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Breaking the Bank

Best way to kill your budget? Have kids. Best way to be completely broke?  Add triathlon.

You following? Okay, if not, here’s some math for you.

Kids + Triathlon = Broke
Kids Triathlon = Insane.

[E.g.,  it’s better to be broke, than insane.]

Best cheering section ever. #swimbikekids #justkeepmovingforward

Kids are so, so, so expensive. Understatement of the century.  When people start thinking about having babies, they grossly (and I mean, grossly) underestimate the costs of kid.  And even more so, the costs of kids. (Plural).

Triathlon is so, so, so expensive. OMG.  What are we doing here people? Having babies and doing triathlon!? Dave Ramsay! Where are you!? We need a new money makeover… stat.

It's even too early for the kid.


Okay, for my childless friends.  “Wah wah,” you say, “YOU chose to have kids. Stop complaining.”  Not complaining, just educating my young married childless couple friend out there.

Alright. Just the baby gear alone is a small home equity line of credit.  But …before the baby gear comes the whole new hideous wardrobe of stretchy pants, odd shaped underpants, weird bras, and wider shoes that you must buy for pregnancy. God help you if you need to actually work while pregnant.  Oh hell yes!  Pregnancy suits are so flattering. And cheap. Pfft.

Two napping kids? James hasn't napped in years... I should be napping!

After the little alien(s) arrive, the gear. Crib, bedding, stroller, carseat(s), highchair, humidifiers, swing, bouncy, Boppy, tubby, breastpump (!), formula (another kudos for breastfeeding – at least you’d save money here), diapers (!), nursing bras, the teeny tiny collegiate onesies, Elmo-then Barney-then Dora products, DVDs (oh, the car DVD player if you’re not already sporting the Escalade), stickers, crayons, paper, hats, plastic forks, trays, sippy cups, diaper bag, bottles, changing table, rocker, burp pads, rug, nursery decor, and most likely a large humiliating new vehicle, etc. etc.

And then childcare!?  Holy mother of monkeys.  Childcare! I had no idea that it costs more than a house. It does. Really.


Just wait until the kids are preschool age.  Another bazillion dollars, per child to go to “school” where they fingerpaint and pick noses. Plus the ridiculous projects the school assigns: Bring in $5 for pizza day!  Bring in $25 gift card for your teacher! Bring in an “appetizer” to share!  [The appetizer, hands down, is my favorite – “appetizer” for a two year old’s Christmas party.  Slap me. Please.]

Most likely, if you and your partner have been a fabulous single couple – meaning you have a nice car, a snazzy apartment in the city, and other finer things  – say hello to the cost for a new suburban house, an ugly big ole car and monthly storage fees (for all your bear skin rugs and Italian leather things that will become sticky once a child arrives.)


Speaking of sticky.  Kids are sticky.  And childbirth, hurts. Dammmmn.


The cost of triathlon is insanity. “Cheap triathlon” is an oxymoron. But save a dollar and lose your mind, the Expert always says.  I mean, just the general cost of triathlon, if you buy retail, is going to be insane. (Yes, smarty pants people out there, you say, “But Swim Bike Mom, my wetsuit was only $155.”  Congratulations.  This is a summary – and yes, we also have $155 wetsuits at Swim Bike Sell. Don’t yell at me about these prices.)


If you have and want to sink some cashola into a “hobby,” you have chosen the right money pit. You will be surprised how quickly you will justify the extravagant expenditures for the sake of health, when really, you just want the shiny new Shimano shoes and Pearl Izumi arm warmers (in the summer). But I justify blowing cash for the benefit of my triathlon lifestyle because…well, it’s for my health.

(Oh, but you can use code “SBM14” at for 10% off now. That helps.)

