Tri-ing the thrifty way.

Day 5 and final about honestly evaluating the expense of triathlon.

I started this series of posts about some ideas to train for triathlons without spending all your money on all the things as food for thought. It’s easy to think that you need to buy x, y, and x; and that you need the gym membership, tri camp, swim lessons, etc to make it to race day; but I want to encourage you to rethink some money habits and the stories you tell yourself about money. That may mean challenging a belief that you cannot afford to compete in triathlon; or maybe you will find that you would get more benefit from spending your money elsewhere; or you may decide that you love how you spend money on triathlon and really want to continue the way you currently do, but perhaps the added thought to it will bring even more enjoyment out of that money spent. Our culture doesn’t generally teach or cultivate good money habits. We buy now, pay later. Or buy just to keep up. Even though people can appear wealthy based on their spending habits, I don’t think it necessarily means that their numbers actually look nice and secure. It’s okay to take an honest look, and cutting some monthly expenses can really pay off – if it’s something you can or should do.

Additionally, cutting back on expenses may not cause less joy in your life, and it might even have the opposite effect. About two years ago I began reducing expenses in anticipation of leaving a well-paying legal job in search of a career and lifestyle that I thought I would vastly prefer, but that would have higher risks and a period of very low income. I amazed myself by greatly reducing my credit card bill without feeling a big hit. One of the habits I developed is to keep a list of “long term items I want.” Where before I might have bought something when I decided I wanted it but didn’t need it immediately, now it goes on my list so that I can remember I wanted it but purchase later. My list is mostly books, and now, when I want a new book, or am giving a gift recommendation, I can choose whatever I want most at that point in my life. Many things have remained on the list for years. I still want them, but I’m in no hurry.

In terms of triathlon, I stopped my gym membership and quit Master’s swimming. This was a couple of years ago, and I have enjoyed training without them, and employed many of the ideas I shared over the last few days. With that said, I now would like both the gym and Master’s back. Those considerations are in part what led me to these posts.

I was recently offered a free week at my old gym and in the first two days I have gone to a cycle class and a strength workout class. The attraction for me right now is to not have to plan a workout. I just show up at a set time and let someone else make the plan and motivate me. Then there’s the social aspect. I knew many people in both classes and enjoyed seeing familiar faces again. I got to catch up with a friend in cycle class (until the instructor told us to stop chatting), and my favorite teacher taught the strength class – who serendipitously just returned after moving away right about the time I quit the gym. These benefits of a gym may end up being what I decide I want right now to re-prioritize as I go into a busy summer.

I hope that you too will evaluate and decide what fits best for you – right now – knowing that it will change throughout time but is worth consideration.

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