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Saving Money on Races

I race almost every weekend.  I posted about it last week.  Honestly, it’s a hobby I like to do.

With the exception of one race, I never win money from races.  For every 5k this summer, I’ve paid full price.  I don’t mind $20-30 for a weekly 5k. It’s becoming easier to save money on running races if you spend some time looking.

Hobbies cost money and paying for a race series, or registration fee that I want to do doesn’t bother me. It does add up quickly, though.

You make time for what you want to do, but you also budget appropriately for what you want to do.  I was thinking a lot about budgeting for road races last week, so I decided to compile tips of how I try and save money.  Hopefully, they can help you too!  This also keeps in mind that I do not have children to take care of.

How to save money at road races

So how do I afford to race every weekend?  

For me, racing is a hobby, and paying for races goes along with the sport.  Looking back at the last few months, I’ve spent between $120-170 a month on racing and race fees. That is the cost of 2 half marathons these days or sometimes even one!  Heck, that is half the cost of the NYCM marathon!

  1. First, I’m fortunate there are many race options within 45 minutes of my house.  I have the option of racing in Philadelphia, Wilmington and all along the shore.  Each location is between 20-45 minutes.  While I do live 90 miles from NYC would be a 2+ hour commute and with tolls cost me an extra 50 dollars.  I would rather not pay 80 dollars for a 5k. So that is ruled out for “saving money.”  Running at local races also prevents spending money on extra gas, hotels, and even meals the night before.  Local races are a lot more inexpensive!
  2. I scout out races by several factors: 
    1. Price: if there is a 5k that’s 15 dollars and a 5k that’s 50, it’s easy to see which one I’ll choose.
    2. Location of where I’m working.  Since I work at multiple places in NJ, I try and find the closest to work.
    3. Prize money: just kidding, I’ve only won prize money once.
    4. Friends status.  Are any of my friends doing it?  I love seeing local racers and hanging out!
  3. Google for discount codes. I once found a coupon code for 10 dollars off a road race just by googling. For that particular race, I only paid 10 dollars for a 5k. That is the cost of the amount of gas station coffee I drink daily (just kidding). I always try and remember to google to see if there are any discount codes!
  4.  This is relatively obvious but register early for races.   Many races cost 5-10 dollars less if you sign up the Thursday before versus race day registration.
  5. Check out the brochures at your local running store or local small businesses.  Sometimes race directors will drop off special coupons/discount codes at the local stores.  We have plenty of race directors that drop offer discounts at the store.
  6. Check Local Run Clubs: Many running clubs have race discounts or some even compete in races as a team. You might also get a free race entry that way.
  7. Pace Races: Have you ever wondered how pacers in races are found? Often times, the race director will look for runners to pace the race. Usually (if you do a good job) they give you a free entry or a free entry at a future race.
  8. Finally, remember that every 5 dollars counts.  If you save 5 dollars on each road race and run 15, that is 75 dollars.  That is enough for a few more races! The money you save can even go towards your next running shoe.

The moral of the story is planning and strategizing for races can save a lot of money.  If you research and see what is available near you, often it’s a lot easier to save money on races.

Questions for you:
How often do you race?
What tips do you have for saving money at races?  

 

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Facebook Ads: Are they Worth it?

Are facebook adverts worth it?

facebook like

On facebook you can pay to have posts and ads inserted into more mini feeds.  You can manipulate the algorithm for more views to your facebook and blog post.  It isn’t a secret either.  Pages that pay to boost posts are labeled as “sponsored” on the mini feed.  On a boosted post, More people will see the post and it will drive awareness to your website and facebook page…but is it worth it? 

I help a personal friend with her coaching page.  She is a great coach and someone I would highly recommend in the South Jersey area.  We have played around with facebook adverts to boost her page and client base.  It has been working rather well.  She has signed more local runners and the page boosts have helped her build her community.  I couldn’t be happier for her!  It made me think, how would a facebook advert post for fueledbyLOLZ blog fare?

