Budget Planning for Competition

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Scenario: You have put in countless hours of cardio, you have pushed through the increased hunger pangs, you have gone to the gym to use what little bit of energy you have left to push through your workouts. You are but a few short weeks from your show, looking your best when the final expenses and fees start rolling in: tan, suit/trunks, entry fees, travel expenses, etc. You start to panic because you realize that your funds are drying up faster than anticipated. You may have to cut back on certain expenses to make it to show day, or even worse, you may run out of budgeted money completely, and all of your hard work mentioned above just went to waste.

Let’s face it: competing is not cheap. However, there are ways to save money by being a little frugal, and/or there are ways to plan ahead and budget. A little planning can go a long way. First and foremost, I would recommend that you know you can afford to do a show without compromising ACTUAL “needs” in life, such as your mortgage/rent, food bill, taking care of your family, etc., because competing is a “want”. I cannot stress and plead with competitors enough to realize this simple concept. With that being said, this article will review ways to plan ahead, so you don’t find yourself in the situation mentioned above. I think it’s my inner Financial Analyst nerd that causes me to have such a strong opinion about this subject.

The first thing you need to do is list the main expenses you know about going into a contest prep. The expenses on this list will vary across divisions. For female competitors, your big expenses will be things like your suit, hair/makeup, jewelry, coaching fees if you have one, and entry fees. For male competitors, your big expenses will be things like your food bill, supplements, and entry fees. Obviously, there is a wide range in price for some of these items, and how expensive and/or cost efficient they can be will take some planning. The biggest tip is to be realistic about your situation. For example, if you are just stepping on stage for the first time, it doesn’t really make sense to go out and purchase an $800+ suit when you do not know if you are going to continue competing or, if you do, if you will even compete in the same division next time around. You may find a $150 suit works just fine. Before getting your mind set on something, take a step back evaluate the situation.

Once you know what your estimated expenses are, give yourself enough time to save the amount needed. After your necessary living expenses are removed from your income source, you can put a certain amount aside to a “Competition Fund”. Set goals and timeframes for the amounts in that fund. This will help you stick to a budget and make sure you are on track for saving enough. When picking a realistic amount to put aside, you are more apt to stick to the plan. Even if you start out small with $20 a paycheck, it’s a start, and you can gradually adjust based on your situation. By having these funds set aside, and sticking to your budget, you will find your stress levels will be significantly less than if you were worrying about how you were going to pay for some of the expenses required to compete. Lower stress levels result in lower cortisol levels, which results in a dryer, more conditioned physique, preventing water retention AND increased metabolism. So indirectly, financial/budget planning equals a better package come show time!

Before I work with a client who is a competitor, I make it very clear that this is not a cheap lifestyle. Gym memberships, training/coaching fees, quality food, and supplements are just part of the ongoing expense. Then there are the actual competition expenses listed below, which will vary from competitor to competitor.

For females:

  • Bikini or Posing Suit
  • Heels
  • Stage Jewelry
  • Contest Tan
  • Hair/Make-up
  • Travel Expenses
  • Organization Membership (if required, such as NPC cards)
  • Entry Fees (there is a fee for each division/class you enter)

For males:

  • Posing Trunks
  • Contest Tan
  • Travel Expenses
  • Organization Membership (if required)
  • Entry Fees

Remember, it would be devastating to go through the “hard” physical and mental part of contest prep, only to be unable to step on stage because you did not put as much planning into your economic prep. The saying that failing to plan is planning to fail is true. In all aspects of this lifestyle, a little planning goes a long way. This especially holds true with finances and budgeting!

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