How to Find Affordable Gym Memberships Near Me

Affordable Gym Memberships Near Me

You’ve probably seen hundreds of ads on TV and as many on the radio for gym memberships and fitness club memberships. There’s generally some bonus or discount for signing up, but the fine print in the contracts can be painful.

How do you go about finding affordable gym memberships in your area?

  1. Consider the Amenities the Gym or Fitness Center Provides

Our town has a community center that charges $35 a month for individual members and $65 for families. They have free weights, running space, an indoor pool, a basketball court, and exercise space. They’re also open for over 12 hours most days and provide day care.

For us, being able to use the community center anytime, in addition to actually using it a fair amount, provides enough utility to justify spending the money. If that ever were to change, or the money to spend weren’t there, we would cancel our membership as soon as possible.

You may not be able to find a gym for free, but some things can be worth the money.

  1. Be Realistic About How Often You’ll Go to the Gym

Value does have its limits. For example, my mom had a satellite radio membership for years. It was a small monthly fee, one that is probably pretty easy to agree to because of its apparent value to the member.

There were months, though, when she didn’t even use it at all. There has to be some minimum amount of use for something to be valuable to the member.

If you have a membership you literally never use, it might make sense to drop it like my mom finally dropped her satellite radio membership.

  1. Consider the Value of the Gym

There are memberships out there with relatively low costs and potentially high economic values. A couple examples that come to mind are auto club memberships and air evacuation helicopter memberships.

I’m not saying you should go out and buy one of those right now. Rather, I would recommend checking things like your auto and health insurance policies to see what sorts of expenses like towing or an emergency airlift might cost.

Almost all memberships offer at least some potential value to their members. They are often low priced and may seem like nominal expenses to your budget.

In what ways do you value your own health? Is exercise something you enjoy for recreation and something you’re more likely to do if you have a gym membership? In such cases, paying to be a member of a gym just may pencil out.

  1. Think About Long-Term Costs of Gym Membership

But the cost of gym memberships can and does add up over time. A $50 a month membership costs $600 a year, or $18,000 over 30 years. If that money were otherwise regularly invested over 30 years at a 5% rate of return, we’re actually talking about closer to $42,000.

If you’re trying to achieve financial freedom, you know dollars and cents add up. I would encourage you to seek value and utility in your spending, including memberships. Some will be worth the cost, and others won’t. Your circumstances will probably also change over time.

However, if you’re working on improving your health and your finances, periodically taking the time to evaluate the amount of spending you’re doing on memberships and what you’re getting in return for them can be a worthwhile exercise.

  1. Find the Right Gym for You

Almost everyone knows how to use Google to search and type in a search term like affordable gyms near me. Hopefully, this article has helped equip you to think through the different parts of the decision-making process and find the most economical gym for you.

Remember to consider the up-front costs, the length of any contract, and the time commitment of actually going to a gym. If possible, you may want to negotiate for a more favorable monthly rate or refer others to the gym for reduced monthly fees.

Ultimately, which gym is right for you may come down to any of a number of factors, including price. The good news is gyms have become more inclusive and customer service focused over time. No matter your fitness level or price range, there’s probably a gym somewhere you’d be glad to call home.

How to Find Free Activities Near Me

Free Activities Near Me

I’ve found it can be kind of a fun game to try to come up with low cost forms of entertainment and free activities near me. My family and I try to find “free fun” to have as often as possible. We are fortunate to live in a town with a lot of very nice parks, for example, and just being outside on a nice day can be a fun adventure.

Visit Your Local Library

Have you ever rented a DVD from your local library? For us, it would be hard to get young children to the theatre anyway, but just think how much more money you’d have to invest spending 50 cents on a bag of popcorn in the comfort of your own home with a rented DVD rather than $50 dollars on a trip to the movies.

Find a Hobby That Generates Income

Another way you might be able to cut costs, or even to make money through entertainment, is to find a hobby that generates some income. For example, maybe you enjoy traveling and also happen to be a decent photographer. Why not try to monetize some of those beautiful pictures you’ve been taking?

Maybe you like fairs and festivals like my family does. It’s usually free to walk around. What if you could also find something to sell there or if you could work part of the day for someone there to make a few dollars?

Work at Professional Sports Stadium or Concert Arena

If you happen to enjoy something like professional sports, there are almost always jobs to be had at those sorts of venues. If you happened to like baseball enough to go to the ballpark several times a year, maybe you could work for 5 games and make enough money to pay for a decent seat for 5 more.

I once went to a dirt track to watch some motocross races. I got there a little early and found out they were short on workers that day. Instead of me paying admission, they paid me $20 to drop the flags and serve as a spotter for the races.

What happened there doesn’t happen every day. But I found myself getting paid to do something I would have paid to do. If you happen to have some side hustle skills that would allow you to defray some of the costs of the things you enjoy, why not put them to good use every now and then?

