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Posts tagged with: gym membership

Expenses = Income???

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One of my academic mentors, upon receiving tenure (and an associated raise) made the comment, “Expenses rise to meet income.”

This has certainly been something I’ve seen in my own life. Every time you make a little more, your expenses experience an equal boost, right? All the sudden you “need” new stuff. A new position might mean you need a new wardrobe. Or longer hours at work might mean you need to hire yard people since you no longer have time, or you start taking your car for paid car washes instead of doing it yourself, etc etc etc. If you get a really big bump in salary then maybe you decide to move to a newer house in a nicer area of town, or you treat yourself to a new car. All of this stuff comes with recurring payments attached. Am I right?

So with our recent bump in income I’ve been trying really hard to still see ourselves the same way….not to think about our larger income and to continue living the same way, funneling the extra money toward debt.

But I have succumbed and taken on a new monthly expense.

I joined a gym.

Hear me out….

I haven’t had a (paid) gym membership in YEARS. As a graduate student I had free access to the gym on campus, and since running is my primary exercise passion, I have always been able to do that outside for free (only costs associated are shoes and appropriate exercise clothes…maybe a song here and there from itunes). But things have been very challenging lately.

First, I no longer have access to a gym for free (remember I graduated in August 2013). Second, the girls will only sit in a jogging stroller for about 30 minutes, max. And finally (the final straw), it has reached near-death-heat here in Tucson. I’m talking over 100* every day with heat advisory warnings just about every third or fourth day. It is literally not even safe to be outside.

At first I tried to counteract this by jogging extremely early in the morning. I tried waking up at 5am to go run (so the girls are still sleeping and my husband is home, plus its only about 75* instead of 105*). It hasn’t worked well. I have a tough time waking up that early on my own, and my daughters are light sleepers (plus our house isn’t huge), so they have woken up when my alarm goes off. Then it’s a total disaster because my husband is trying to get ready for work (he usually leaves between 6 and 6:30am), so I have to go for a really short run so I can get home in time to allow my husband time to get ready. At that point, it doesn’t even feel “worth it.” I have tried other forms of exercise (like DVDs or free videos on youtube), but I get bored. Videos are not for me.

In the past, my health and fitness had always been a big priority for me. I would consider myself an “athlete,” as I have competed in a handful of races (triathlons, half-marathons, and other various running races), and enjoy physical activities and competitions. When I found out I was pregnant with twins (20 weeks into pregnancy) I was deemed “high risk” and had to stop many physical activities. Once the girls were born, my fitness was the LAST thing on my mind. I had twin infants to care for, virtually by myself (husband helped a TON, but he worked during the day and we have no family nearby for support), in addition to working (at the time I was teaching in-person college courses) and finishing my dissertation.

Here we are, almost 2 years later (the girls will be 2 at the end of this month! Eeek!) and I finally have a chance to refocus a bit on my health. Things do NOT look pretty. My weight is still WAY higher than my pre-pregnancy weight and I just don’t feel good. It’s so weird because I still “see” myself as an athlete…..but I am totally unhealthy right now (that’s not just me exaggerating…that’s according to BMI). I need to make exercise more of a priority in my life. I tried other free options and they really didn’t work. So I turned to a gym.

On the bright side, the gym is fantastic. It’s only about a mile from our house and has everything we could ever want: a pool, exercise classes, tons of equipment, volleyball, racquetball, basketball, etc etc etc. There were cheaper options nearby, but no one else offered childcare. Childcare is an absolute necessity if I’m going to be able to actually use the gym. So this was the only real option in our area.

I also feel that its pretty reasonably priced. I had to pay $100 as an initiation fee, and they make you pay first and last month up front, but there’s no contract so we can quit at anytime. They also worked a deal where they gave me a family plan (so Chris can go, too) for the same price as the “individual” plan. The cost is $50/month. To get childcare I had to pay an extra $10 per child, but it’s for unlimited use of childcare. I think this is a pretty good deal. When the girls were 6 months they went to daycare at the Jewish Community Center (we aren’t Jewish, but it is a FABULOUS facility and EXCELLENT childcare providers! Very $$$$$, but very high quality!). The JCC requires that you join the facility when you use their childcare, so I’m comparing these prices to that experience. The community center fees (which includes gym access) cost $80/month for the family, and gym childcare was an additional $6/hour.

In all, our current gym will cost $70/month ($50 base + $20 for unlimited childcare). I think that’s reasonable considering everything that’s included. Keep in mind that our first month is substantially more expensive since we pay first and last month in addition to the initiation fee. So my first payment was actually $240 ($100 initiation, plus $140 for the first and last months’ payments). I am allowed to drop the childcare, too (if, for example, I decide to work out on days they’re in daycare. Right now I want to avoid that because those are my only days to really focus on work, but it’s a possibility for the future).

