Gaining listening experience without spending money

I am always blown away at how many folks on here have experience listening to so many different pieces of equipment. As an average dude loving this rich mans hobby, how does one gain listening experience without blindly buying and trying? 
Listen to everything you can whenever you can and care about understanding why you hear what you do. You don’t have to own something to listen and facilitate training your ears.

Also do a lot of reading to help build a good understanding of how hifi gear works. 
Gaining listening experience without spending money?

If you live anywhere near a music conservatory or University with a music program, go and attend faculty and/or student recitals. Details and schedules are usually available on the institution’s website. Attendance is usually free. Faculty members are usually musicians of very high caliber and sometimes are well known artists. The level of musicianship of graduating students can be extremely high.

If you want an audio system that will satisfy long term, there is no better thing to do than to first have a solid sense of what the real thing sounds like. Taking this approach is also likely to save you money in the long run.

Then, as far as gaining experience listening to audio equipment goes, join a local audio club; or form one. Great way to listen to other audio systems. In those University concert halls there will inevitably be a bulletin board where you can post your interest in forming a club or in socializing with like minded individuals. As I’m sure you know, audiophiles are usually more than willing to show off their audio systems.

Good luck and have fun.
You can start off by buying used components. This allows you to affordably find what you like. Later you can buy new components or higher quality used components. Of course, Audiogon is a great place to do this. 
As a previous writer stated don't be afraid to ask on this and other forums for in home auditions, we all enjoy meeting new people and sharing knowledge and our systems. You can also try Audiocircle , audioasylum and Usaudiomart. Good luck enjoy the listening.
Be not afraid of buying used (but not abused) equipment....

Everything I own, with the exception of 3 pieces of 'pro audio' is used.

Starting 'small' is nothing to be embarrassed about.....but being 'picky' about What and within budget basically (imho) resides in your choice of speakers.

Like us, they have distinctive 'voices', and traits within that....That will take the bulk of your time to find what you like....

The majority of 'upstream' equipment has decent and acceptable specs and response.  It's only when one has developed personal preferences as to how it responds to the music you like that the more minutia become relevant and important to your enjoyment.

Buy the best you can rationalize for what you've in mind for your ears.

Pay attention to the space that will reside in.
'Bright' speakers in a 'live' room can be a bit much, as will the inverse of that....  One way to consider it is to approach the endeavor as a balancing act.

Don't be afraid to invoke the SAF option (if available *G*); they do tend to have an edge of sorts, and they generally have to live with the system as well.

The KISS factor is important.  She may want to use it as well.  It shouldn't require a Phd to play a CD or even an LP....

My SigOther learned how to use a destat gun, a fibre brush, and a cuing lever.  It's not rocket science, just good technique....;)

Go forth and enjoy the journey. *S*

Regards, J