Free Activities Can Help You Financially

I wouldn’t discourage you from spending some time and money on entertainment. However, you shouldn’t be willing to go into credit card debt to pursue entertainment.

For me, financial freedom includes being able to do some of the sorts of things I enjoy some of the time. For example, finding affordable gym memberships near me is worth it.

There is an opportunity cost, though, and I would encourage you to consider that when determining how much of your hard earned money goes towards entertainment rather than being invested.

Do you think you spend too much money on entertainment? Why or why not? What are some ways you’ve found to enjoy the things you find to be entertaining without spending much money, or even without spending any at all?

How to Use Credit Cards the Right Way

How to Use Credit Cards

What do you think about credit cards? Are they like best friends that allow you to buy things faster than you would be able to otherwise? Or, are credit cards a worst enemy that has left you or someone you love in shackles?

The Truth about Credit and Credit Cards

The reality is credit and credit cards are neither good nor bad. What matters is how we choose to use them.

I don’t think it would be unwise advice to tell a person to avoid using credit, to the extent that it’s possible.

However, if you already had enough money to buy everything you might need (including your housing) or to fully fund all of your investment assets, you wouldn’t still be working to become wealthy.

Facts about Credit Card Debt

At the time of writing this, the average American household has over $15,000 in credit card debt. Once you add in all other kinds of debt, including auto loans, student loans, and mortgages, the average household debt is over $130,000!

Some debt may be unavoidable. However, some people still spend thousands of dollars a year on things like entertainment, whether they have the money available or not.

Debt can be a huge burden on an individual or a family, and it’s something to avoid when possible.

Credit Card Debt vs. Mortgage Debt

I don’t like debt. I’ve seen too many people become slaves to it or be consumed by it. That’s one reason we paid off our mortgage on our last place as quickly as we could, even when interest rates were at historic lows.

I’m fully aware that we very likely would have come out better financially otherwise investing the extra money were putting toward principal on our home. I also realize that if the housing market were to go down from when we bought, we would stand to potentially lose a significant amount of principal if we subsequently needed to sell into a down market.

But once we owned that place (which we subsequently sold and now own a different home), we didn’t have that debt hanging over us, which has significant value to me.

Using Credit to Buy a Home

In many markets, buying a home using a mortgage can also be cheaper than renting. Using credit can help a home buyer accelerate their purchase.

In reality, most people need a mortgage to buy their home, and that isn’t necessarily bad debt. In recent years, mortgage rates have been at historic lows, and there are some potential tax benefits to having a mortgage.

Still, the debt associated with that credit limits a person’s financial freedom.

Reasons to use Credit Cards

There are reasons you may need to use credit cards along the way in life. Maybe you have a great business idea that might speed you along in your journey toward financial freedom, and you need more cash than you have available. Using credit cards might be the only way to get that business off the ground.

Since I’m risk averse, I would be more inclined to start a business on a small scale and attempt to cash flow the business. Or, if the idea is good enough, perhaps I could fund the business at least in part with some investors.

However, many businesses have gotten off the ground by cash flowing their businesses with credit for some amount of time.

Using Credit Cards for Cash Back and Frequent Flier Miles

One useful benefit of credit is the perks of credit cards. Many credit cards offer things like cash back or frequent flier miles. There are even people who have taken up credit card churning as a side hustle.

However, many money experts say people end up spending more money when they use credit cards than they would otherwise. When this happens, the cash back and frequent flier miles associated with credit card offers can be negated by increases in spending.

For this reason, it’s important to limit your spending.

How to Use Credit Cards the Right Way

With all that’s been shared, we’ve learned that credit is inherently neither a good or a bad thing. Debt and leverage can be useful tools for growing businesses.

However, debt, especially consumer debt, can also be crippling. Further, many of us spend more money when we use credit cards, even if we pay our balance in full every month and never incur any financing fees.

So, perhaps the best way to use a credit card is not to use one at all. Or, credit cards should be used strategically, and balances should be paid in full each month.

Three of the Best Side Hustle Ideas for 2021

What Exactly Are Side Hustles?

Side hustles are money making opportunities beyond your normal “day” job. In a different generation, they might have been called side jobs or side gigs.

Traditionally, they have often been things like second jobs or picking up part-time shifts somewhere. However, in the gig economy of the 21st century, side hustles are increasingly freelance based work.

If you’re a freelancer, you know it is an ultra-competitive environment. That’s why it’s important to find and develop your skill set. To do that, you will need to brainstorm about what your skills and interests are.

Side Hustle Ideas Can Come From Anywhere

The good news is it is easier than ever to find and market niche skills you may have. You just need to be creative to identify what you value you can provide that other people will pay you for providing. It really is that simple.

Side hustles might be in your career field or totally different. They can be online or in person, and they can be manual labor, intellectual work, or even passive income streams.