Swim: one-piece tank swimsuit ($65); goggles, 2 pair ($50); swim caps ($20); wetsuit ($250); TriSlide ($12); kickboard ($30); fins ($50); paddles ($40); swim mesh bag ($20); hair care for swimming ($40); Bike: bike ($1000-$15,000) and saddle ($200); new helmet ($100); cycling shoes ($200); pedals ($100); water bottles ($15); rear bottle cage/hydration system ($40-150); bike bento box ($25); access to a gym with a cycling class ($75 a month); gloves ($30); winter gloves ($50); chamois (padded) shorts ($90-200); pump ($50); tubes, C02 cartridges ($40); sunglasses ($100); bicycle trainer ($250-450); cycling jersey(s) ($90-200); arm warmers ($30); arm coolers ($30); shoe covers ($30); cycling tights ($60); outer layer jacket ($100); CompuTrainer ($1200); power meter ($600-1600);  Run: sports bras ($100); two pairs of excellent shoes and many pairs of excellent socks ($200); GPS heart rate monitor ($400); wicking running shirts ($150); several pairs of running shorts ($150); running capris ($50); warm-up pants ($60); compression socks/sleeves ($60); visor ($25); Fuel Belt® ($50); Camelbak® ($75); Race Day: triathlon suit / shorts & top ($150); transition mat ($30); gear bag ($75); Race Entries ($100,000,000)

Speaking of sticky.  Triathlon is also sticky.

And like children, painful.

Suck it up, Buttercup? Done. #fitfluential #proof #swimbikemom #justkeepmovingforward


What’s the Point?

Well. Are babies in your budget?  Is triathlon in your budget?

Conked out on the way to Ellijay.

The answer is probably no, and no.

Both are hugely expensive and have a really steep learning curve.  I mean changing a diaper? Changing  a tube? Same thing, really. And equally as dirty if you are inefficient.

The thing is–kids will drive you buck-wild insane. I mean, how many times one must hear, “Mommy mommy mommy” in one hour. Or when they are newborns and all you hear is crying. Insane.

Yea, I just removed my race number off my bike ...from Augusta in Sept. Taking Andy out for his first cold weather ride! @all3sports #imcda #justkeepmovingforward

For me, triathlon was a beautiful escape from the chaos–small little snippets where I could escape and do something for me. Too bad triathlon is actually sometimes kinda hard–and really, I just added work for myself.

Neither here nor there.  Okay. So.

Kids and triathlon…. I can say I have  two beautiful components to my life:  my family and triathlon. (Not much else.  Oh yes, my bike.)

Two very different things.  But two things that frustrate the living hell out of me, but keep me moving forward every day.  Running. Children. Nuts.

But once you have children, you realize just how much you need triathlon!  Kids – triathon = insane.  Mommy needs to run.  Now.

And then triathlon helps you show your kiddos just how important it is to be healthy… You lead by example.  You do your best, you show them how to find themselves, their passion and to be healthy… and it’s a beautiful thing.

At the end of the day, one really should not hesitate to have a baby OR do a triathlon.

Because both rock.

James took this one....

The struggles are there… for both.

But go on, get that kid and the triathlon.

It may not be fun right away, but eventually you’ll be glad you did.   🙂


* * * Caveat: This may sound like a negative post.  Not meant to be. Afterall, the two Swim Bike Kids are the best $200,000 (and counting) we’ve ever spent.  And yes, at that price, they are much nicer than our previous two houses – thanks for asking!

And if you want proof that I really DO love my kids.. listen to my appearance on Dr. Fitness and the Fat Guy… well, that might arguably not help my case. 🙂  They actually give me a really hard time, in retrospect.


  • Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What?!

    January 22, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Love it, an appropriately timed since we’re having “discussions” about the cost of triathlon right now (and forever, it’s ongoing) and I just started to think that my kids don’t need to do summer camp and I can use that money for a race registration… then felt like a jerk! But they seriously don’t NEED to go, it’s just for fun! So I’m selling baby things…

  • Miranda

    January 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    This made my laugh out loud on a day when I really need to.

    Side question – is the $100,000 figure what you’re selling the girl child for the buy the new house? Just wondering if that was still on the table…..

    (random readers no Meredith isn’t actually selling a child. Read a few posts back to get the joke).