Unlike coaching, I’m not really offering anything.  I’m not offering coaching or a product.  I’m not offering the secrets to stay injury free, healthy or breaking news.  By reading my blog you are not eligible to win millions of things.   I just assume people put up with my poor grammar and spelling because they can find a LOL in there somewhere.

FueledbyLOLZ offers morning amusement with your coffee.   That is what I offer and probably will continue to offer. 

I decided to do an experiment and spend a whopping 20 dollars to boost one of my recent posts.  For my experiment, I chose a post many people responded well with without the boost.

Running on the Cheap: 

Basically a post about why Running doesn’t have to be expensive.

There are many cost options but I chose the 20.00 option.  It costed $20.00 for an extra 1000-8,000 people to view the facebook post (not my blog post but the facebook post (with the link attached) to be inserted into the minifeed).

You can pay more for more views.

Just because you boost your post, it doesn’t guarantee will see it or that they will like your page at all.

It doesn’t guarantee they will click the link to your post.  The only thing a paid boost guarantees is that the post will be inserted into at least 1,000 mini feeds (it could even be the same persons mini feed 1,000 times).

For instance (spoiler alert) when I payed 20.00 for a fueledbyLOLZ advert, about 6,000 people viewed the post.  The post itself, received 176 clicks to LOLZ blog.

facebook ad

The post was inserted into 6,082 feeds and I received 172 clicks to my actual blog.  It cost 11 cents for each feed it was inserted in.

The real question: Was it worth it?

First I must ask myself this: What did spending $20 to promote my post get me? It got me 176 extra clicks to my blog.  What did those 176 extra page views get me?  Possibly new readers or possibly readers who like the page but never read the post…it got me 176 clicks.

What did I learn?

I thought a paid boost would receive more interest or “boost” than 176 clicks (I’m not upset or sad, I just thought it would).

Overall Thoughts: 

I can’t tell you if it’s worth it to pay to grow your blog.

If you are offering a product or service, it makes sense to use facebook to advertise.

If you want to grow your blog and following then it makes sense.  Is it the best way to grow your following?  No probably not but if you gave enough money, you could probably gain hundreds of facebook likes and new readers

At the end of the day, having more or less facebook likes, twitter followers, blog readers doesn’t change who you are or your blog.  I might occasionally use facebook adverts again.  I don’t think it’s something I would use frequently but I can see how it would help bloggers trying to “make it big” and make money (FYI: I’m not sure what making it big means in blogging….).  If your main goal is to grow your blog and profit, then perhaps this is a route to experiment with.  For me I have no interest in blogging for a living and main source of income.  I can barely write a coherent 600 word post.

In cliff notes: You’ll probably get a few extra clicks from boosting your posts.  For blogging purposes, it doesn’t make as much sense to use.  If you are offering a product, service or something of value than it makes more sense to use.   For me I’ll spend 20 dollars on a bunch of coffee next time.

Questions for you:

Do you use facebook adverts? 

Facebook users: What do you think about facebook ads?

 

Running on the Cheap

To be straight up honest running is not an expensive sport.  There are many sports that are much more expensive.  With cycling, it costs upwards of 2,000 dollars for a “legit” bike.  Cycling with an old bike is like running a marathon in Nike frees.  This is just one example but many sports are much more expensive.

Most running shoes cost between 120-150 dollars.  People complain about the cost of running but in reality if you spend time searching for good deals and lower “no frills” races, it’s not an expensive sport or hobby.  With the increase of runners in the population, there is an increase in running product (both expensive and not).  Companies want to make money so it makes sense to create more products for a sport more people are participating in.

The most important thing to spend money on is good shoes.  If you aren’t running in appropriate shoes (for your gait and foot type etc.), you won’t be running for very long.  Many new runners ask me my biggest piece of advice:

Get your gait analyzed and invest in a good pair of shoes.  You won’t look back. Every company designs great shoes but it’s important to really get your gait and feet analyzed.  Like getting a bra fitting, you don’t know what you are missing until you do.  Just by being in the right shoe, your training will immediately improve.  

Don’t go cheap on running shoes. 

After purchasing a good pair of running shoes there are not a lot of other expenses.  Sure there are pieces of apparel that cost over 100 dollars but do you need all that?  No, probably not.

