With the purchase of our first home, my wife and I are looking to find any monthly expenses that we can cut back on in order to offset the impact of our new mortgage, tax, and insurance payment. There isn’t a one size fits all answer or one expense that will magically offset this impact; however, we are going to do everything we can to collect a series of small victories to lessen the blow. We found one piece of low hanging fruit, our gym membership, and decided to take a look at whether the expense was necessary or a luxury.
When we moved into our rental home three years ago, my wife and I sought out a local gym. The best deal we found was with the YMCA. For $25/person (so $50 per month for the two of us), we received access to the gym, basketball courts, pools, sauna, and free classes that were held at the YMCA. Compared to other gyms nearby, this was a nice menu of services for a pretty reasonable price.
To have some fun, I looked up a few quick statistics about gym memberships. As cited on StatisticBrain.com, 67% of people who have gym memberships never use their membership and it is estimated that $39 per membership is wasted due to under-utilization by the member. These statistics may be from only one website, but there are plenty of other articles that show that there is a population of gym membership users that are not getting the value out of their membership or sign up and barely use the gym.
My wife was more of an active user than I was over the years. She loved going to the spinning and yoga classes. She also would exercise regularly for few month periods. For nearly half the months each year, she made great use of the $25/month membership fee and extracted the value. For me on the other hand, well, I fall more into the category of the type of people who have a gym membership and periodically workout. For some reason, lack of commitment or lack of interest or a constantly changing travel schedule for work, I could not establish a regular workout routine. Unlike her, I was not getting value for the $25/month membership fee.
On top of it, this year, my wife has been kicking butt and has been pretty stubborn about sticking to her new eating/workout plan. I’m so proud of her and the results have been amazing. The new plan provides you with a workout video for each day of the week and guess what, they are home workouts! Recently, she has been working out like crazy, just at home and not the gym. The gym membership, while a nice backup, has been heavily underutilized by the two of us.
So when we started looking at our expenses and figuring out which expenses are necessary and which expenses are discretionary, the gym membership fell into the latter category. The other day, I called and cancelled our membership, saving $50/month. This will help ease some of the fears I am having about being a first time homeowner. But between her workout videos, running outside, and home workouts, we should be able to easily offset the impact of having a gym membership. Heck, we have talked about purchasing a used treadmill for our home and possibly buying a package that provides us access to all of the Beach Body workout videos. It would be a one time expense, but we would then own a diverse collection of workout videos and plans, allowing a rotation of workouts while keeping things fresh.
In all actuality, we probably should have cancelled out gym memberships a long time ago. The writing was on the wall that we were under utilizing our gym membership and that the monthly expense was wasted. However, until our feet were up against the fire for our finances, we were willing to look the other way and deal with the monthly expense. It sucks and that doesn’t fit the “Every Single Dollar Counts” mentality. But going forward, we are focusing on being better about this and trying to identify all pieces of fat to trim from our budget. I’ll have to keep you updated with what other items we find!
Do you have a gym membership? Do you feel like you are properly utilizing this membership? Have you fallen into the same situation we were in before, where you sign up with the best intentions and then under utilize the gym membership after you sign-up?