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Ask Jean: Getting a Deal on a Gym Membership

mailbagmondayHow can i get around a gym enrollment fee ($99)? I’ve shopped around and they’re the cheapest even with the fee. Any ideas?
– Twiggy, via Twitter

A little known fact is that gyms are often willing to negotiate, so I would encourage you to ask for a better deal if you haven’t already. Mention services that gym is lacking or services that your membership covers but you won’t use, and ask if they can lower that price for you. Or wait until their slow period to join, which is, not surprisingly, not now. You may think you can get a better deal with New Year’s Day promotions, but generally the best prices are had a few months after the January sign-up blitz or in the summer, when people are forgoing the gym to exercise outside. Finally, try group-buying sites like Groupon or LivingSocial, which often post introductory deals.

If that doesn’t work, keep in mind one thing: negotiation tends to work best when the service or item is priced higher than the competition – if it isn’t, you don’t have as much ground to stand on. So if they truly are the cheapest in the area, and you’ve done your due diligence by shopping around, it may actually save you money over the long term to pay that enrollment fee but pay less each month. Just make sure that if you sign a contract, you’re going to use the gym – that $99 should be a good incentive.

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