To be totally honest with myself and you, I fully believe I would NOT have considered joining the gym if it weren’t for our extra income. Chris was pushing hard around January to join a gym and I totally put my foot down. I did not want to spend the money and did not think we could afford it. But I’ve really started focusing more on my health and my (lack of) fitness has become alarming. I think this is a worthwhile investment in my long-term health.

So there you have it. I’m sure people have opinions both ways (for and against spending money on gyms), but everyone is different, every situation is unique, and I think that this is the best option right now for my family. It still hurts a little to spend this extra money, but I do think its money well spent.

 

Do you spend money on a gym membership? What are free/cheap ways that you stay in shape?


Gym Membership

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I know this isn’t going to go over well with many of you, but I joined a gym.  Now before you think I’m suddenly being frivolous, let me explain how I am actually saving money.

As I’ve shared before, I love my yoga.  I only thought I loved doing yoga before my divorce…now I know that yoga is a critical part of my recovery.  (Side note:  Steve’s first ex-wife became a yoga instructor with millions of hours in training…I didn’t really understand her obsession but now I do).  I’m not some over the top yogi but doing yoga twice a week is very good for my temperament.  I am not good at being mentally still or quiet and yoga helps me practice that needed skill.  As things have been pretty chaotic over the last two months, I did not have a “yoga plan.”  The kids’ schedule changed dramatically with DS starting athletics at public school and DD surprising me by wanting to play sports with the church.  So as I’ve adjusted to their schedule, my schedule has taken a backseat.  Bottom line is I find that without yoga, I don’t maintain a very gentle demeanor!  Most of the time I can get away with this in my business.  I’m not saying that it is okay to be rude but I have a good job for getting out a little aggression!  But it can quickly go beyond that and I’m getting unnecessarily annoyed with people!  Yoga does the mind, body and spirit good and Claire needs yoga!

But yoga can be super expensive at the studios!  I wish I would do it at home, but I won’t.  I was using my spending money but it is still too pricey.  And I’m reluctant to buy a package b/c I end up losing some of the time I’ve paid for because I can’t get there.  So, enter a new gym by my house and office…LA Fitness.  Let me know if you’ve had a horrific experience with them.  They are new to SA.

I’m not a gym person and don’t know that I will stick with it but I do like their early morning classes.  My company gets me the $149 initiation fee waived and my monthly cost is $24.99.  There might be a way to get the company to help pay for the monthly cost too–I’m currently looking into that.   Either way, it is cheaper than dropping $15-$20 on a single one hour yoga class.

So, see? It’s a GOOD decision so long as I go!  They have a 5 day notice period to cancel your month-to-month membership.  The gym opens on Tuesday the 20th.  I’ll report back on my progress!


Labor Day!

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Hubby, Baby Boy, and I went to spend the day at my parent’s house for Labor Day. My sister and her family came over as well as my sister-in-law and her kiddos (her husband/my brother has been shipped out to fight another fire).There is always something so relaxing about the craziness of that house. We all seem to yell *cough* talk over one another while pots and pans bang in the kitchen as dinner is being prepared. We spent a good portion of the meal prep talking about the free workout, the Butt Bible, available on our cable network. All of us are too frugal to have gym memberships so we compare notes on any free workouts. Considering the fact that all us girls could hardly walk without wincing in pain, we gave it a thumbs up.

After dinner and dishes were done, gramps and I watched Keeping Up with the Kardashians. OK, so maybe he wasn’t watching. He was chatting about his recent trip to visit our family in Washington state. Hmmm. Great idea for a future cheap vacation?

Before leaving, I robbed grandma of all her garden grown veggies and a loaf of fresh baked zucchini bread. One less trip to the grocery store!


Cheap Exercise…

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Most Sundays, my brothers, sisters, and I trek to my parents’ house to spend the afternoon together. Mom and dad, ever looking for ways to keep everyone entertained and united, purchased the Xbox 360 Kinect as a family Christmas gift this year. I have to admit, I rolled my eyes as I saw my mom pull out the cheap black plastic kids toy. THIS was meant to entertain all of us?

We plopped the game in the console, connected the Kinect, and let the small children play the silly game while teasing to mom about the ‘immature’ choice for a Christmas gift.

Five very short minutes after watching the kids laugh uncontrollably with joy, we, the responsible adults, shoved the kids out of the way and told them to play outside. We restarted the game and found ourselves laughing hysterically as we ran, jumped, and dodged obstacles on our game rafts.

Five even shorter minutes later, gasping for breath, we called the kids back in and relented our control of the gaming system.

