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Why I’m Paying $70 For Something I Could Have For Free

4th of July triathlon


I try really hard to practice lifestyle deflation, which is the opposite of lifestyle inflation. This means carefully considering every purchase and certainly not paying for things that I don’t absolutely need. Every once in a while, a non-necessary expense comes up that makes me throw that thought out the window. This 4th of July, I’m paying $70 for something I could have for free.

Physical fitness is one of my top priorities. We only have so much time, and I want to give myself the best shot at being healthy during the amount of time I get. I use plenty of low cost ways to exercise, including running, biking, hiking, or using P90x at home. I love to do 5k or 10k races but have really cut those out due to expense and/or travel time. However, every 4th of July for the past six years, I’ve signed up for the Cortez Burst Triathlon. This year, I’m taking my daughter with me!

Yep, we paid $50 for me and $20 for her to run, swim, and bike around our home town. Running and biking are absolutely free, and the pool fee is only $2. Why on earth are we so nutty?

A Challenge is Good

I am in pretty good shape, but doing a triathlon is challenging. The neat thing is that last year, at age 40, I had my fastest time ever and was barely beaten out of 3rd place by a 16 year old local track star. (It’s a good thing she’s a slow swimmer!) I don’t know what this year’s results will bring, but I’ve been working my butt off to try and improve so I can be done before the kid’s triathlon starts.

As for my eight year old, it was 100% her idea to sign up, but let’s just say training has not been a piece of cake. Physically, she is more than capable, but young kids and their attitudes can shift on a dime. Some of our runs have been like herding cats, but challenge is good for kids too. I’m not sure I would have had to guts to sign up for any competitive athletic event when I was eight, and there is no way my Mom or Dad could or would have helped me train.

Money Means Results

At the beginning of the summer, if we’d said, “Let’s be able to swim, bike, and run, all on the same day,” we might have gotten around to it. More likely, it would have been pushed to the back burner because we’ve been busy. Just like my friend John who lost 100 pounds after shelling out cash for a meal program, paying money means results in our household. I’m not about to pay $70 and have us forfeit because we didn’t work hard enough.

It’s Fun To Be Around Like Minded People

Just like I am uplifted by the personal finance community when I have a money issue to discuss, the triathlon community is the kind I like to hang out with. Most people in my real world life think I’m nuts for getting up before five to work out almost every day. Triathlon people understand and encourage me to work even harder.

Recently, a fellow athlete offered me the use of a wet suit to practice open water swimming, and the lady I work out with in the mornings will surely text me if I over sleep. There will be some hard core athletes there this weekend, but the majority of the local people are there to get a good work out and cheer each other on. It’s a great support system.

So this Saturday, think of me and the kiddo. We’ll be finishing up about the time many people are getting out of bed. At least I can wear my “free” t-shirt after the race and feel like I’ve earned my 4th of July barbecue and dessert!

What are your plans for the 4th? 


About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. I used to pay a gym membership before for $30 every month. Last January, I decided to stopped going to the gym and started to do a home work out with the help of YouTube.

    • I think there are some amazing resources on YouTube and that’s a great money savings if you can get your workouts in for free.

  2. You really aren’t paying for something you could get for “free”. Though I totally understand what you’re saying, you’re paying for a fun experience for you and your family. These events aren’t free to put on and it’s a fun day for you guys.

    On the same note, I bought a FitBit about 6 months ago. Sure I didn’t need one and sure a free Kelloggs pedometer may suffice but I LOVE my fitbit. I have about 10 friends and family members who I compete with daily and it works well for me and motivation. Not a day passes i don’t wear it 🙂

    • I do believe when you are the only player in the game, you tend to slack and find excuses about why you can’t do this or don’t have time for that. Having someone else to keep your motivation level up can make huge difference.

  3. I’ve been thinking of signing up for a half marathon because that’s the only way I know I will be more religious about my running. Like you said it just seems to go to the back burner. Good luck tomorrow!

  4. I totally get it and encourage stuff like that. You guys “train” for free but having an event that has people an energy and is the “end goal” it totally different and worth it. I think that encourages future fitness, especially for your daughter, so feel that excitement and energy. Good luck and have fun!

    • I’ve taken her to my morning workout class a few times this summer, mainly because I didn’t want to miss it and we didn’t have child care. She sometimes worked out and sometimes read her books but all the people in the class loved her and she will have so many people cheering her on at the finish. I hope it creates a lifetime of wanting to accomplish fitness goals.

  5. I think it’s great that your daughter is doing the triathlon too! I workout but I don’t really have a set goal. I’ve been thinking about signing up for a race just to challenge myself. Good luck!

    • For me, when I pay the entrance fee that means I have to get my butt in gear. I would never miss a race I paid for.

  6. Good luck this weekend!!! I think it’s awesome that you are doing this with your daughter! It’s definitely an investment in an experience more than anything and it definitely sounds like it’s worth the investment.

    • I love races and I kind of hope my daughter will learn to love them too and it can be something we do together. Even if it costs some money, it probably is a good investment.

  7. I’ve only ran in a couple races, but both have been a lot of fun. It’s fun to be around everyone else who has been training for the race and there seems to be a lot of energy and excitement at the races. I might need to do another one sometime soon!

  8. I am excited for some activities this 4th of July! Yay! I feel you there I think sometimes we have to negotiate, which my wife is very good at. Have a nice weekend, Kim.

  9. Oh my gosh that’s so awesome, and totally inspiring! Good luck to the both of you, and happy 4th!

  10. Sounds like a good investment to me! Hope it was a great time for both you and your daughter. How’d you do?

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