The economy is bad right now, but I'm cheap so I have been living below my means for quite a while now. This is hard to do when you love triathlon because it can be a very expensive sport. Here are some deals that I have found and ways that I try to keep costs down as I train.
Clothing - I have several things from the Champion line at Target that I really like. Their long tights are good and comfy with zippers on the bottom so you can get your shoes on. I just bought this running skirt for about $20 and it fits well and the shorties don't ride up. I shop at my local running store when the seasons change to get really good deals on clothing. I got a Nike running skirt there for $10, and a Skirt Sports race belt shirt there that I REALLY like for $10 also.
Races - I joined my local tri club to get a discount on races and a discount at my local running store. This also gets me free training sessions and clinics, pretty cool! I only race locally so I have no travel costs other than gas to races. (Also, as a beginner local races are a great place to start and LEARN).
Bike - I have a crappy bike that I don't really maintain. This is pretty cost effective, but I wouldn't recommend it. (I will take it in for a tune-up/safety check before I race, don't worry)
I'm hoping someone will give me a nice bike, but it turns out that you have to ride well to get a bike... Plan B is to save up for one.
Gadgets - I don't have a lot of tri gadgets, even though I think they are VERY cool. I have a basic heart rate monitor from Nike and a simple bike computer. I would love a Garmin, but see above for the reason no one is giving me one. Plan B on that one, too.
Shoes - This is one area that I will not skimp on. I love my Saucony's for training and I HEART my Newton Stability Racers for racing and fast workouts. Good shoes are more than worth the money!