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Since it’s winter time, I’m going to show you an outfit I put together for running in the 30 degree temperature (all for less than 100 bucks).  

winter meme

Nothing in this post is sponsored and there are no affiliate links.

Running in the winter is all about layering.  You can run outside if you layer appropriately.  I hate the cold weather but I have clothes to run in 10 degree (and below) weather.  You can run in colder weather with warmer clothing but I’m a baby.  I’ll run outdoors if it is cold but if it is icy, I normally won’t.

Anyways enough about me and to the running deals: 

Headwarmer: 

In the Spring of 2012, I purchased this head warmer from Walmart.  Since it was Spring it was on sale for 2 dollars.  It’s fleece and it’s warm.  Walmart has some cute headwarmer gems that are 7 dollars at full sale and 2 dollars on clearance.  I have a few cute ones that have worked from 0 degree temperature to 40.

Here is a glamour shot of me using the headwarmer.

Here is a glamour shot of me using the headwarmer.

Cost $2.00

Similar products: Nike head warmer 18.00  (I also have this one and they are very similar).

Jacket: 

One of my all-time favorite running jackets (you’ve seen it on the blog several times) is this Avalanche jacket.  I found it at Marshalls for 5 dollars.  Yes, 5 dollars for a jacket that was originally 60+.  It blocks the wind and keeps me warm.  The downside is it’s not water resistant.

So cold.  Lake Effect 2013

Proof of how much I wear this jacket: Lake Effect Half Marathon 2013 (Roughly 15 degrees+wind chill)

running sucks.

Running my worst 5k ever! (Roughly 25 degrees)

Good times with my brother running

A few weeks ago running with my brother!

Cost: Avalanche Jacket 5.00 (Total Outfit cost 7.00)

Similar items: Northface Denali Jacket $179

To run in conditions that need wind and rain protection I have another jacket. My Nike wind and rain resistant jacket was also $9.98  at TJ Maxx (a season or two ago).  This is my best deal to date.

There are other brands offering a similar wind breaker for 150+ dollars.

I paid 9.98.  The jacket folds and compresses into any sized bags.  It can be worn on top or long sleeves, short sleeves or as just as a wind shield.  It is a great top layer.

Nike Windbreaker 1

via instagram last week

Jacket photo via instagram last week

Cost: 10.00 (total cost 17.00)

Similar jacket: The Oiselle Fleshman Flyer 160.00 

Pants: 

Everlast Pants (22 dollars for both):

I’ve had my Everlast pants since college.  They literally do last forever…and so does my wallet because I’ve had them 4 years and still run in them.  One has fleece lining and one does not.  Black leggings are boring to photograph and they are logo free.

Rocking The Everlast leggings and jacket while I'm not running!  So functional!

Rocking The Everlast leggings and jacket while I’m not running! So functional!

Cost: 22 (total cost 49.00)

Similar pants: the Saucony shield and Nike legging (75 each)

Long Sleeve Top:

With the Christmas over there are a lot of January sales now too.  I haven’t found a long sleeve top I’m in love with but have plenty of base layers.  I found a few long sleeve base layers for sale at Target.  Each is a black top (so boring) but also dry fit material (meaning you won’t chafe) and costed 10 dollars.

Cost: 10 dollars (total cost 59)

Similar options: Nike Dri Fit  70.00 

Two of the most important pieces of winter apparel are gloves and mittens.  Mittens are warmer than gloves so if you get cold easily, that might be the best route for you (it is the best route for me).  If your hands are cold, then everything is cold.

I haven’t found a method to find extremely cheap gloves and mittens.  The best method is to look for deals when the season changes over.  For instance, in March companies will start cleaning out their winter line.  This is the time to buy gloves and mittens.  I found these Nathan Gloves (different color) for 20 dollars last year.  They are the warmest mittens you’ll ever find.

