Cost of joining a club can overshadow benefits

But discounts, enjoyment are matters to consider

Your Money

July 03, 2005|By Marshall Loeb | Marshall Loeb,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Membership programs can offer a variety of benefits, from personal enjoyment to discounts on merchandise. But sometimes the cost of joining a club can overshadow the financial benefits.

Real Simple magazine has put together a list of major types of clubs, along with some benefits of joining.

Wholesale clubs

While buying items in bulk might not be the best option for people living in small spaces, it does cut the cost of household items.

If you have the space and are looking for a bargain on large supplies of just about everything - groceries, underwear, tires, electronics and more - joining a wholesale club such as BJ's Wholesale Club, Costco or Sam's Club might be right for you. Membership fees range from $35 to $45 a year.

And even if your small living space won't accommodate a 30-pack of toilet paper, these warehouse clubs offer other discounts on items such as prescriptions, car and home insurance, phone service and gas.

Fitness clubs

Sticking to a regular fitness plan is challenging for many people. Joining a health club can be more of a motivating factor than weight gain or time restraints. The average cost is $50 a month, with a $100-$150 initiation fee.

Still, health clubs today offer amenities such as in-house nutritionists, classes, equipment and spas. Many allow you to use their facilities at more than one location.

Auto clubs

If you're a car owner and don't already have adequate emergency roadside assistance through your insurance, joining an auto club is a necessity.

The American Automobile Association offers free roadside assistance, as well as free maps and travel planning. Fees vary by region, but a single membership ranges from $38 to $77, plus enrollment fee. You can find more information at www.AAA.com.

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