My first step for saving money in all arenas of my life is setting a budget. Since my minimum net income rarely waivers, I always know how much money I will have for gas and how much for allowance. It is more or less always the same amount. Notice I said allowance, that is because 85% of my income goes to CB who then pays bills (and buys purses!?!). My gas and allowance aren't are only budget we have, since CB and I get paid the same day (the last day of the month (except December)) we sit down the night before and compile our menu for the entire month. We then add what we need for lunches and toiletries and know exactly what we need at the store. Nothing more, nothing less.
My triathlon budget will comes out of my allowance. When setting my budget I took all of those things that I would love to have like the Quintana Roo CD0.1 (literally have dreams about this bike-in yellow), carbon cycling shoes, cool aero helmet I saw on a interbike video, 2XU project X wetsuit, zoot racing shoes, a 5 WTC race season with presidential suite accommodations and push it all to the side. In a perfect world, I would be genetically incline to sports, run a 2:10 marathon, have gills unnoticeable to the naked eye and be fully sponsored, but that is only in my dreams so I must budget.
Although I set my own budget without doing any research, before writing this post I did a little research regarding budget setting tips. Common tips include identify your income, identify what costs are fixed versus variable, calculate your expenses, calculate how much income is expendable, prioritize and eliminate as needed, build in an emergency fund, and track and review your budget periodically. For more information on setting budget there many sites you can visit such as http://www.about.com/.
When I created my first budget I did not really take into account my income, I just made a list of things that were essentials for my season as well as a few helpful items. I did not include any items I thought were pure luxury. I then prioritized them and set a price. Some prices are the price I found the item at various stores, some are the max I will pay, and some are discount prices I have worked out. Here is the budget that I have at this time (same one I posted for a separate post).
I also created a more realistic budget, shown below.
I feel this budget is more essential than the first. I cut out all of the extra goodies like a tri suit, etc. I raced just fine last year with bike jerseys and baggy swim trunks. I also cut the coach, trainer, etc, because I can get free training plans online. I cut my races to four because that is all that is required for the series I wound to race in (for series points that is). I kept the USAT membership because it would save in extra race fees. For anything more than two races I would pay more in extra fees for not having it. Running shoes are non-optional. Lastly, the bike flask is on the list because I used a regular flask last year, and had a hard time not losing it when removing it from my pocket.
I am sure that my real budget will come in somewhere between the two. I am sure there are non-essential items that I will get and some that maybe on my 2012 budget again. Also, I have already had to create separate lists for training clothes I am going to have to buy (like winter running and cycling stuff) and for bike maintenance.
In the end, I think the most important thing is to decide what is most important to you and not over extend one's self unless you are the verge of going pro.