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10 Tips To Cut Down Your Gym Costs

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Working toward a goal this year requires planning. For those who vowed to lose weight or get fit, finding a gym is likely at the top of the to-do list. Luckily, January is the busiest time for health clubs experiencing an uptick in membership sign-ups, which means you can find a number of deals around town. Before you jump at the first offer though, consider these tips to help you save even more on gym costs.

1. Max Out Trials
Before you sign up, make sure the gym is a good fit for you. Evaluate classes and instructors and take note of crowds and availability of equipment during the time you plan to use the facility. Most health clubs offer a free week so take advantage of as many complimentary memberships as you can. While sales associates will pressure you to commit after your first day there by offering a limited-time discount, don’t fall for the trap. Ultimately, you’ll lose money by taking the deal if you realize that the gym isn’t right for you. Stick with the free trial until you’re ready to commit, or move on if the facility doesn’t meet your needs.

2. Practice Haggling
Signing up for gym is very much like buying a car. Membership associates have quotas to meet and often use high-pressure sales tactics to get you to commit for the long haul. While the new year often brings lots of new member deals, nothing is set in stone and there’s always room for a better deal. While scoring a lower monthly rate and waiving the initiation fee should be your primary negotiating priorities, there are other ways to add value to your membership. Ask the associate for the first month free, more guest passes, extra personal training sessions, free towels, complimentary childcare and discounts on spa packages (if offered).

3. Punch It
Paying a flat monthly fee typically works out to less money per visit than a punch pass. However, a recent study by Berkley found members who choose a contract with a monthly fee over a 10-visit pass paid $600 more annually. So if you don’t have time to hit the gym everyday or you prefer to be active outdoors, paying per visit may offer a better value and will also save you potential early-termination fees if you want to cancel the membership before the contract is up.

4. Resist the Commitment
You can get a lower monthly rate when committing to a two-year contract, but you’ll pay more overtime if you don’t use it or want to switch facilities. While you’d like to become a fitness devotee overnight, creating new healthy habits takes time. Before you sign up for a year, try the membership on a month-to-month basis. This way you can determine if the health club meets your fitness needs and if you will actually use it on a regularly basis.

5. Stretch the Definition of Family
Many health clubs provide family membership deals that aren’t limited to blood relatives. This means you can sign up with a few friends to benefit from the discounted offer. Find trustworthy friends and designate one individual to make the monthly payment and come up with a reimbursement plan that works for everyone. Whether each person sends the payee a check, transfers money via Paypal or sends one lump sum for the year, work this out ahead of time. It will help you avoid any rifts in friendship that may occur due to financial issues.

6. Track Coupons & Daily Deals
Before you sign a gym contract or enroll in a new fitness studio, look for deals online. CouponSherpa.com offer coupons and free passes for health clubs including 24Hour Fitness, while daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial provide deep discounts of up to 70-percent on local memberships and personal training. You can jump around from gym to studio to bootcamp by taking advantage of new monthly offers. For example, you can get a three-month membership to Studio City Fitness Gym in Los Angeles for just $48, compared to the standard $149.

7. Review Warehouse Clubs
Warehouse clubs typically offers deals on local gym memberships. You usually have to spend more upfront and buy a one-year or two-year membership, but for those who go to a health club regularly, this is a great way to save money in the long run. For example, Costco features a Gym Membership and Wellness page with deals like $369.99 for a two-year all-club membership to 24-Hour fitness. That comes to approximately $15 per month with unlimited use of this national chain of gyms.

8. Don’t Limit Yourself
In recent years, speciality fitness studios that focus on one type of activity like Pilates, indoor cycling and yoga have popped up everywhere. While these facilities undoubtedly offer great classes, the exercise is limited. As experts explain, changing your workout every three to four weeks shocks your body and muscles to work harder. Those who stick to the same routine will see less results over time. Don’t limit your options by signing up to a speciality studio if your budget is tight. Look for a gym that offers a variety of group classes, including the workout you enjoy most, plus cardio and weight-lifting equipment.

9. Train One-on-One for Less
For newbies, personal training is a great way to get acquainted with a gym and the equipment, plus learn exercise moves based on individual goals. However, one-on-one sessions are pricey. One way to keep fees down is to split the cost of sessions with a friend at the same fitness level. Some trainers may even be willing to meet outside of the facility for a less expensive session. Otherwise, turn to your mobile device for motivation via such apps as Digifit iCardio, which tracks heart rate so you know how hard to push yourself, or GAINFitness, which designs a routine based on equipment you own and sends push notifications if you miss a workout session.

10. Build Your Own Gym
Recent stats show that 67% of people who sign up for a membership don’t use it. Considering the average monthly fee is $58, you could potentially waste up to $700 a year or more! You may be better off building an at-home gym to use in the morning before work or in the evening while watching your favorite shows. Though this costs more upfront, you’ll end up saving money in the long run. Plus, you don’t have to buy everything at once. Start with dumbbells and a mat and tap into free workout videos online to get tips and ideas on new moves.

