arriving at rush hour, something I didn't consider. Bah.

Hotel, sharing with two other people...$325
Plus whatever meals/drinks/Internet I charge to the room. Last time I was in the bar a lot, but not the two times before that.

Tips...$30-50
This is a really rough estimate. I have to tip the hotel cleaning staff [and am unsure how much--is $3 a night each for three people fair?], the concierge for holding my bags, the driver of the shuttle, cabbies, and bellhops if I let them help me with my bags, which I probably won't and then will feel guilty for

Books...$50
This is a low budget for me. I usually spend more than double that at the Literacy Signing, but I have to be more careful this year. Includes raffle tickets for cool chapter gift baskets.

Food...$200
This is the biggie. The conference offers continental breakfast on Friday and Saturday, and I have lunch covered on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and dinner on Friday, but I hate to say no when friends want to go out the other days, even if it's an expensive place. These meals are the best opportunity to meet and hang with people you don't know, or people you know but only see at National.

So, grand total? About $1300. And remember, that doesn't include travel shopping for clothes or toiletries or zip ties for the luggage and so on. Is the event worth it?

Hell yeah.

Tomorrow I'll tell my elevator story as an example of what not to do at a National conference.

5 comments:

Ember Case said...

Yikes!
I'm a bit afraid to think about how much I'm spending. I decided to wait til the end to total it all up, then I can tell myself "It was worth it!"

Natalie Damschroder said...

No matter what happens, it will be worth it. :)

Also, it's tax deductible!

MaryF said...

Urgh. I don't even want to think about it. I don't share my hotel room since I bring my family....and they spend $$$ all on their own.

MaryF said...

Oh, dear. I just did mine and it's $2400. That's with my chapter paying for my conference fee!

Natalie Damschroder said...

Ouch, Mary! I'm sorry I inspired youi to do that. :(