When the money gets tight and I'm trying to plug the leaks in my budget to save money where I can. This means memberships and subscriptions are the first to determine if they should stay or go.

I have had a club membership to one of the warehouse stores for the last 4 years. Every year it comes up for renewal, I decide if it is worth having for another year. Obviously that answer has been yes the last 3 years. But for some people, the extra money for a membership isn't worth it.

Warehouse Stores
Going into large box stores gives me a headache and tires my feet out at the thought. But I still go because I can buy paper products and frozen food, then not have to worry about buying them again for 6-12 months. To me, this savings is worth the membership and the savings in time. 

Consumer Report used mystery shoppers on warehouse club savings and found that they shaved 25-55% off the cost of the items. The only area they didn't save was on drinks. This is one way to save money if coupons are not used.

Gym Memberships
In my area, a membership to a 24 hour fitness center is cheaper by 15-20 dollars than the Y, and it's closer. But that may vary by regions. If working out in a pool or in a class is more supportive for staying healthy, I can see how buying a gym membership is better than any of 37 frugal approaches to fitness. I also want to make sure I get my shower done at the gym for the water and heat savings.

Pandora Music
This is one membership I don't think twice about renewing. For $3 a month I get tons of music that I LOVE, without commercials. I realize there are other free alternatives, but they come with commercials, kick off frequently and are not as mobile. I use the Pandora App as well. Overall, this keeps me sane while at work and helps me focus when home - all worth the price for me.

I would say that I listen to Pandora about 30 hours a week and I have multiple stations setup depending on my mood. This much listening puts me way over the 40hr/mo. limit for the free option. They also have cool kid's stations as well - not that I will have need for this.
flickr/cc - Aiko, Thomas & Juliette

Credit Unions
I paid $25 once to become a member of my local credit union. It has been well worth the money. When I bought a car and had it financed through the dealership, I later refinanced through the credit union and saved a few thousand dollars off the life of the loan and lowered my monthly payments so I could pay it off earlier.

I also have saved money with a credit union by not paying big bank fees on minimums and I know they are looking out to save me money and not make a huge profit for board members and shareholders.

What memberships do you subscribe to that are worthwhile? 
What is the cost?
What is the savings you receive?


  1. Anonymous // Friday, November 05, 2010 8:15:00 AM  

    Netflix, hands down. We don't have cable or satellite, and while I could watch a lot of TV on Hulu or other computer sites, when I want to watch with my husband, Watch Instantly (with a Roku box) is priceless, plus we get a DVD at a time for the titles not on Watch Instantly.....

  2. Jill // Friday, November 05, 2010 8:14:00 PM  

    Netflix! I think it's my last entertainment type subscription. I get three at a time. I have no cable, sattelite, or even TV reception on an antenna. And I use dial up free internet for 10 hours per month so can't use the streaming feature much. It costs about 17$/month for me to watch 10-20 movies. This also keeps me from buying movies.

    I also have AAA Plus. I live in an area where I'm often 100 miles from a mechanic and I drive a 16 year old car. I also use it for disocunts on hotel rooms when I travel for personal or work reasons. And I've used their travel credit card (prepaid so if you lose it you can only lose the money on it and it isn't linked to any bank account). I stop by an AAA office to put money on it. It was super handy when my godson was in Japan on exchange. It was a safe and fast way to get his allowance to him. They also give me a break on renter's insurance.

    KRFP community radio in Moscow, Idaho. I cohost a show on the all volunteer station and the membership, 35$/year, keeps the station on the air.

    These are the last two memberships I have. No more professional organizations. Not even the ACLU anymore even though I think it's a worthy organization. If I want to support one of their cases, I send a donation for the tax deduction.

  3. Dawn // Friday, November 05, 2010 8:39:00 PM  

    @Jill and Anon
    I completely forgot about netflix. I have that lifesaver as well

  4. Lisa // Saturday, November 06, 2010 6:05:00 PM  

    I have a gym membership with a smaller company for $10 a month, $29 annual fee, $1 sign up. The best part is I actually use it!

    Another great membership is with a credit union. We use this for any purchase that would require a loan. Typically we get a better interest rate too!

    I was considering a Netflix membership, however I try not to watch too much TV. So, I cannot decide if it is really worth it.

  5. Free Stuff // Saturday, November 13, 2010 5:13:00 PM  

    Budgeting is just plain smart. Also getting stuff for free when you can.