Much of the advice I share here are lessons I’ve learned the hard way. I certainly don’t possess any unique skill at navigating the personal finance world, and I’ve made my share of mistakes. To clean up those mistakes I typically advise families to cut any unnecessary spending, particularly in this time of recession.
We have taken our own advice in the Frugal household by cutting the cable back to basic service, lowering our cell phone plan, signing up for the value Internet plan, and a number of other cuts. However, there is one expense I am unwilling to let go–my gym membership.
Gym memberships really are a luxury in that I could get adequate exercise with a good pair of walking shoes and a few dumbbells. However, with our current layout a home gym is not possible, and most of the equipment I use at the gym is too expensive to put in the house anyway.
Over the years I have struggled with whether or not to let go of my gym membership. I have even gone so far as canceling it and trying to do home workouts to no avail. Right now my membership costs about $30 a month, or $360 a year. That works out to roughly a dollar a day. Actually, because I don’t go every day like I should it works out to closer to two or three dollars a day. Still, that is not a lot considering the benefits I receive.
Benefits of a Gym Membership
Lower health care costs. If I can get in and stay in better shape it will help lower health care costs and insurance premiums. In this way, I consider the $30 a month an investment because it more than offsets the costs of additional doctor visits and increased premiums.
Relieves stress. After sitting at a desk all day, and much of the night, it is good to get up and move around. I have lifted weights since high school and find it to be therapeutic in terms of relieving stress. It would take much more than $360 to outfit my garage with the same equipment I use at the gym–weight bench, squat rack, leg press, barbells and a full weight set, not to mention the various cardio equipment.
Mental clarity. Ever just feel like you are in a fog, mentally? Me too. When I start to feel that way I immediately look at two things: my diet and my workout schedule. When I start to slack off on either one I can feel a decline in mental sharpness and often feel more fatigued. Strange that working to near exhaustion in the gym actually gives you more energy, but it really does.
Adds discipline to your daily routine. Regardless of what time of day I workout, the workout itself sets the tone for the day. I used to get up early and hit the gym, but I have replaced that early morning time with writing. Now I typically workout after I leave work, and it is a nice change of pace to leave the office, hit the gym and then head home.
Networking opportunities. If you are single, this advice may mean something totally different to you! But for us married folks, I am referring more to professional networking opportunities. The gym is sort of a melting pot for professionals in my area as people from a variety of industries have memberships to the same gym. It is not unusual to strike up a conversation about the market with the guy on the treadmill next to me. Eventually we chat about family and jobs and I have established a new contact. It never hurts to have a few of these casual friends in your network.
Boosts self-confidence. It is true that better looking people have an easier time getting ahead in life. Fortunately for me, looks aren’t the only thing that matter! Hard work and discipline makes up for a lack of looks, but one secret ingredient can override all others–self confidence. Establishing a workout routine, sticking with it, and making progress boosts self confidence. The physical improvements are nice, too, but the change on the inside is far more important.
Do you have a gym membership? Have you considered canceling it to reduce monthly expenses?