How to get your money's worth from a membership


Jackie Lam

Jackie Lam

Blog author Jackie Lam

Jackie Lam is a money writer and educator. She helps artists and freelancers get creative with their money at Hey Freelancer.

Published July 30, 2018|3 min read

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Whenever I consider signing up for a membership, my stomach fills with hesitation and dread. A nagging, internal voice asks: “What if it’s a royal waste of money?”

There’s good reason to be concerned about letting, say, a gym membership go unused. Nearly 50% of Americans ditch their gym memberships after the first month, a study by Cardlytics found. Whether it’s a membership to a gym, local yoga studio or a coworking space, how can you make sure you get your butt through the door, and get your money’s worth?

Here are a few ways to make sure you use that membership.

Turn it into a job

You probably already have a job, and may be side hustling too. But hear me out. By designating specific times to go each week, you’ll be more committed to using the membership. My friend Julia joined a rock climbing gym and has been dead-set on attending two workout classes in a row every Tuesday and Thursday. When I asked her how she pulls it off, she said that she treats it like any other job.

Whether you treat it like a job or a date with yourself, carve out time each week and stick to it. To make sure you get your money’s worth, do some math. What’s the monthly fee? How many times would you need to go to get your money’s worth? For instance, a membership to the local rock climbing gym is $80 a month. If I go twice a week, that’s only 10 bucks a visit. If I can’t squeeze that into my regular schedule, it’s a no-go.

Add social accountability

Don’t underestimate the power of tribe to help you go to the gym. My gal pals Carrie and Jennifer wake up at the crack of dawn to get a hardcore workout at a boot camp in Santa Monica, California. Their incentive is they get to see each other. Even though it’s at 6 in the morning, they kick-start their day with quality hang time.

Having a workout buddy dramatically boosts the time you spend exercising, research shows. Not only will you show up, but you’ll get your money’s worth and better your health.

Start with a month-by-month plan

If you can, avoid initiation fees and one-year commitments. Even if it’s more expensive to opt for a month-by-month membership, you might save more money overall if it turns out you don’t use the membership. Start with a month-by-month plan, track your use, and if you go regularly, then make a commitment.

Stay hungry

Purchase only enough passes to leaves you wanting more. For instance, I opted for the mini plan with Deskpass, the coworking equivalent of ClassPass. It gives me four visits a month to coworking spaces around town. If I want to go more, that’s a sign I’ll definitely use my membership. (Is a coworking membership worth it for a freelancer? Consider these pros and cons.)

Come up with a plan for rollovers

I’ve never understood rollover plans. If you didn’t use your passes in a given month, why would it be easier to use them in a subsequent month? My Deskpass subscription comes with a rollover feature. If I find myself with more than my usual allocation of visits, I need to schedule time to use them. If that’s challenging, I know I’m not ready to upgrade to the next-level subscription package.

By employing a few hacks, you can commit to getting your money’s worth from your membership fees.

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