Online at the Cymb (I just googled) they are 25 right now!  It is worth it.

nathan mitten

Cost: 20 dollars (Total cost 79)

Total outfit cost: 79 dollars (21 dollars left to sign up for a 5k) 

In summary my advice is this:

  • Find apparel in the off season.
  • Splurge on the necessary items such as good shoes.
  • Stores such as TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Ross can give awesome deals on clothing.  You can find cute and functional summer running clothes on sale right now…there is no time like the present…literally.
  • You can look cute and not spend a lot with running.

Next week I will talk about a few products I’ve splurged on and I like.

Question for you: Where do you find the best running apparel deals?

Personal finance.

Something I’ve been wanting to write a post about for a while is how I have gotten a hold of my finances. By the way,it’s not sponsored (that would be ironic right? I got better at budgeting by doing more sponsored posts ha ha).

Since I was left without a job for close to 9 months, I essentially lived off of savings for a while…Since I do not have unlimited savings, that plan would obviously not work forever. When I began working again I needed to rebuild my savings account. While Tim and I have a joint savings account, we also give separate accounts too. From March until roughly July, I was working unsuccessfully to rebuild my savings.  It’s kind of like someone who knows nothing about dieting.  You just kind of wing it and hope it works.  For some people it works and for some people it doesn’t work. In my situation, I was very unsuccessful.  I decided I desperately needed help.  That is when I began researching personal finances and budgets.  I began looking for a professional to help.  That is when I found Ashley.

In July, I decided I really wanted to save for the Oiselle team camp. My goal was to set aside the extra 1350 dollars for camp (between flights, the cost of camp and extra money). Due to personal reasons and the timing of the camp, I ended up not being able to go.With Ashley’s help and advice, I was able save that amount and ended up depositing it into savings. Over the last few months of working with Ashley, I’ve been able to rebuild my savings. It hasn’t been the most “fun” or enjoyable thing to do but it’s necessary.

I enjoy working with Ashley because she isn’t intimidating. She is much closer to my age. Even when I’ve spent more than I should have (on unnecessary things) she is very motivating to help me get back on track. I would absolutely recommend Ashley to other people. I asked if she was interested in writing a guest post and more about what she does for my blog.  She has truly helped me so much!

———————–

Hi LOLZ readers!!! I am so excited to be chatting with you today! Thanks, Hollie, for having me on your blog!

ashley1

My name is Ashley and I am a financial coach for women in their 20s. Basically, my job is to help people get comfortable with their money. Today, I want to share one of my biggest tips for sorting out your financial life. Are you ready for this? (it’s a big one… brace yourself…)

Okay, here goes. My biggest tip for financial success is…

Figure out your financial priorities!

Sounds easy enough, right? I think most 20-somethings have this issue (myself included) of wanting everything right this very instant. We have no idea of priorities… we just want to buy ALL OF THE THINGS. So my advice is that you do a little soul searching to decide what truly makes you happy in life. Allow yourself to spend money on those things, but cut back your spending on everything else!

{Side note: one of my favorite things about working with Hollie was that she knew exactly what she wanted to prioritize. From Day 1, she was like, “I like going to diners, drinking coffee, and running races.” So I can now confirm that everything she writes about on the blog really is what she does in real life, haha!}

I mean, let’s be honest for a sec. Imagine if you cut out all those silly little things that you spend money on (you know, the stuff you buy and immediately regret because, let’s be serious, do you really need another chevron throw pillow?) and put that money towards your financial priorities.

For example…

Do you really care about going to fancy restaurants? Or could you cut out the restaurant trips and put that money towards paying off your student loans?

Do you really care about your bi-weekly manicures and pedicures? Or can you do your nails at home, and put the saved money towards race entries?

I believe that you can do WAY more with your money than you think you can. Take a few minutes to really think about what makes you happy in life, and then cut out any spending that doesn’t support those priorities.

Do more of what you love, less of what you don’t. It’s an easy recipe for financial success— and overall happiness!

I’d love for you guys to stop by my blog and get in on the money convo with me! I also send out a monthly Money Saving Challenge newsletter– sign up for that to kickstart your money saving journey! 🙂

Questions for you:

What are some of your financial priorities? 

Have you ever worked with a budgeting coach? 

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