Making the Most of Your Employee Discount Programs

A popular component of many employers’ wellness programs is a discount on membership to local fitness centers and/or weight loss programs, which can be a great way to save some money toward your financial goals. If you’re currently paying a gym membership or using a program such as Weight Watchers, definitely check to see if you can get a discount through work. It’s a no-brainer. Our health insurance benefit at Financial Finesse actually offers a $20 per month rebate on participating gyms but in order to receive it, participants need to attend the gym at least twelve times per month. For many people, that’s the motivation they need to show up!

If you’re more on par with Ellen DeGeneres, who famously quipped, “I’m so unfamiliar with the gym, I call it James!” then before committing to a contract, you may want to test out your affinity for the facility or program. If the discount is only available for certain locations that aren’t convenient to your home or your work, then chances are you won’t really take full advantage. I learned this the hard way back in the earlier years of my career.

I started out going to the gym back in the day through a work-based discount program similar to the one we have at Financial Finesse. I signed up because hey, I can get some money back from work! But I didn’t actually go often enough to earn the rebate so I basically paid full price for a year of membership that I rarely used in order to qualify for a rebate that I didn’t get. Dumb.

But I knew that I needed to work out if I wanted to continue enjoying my favorite foods like boneless buffalo wings and truffle fries so I had to find a way to make this happen. For me, that meant earning my certification to teach BODYPUMPTM, then securing a spot teaching classes at Chicago Athletic Clubs. Not only do I receive a free membership at the club, I’m actually paid to work out.

The thing is, I actually hate working out. Yet, I get up before dawn on Tuesdays and Thursdays to stand in front of approximately thirty people and do just that. It’s what works for me.

However, I do have to be careful that I don’t use teaching fitness as an excuse to splurge on cute workout clothes. That would negate the value of the extra cash. Instead, I try to put 50% of my BODYPUMPTM earnings into my fun money fund.

Teaching fitness isn’t for everyone, but it’s how I figured out how to fit the gym into my budget as well as fit working out into my lifestyle. The bottom line is that if you’re committed to taking full advantage of health club discounts or weight loss programs, then by all means USE YOUR EMPLOYEE BENEFITS! Just make sure it’s a benefit to you and not just another hole in your budget.

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