Being a triathlete is not an inexpensive hobby/profession and adding a family to the mix only puts more stress on the finances. If you’re like most, you’re looking for ways to save money, but still have a ton of fun enjoying the triathlon lifestyle. Well, good news! There are quite a few things you can do to cut down on expenses that shouldn’t hurt too much. But regardless, if a family is involved, there needs to be a family discussion and agreement about how and how much money will be spent on triathlons.
10 Money-Saving Tips for Triathletes and Families
Set A Budget
And most importantly, STICK TO IT! A budget will help you evaluate if you really need that latest and greatest…If the answer is yes, then you can put it in the budget and save and act accordingly. If you can and it’s important to you, sacrifice in other areas of your life, like vacations and going out to dinner.
Join a Triathlon Club
Besides the social aspect, there are many options to save money if you join a triathlon club. From having access to coaches to sharing info on where to buy gear to swap meets that exchange equipment to discounts at local stores, the opportunities to save money are many.
Some clubs are free and others have a fee to join, so you just need to compare the fee with what you get in return and decide it it is worth the expense. Clubs like California Triathlon even have programs, VOGO, to volunteer at one race and receive free entry to another.
Take Good Care of Clothes and Gear
Keep clothes and gear in good condition. Keep them clean. Don’t let them sit too long all stinky and wet and don’t throw clothes with velcro or that sticky stuff around leg and arm holes – anyone know the correct term? – in the dryer. While we know you don’t want to come anywhere near stinky clothes, taking good care of them upfront can actually cut down on replacement costs.
Also, check items for wear and tear and decide if they can be mended before they get worse or need to be discarded.
Finally, another good reason to take care of clothes and gear is that you can try and make money selling them when they are no longer of use to you or you’ve replaced with the latest and greatest.
Buy on Sale
Subscribe to athletic websites that sell triathlon gear. Sales happen a lot these days, not just at certain times of the year. Research and know what triathlete items you need and where you can get the best deals. It doesn’t have to be jus triathlon sites. You actually might get better deals at discipline specific ones.
Check out sites like Swimoutlet.com, Trivillage.com, Triathletesports, and Trieverythingstore.com. These sites often offer last year’s models at a great discount and promotions like sign up for their emails and get 10% off your first order. If you know you love a certain pair of running shoes that you replace more ofter and you find a great deal, consider buying 2 pairs.
Buy Quality to Begin With
Sometimes the saying, “You get what you pay for” really holds true. We’re generally referring to equipment/gear, but there are a few items of clothing like wetsuits that you should consider.
There are a few things you can do to seriously cut down on travel expenses such as…
Do local races…There are lots of local races these days. Now, they may not be full distance, but they still get you racing. This way you can drive and maybe not even have to spend the night. Plus, entrance fees are often less expensive, too.
Travel with as much as you can...You don’t want to have to buy much at race sites as chances are you’ll be paying much more. Make lists of what you need to take and that includes the triathlete and the family members so you don’t forget anything at home.
Stay outside of race centers…While it’s more convenient to stay close to the race site, you may find better deals outside of race centers. This will take some research and be sure to look at the cost of driving into town for events and if you have to pay for parking.
Join rewards programs…Most major hotel chains offer rewards programs. Some of the most well known are Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, and Best Western. It can really pay off to get free nights’ stay, breakfasts, and upgrades. Also, many have Concierge floors where you have access to free food and drinks and Concierge services.
Stay with friends…This is more appropriate if you’re going solo then with the family in tow. But if you are, perhaps a few of you can stay together and share expenses.
Meals…You have a lot of control here. Many hotels at race sites have kitchenettes so you can always cook in if need be. Otherwise, research before you go through sites like Open Table or TripAdvisor for recommendations within your budget. You can even bring a lot of items with you, especially if you’re driving. Luckily your triathlete may be eating pasta which is usually one of the least expensive options.
Shipping bikes…This is one of the most costly aspects of traveling, but there are many options. This guide from the Adventure Cycling Association should be a big help with this information.
My husband usually uses Tribike Transport because of the convenience and security. He doesn’t have to take the bike apart. Just drop it off at a local bike shop and pick it up at the destination. Costs are generally between $250-$400 depending on venue. If you don’t have access to a local shop, they have a Pack & Ship option for $450. You disassemble your bike and pack it up. When it gets to the site, Tribike’s people put it together for you and ship it back for you.
Keeping a triathlete fueled is not only time-consuming, but can also be expensive. None of the bars, gu or nutrition mixes come cheap. We do try and cut costs by making some homemade items like gatorade, post workout shakes, and we love the No Bake Bites from Lindsay Cotter of Cotter Crunch. We also buy in bulk for whatever items we can.
Here are some other tricks of the trade that help us fuel our triathletes. Read about meals on the road under travel expenses above.
Ask for Triathlon Gifts for Holidays
This is a great way to get new gear for free and it saves people from racking their brains about what to get you for your birthday! Just be sure to ask for what you want. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with doing a lot of regifting!
Say No to Race Venue Merchandise Tents
This can be a real killer to the budget, especially when you’re just starting out. You want a tee shirt, a new kit, mugs, whatever commemorates the race. The desire to own this merchandise does wane over the years, but generally not until after you have drawers full of tees and water bottles that end up being thrown away or donated to Goodwill. Most races give this stuff away with registration, so don’t get sucked into buying more “stuff”.
Stop Reading Triathlon Magazines
Okay, I know this will be next to impossible and not very popular, but this is where triathletes get into trouble. This is generally where they get the brilliant idea that they need a new bike or helmet because the latest technology will help them ride faster. These magazines even have special gear issues just to temp them with what they just can’t tri without. But seriously, triathletes you can…