How to Find Your Best Side Hustle Ideas

One of the cool things about side hustles is that almost everyone is, or could become, good at several things. There are several different ways you can go about finding your niche side hustle ideas.

Here are the three most common areas people find success in building profitable side hustles:

  1. Use A Current Skill Set

You might be surprised by the level of demand for a skill set you already have, though you may have to be creative in studying what other similarly positioned people have done to become successful.

Spending some time networking with people with similar skills can help you get a better feel for what opportunities are out there.

Establishing and building relationships with people who have a need for your unique talents is often even more effective.

  1. Develop A New Skill Set

Even if you don’t perceive you have a unique ability to meet someone else’s need, there’s probably something you could learn pretty quickly.

For example, my wife and I have been looking into new flooring recently, and people around here generally charge $2 dollars and $3 dollars a square foot to install it. Installing flooring professionally takes skill, but it is the type of thing you might be able to learn pretty quickly with the right mentoring.

  1. Convert A Hobby into A Side Hustle

It’s also possible to turn a hobby into an opportunity to make additional income.

Do you like drones? There is huge demand for the type of work commercially licensed drone pilots can do. In a day on a website like LinkedIn, you might be able find multiple clients whose businesses you can add value to by getting capturing high resolution footage of things like land for sale.

Building The Perfect Side Business

Whether you have side hustle ideas or you plan to develop your side business ideas into something more formal, all it takes is time and effort. Start small and build relationships with people who can help you market and sell your unique products and/or skills.

Who knows? Eventually, your side hustle may end up replacing your “day job” as your main source of income. Even if you’re just saving up for something like buying a new car, side hustles can be a lucrative way to get there.

How to Budget for a New Car from the Car Dealer

A Trip to the Car Dealer

To most people, new cars smell terrific. Used cars often have a smell all their own, but not too many people find it to be pleasant.

How much would you pay for that new car smell? I’ve paid more than I should more than once. I owned no less than three new vehicles within seven model years. I even bought one of those after I got married.

My wife helped change my perspective on vehicles, though. And I’ll share some of the pros and cons of used vehicles with you to hopefully help you make decisions that will keep you on track to achieve financial freedom and retire early.

Reasons to Buy a New Car

For me, new cars were not about status. I bought three new vehicles between 2008 and 2014, but the most I paid for any of them was the $16,300 we paid for a 2014 Honda Civic.

My reason for buying new cars was dependability. Each of the vehicles I bought came with a pretty substantial warranty. With that peace of mind, I could accurately predict what the total cost of ownership of my vehicle would be while it was under warranty.

The folks in the finance office also talked me into an extended “service plan” on two of the vehicles. In theory, this extended a large part of my coverage all the way to 100,000 miles. But we’ll talk about the folly of those decisions later.

How to Buy a New Vehicle from the Car Dealer

If you must get a new car, I would probably recommend you do what I did. First, I bought the most basic model in one of the most common colors. Bells and whistles on vehicles can be convenient, but they’re not necessary. And they are expensive on new cars. And you’re the one paying the full undepreciated price on the new vehicle.

Second, I bought the outgoing model year’s vehicle all three times. For example, in 2014, the 2015 Civics were out. There were still 2014 Civics available at substantially lower prices, though. You may lose a little resale value that way, but that can be lessened by holding onto the vehicle a long time.

Finally, do as much research as you can on the vehicles you might be interested in, and think about all of the costs. Sites like cars.com are great for establishing a baseline.

This is also applicable for buying used cars, and it is what eventually moved me to buying used cars for good.

Budget for All the Costs of the Car

Each vehicle has a sale price. In most states, there is also an initial sales tax, which is based on the sales price. The more expensive the vehicle, the more expensive the sales tax. In my state, as in many states, there is also an annual personal property tax assessed on your vehicle. Again, the more expensive the vehicle and the newer the vehicle, generally speaking, the more expensive the personal property tax.

You are required by law to carry insurance for your vehicle. There are exceptions, but generally speaking, the more expensive the vehicle, the more expensive the insurance.

You also have costs associated with each mile you drive. The most obvious of these costs is fuel. Of course, more fuel efficient vehicles end up costing less per mile to operate than less fuel efficient vehicles.

Consider Buying Fuel Efficient Vehicles

If you have several children or a job that requires lots of equipment, a compact car that maximizes fuel efficiency might not work for you. But all other costs being equal, it makes sense to buy the most fuel efficient vehicle you can. If fuel prices go up, you’ll only save more money, or at least spend less.

Remember Maintenance and Repair Costs

One more cost worth considering is the cost of maintenance and repairs for the vehicle after purchasing from the car dealer. This cost was my main reason for buying new cars before I got married. I wanted my costs in this area to be fixed.

All these costs might make you want to consider side hustle ideas, because new buying new cars from dealerships is not cheap!