A Few More Expenses – Unremarkable, But Still Savings Opportunities

Even airplanes need roadside assistance sometimes. In this case, another student had left the master switch on and the battery was dead. As a result, the maintenance guys had to tow the plane over to the battery machine so they could jump it for us.

I haven’t done an annual expense post in a while and the year is quickly winding down, so I need to get back on track. The next three expense categories on the list, Memberships, Other, and Supplements, are pretty uninvolved, so I’ve decided to combine them into a single post. Over 2017 and 2018, I averaged $300, $2400, and $100 in these categories, respectively.

Of the $300 I averaged on memberships, roughly $180 a year went to my gym membership. It’s a 24 Hour Fitness membership I got from Costco. They usually sell a two year membership for $400, but it occasionally goes on sale for $360. And that’s when I pulled the trigger. As a bonus, based on my research, it appears that once my membership expires, I’ll be able to repeat the feat. The offer is only for people who are not current members at 24 Hour Fitness. However, according to many forum posts, you can attain that “not a current member” status in a single day. I will certainly give it a try once my membership expires next year. 24 Hour Fitness isn’t the nicest gym I’ve ever used. Many of the locations aren’t all that clean or well kept up. Don’t get me wrong; they’re not terrible. I’d say they’re squarely mediocre. However, they are cheap, they have all the necessary equipment, and they have tons of locations all over in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio – a huge value to me given my frequent traveling. 24 Hour Fitness also has locations in many other states so I recommend checking them out if you’re looking for a cheap, decent gym with many locations.

The remaining $120 a year was split evenly between my AAA membership and my Costco membership. AAA seems to be a pretty decent company and as someone who travels by car a lot, I’m likely to need the service eventually. When I do, based on my research, I expect to save a significant amount of money on one roadside service or another. Even if I don’t, I appreciate having some peace of mind. I have this instead of a similar service through an insurance company because I don’t trust insurance companies and like most people, my premiums are high enough already. Maybe using the service wouldn’t be treated as a claim and everything would be fine. But I wouldn’t want to bet on that with an industry that is well known for both jacking up premiums and screwing its customers at every possible opportunity. I tend to be a little cynical for sure, but I haven’t found many more crooked industries than insurance and will do whatever I can to avoid letting it take advantage of me even more than it already has, and still does. AAA has been around a long time and has a pretty decent reputation. That’s enough for me until my experiences indicate I should change my view.

As for the Costco membership, I’ve written about my favorite store many times on this blog – in fact, it saved me money in both of the other categories in this post and no, that was not intended. I would estimate that the $60 membership pays for itself at least half a dozen times per year. It is actually likely more than that. It would be difficult to overstate the value here.

I avoid putting expenses into the Other category if I can, opting instead to add more specific categories as necessary. When I do use it, it’s for something I don’t expect to do often. In the case of 2017 and 2018, I made a cross country move from Wisconsin to Houston, Texas. My employer generously paid for most of it. However, as part of the process of recovering psychologically from my 2016 divorce, I decided to get rid of almost everything I owned and replace it once here in Texas. It wouldn’t have been right to ask my employer to pay for that since it was voluntary, although they would have if I had. It wound up costing me about $4800, mostly on some middle of the road quality furniture, resulting in an average of $2400 over the last two years.

As for supplements, I don’t use many at this point in my life, although I’ve used almost all of them over the years. So this category used to be a much bigger one. Today, the vast majority of this spending is on protein powder. And I’ve been using less and less of that in favor of ingesting as many calories as possible in real food form. The protein powder I do buy, unsurprisingly, comes from Costco. Their deals are normally pretty competitive, but if you wait for their sale prices and then stock up, you will blow any other options out of the water. And this is coming from a guy who has bought almost every supplement and checked out almost every possible option over time.

That’s it for today. Yes, it was kind of a mundane post. But even here, there is plenty of potential savings if you happen to be overspending in these categories. As usual, I get everything I want, rarely compromise on quality, and pay as little as possible. Overall, it works out to approximately an upper middle class lifestyle for the cost of a lower middle class one. Have a great week!

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