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized shopping expert for Kinoli Inc., who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. For more information, visit AndreaWoroch.com or follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

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Finance

Why Your Business Needs a Tax ID Number

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Anyone who has ever filed taxes before knows that the amount of information needed to complete the forms can be staggering. This is especially true for small business owners, who will need to supply a variety of documents and figures in order to successfully file. One of the most important things that you will need to provide as an entrepreneur and business owner is a tax ID number. This helps the IRS identify you and follow your business. If you don’t have one yet, keep reading to find out how you can apply for a federal tax ID number and be ready when tax time rolls around.

Federal Tax ID Number Application

In order to obtain a federal tax ID number, you must complete a federal tax ID number application. This lets the IRS know that you are in need of a number in order to file your taxes correctly, and they will begin looking through your application as soon as they receive it. The process should be an overly long one, and before long you will have the federal tax ID number that you need in order to stay compliant with the IRS.

Get Tax ID Online

Are you wary about the time involved to complete the federal tax ID number application? It’s understandable to be concerned about how much time you might have to spend filling out paperwork. In reality, however, you can often fill out the application and get your tax ID online! That means that you can apply when the time is convenient for you and not have to worry about mailing or faxing in hard copies of your application. Complete the federal tax ID number application today and get your tax ID online!

Apply online for an IRS EIN/Tax ID Number at irs-ein-tax-id.com.

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Finance

What Would You Do If You Won Tonight’s $1.5 Billion Powerball Jackpot?

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Winning The Lottery

I’m not usually one of those people who get Powerball fever, but with a record-breaking $1.5 billion jackpot up for grabs, you’d better believe that I picked up a ticket on my way to work this morning!

The odds of winning this historic jackpot are 292 million to 1.. So while it looks like most of us will be heading off to work tomorrow, as Lloyd would say, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance!”

So what would you do with $1.5 billion if you won? Yeah, we’d all pay off our debt, buy a big house and fill up the garages with exotic cars. But what would you splurge on?

Take a trip to the moon for $750 million? Buy the Playboy mansion for $200 million? Stay at the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah Hotel in Dubai for $35,444 a night? Fly around the world in your own $65 million Gulfstream G650? Maybe buy a super yacht for $275 million? The possibilities are endless..

Sound off in the comments section below and let us know what you’d spend the money on!

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These Young Men Risked Everything And Funded Their Startups On Plastic

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Capital is one of the primary inputs required for productivity. In the modern realm, a young man might have a great idea but may find it very difficult to qualify for a personal loan. Fortunately, there’s a source of capital that he might be overlooking: His credit card.

Many young men, especially college graduates, receive numerous credit card offers in the mail. What if they funded their startups using their own credit cards? These three young men risked everything and funded their startup on plastic.

Gray Line Between Business & Personal Credit Cards

Most business credit cards have much higher credit lines than personal credit cards. But for a smaller startup with virtually no overhead, personal credit cards might provide just enough money to get the ball rolling and it’s now easier than ever, with most banks offering the ability to apply for a credit card online. I’ve met some entrepreneurs who used multiple credit cards to fund their startups.

The truth is that since most small businesses are sole proprietorships, the business line of credit will actually be based on the owner’s personal creditworthiness, with the entrepreneur being the guarantor of the loan. Some entrepreneurs will spread out the risk by getting their family members involved.

There are many solid reasons for using credit cards to fund startups. First of all, it’s much easier to qualify for a personal credit card; since the Credit Crunch of 2008, small business loans are an endangered species. Secondly, credit cards can help you build up your credit history. Thirdly, each month you’ll receive a monthly statement, which can be like having your own accountant. Fourthly, plastic is ideal for the do-it-yourself (DIY) entrepreneur mentality.

1. Google Founded On Plastic
Google-HQ

In the 1990s, the World Wide Web was still taking baby steps. It had grown from being simply a VAX account for sending messages, but it was still missing something. It was difficult to conduct searches using regular human keywords as opposed to computer source code. In January 1996, two Stanford University students, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, started writing the computer algorithms which would eventually become Google.

“We had to use all of our credit cards and our friends’ credit cards and our parents’ credit cards ….” – Larry Page

With the nascent idea in their heads, the two Google founders collected $15,000 from family, friends and their own credit cards to create a business plan. The rest is history.

2. Are You A Guitar Hero?
Guitar-Hero

In 2005, Charles Huang struggled to raise capital to build small plastic guitars for gaming consoles. So Huang maxed out his credit cards to finance RedOctane, the publisher of Guitar Hero, the highest grossing game in U.S. history. The series went on to sell more than 25 million units worldwide and brought in $2 billion in retail sales, prompting Activision to acquire RedOctane for nearly $100 million in 2007. Without the ability to use credit cards to finance his venture, he wouldn’t be where he is today.

3. Filmmaker Kevin Smith Finances A Cult Classic
Clerks

In the early ’90s, director Kevin Smith made the movie Clerks for $27,575. It was mainly funded by 10 credit cards that Kevin had to his name, funds garnered from store credit after he sold his comic book collection, a family donation, and paychecks from working at the Quick Stop and RST Video. The movie was filmed in the convenience store in which Smith worked, and he was only allowed to shoot at night after the store closed.

While Clerks didn’t do so great at the box office, it became an instant classic when it came out on video. The earnings from the first movie allowed him to create sequels, and he was able to further his career with several other successful movies. Today, Smith is a household name, and it was his willingness to risk it all that allowed him to achieve his dreams.

With your own credit cards, you can take the bull by the horns.

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