  • carin

    January 22, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    There is that tiny little window after all the baby expenses and before college expenses that you get to do a little for yourself and hopefully that carries you through the rest of your life-since children grow up but healthy living lasts forever!

  • adriana restrepo

    January 22, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    I know we are one of those referred in there as “my young married childless couple friend” or some might call us DINKs (Double Income No Kids) and not complaining… but multiply everything by 2 as in 2 Ironman goals in a year (actually 4 after is all said and done) it gets really up there…. when the DINK status comes to an end, for sure tri will have to take a back seat and focus on priorities and see how it can be done under a smaller budget 🙂 glad we don’t have to buy toys anymore

  • Anna Stedman

    January 22, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    We have 6 children and they do not have EVERYTHING . We have raised them clothed, fed, in church and with social life and it has not broken the bank. Don’t believe the commercials. They make kids whine for things they don’t need. and Triathlon can be done without breaking the bank. We do it on one income, but I choose my races carefully and don’t buy a lot of extra equipment that I don’t need. You CAN do it!!!. Anna in IDaho

  • Laura

    January 22, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Put a smile on my face and made my crappy afternoon !!! Love……..and I got into this for sanity also! Just wait, as they get older the baby gear turns into teenage gear. Braces, cars & college……………lol 😉

  • Martine

    January 22, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    I agree with a lot of what’s been said. My kids are 15 and 16 and have raced very competitively at triathlon for 3 years now. For me this is when it got really hard. They have a tri team with a coach which isn’t cheap x2! Plus now we have 4 road bikes 1TT bike (that’s my other half’s bike) and all the gear x4. And yes they’ve been beating both of us now for several years! The hardest part for me is since I don’t use their coach, when they go to practice it’s another chunk of time that I’m waiting on them. If it’s in the decent weather months I can get my workouts in but not during this time of year… I need more discipline! Where is that catholic school training?

  • Katie

    January 22, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    I feel this way when I got my dog. I grossly underestimated the amount of money he’d cost (though not nearly as much as I can imagine children costing!). But his sweet face makes it worth it and somehow I’m finding the money.

  • Stephanie

    January 22, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Like someone above, I added high education to the mix – that includes my master’s degree. I’ve got one on his own finally and one about to enter college and one last one who will start college the following fall. Life is expensive and messy and painful. Kids and triathlon both make it harder and easier. I’ve worked for the past decade, and done tri’s for the last three. The last three have been the best years thus far and the most challenging thus far.

    • Stephanie Roberson

      January 23, 2014 at 1:23 am

      highER education. Good Lord! You’d think with all that money I’ve given to universities over the years that I could do a spell check.

  • maura

    January 22, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Half that list is unnecessary. Super fun toys if you have the cash to spare, but not needed to compete and enjoy the sport. I always get a boost when I pass someone with all the fancy pants gear. I can’t afford a carbon frame. So I focus on hill training and intervals and let my muscles shave seconds off my times.
    I don’t want to perpetuate the stereotype that triathlon is a sport only for the rich.

    • Rhonda Beldon

      June 1, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      A trainer, CompuTrainer, and a power meter?!?! Don’t forget not one, but TWO new tri bikes in the last year. You’re right…half of this stuff is totally unnecessary. But, hey, I guess if you look fast, you feel fast. And that’s what’s important out there. Love seeing these people at races…

  • Renee

    January 22, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Great post! Can you write one about balancing Tri, children and hubby? Lawdy (as you would say)! I need some serious coaching on that one! 😉

  • Carla

    January 23, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Wow! I am one of those clueless childless people, but after living in Asia I was starting to think, this kid thing can’t be too expensive. In China there is no crib, bouncy, high chair, and I rarely see a stroller (there are babies and young children everywhere). My co-worker brings her two year old to parties, and out to dinner with only a water bottle and a few raisins in her purse for her son! I told another co-worker about “kid food” in Canada, she was shocked by the notion that children would get special food. That said, I know nothing, because I am not a mother, and one day I will probably be first in line forking over my hard earned money for an in car dvd player, and tons of kid food, so I can have just a few minutes of peace.


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