The game we were playing wasn’t intended to be a workout program but judging by the sweat, the gasps for air, and the sore muscles, it was effective as such.

If you want to get in shape as part of your new year’s resolution, forget expensive gym memberships and personal trainers. Play the game that comes standard with the Kinect package. It won’t kill you… but you’ll be so sore, you’ll wish you were dead.


Bye Bye Gym Membership…

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My husband and I both have a gym membership. We pay a combined $50 a month to our local gym.

I’m a fan of daily fitness so I will be the first to tell you, if having a gym membership is the only way you will exercise, spend the money. The monthly gym fees will be far less expensive than poor health now and in the future.

We were able to temporarily cancel our monthly gym dues when my husband lost his job. Now that six months have passed without a trip to the gym, I’ve discovered something surprising…

I work out more now without a gym membership than I did with one.

I spend a quick 20 minutes running with the dogs or doing a workout video before making dinner each night. I do sit ups while watching TV or I jog in place. Before, if I didn’t have an hour to workout at the gym, I simply wouldn’t workout at all. Now, if I have 10 minutes, I use it!

I have always clung to my gym membership even in the leanest financial times. Looking at the impact of working out at home, I’m not sure why I held on so tight. We decided to make the temporary cancelation permanent. Rather than redirect all the money toward debt reduction, we’ve decided to keep part designated to fitness. The money can go toward new tennis shoes, marathon entrance fees, or exercise equipment. If we get desperate for a group class or a swim, we can sign up at the community center for $30 for a 3 month, two hour, twice weekly class.

Try working out at home this month. It may not work for you – but maybe you’ll be surprised at the results.

**If you do decide to cancel your membership, you may need to cancel several times. These companies (especially large gyms like 24Hour Fitness and LA Fitness ) can be very sneaky and ‘accidentally’ automatically deduct your dues for up to six months. You may need to consult with your bank to stop payments.**


Good Workout? No Gym Required…

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I haven’t been released to exercise since I came down with pneumonia, but I figured I could exercise a little without doing too much damage. Never mind the fact that I haven’t exerted any sort of physical energy for the last 60 or so days. I was just so tired of feeling like a sick train wreck, I thought exercising might make me feel more like the old me.

My husband bought me the Wii Active More Workouts game for Christmas so I figured that would be a good place to start. Users are given the option to choose easy, medium, or hard workouts. Given my current situation, I chose… medium.

The overachiever in me is incapable of choosing any option labeled ‘easy’.

And maybe, this choice would have been fine… had I not exchanged the flimsy resistance band from the package to my ultra strong 3 layer band.

31 minutes later I was sweating, gasping for breath, and wishing I had taught my dog to fetch my inhaler. Just thinking about the ‘hard’ level gives me night terrors.

I’m cancelling my gym membership.


Ways to get by while on unemployment…

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My budget was already threadbare but living with 50% less salary and on unemployment benefits has forced us to find ways to somehow reduce more.

First, we cut our dental and vision insurance. This is something that can easily be re-instated but the $25 a month can help me now.

Second, I cancelled all my appointments health related or otherwise. None of my appointments were an emergency and I requested that my doctor renew my prescriptions without the annual check-up since the last 6 years have been clear of any problems. These appointments and tests run in the neighborhood of $500.

Third, I called my cable company to cancel our cable, reduce our internet speed, and reduce our phone service. I explained our situation and was surprised when they offered reduced internet costs, reduced phone costs, and added free services and free channels for a 12 month period. I would tell you how much I’m paying – but I’m afraid they’ll figure out they made a huge mistake and ‘correct’ the discount… or fire the guy who gave it to me. I would have cut out the internet and phone entirely but my husband needs internet for school purposes and job searching late at night when he gets home (free internet at the library is closed) and I’m uncomfortable without a home phone for emergencies.

Fourth, I contacted my student loan company for a deferment.

Fifth, my husband and I contacted friends and family and let them know we’d be available for odd jobs. Since unemployment doesn’t start for nearly a month after a job loss, my husband has done everything from pulling weeds to insulating walls. I have been helping a company with paperwork at night after work. We use this money for groceries and for the important bills like electric and water. At no time should you feel you are ‘too good’ for any type of job.

Sixth, we cut off all our subscriptions and memberships. If you’re like us, you may not even remember you have some of them since they are automatically billed to your credit card and you may not look at each item on your online statement. Some examples: gym memberships, club memberships, magazine and newspaper subscriptions (some automatically renew unless you cancel). Savings – $50 a month.

Seventh, we’ve been using more public transportation. It takes twice as long to get somewhere, it’s uncomfortable, and it’s far from fun, but it saves $50-$75 a month.

It’s not a lot, but each item buys us a little more time.