Friday, May 20, 2011

Cash flow conundrums

I was reviewing my upcoming 4-week budgets for the summer as I am always looking for areas to cut costs. One of the areas that I was planning on saving money was with my YMCA membership. Now that the warmer weather is upon us (sort of, MontrĂ©al has been under water non-stop for the last week) I am outside more for running, biking, and even swimming. While these sports have little equipment, I still have to pay for my Trois Vitesses club membership, registration for my half-marathons & other events, and I have opted to take a technique class or two. It didn’t make sense for me to pay for a monthly YMCA membership when I plan to be outside this summer.

My YMCA membership is $52 a month as I get a $5 subsidy from my company. I was also pleasantly surprised to see on the YMCA website the option of suspending one’s membership for a period of 3 months! See below: 

It’s reassuring to know that you can temporarily put your membership on hold or cancel it with no hassles. Whatever the reason, the Y allows you put your activities on hold for a minimum of one month and a maximum of 3 months over the course of your one-year membership. You can take advantage of this privilege twice per year. The sum of the hold periods cannot exceed 3 months.

Or at least, so I thought as there is fine-print associated with the website’s claim.

I went into the YMCA last night to suspend my membership for June-July-August. It turns out that even though I’ll suspend my membership, I’ll still pay for these months. The make-up for these suspended months is added to the end of a member’s year. I’ll pay for the membership this summer even though I’m not using the gym or attending classes, but I won’t see the impact until February-March-April when I go to renew my YMCA membership and these 3 months are just added on. (Yes, I am one of those people who joined a gym in January…but the good part is that I’ve stuck with it for the last 3 years so I’m not a total flake.)

Fortunately I’m able to suspend my membership so I am not paying for something I will never use. I am sure a lot of downtown gyms are much more expensive than the YMCA and my location has excellent modern facilities. Unfortunately, the suspension just doesn’t help out my cashflow for the summer months and being the next Sporty Spice will expensive.

Are there any other financially fabulous ideas for saving money this summer?



  1. I guess the YMCA's have different policies everywhere? Last year I joined the YMCA in the winter so that I could train indoors for my half marathon, then I cancelled or suspended my membership after that.

    In Toronto, they said that I stop paying (and no longer have access to the Y), but I can also start back up with them anytime, and I just need to start paying monthly (I won't have to pay the registration fee, again).

    I don't understand the point of suspending now if you won't see the benefits until next year. Did it say anything that your membership was for at least a year in your agreement?

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  3. I spoke with 2 reps at the Montreal YMCA to make sure I understood the suspension policy. I can "suspend" any 3 months (and they don't have to be in a row) throughout the year that I'm a member. Then 3 months are simply added to the end of my membership so it extends my contract. I am paying it for it now and saving it later.

    I also looked into cancelling, which didn't make sense as I'd have to pay a fee to "rejoin" and at $150, I would need to be taking more than 3 months off of gym training to make it worthwhile. I think the YMCA policies must change by municipality!

    It is just interfering with my cashflow for the summer as I have races to enter! But again, I'm lucky that the YMCA at least allows me to suspend & extend so I'm not completely wasting my dollars.