Limited budges suck.  You know what, I’m going to say it again because it is too true.  Limited budgets suck.  You have you bike and want to make a few upgrades or need to add more items to your closet for riding.  It always seems like money is going out the door and while yes you are enjoying the additions you keep watching the budget get chipped away faster than your list of wants/needs.  Frustrating.


So you have a couple choices to get those extra funds to grab a few other things off your list.  You could make everyone eat only half portions  so you spend less money on groceries and then funnel those bucks to the bike budget, you could ‘quietly’ sell of furniture and use the profit for cycle gear shopping, or maybe you sell an organ or two.  Ok, so those are terrible ideas you don’t have to tell me twice.  So what do you do?


Hopefully you are already checking out your local bike stores for purchases.  The next time you are in the shops don’t just look to see if they have the items you are looking for, ask if they have a rewards, or frequent buyers program.  By joining one of these programs you can make your purchases work FOR you.  Many shops will have a program where you can earn 5-10% back from your purchases.  These types of programs are great not only for the shop but also for you.  Sure, once you start to get imbedded in with a shop because once you are earning you are going to want to keep going back to that shop to build that little bike gear savings account.  You keep going back to that shop and buying which helps them and they will get to know you better which can help you out come mechanical issues or assistance, so really that gives you a double-bang for your …. well, buck.


I knew what shop I was going to buy my latest bike so I joined the program a couple weeks before making the big purchase.  By joining ahead of time I was able to maximize my % back once I slapped down that chunk of change and helped get that account off to a good start.  So far I have been able to buy gloves and pedals with extra cleats.  Right now I’m trying to save up for a nice trainer – Wahoo Kickr or Kickr Snap in case you were wondering, but that is for another post.  Yeah, if I wasn’t buying a bike then it might have taken a little longer but it does grow.  Seeing as how I have already been able to make it pay out, I think it is a good program.


All that said, make sure you know what all the details are for the program.  I jumped around a little online to check out what LBS in various states offered and noticed a couple rules with the programs.  Some places have where you can only use your rewards at certain times of the year.  So if you are wanting to be able to use your ‘cash back’ when you want to make sure you find a shop that offers that, conversely if that doesn’t matter then don’t worry about it and make a note on your calendar that you get free shopping a couple times a year.  I also noticed that some programs are free while others have a membership fee.  If you join a program with the fee then make sure you are getting more than a % of your purchases back.   You should be getting free shipping or something additional for being a paid member.  Check the fine details, but if there is a reward program you pretty much can’t go wrong.


Being a part of some program at a shop means you can make your new parts work with and for you.  While at first it might seem like it will take a long time before you start to see any benefit, just remember, 5-10% is better than 0%.  Being a cyclist year-round but on a limited budget means having to find ways to make every dollar stretch as far as it can go.  One way to make those dollars stretch further is to find a way to earn money back from your purchases.  Sure, you might not be able to walk out the door with a generous portion of your wish list with your earnings from a program but you will be able to leave with a few more items you thought would have to wait until next year.