4 Things You're Paying Too Much For
Smart ways to spend less—without giving up the things you need (and love).
Your Gym Membership
Whether you're devoted to a gym that offers one type of workout, such as Orangetheory or Flywheel, or an options-packed national chain that has equipment and classes, there's probably wiggle room when it comes to how much you pay. "Everything is negotiable," says Jennifer McDermott, consumer advocate at the comparison website Finder. First, ask for a free or discounted trial period (anywhere from two weeks to 30 days), so you can see how you like the gym. When you're ready to commit, timing is crucial: McDermott says the best time of year to get a good deal is June, since many gyms hit a dry spell then (it's six months after the New Year's resolution rush, and also the time of year where people are switching to outdoor workouts). Patricia Seaman, senior director at the National Endowment for Financial Education, says you can even find Black Friday deals the day after Thanksgiving. Wait until the end of the month to sign the contract, since many gyms have monthly quotas to fill and will offer discounts as the 30th or 31st looms. McDermott says you should always be able to get an initiation fee waived, and ask if you can get a price break if you've been recommended by a friend or if you'll only be using the gym in off-peak hours.
Shift your movie night from Friday or Saturday to Tuesday and you could save as much as $12 per ticket, depending on where you live. Many theaters have discount days, and you can usually also score deals by attending a matinee show. And if you're the type of person who sees every Oscar nominee, you might consider buying tickets in bulk, says McDermott. Or subscribe to Moviepass, a service that lets you see unlimited movies in theaters for a flat fee of $9.95 a month.
No one ever had a child to save money. But there are some baby and toddler items you can get cheaply (or even free) at consignment shops, on local parent forums or on classifieds sites and apps such as LetGo, Wallapop, ThredUp or Swap. Big-ticket items such as strollers can be found for about 60 percent less used—but before you buy, consider testing out the new version in a store so you can see how the previously owned one measures up, and also check for any recalls. Clothing is another item you may want to consider buying secondhand, especially pricey coats and snowsuits, which babies typically only wear a few times before they grow out of (many parents even sell brand-new items their kids never wore). What shouldn't you buy used? A car seat or a crib. These items are updated often for safety, and recalls are common.
The shrimp you see at the seafood counter, piled atop a mountain of ice, may look more enticing than a plastic bag of frozen shrimp alongside the fish sticks and salmon fillets. Truth is, though, frozen shrimp is just as good and healthy for you as fresh, thanks to flash frozen-at-sea technologies—and it's usually cheaper by a few dollars per pound too. Furthermore, Linda Cornish, president of Seafood Nutrition Partnership, says that most shrimp sold as fresh arrived at the store frozen and was then defrosted for customers (you may see the label "previously frozen").