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The True Cost of Gym Memberships

Financial fitness and physical fitness – two totally separate things, right? Not if you belong to a gym. Paying for a gym or health club membership these days can take more weight off your wallet than it does off your waist.

The average gym membership costs between $40 and $50 a month, but when you add the initiation fee, you’re looking at as much as $800 a year. Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, the authors of Freakonomics, posit in the New York Timesthat people who buy annual gym memberships often overestimate how much they’ll actually use the facilities by 70%. And that’s about as smart for your budget as eating Ding Dongs to build your deltoids.

So if you don’t go to the gym everyday (and admit it, you don’t), look for clubs that offer pay-as-you-go memberships or short-term passes. You can also look into buying home equipment if you favor a particular machine. Some models cost about the same as an annual membership.

Or you could put the money you use for your gym toward your monthly mortgage payment and cut years off your mortgage while saving thousands in interest payments. Not that should should abandon your efforts to improve your health, but it’s always an option.