It’s All About the Benjamins; Running on A Budget

I bet you thought that this post was going to be about Farmer Ben, but it’s not. Sorry…I know he’s a pretty neat guy. Instead, I’m talking about cash. Dinero. Money. It can be a dirty word. Having money is really nice, and not having it…well, it stinks.

I hesitated whether to write this post or not… but in all honesty, I feel like there are plenty of people out there who deal with the same kind of thing… so here’s some real talk, straight from the Notebook.

The other day, the hubs and I were having a discussion about money. We have some silly debt (student loans, car payment, etc.) that we just want to get rid of. So, we are committing ourselves to paying them off–early!–one at a time. It’s kind of like when you’re running a race, you start from the back, pick off the slower runners first, and move up to take on the big guys last–after you build up your confidence.

So, we are getting back to our B-U-D-G-E-T.  Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with that word? I find it empowering and depressing at the same time.

This means that we had to take a good hard look at where our money is going. What are we buying? What are we spending money on that isn’t necessary?

As I’ve rekindled my relationship with running, I notice that I spend more of my hard earned cash on running-related things…whether it be a race entry fee, new sneakers, or some shiny new gadget, running on the regular can add up.

True, all you really need to run is a good sports bra (if you’re a female), and a good pair of sneakers… but even those can cost upwards of $100…and if you’re on a tight budget like myself, it can be tough to afford it.

Obviously, it’s easy to be envious of other runners (especially other bloggers) who are able to do all of the cool races, have all of the latest models of running shoes and other gadgets and always seem to be up to date on…everything…especially when we are constantly hit with images of their cool stuff on social media. Am I right? BUT….it’s also a perfect example of why we have to work hard, on our runs and in real life.

This year, one of my goals is to run 14 races (click the little icon on my sidebar for more info!) in 2014. Depending on when and where races are, that can add up.

Side Note: I decided on (committed to) this goal right before the previously mentioned “budget conversation” with Farmer Ben. Impeccable timing, am I right?

Unfortunately, I don’t have any free race entries, running shoes or other fun gadgets/apparel coming my way… I also don’t have a ton of extra income to spend on said items because right now, paying off the silly debt comes first…but that’s okay. It just means I have to get creative.

So, I decided to share my plan for saving money AND accomplishing my 14 in 2014 goal.

budget

1. Sign up early. Most races will have the cheapest entry fees the further out you sign up…. if you wait closer to race day, you’re likely to pay up to $60 more! Bonus: If you already spend the money, you’re more likely to stick to your training!

Real Life Example: Remember how I signed up for the Wineglass Marathon in December? Well, the registration fee has already gone up $10!

2. Scope out smaller races. My first marathon was an $80 entry fee (and that was after the price increase), why? Because it was small. Not only do you get to see more and feel less rushed, but you save! Bonus: A lot of times smaller races have some pretty unique swag (Wineglass has a blown glass medal!) that you won’t find in a bigger race.

Real life Examples: With more popular races, such as the Rock n Roll Series, you’re going to pay $130 (got that from their website), plus you’re going to have to shell out travel and lodging expenses in major cities–if you don’t live in said city. (Not that I wouldn’t love to run a Rock N Roll race…but this year will not be that year). I paid an $80 entry fee for Wine Glass. Next, I was perusing active.com the other day and found a half-marathon about 40 minutes from me for $20. Um, yes please!

3. Stay close to home or with friends! While it may be temping to turn a vacation into runcation, if you’re a penny-pincher, like myself, shelling out big bucks for a hotel room and air fare is not always an option. So, if possible, stay with friends/family,  race within driving distance, or car pool! (When I run Wineglass, I’ll be crashing at my sister’s house!) It’ll be more fun!

Real Life Example: When I ran the Army Ten Miler a couple of years ago, I drove down and stayed with my friend Liz-this saved me over $200 that I would have had to spend on a hotel room. AND while it took more time, I ended up saving quite a bit by driving instead of flying (This was due to the fact that I ended up getting into the race at the last minute, and the closest airport to me only flies direct to Boston, Florida and Vegas.).

4. Use discount codes. Many bloggers are also race ambassadors. That means, if they are running a big race, they’ll often have a discount code to share with their readers. This also applies to gear and running fuel (Shameless Plug; 25% off ENERGYbits with code, “NoellesNotebook.”).

