One one hand, I agree. If someone is trying to dig themselves out of debt, the gym, along with any other kinds of memberships, should be considered for cancellation. But that doesn’t mean that paying dues to a health club is always a waste of money.
After Noni was born I wanted to get in shape, and my the frugal part of me said that I should just throw the kids in the double stroller and go for a run. It’s FREE, and free is always better, right?
Well, jogging while pushing seventy pounds of stroller + kids is a great workout, but it’s not always practical. Sometimes the weather is bad. Sometimes the kids are crabby and wail the whole time. Sometimes it was nice, but I couldn’t count on hitting my goal of three workouts in per week,
When I signed up at the local gym I felt a little guilty. Surely there were better things to spend my money on? But after a few weeks I began to realize how valuable the gym really was. I am an introvert and sometimes this makes being a stay-at-home mom a little difficult. Three times a week I drop the kids off at the child care area and exercise for an hour with noise-canceling earbuds, which really helps me to emotionally regroup after what has usually been a trying morning. When I exercise regularly I am less moody and irritable, and in general I feel much more energetic and healthy. In the child care area, the kids get to experience having a caregiver other than myself, and it has really been helping Noni get over her stranger anxiety.
Being responsible with money doesn’t mean NEVER spending. It means that you spend an amount you can afford on things that are truly important to you. Going to the gym is the key to my well-being, but it may not be for everyone. I encourage you to discover what helps you be the best person you can be, and know that, whatever it is, it is not a useless luxury! If there is any way at all to work it into the budget, you have my permission to show guilt the door.