A hobby in triathlons can get expensive. Between the wetsuits, fancy bike, running shoes, race entry fees, hotel room and all those small things that can add up quickly not everyone has a wallet full of bills to throw at the sport. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to save yourself a few bills.
Here are some suggestions to pinching pennies:
- Race local. Traveling expenses can add up very quickly, and it can save you some serious cash to stay as local as possible. Out of the six triathlons I competed in during 2014, I only had two hotel reservations and one of them I shared with other athletes to split the cost.
- Plan a race-cation by organizing your family vacations to coincide with destination races. For example, my family’s annual week at the cabin near Duluth this year just happens to fall right around the time of the Brewhouse triathlon. An efficient way to save on travel costs.
- Earn travel rewards points when possible. There are plenty of credit card options where you can earn travel rewards to use towards flights and hotel stays. Different cards have different rewards values so do your homework, and make sure to pay off the bill right away so that you don’t get stuck with additional fees.
- Join a tri club that offers great membership benefits. As a Tri Rochester member I’m able to receive discount codes to local races and Coach Joe offered a monthly discount to club members. The savings I earned made spending the $30 membership fee worth it.
- Plan your races in advance. This will allow you to take advantage of the early-bird registration fee specials.
- Reduce, reuse and recycle – As you upgrade equipment, sell any unused items via triathlon forums, Ebay or Craigslist. And vice versa, if you are able to find a great deal on used equipment, take advantage of the savings. A great place to look for used wetsuits is rental companies that sell their gently used suits. If you are looking for a women’s medium BlueSeventy sleeveless wetsuit, send me a message via the Contact page. I have a used one that I’m willing to sell.
I was able to score this used Xlab carbon wing and gorilla bottle cages set up that is in great condition from a guy in Chicago, and a friend of mine was able to pick it up during her work trip to the Windy city saving me from paying shipping costs.
- Finding a bike. This will likely be the most expensive piece of equipment that you purchase, as a $50 bike from Wal-Mart just isn’t going to cut it. Talk with other athletes and cyclists and ask them where the best place (or the best person) to talk with about purchasing a bike is. One of the most important factors when buying a bike to consider is fit. If you are 6’1″ and you’re buying a bike from a person who was 5’5″ (or vice versa) then it probably won’t be the most comfortable bike to ride in. Once you get said bike, you will need to get a professional bike fit peformed. A proper bike fit will save you from getting injured and having expensive medical and physical therapy costs.
- My very favorite bike shop in the whole world is Brone’s in Fountain City, WI. Well worth visiting. They custom built my Orbea road bike for me for a great price, and gave me a great deal of my Cervelo P2. Just be sure to block off a few hours of your time when you visit as they really take the time to figure out what will be the best bike for your needs and your budget. Plus they have amazing ice cream in their attached coffee shop. Feel free to say that I sent you as I’m a very good customer :-).
- Coach Joe Moyer does a great job with fitting athletes to their bike.
- When searching for a tri suit to wear as you swim, bike and run during a race keep in mind that “you get what you pay for.” There is a noticeable difference in comfort between the lower-end and higher-end tri apparel. The longer-distance the race you are planning, the higher quality apparel you will want to wear. Many bike/running stores or other fitness businesses will sell tri apparel with their logo on it for a discounted price (typically at cost). Tri coaches will use sponsors on their tri gear to help lower the price. The past two years I’ve purchased Moyerland Coaching tri apparel and while the quality is top notch the cost is definitely affordable.
- Sports fuel – Sports gels, chews, beans, bars, beverages and such can be pricey. Preparing your own foods and beverages can be much more affordable (Remember my potato idea for Ironman?). If you are going to use commercial sports products in your races, just be sure to trial them during your training ahead of time.
- Don’t buy unnecessary equipment. Many fitness clubs will provide kick boards, pull buoys and fins so there isn’t a need for you to buy your own. Initially you may need to buy a swim cap, but after . Race swag bags sometimes provide useful samples such as BioFreeze and chamois cream.
- Consolidate gym membership fees – Find a location that you can get all of your needed training done, or take advantage of open water swimming to save additional money. Check with your employer or health insurance to see if they offer a discount for a gym membership.
Let’s hear from you! Any tips to saving money as a triathlete?