Real Life Example: I’ve found some great discount codes for brands such as ProCompression, ENERGYbits (see above) and Reebok from some of the blogs I read and #RunChat is always offering discount codes to their twitter followers.

5. Bring something with you. A lot of races will allow for a discounted race entry if you do something for the organization.

Real Life Example: I’m looking at a “run for chocolate” in February–they will discount your race entry if you bring something chocolate! Other races will ask that you bring a canned good or similar with you.

6. Volunteer. I’ve seen a trend in the last few months that certain races (or a race series) will give you a credit for a future race if you volunteer. OR, if you bring a volunteer with you, you’ll get a free race entry. What a great way to give back and save some cash! Team up with some friends and make it a party!

Real Life Example: This organization out of Massachusetts.

7. Run as a team. Some races allow runners to form a team, especially corporate groups. This allows team members to get a discounted registration, while repping their organization….now if only I could get some of my co-workers to run!

8. Look for deals. I cannot stress this one enough. I very rarely pay full price for running apparel/sneakers. Not because I’m cheap (okay, maybe I am), but because I look for the deals… whether in the store or online–I hate getting weekly emails, but I keep myself subscribed because every once in a while, I find a GREAT deal. I also look in places out of the ordinary (Craig’s List, TJ Maxx, Woot, etc.) Lastly, I try not to worry about getting the newest model clothing/shoes because last year’s model is usually discounted.

Real Life Examples:  I always update my cold weather running gear in November. Why? Because Dick’s has all Reebok cold weather gear on sale for 50% off AND I use coupons (I saved $85 this year)! I also get apparel at Target–I found a pair of C9 compression capris that are the most comfortable I’ve owned and weren’t ridiculously priced. Next, I snagged Ben a pair of Vibram Five Fingers from Woot.com for $30…Lastly, I purchased my foam roller at TJ Maxx for $15 and frequently see high-end sneakers there for a very affordable price, just never in my size. Bonus: Now and then you can score an amazing deal on treadmills or other equipment on Craig’s List, it never hurts to check the “free” section!

9. Save your race goodie bag! I know it’s tempting to just toss it  without looking through it, but speaking from experience, people spend a lot of time putting those together…at least take a peak at what they’ve got for you!

Real Life Example: I’ve gotten $30 worth of gift certificates (to the same store!) from the last two races I’ve done…not to mention other coupons, all in my goodie bag. That’s $30 off the price of my next pair of running shoes.

10. Start Saving. This may seem a bit elementary, but it doesn’t hurt to set aside some money in your budget specifically for races (especially if there is a big race you REALLY want to do)…even if it’s just saving the random change you find while cleaning your car. It all adds up.

Real life Example: The other day, I was going through a pile of stuff I had been neglecting and found $23. It immediately went into savings. I also set aside some of my tip money whenever I randomly pick up a shift.

That’s it. Simple enough, right? We’ll see how I do as the year progresses!

What about you?! Any tips and tricks for saving on races or running must-haves?! Favorite major savings story on running related items/events? Best race swag you’ve gotten? What races are you running this year?!

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8 Comments on “It’s All About the Benjamins; Running on A Budget”

  1. This has to be one of the best posts I’ve read in ages! Running can get very expensive, fast!! These are tips that are always good to keep in mind. I really want to volunteer at a race…nice to know I may get a future perk!

    • Thanks so much Janelle! I’m so glad you found some useful information! 🙂 And definitely volunteer! It’s so much fun and a huge motivator-not to mention the interesting people you meet!

  2. Coco says:

    These are great tips. I live in D.C. with lots of big, expensive races, but there are still small races hosted by schools and track clubs. My favorite is the July 4th 8K that’s $5!

    • Absolutely! And it’s so nice to give back/run with smaller organizations like that! Not that I don’t love big races (the ATM is still a favorite!) but smaller races feel more personal…. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. zeelemons says:

    I committed to running 12 races this year… before I found out that kitty is diabetic = bank breaker! I am heartbroken but searching for small town races so that I can stick to both my goal and budget 🙂

    • Aw! Poor Kitty! Check your race goodie bags-a lot of times organizations will sneak in flyers for future events…and Active.com has a lot of good local races…I randomly stumbled on a $10 Run for Chocolate across the lake (among others)…I’m so there! Good luck!

  4. […] It’s All About the Benjamins; Running on A Budget → […]

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