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As I prepare for the Bead & Button show, I have bead shopping and my bead budget on my mind.  Some years I have gone through the show and spent all my money in one aisle. Other years I had a well mapped out plan.  Most of my time I wander aimlessly buying whatever catches my eye as I suffer from stimulation overload.

So you hear "have a budget" all the time and that's easy enough - total cash on hand with credit available, add in first born, plan to eat crackers & oatmeal for 3 days, sleep 6 to a hotel room and there you go!  But a budget is more than a number - to get the most out of those dollars, you need a plan!

1. Research Tools. If you are planning on adding new tools, do a little research before the show and visit booths that sell them.  You can grab them in your hands, in some cases you can see a demonstration or give it a test drive.  This is the time to ask the experts questions and get some insider tips on using on a certain tool.  Decide beforehand if you will actually buy the tool there, have it shipped home or order it online when you get back.

2. Take stock of your bead boxes before you go.  What do you really need?  Most of us would probably say, nothing really, but I want everything!  I'm low on clasps, bugle beads, small faceted stones.  Those are on my list. 

3. Make a Plan.  Do you have focal beads that have been sitting in your bead box forever - snap a pic of it or bring it along to find some accents.  Smart shopping is a combination of pairing up what you already have with great finds.  I've had shoppers arrive at my booth with a strand of beads, looking for the perfect focal.  One year my friend Erin shopped with a series of paintings she had printed out and was on the hunt for beads to match the color schemes. 

4. Window shop before the show.  Visit websites, Facebook pages and subscribe to mailing lists of your favorite bead artists and shops that will be at the show - they often send out coupons or special deals.  You can also get a sneak peek of new work. 

5. First things first - visit your favorite bead artists at the start of the show.  They are more likely to sell out of the beads you really have your heart set on!  
6.  Is it in your budget to buy larger quantities?  Some vendors offer wholesale or discounts for larger orders.  If you are creating a series of designs for upcoming events, this could be a smart move.
7. Plan for the unexpected surprise - add a little cushion in your budget for new found items. 

8. If you have a lot of art beads in your stash, be on the lookout of spacers and accent beads from yourfavorite artists, you'll find the perfect match for those focals.  Add in just a few stones or glass beads and some chain for quick and easy designs. 
9. Buy the unusual - now is not the time to stock up on headpins.  (Unless you stumble upon the deal of the century for them!) Look for art beads, stones and new items that you can't find easily at home or online.

10. Do you have past Bead & Button purchases haunting you, deals you picked up that have sat in your bead box?  Don't let them take up mental space and keep you from buying beads that will bring more inspiration into your studio.  Either pull them out and whip up some simple designs to sell in the next two weeks or have a destash sale and send them along to a new home.  Not only will be feel less guilty about those past purchases, you'll have some extra cash in your pocket for new beads!  Win, win my friends.
Come visit Humblebeads and some other amazing artist at the Bead & Button Show.

DISCLAIMER: Budget - Who am I kidding? Do you see those pictures up there? And that is just what I KNOW is going to be there. I'll be in trouble the moment I walk in the door. 

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