I’ve been working out in some form or fashion since I was 11 years old. I was adopted by my aunt and uncle after my parents were unable to care for me and my three sisters any longer. Moving to a small town in the middle of nowhere proved to be quite difficult as I had lived all my life in a rough part of Detroit, Michigan up until that point. I was picked on constantly and started to seek out an avenue for some of that anger, and found working out a great stress reliever as well as a way to build my physical stature to the point where I wouldn’t get picked on anymore. This worked out quite well.
Fast forward to 2011. I’m turning 30 next year and I’ve always enjoyed working out. I’m still in pretty good shape and I’m actually a former competitive bodybuilder. But, it seems my new sense of frugality and finance are coming to odds with my gym membership. Notice I said gym membership, and not workout routine. It’s still possible to work out without a gym membership, or a gym at all for that matter. As frugal as I’ve become it wasn’t until recently that I realized this for myself. In a quest for financial independence and a sustainable long-term plan I’ve come to the conclusion that having as little recurring bills/responsibilities as possible is desirable. A gym membership is an easy recurring expense to cut.
I have decided to take a little of my own advice. Earlier this year, I spelled out some of the reasons I moved to Florida; among them: great year-round weather which allows one to exercise and engage in activities outside for free. Now it’s time to test that theory a bit. As of December of this year, I’ll no longer have a gym environment to work out in for really the first time in my life. I’m looking forward to cutting this expense and testing the boundaries of running, jogging, doing push-ups, sit-ups, bicycling, jump rope among other exercises which all come basically free of charge.
This expense may have seemed like a no-brainer to cut out for most people, but strength training has been a major part of my life and moving to a more aerobic routine will be completely new as I’ve always been anaerobic focused.
One thing I always try to keep in mind on any expense is how much money I’ll have to have invested in equities in order to pay that expense. This makes it very easy for me to figure out if that expense is truly worth it going forward. A gym membership at just $30 will require $12,000 in stocks at a 3% entry yield in order to pay that bill. That puts it into perspective for me. And $30 is probably on the low end for gym membership costs. So, I had to ask myself if a gym membership was worth setting aside $12,000 for. I decided, that at this point in my life, it is not.
One article I read recently which helped me decide this was an an excellent, if very scientific, post from Jacob over at Early Retirement Extreme. I decided after reading this that the gym membership was just another expense that I felt “I couldn’t do without” and it became a personal challenge to change my mindset on this. Going forward, starting with December’s budget, I will no longer have a gym membership expense. Hopefully, this will be forever.
This post got a little personal. I wanted to reflect how frugality and trying to cut expenses to achieve financial independence is a personal and fluid journey. It’s not a static, linear point A to point B journey. It’s going to change and you’re going to change with it. Your ideas are going to change and your ability to roll with the punches will likely get better. Cutting a gym membership for a former bodybuilder like myself is definitely an example of someone evolving in their quest for personal and financial freedom. I’ve also indicated a few times on my blog of my desire to travel or even live outside the U.S. once financially independent and I don’t want to every worry about “where’s the local gym?”. I’ll instead throw on a pair of shoes and go for a jog, then come back and do a 10-minute anaerobic exercise routine.
Cutting out the gym is just one example of how far I’ve come in 2011. I’ve also sold my car and started riding the bus, I cut my cell phone bill in more than half, moved to cut my rent significantly, I cut cable and bought a digital antenna, and cut my food bill dramatically. I hope this serves as inspiration for anyone else out there having a hard time cutting expenses.
Thanks for reading.