What Are You Giving Up For the Economy?

by DavalosMcCormack on July 14, 2008

Times are tough. The economy is in the toilet; businesses are laying off workers; people are losing their homes; gas prices are hitting record levels; the cost of everything, from coffee to milk and movies, is rising. All in all, a lot of people are worried and looking for ways to cut back. But the places they are trying to save tells you a lot about what people’s priorities are, and why so many Americans are in such dreadful shape.

It’s easy to think about cutting out those $4 skinny-hot-no-foam-extra-shot lattes. It might even be easy enough thinking about drinking free tap water instead of $2 bottled water. But what about other costs. Gym membership for instance.

Now a lot of people are probably looking at that cost of their gym – particularly if they don’t use it that much – and thinking it’s an easy way to save money. After all, the average cost of gym membership (according to a number of different nationwide studies) is around $50 a month, and that doesn’t include the initial sign-up fee which can vary from free to hundreds of dollars. Without doing anything, in fact precisely because they are doing nothing, people can save themselves $50 a month. Nice eh!

Well, up to a point. Look at it from another perspective. Most people could really do with getting a bit more exercise rather than a lot less. The health benefits of exercise are enormous – mental as well as physical. The health consequences of doing nothing are equally enormous – from becoming overweight or obese to developing diabetes or heart disease or both.

I recently read an article where a couple were interviewed and said they were trying to save money by quitting the gym, and going for bike rides instead. Which is great. If they go for a ride. But what happens when winter comes along and the days get shorter, and wetter, and in most parts of the U.S. much, much colder, who is going to go for a bike ride then? Not very many I’m guessing.

So, if you are thinking about giving up your gym membership, and you also subscribe to cable TV, think about this. Take a look at how much you are paying for cable TV; if you get some premium channels it can easily run to two or three times the cost of a gym membership. Yet how often do you watch it, or perhaps more importantly how essential to your quality of life are the programs you watch?

Oh, I know, I know. Ask people what they watch and they talk about the news, documentaries on the History Channel or Discovery Channel. Yeah, right! That’s why ‘American Idol’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars’ are the biggest hits on TV. So here’s the irony. The biggest shows on TV are all on the major networks. You get those for free, you don’t have a pay a penny for them. So why not give up cable, save that money, and keep going to the gym.

With fewer TV channels to chose from, you’ll have less need to spend hours channel surfing looking for something worthwhile to watch. That means you’ll have more time to go to the gym.

But here’s the best part. Many gyms now have treadmills and stairmasters and bikes equipped with TV, so you can still watch all your old cable favorites while working up a sweat. And you are saving money while you do it.

Cool eh!

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