The Membership Question: 5 Things to Consider

As summer was winding down, I began to wonder what I was going to do with my kids if it started to rain (not likely in this drought) or get chilly. We spend a lot of time at the park and I really needed another activity option. So I’ve been thinking a lot about memberships. There are so many places that have membership potential but I’m frugal and I hate to shell out a lot of cash. I decided to purchase a Family Plus Membership to the California Academy of Sciences but not before I considered the following 5 things.

1. Who will go? I want a membership that Rob and I can use to take the kids places but that I can navigate alone when Rob is working. In addition, I want something that friends will enjoy and that out of town guests will appreciate. That being said, the normal group will probably consist of 2 adults and 2 to 4 children.

2. How often will I go? If the location is convenient to get to, then it is likely that I’ll go more often. Consider if the venue is accessible by public transit or if driving is the only way to reach it. I could potentially visit the venue once a week, but twice a month is probably more likely. Also, if it is a location that we can visit in all kinds of weather, that is a definite plus! Be sure that you will at least be able to use the membership enough to make the cost worth it.

3. What activities are available? The size of the venue and the number of activities available will determine whether or not it will stand the test of multiple visits.

4. How many memberships do I need? There are only so many places that a person can go in one week.  Make sure that you aren’t struggling to find time to use your memberships. I figure that if I have a membership and I have 2 friends with membership to other venues, we should be fine.

5. What is the cost/benefit of the particular membership? There are so many questions to consider, such as: What is the cost of parking?  What is the cost of food?  Can you bring your own food into the venue?  What is the admission price versus the cost of the membership?  Are there any perks to being a member?  How many of your guests are covered in the membership?

My family membership ended up costing me $299.  That seems expensive, but adult entry is $34.95 per person. Since I bought it in September, we’ve gone 4 times bringing a total of 11 adults ($345 worth of individual tickets).  I’ve taken out of town guests and friends and we can bring up to 4 adults per visit.  In addition, the park where the academy is located has free parking and if I do decide to eat on site, I can bring food in or get a 10% discount in the dining area.  The kids can explore the Academy, play in a toddler area or run/crawl around outside.  Finally, I took advantage of a special offer and received 2 free general admission tickets for signing up as a member.  That’s a $70 Christmas gift.  One month later I’ve already paid for my membership.  I’m glad I thought through all of these things before making a big decision.

Do you have memberships that you love or regret?  Let us know!

Have fun saving and living simply,


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