Saving money in this category provides a pleasant bonus. As you get healthier using these money saving fitness options, you may just save money on health care, as well! Here are five ways to save money on health and fitness for you and your family:

1. Forget the Fancy Gym. Many people sign up for an upscale gym, thinking that the more they pay, the more they’re likely to actually use the facilities. Unfortunately, that’s not true. According to the International Health Club Association, 90% of those who join health and fitness clubs will stop going regularly within the first 90 days – but the payments still keep coming in! Good for the gym; bad for your health and your budget.

The way to avoid paying through the nose for services you’re not using is to start by avoiding the upscale gyms with on-call masseuses and on-site spa. Go bare-bones and get your pampering elsewhere! Also, knowing that the odds are against you, choose the monthly payment versus the one-pay, no-cancel alternative, even if it looks more expensive. There’s a 90 percent chance that you’re going to want to cancel, so keep that option open.

2. Pay in Cash. Health care providers are facing non-payment for services already rendered, just like almost every business owner. This puts the cash payer in a good position. You may be able to negotiate a lower upfront cost by paying in cash, immediately, rather than waiting to be billed, or asking the office to submit through your insurance. If you don’t have insurance, ask for a discount. The answer may be pleasantly surprising!

Be sure to call ahead and ask to speak to the billing specialist. If you wait until you’re at the office and you’ve already been treated, it’s easier for the office person to say no. Also, the person with the power to say “yes” may not be available.

3. Shop Around. Even if you’ve seen Doctor Z forever and feel a tad uneasy thinking about changing, the cost savings you may realize by changing health care providers may override your emotions. Newly minted doctors, chiropractors, and dentists looking to build their practices may provide routine services for significantly lower prices. Many dentists offer “new patient” specials for cleanings and X-rays, and chiropractors often provide similar discounts with new patient screenings.

4. Go to the Amateurs. While you wouldn’t necessarily want to have brain surgery from a first-year med student, getting your teeth cleaned by an experienced dental student or hygienist who’s overseen by a licensed professional is virtually risk-free – and a lot less expensive! The same goes for choosing a personal trainer working towards certification.

Before you go to the high-paid professionals, check out local colleges and vocational schools in the area to see what kinds of possibilities are available for you to volunteer as a “guinea pig.”

5. Find a Friend. I recently received a postcard from my dermatologist, saying that if I brought a friend to an upcoming “beauty” night, we both could receive discounts on a variety of products and services, from skin care to Botox! Gyms often run “friend” discounts. And if you work out with a personal trainer, share the expense with a pal or two and get all the results at half the cost.

Now you’re burning calories without burning up the money in your wallet! That should make you feel great for a lot of reasons. You’re also being proactive about the cost of health care. Don’t be shy about looking around for the best price as well as the best care. It’s your money as well as your health – take care of them both!


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