Friday, June 26, 2015

Preparing & Paying for #ASCA15

I am so excited to be going back to the ASCA Conference again this year! My school does not pay for any part of the conference so getting there is always tough, but each year I try to come up with innovative ways to help offset the cost. Read about my #ASCA14 conference prep and experience to learn how I got myself ready & paid my own way.

This year I will not be attending LDI, just the regular conference. My plans were to room with a friend, but when that fell through I had to quickly book a single room and ended up missing out on the main conference hotel. I also waited a little too long before booking my flight so I probably paid a little more for that too, but I did book it through my Expedia account so I scored some points I could use in the future.

If you are preparing to pack your bags like I am here are 3 tips: 

1. Pack light--really I over packed last year, had to rearrange things between my two bags on my way to and from the conference and I didn't even wear/use everything in my bag. It's hot in Phoenix, and by hot I mean like 110 degrees, be wise, but also allow some versatility because I am sure everywhere will be like a freezer in doors.

2. Pack some sunscreen. Pack it and put it on when you get out of the shower in the morning. The last thing you need is a sunburn as you walk to and from the conference location from your hotel.

3. Drink lots of water, at every possible moment. I can thank Mindy Willard and the many websites I researched for this great tip. Don't get dehydrated out there in the desert.

So now that we've covered the prep tips, let's talk about paying for this awesome experience.

The first lesson I've learned this year is to book your hotel & flight early, don't wait for anyone else & don't procrastinate. The same goes for registering for the conference, do it early enough to get the discounted rate.

This year I had a garage sale again to clean out some clutter in my house & sell all of the clothes, shoes and toys my son has grown out of. If you have kids a garage sale can be a lot of work, but the return can definitely off set your cost to attend the conference. This year I made almost $500 at my garage sale! That's enough to cover my flight and some part of my hotel room.

I have been using the Ibotta app for a little over a year. The app is pretty simple to use and basically gives you real money back for the items you already buy, like milk, bread, eggs, bananas etc. I used to cash out every time I earned $10 total and buy my son a new iPad game or  load money to my Starbucks app or buy an Amazon gift card, but this year I decided to save up for the conference.  I started saving in January and I earned over $80 just 5 months to put towards to cost of my hotel room.

I cashed out the money, transferred it to my PayPal account and then to my checking account. Not bad for just grocery shopping for a few months right!

The last funding source was a mileage check from work and the Social Media Chair check I get for managing our state association's social media accounts.

Paying your way to the ASCA conference can be a little overwhelming, but if you save a little from each paycheck, sacrifice a little time and get creative, you can do it.

I hope you were able to pick up some tips to help you find your way. Check back in this weekend for the link for all of my notes from the awesome sessions I plan to attend, I plan to create something similar to last year's set up.

Will this be your first ASCA conference in real life? Check out some tips and other great links for the School Counselor Blog here.

Not going to #ASCA15? Don't forget to join in on the TweetChat. On Monday, June 29th at 8pmEST Dr. Erin Mason (@ecmmason) and Danielle Schultz (@sch_counselor) will be moderating the #NotAtASCA15 chat. This chat is open for anyone interested in chatting about the #ASCA15 conference. 
How do you make the finances work to get to ASCA? Share your tips in the comments below.


  1. Hi Franciene! I am a little late in reading this, but can share how I funded my trip to ASCA 15. I entered the SC/CS contest sponsored by The Counseling Geek and Carol Miller and I won free registration!!! Once I had that paid for, I really thought I was going to foot the rest of the bill. I just so happened to mention how excited I was to be going to ASCA at a district counseling meeitng and my coordinator encouraged me to put in a PD form to get funding. The school district reimbursed me for my Super Shuttle, the airfare, and the hotel stay!!! What a blessing!!! I did save money on hotel by posting on ASCA Scene that I was looking for a roommate. I am from Missouri and my roommate is from California. She is an elementary counselor and I work in a middle school, but that did not matter! We got along really well and both agreed it was a great experience. By going by myself I feel like I met a lot more people than had I been in a group. It was a fantastic experience and I hope to go again next year! :)

    1. Congrats to you!! I hope to see you in NOLA!