Ah, a new year and with it, a new triathlon season.
All the nooks and crannies of the endurance interweb hangouts are abuzz with 2012 race schedules and training itineraries. Where’s the best pool? Is there a group training for this IM? Will I be able to fit it all in? Will I know my wife and kids after all that training? How do I find the time to fit it all in?
That’s all good and fine, but can you really afford this endeavor?
Right before Christmas, every web site hawking something was touting the latest GPS unites and cyclo-computers for you to buy and give yourself or your favorite triathlete. I don’t know about you, but having a wife and two kids leaves you with little to no discretionary income to spend on triathlon gear.
How do you afford this mess without getting a second job along with the training schedule additions?
Easy, sell a kidney.
Maybe you only have one kidney left and can’t spare it. If that’s the case, here’s some less evasive suggestions to afford the tri lifestyle.
10. Volunteer at an event to gain entry into another. In Kansas City, we have a 3 race series that offers free entry into one of the events if you volunteer for another. Sure, you may not get to race all 3, but you can race 2, volunteer for 1 and only pay for one. Plus, volunteers usually get some swag like event shirts and free food and drinks, perks people!
9. Do you REALLY need those new wheels? Take care of what you have and make it last. If you can afford the new ZIPP 1080’s, by all means buy them (and me a set). But, don’t sweat it if you can’t afford it. They may gain you a couple minutes on the bike, but you will gain a lot more time by training with the time you have to spend working overtime or the second job to buy the wheels.
8. Sell your old crap. Got the original wheels to your tri bike when you did have money to upgrade wheels? Hit Ebay, Craigslist or your work want ads. Surely you are on some sort of email list at work for triathletes, highjack it. Facebook has pages for all sorts of triathlete clubs. Post a picture and ask them to make you an offer. Hit your local bike shop. Some will actually buy your used gear at a decent price. Look around the house. What else can you sell? Aside from selling your kids, everything is fair game. Have any leftover bags of mulch from last spring? Sell it. Get too many ties for Christmas, sell them or take them back. Put your stuff out there, there’s probably someone that wants it.
7. Sell your soul. Well, at least your plasma. Really. If you are in good shape, parting with a few units won’t hurt you. Donate on your rest day. You’re helping the community and you can make some side cash for your addition to triathlon gear.
6. Don’t take your shop’s word for it. Shop owners may not like this one, but price shop. Take the price you found on the web to your local bike/tri/running shop. Sometimes, they will match it to get your business. Win for you as you get a lower price and a shop you can take your gear in for warranty, and your shop gets your business.
5. Buying online will save you some cash. Yes, you are not supporting your local bike shop, but when they economy is as tight as it is, every dollar counts. Remember option 5, but sometimes the deals online are just too deep for a LBS to match. Ebay is a gold mine as long as you do your research on the exact part you need and the seller rating of who you are buying from.
4. Sponsorships. It’s not only about getting a podium spot, but if you are passionate about a product and they have a program, apply. You never know. Some suppliers will offer discounts to “team members” on products.
3. Join your local tri team. Most are sponsored by a shop of some sort and get a discount to that shop. Sometimes it can reach to 20 to 25% off store items and opportunities to buy overstocked items at wholesale prices. Check it out.
2. Barter. Do you pay sticker price for a car off the lot? If you do, I have some stuff to sell you. It never hurts to ask your bike shop if they can do better. Ask if they have year old gear they want to get rid of back in the storage room. If you are buying from classifieds, don’t pay the asking price without probing a little. If it’s a great deal, by all means go for it. But, most of the time, the person has added some fluff in their number in order to negotiate.
1. Stop eating. It’s a sad day, but with today’s prices, grocery bills are insane. If you live the mantra “I work out a lot, so I can eat whatever I want”, then I’m sure your bill is out of control for food. If you are eating the right foods at the appropriate portions, you can save money on existing bills and apply the savings to those new aero bars for the tri bike.
Good luck affording another year of triathlon!
Ryan Falkenrath writes the blog falkeetriathlon.blogspot.com, married father of two young kids, owner of two dogs and trying to balance life, work and multisport. Ryan has participated in multisport events since 2001 from 5k's to Half Ironmans. Ryan is also the Kansas City Endurance Sports Examiner and you can read more of his triathlon thoughts HERE and he collects race reviews at www.Triathlon-Reviews.blogspot.com. Contact Ryan at: email@example.com or follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan.