Swim With The Sharks – Memberships

Sharks come in all sizes, each with the objective of taking a proportionate bite (out of our cash).

The prior posts in this series covered what I would consider to be great whites. The topic of this post relates to a breed that takes much smaller bites, which, over time, can add up.

Here we go…

How many times have we signed up for a membership, with good intentions, only for the activity to fade away (we stop using the membership)?

First, I’ll say, if there is a membership that is key to our plan to achieve a goal, such as physical fitness, we need to discipline ourselves to use it (i.e., get our butts to the gym). And/or, find other means to achieve our goal (i.e., mine is mountain biking, since I hate being cooped up).

I digress…

The issue is that we sign up for memberships that we continue to pay for even though we aren’t reaping the full benefits. What if we could head this off at the front-end?

Since I can’t mountain bike (as much) in the winter, I’ve played racquetball to fill that void. The closest gym with a racquetball court offers an on-demand court rental fee. After a few visits (a number of years ago) I was visited by a shark who managed to convince me to become a member, doing some clever math suggesting that on a “per visit” basis I’d save tons of money over the course of the year.

The reality: The math worked in “their” favor. Especially, since I was a “seasonal” user at best…

Bottom-line: Unless we are absolutely committed to a long-term, consistent relationship (“at least” weekly visits over the course of a year) we may be better off avoiding these memberships.

Just to make sure we are covering the gamut on this…Other membership (or membership-like) programs that can take a similar bite out of our cash include:

  • Massage / spa programs
  • Lessons (music, languages, etc.)
  • Associations

An option, in many cases, is to pay a per use fee and/or find another means to achieve the same objective.

That said, “if” entering into these long-term memberships is a catalyst to create discipline to get us to the gym (or whatever), then we should “just do it.” That is, get there, and make use of the investment 🙂

While it may not seem like much (let’s use $20 per month, to support our math illustration), the cost adds up over time.

  • $20 x 12 (months) is $240
  • $240 x 10 (years) is $2,400

This is a fine investment, when we are actually reaping the benefits. If, however, we aren’t making use of the membership there is only one course of action: kill it ASAP!

I know, I know…It is so easy to avoid that confrontational meeting and/or phone call to initiate the cancellation. Just think of our math illustration (above) and it will increase the pain level (create motivation), which will make it a much easier call 🙂

More to come!

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