Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: N. Central Arkansas
Consider joining your local Kennel Club or training group. My dues are $10 a year. They have drop in obedience and rally classes, conformation classes and the occasional drop in agility class. The cost of drop in classes are $10 and generally last until everyone is finished. You get discounted prices on seminars and other events hosted by the club (though not entries into trials). We are currently hosting a handling seminar by Norma Smith. $100 for club members, $150 for non-members. Savings like that can really add up.
Volunteer to help at local club events and trials. You can learn a LOT by simply observing those in the ring and talking to people. You can pick up a lot of hints and tips by learning from the mistakes of others. I've spent many a lunch hour chatting about dogs with Pat Trotter and other well-known judges. I spent a day stewarding for Jimmy Moses last year. Watching him go over dogs and learning what he expected to see from the person handling the dog and how he handled the dogs for exams. Watching him handle the puppy classes, many of whom were a bit over-whelmed by the environment, was exceptional.
Also, many clubs offer special raffles for their workers. You get a ticket for every day or even 1/2 day you work. Plus, you can get some awesome things in the regular raffle as well. I've gotten an off-brand furminator, 3 traffic leads, dozens of cute dog themed t-shirts. A couple years ago, our club's big raffle item was a new tunnel for agility.
Don't buy dog specific items when the human equivalent is cheaper. For example, dog gates. In the pet section, they can be $15-20. Or get a baby gate for $5.
Train with friends. We get together a couple times a month at least and work dogs. The more experienced help the less experienced and it's always good to have multiple sets of eyes to see where you might be giving mixed signals.
I've exchanged photography work for training lessons. I've swapped dog sitting with friends. We take turns driving the carpool to various events.