Don’t worry, we’re not going to tell you to skip your daily Starbucks for an at-home cup of joe.
Fitness equipment can be expensive. But that up-front investment can pay off big time when you factor in the benefits: no wait for weights, no travel time, no need to arrange for childcare, and no heavy sweaters forgetting to wipe down the machines. Plus, an at-home machine like Tonal can actually be pretty cost-effective compared to the gym.
In the United States, the average annual gym membership costs $507 for the first year (the cost drops to $479 without initiation or enrollment fees), according to 2021 data from RunRepeat. That works out to $42 a month but doesn’t include the costs associated with personal training, travel, childcare, memberships for others in your household, nor one of our most precious resources: time.
With Tonal’s Affirm financing, starting at $84 per month with 0 percent APR for 48 months if approved—you’ll save on time, gain convenience, and own the machine instead of paying to share equipment with strangers. While membership, accessories, and delivery and installation are not included, the monthly investment goes further if you and multiple household members train on Tonal as you’ll get access to unlimited individual profiles.
With access to an entire gym’s worth of weights on your wall, you’ll also likely find yourself training more: According to research published in the American Economic Review, the average gym member only goes to the gym 4.3 times per month, while the average Tonal member uses the system around 15 times per month. This means you’ll get more bang for your buck as you improve your fitness and health regularly.
And you know how you were more likely to show up for that boutique fitness class when you paid ahead of time? Well, people really are motivated to exercise by the prospect of losing money, a 2016 study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found. The same goes when you’re at home: If you’re regularly staring at your Tonal, it’s a visual reminder of the investment you made in your health—and to get your money’s worth. After all, you didn’t shell out $3,995 for it to become a high-tech clothing rack, right?
It’s easy enough to cover the cost of a Tonal with monthly payments if you cut back on some superfluous spending. Keep these five money-saving tips in mind to invest in your health as wealth.
Dine in instead of out.
The average American household spends about $3,459 a year dining out, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you do the math, that works out to about $67 per week, or, since most Americans dine out two to three times a week, as a 2019 survey found, $22 to $33 per meal. If you can commit to dining solely at home for at least one week per month or curbing your restaurant excursions to just once a week, you’ll not only be able to more easily cover monthly Tonal payments, but you’ll also improve your health since nearly all full-service and fast-food restaurant meals offer poor nutritional quality, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition. Preparing meals ahead of time (with these meal-prep recipes) is a great way to ensure eating at home is quick, easy, and cost-effective.
Carry cash instead of your credit card.
It often feels easier to swipe a credit card than to fork over hard-earned cash. An oft-cited study out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that students were willing to pay nearly twice as much via credit card for Boston Celtics and Red Sox tickets as they would with cash. More recently, the average value of a cash transaction was $22 compared to $112 for non-cash transactions, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Using a credit card can feel a bit like spending Monopoly money: removed from reality. But using cash reminds you of the actual value of the exchange, and even small savings can add up over the course of a month.
Cut back on screen time (or at least streaming services).
Netflix (starting at $6.99), Hulu (starting at $7.99), Amazon Prime (starting at $14.99), and more make on-demand TV time way more affordable than cable. But the average number of streaming services per household increased to four in December 2020, according to a new report from J.D. Power. Limiting yourself to just one per month could save at least $15—and since the whole point of streaming is that you can watch what you want when you want, switch it up every month to make sure you can still binge all your favorite shows.
No one likes unexpected add-ons to monthly bills, but the average household spends $577 a year on late fees, overdraft fees, fraud expenses, and more, according to 2020 research from bill pay service Doxo. Just one monthly overdraft fee can run you about $33, while a late payment fee on your credit card costs between $25 and $40. Stay on top of your budget and opt-out of overdraft protection programs (so your card gets declined if you don’t have enough money available) to keep your money where it belongs: in your bank account.
Cancel unused subscriptions.
Maybe you subscribed to a magazine you never read anymore or a fitness app you couldn’t stick with using. Or maybe you signed up for a service’s free trial week and forgot to cancel it thus resulting in automatic renewals. Subscriptions can be pricey, especially if you’re not actually taking advantage of them. Apps such as TrueBill, Trim, and Bobby offer services to find, manage, and cancel subscriptions and other recurring charges for free or a small fee. They can even get you refunds in some cases, saving you money you didn’t even realize you were spending.