There are so many memberships and reward programs, that it can be hard to know what's beneficial and what's extraneous. Especially when working with a budget. There are both programs that help you save as much as possible, and those that are there to cause you to spend additional funds (and solely benefit the brand itself). Getting to the bottom of which program is which, however, is an important step in creating a functional budget, while allowing your money to go as far as possible. Check out this list of comprehensive memberships that are helpful toward saving funds, while also providing plenty of value along the way.
We've said it before and we'll say it again, buying bulk is far cheaper than shopping small. While this doesn't mean to stock up on everything – especially items that will expire – it is a great way to plan for products you'll use frequently, while still being able to obtain them as cheaply as possible. With you yearly membership to Costco you can shop as often as you like. That means groceries, home goods, kitchen items, and even more. All with a one-time fee that creates 12 entire months of savings.
A similar concept to the above, Sam's Club offers bulk items for a one-time yearly fee. They also offer all types of products for sale, including electronics, sheets, even clothing or household items. Essentially, if it can be sold at Wal-Mart, it's likely available at Sam's Club, just bigger and cheaper. Another perk to shopping to bulk stores, they're generally located in larger towns, which means you can visit less frequently and stock up a few times a year; more savings with fewer miles traveled.
This one is only available to the 50-and-over crowd, but that's also likely because the savings are so great. For a mere $16 per year, members get unlimited amounts of coupons and valuable perks on everyday items and travel expenses. Better yet, the price goes down after five years with the company, allowing for the same deals at an even lower fee.
If you're not already a Prime member, it's time to check out the benefits. For around $100 per year, members get free shipping and lowered fees on household items. Shop paper towels, cleaning supplies, etc. at a discount, and then have it all delivered to your house for free. Then, watch movies and TV shows for that same price, "rent" movies virtually, and store photos and data online – all with a single membership.
In recent years, Netflix has essentially positioned itself as the new cable. For just a few bucks a month members can stream as many shows and videos as they have time to watch. Or, for a few bucks more, DVDs can be mailed directly to members' homes. It's a far more budget-friendly option to traditional cable, and is more budget-friendly than other options, like Redbox or hometown video rentals.
With an AmEx card, members can earn points every time they use their credit card, points that can be used back toward their bill, for travel, and more. Certain purchases will even help you earn additional points, or will take less value when used. And all from purchases you're already making anyway.
For a measly few dollars (about $60 per year) you can earn some serious peace of mind while on the road. AAA will tow your car, help you find a repair service, as well as giving you discounts on your trip. A single incident alone will set you back way further than that, creating a program that's more than worth it with a single use – or better yet, just cashing in on the discounts instead.
What makes this reward program unique is that it combines a number of offers in a single place and is geared toward college students. Get discounts to various businesses (all through a single program), or refer others and gain additional points for the dollars they spend, too. However, even if you use it for the discounts alone, it's a program that more than makes up for the time it takes to navigate and refer others.
Pay once and save for a year of shopping with BJ's. You even have a choice between two types of savings programs – in either version, however, users can earn 2% back on purchases, while also receiving some pretty great savings on what's available. They're best known for cheap electronics, but without skimping on quality.
There are all types of options when it comes to miles cards, and preference generally depends on what type of card one already has, or how miles can be cashed in. However, no matter which way you go, travel cards are great for anyone taking trips or who is looking to get more out of their credit card purchases. Weigh annual fees vs. perks to find the best deal, or stick to a card that partners with your favorite airline provider.
… or any subscription box for that matter. Mail-order items are growing in popularity, and when you stop to look at the convenience of it, it's not hard to see why. With Ipsy., or similar models, users sign up and are billed by the month to receive some of their favorite products, as well as samples of similar items. This is an inexpensive way to try something new without breaking the bank on a full-size version. It also provides a little more freedom with customizable samples, as well as discounts when ordering larger sizes.
If you're off cable (or trying to be), Hulu Plus can be a budget-friendly alternative. It allows you to watch shows the day after they went live, meaning you can catch up on favorite shows in almost real-time – from a mobile device or by streaming to your TV. Better yet, it's only a few dollars per month and offers programs from all networks.
If your favorite zoo, museum, pool, etc. offers a yearly membership, it's likely well worth the expense. Stop and determine how many times you visit in a year, and then add up the fees. It's likely that within a few visits the membership will have already paid itself off – so you can stop in as often as you like without feeling guilty about it. The same goes for season tickets or seasonal passes to theaters. If it comes with a discount to the gift or snack store, even better.
If you're a homeowner, a parent, a working professional, or more, it's almost a given that this type of program is beneficial. No amount of money can be put on peace of mind, and such a type of membership will present you with trusted and verified pros in any number of industries. Sign up and cash in when needed, or consider this method when you're looking for someone in particular and can't seem to track down anyone of value. Your membership will be well worth it the first time you book a pro.
Depending on where you live, a gym membership can be fairly pricey. However, if you use it to the fullest extent of availability, you can save tremendously. Check for gyms that allow personalized classes, personal trainers, or the ability to bring a friend without any additional fees. The latter can allow you to split fees with a friend, or simply cash in on personalized treatments rather than paying for everything out of pocket. It's a monthly or yearly fee that will allow for personal wellness without overspending.