Are memberships & subscriptions worth it or costing too much?
I subscribe to multiple services and memberships to enhance my well-being, curiosity, and to cover unexpected crises that may crop up. These include: a gym membership, magazines and newspapers, writing submissions, newsletters, podcasts, insurances for life, health, auto, home; business memberships, cell phone service, cable tv, music, AAA ... but am I utilizing al of these enough to gain a benefit from them? I recently tasked myself to review some of these to assess whether they're providing more benefits than drawbacks. Read on for my takeaways ...
Entertainment & Edu Subscriptions
So many options fall under this heading.Television access has more options than ever before, with plenty of us "cutting the cord" on cable and subscribing to multiple streaming services instead. This can get costly, like being 'nickel and dimed' and it can add up to a substantial sum every month. The newest generation of adults now use streaming almost exclusively, thinking that cable is too costly.
I still have cable tv and prefer this simple way to get my news, weather, sports, movies, shows, and documentaries. There are travel, comedy, and food shows that I watch regularly. I do subscribe to one streaming service that I enjoy weekly, so it's worth it to me to pay and extra six dollars a month. I'm happy to have interests outside of television. And as an Amazon Prime subscriber, their video library is included along with the 2-day shipping service, and that includes lots of movies and shows as well. For me, cable tv access and convenience is still worth it.
I have a digital music subscription that I use almost daily. It includes the ability to save songs on playlists that I create, and can be accessed via voice on my Alexa device too. The music service (Spotify) also offers access to podasts, which are educational for me - I like to learn new things and hear other people's ideas. The service I use is free - love that! It's important to note that I access these primarily via my cell phone, so that service is also a must. At $30/month it's a relative bargain these days. I also have meditation apps that I use almost daily, two that I've purchased meditations on (Chopra and Sounds True) and one that offers plenty of free ones (Insight Timer). These have been helpful to my sense of wellness and are worth it to me.
Who enjoys live theater and symphony music? I attend them twice a year or more, but that isn't often enough to justify a subscription. My tastes don't include every offering in the season, so a subscription wouldn't be worth is to me. No country club membership here either - I don't golf.
AARP is a subscription that I've had for a few years now, and it's great at bringing lots of helpful information in digital format that can be easily accessed. They also mail me print magazines monthly and quarterly, which include current events along with stories and timely advice about topics that concern people who are retired or nearing retirement. It's worth the small annual fee.
Magazines, Books, & Newspapers
So many of these are available in digital format now, and I do find it easier to read this way. Another bonus of digital reading is that the paper copies aren't piling up in my living space, causing unwanted clutter. And that's a good thing for our environment too, less trees are toppled to make paper. I use a free app available with my library card that I borrow ebooks and audiobooks from every month, but I still buy books at the store and borrow from the library too.
Digital files don't cause clutter, and I find myself reading them often as they are delivered via email and stored on my device. I find this convenient, and they're easy to delete when finished. A few years ago I realized that the local paper just didn't interest me enough anymore, so I cancelled my subscription. Why pay for something I don't use? Besides, the local tv news runs the same stories. The things I miss most about the paper are not seeing the obits, sports stats, and real estate transactions. But I declined the offer to get a digital subscription, I don't feel the need for it. I do occasionally buy a paper at the store, but not very often. It's nice to have options, and save where you can.
This one can be worth the monthly fee - or not! Be honest with yourself to evaluate how often you regularly use it. For me it is worth it - my gym is close to home and I use it 3 times a week, making the cost per use about the same as a coffee. There are lots of benefits of gym membership(if you use it) besides the obvious health benefits of exercise. The indoor track is great, I can walk or run no matter what the weather is outdoors. And most days I listen to a podcast or music while I walk. It also has strength training equipment which I use to keep my arm and leg muscles strong - a necessity as we age. I don't want to own equipment and have it take up space at home.
The gym offers lots of options for indoor classes, outdoor groups, pool, hot tub, work with a personal trainer, tennis ... I'm not training for anything, just want to stay healthy, but goal setting is an option and it's great to be around others with healthy lifestyles. There are lots of people there and some use it as a social outing as well. Getting into the habit of regular exercise became a routine that I look forward to, and I feel better because of it. It's worth it for me!
Insurance and AAA
Homeowner's and auto insurance are required in my state, so even though I don't use them, they're available to assist in the event of a crisis. I wish I could spend all that money on something I wanted though! Life insurance can help if you have people dependent on your income. That isn't the case for me, so I carry only enough to pay for funeral and burial expenses, and it's cheap. I personally think that "life insurance" is a misnomer. We're all gonna go eventually.