Memberships are One of Your Best Money Savers for Family Activities

Money Savers for Family Activities - USAA Member Community



by Chad Storlie


School will be out across most areas of the country in only a few weeks. Kids are relieved – Yeah! School’s out!  Parents are, “What should we do with the family?” Camps, additional sports clinics and tutoring can be expensive. I love memberships to State Parks, Museums, and other interesting, high traffic venues because they are fun, engaging, and offer combinations of physical and mental activities. Memberships to museums, zoo’s, state parks, and other activities are some of the most cost effective, efficient, and educational activities that you can find during the summer and throughout the year.


Here are a 8 steps to look for the best value from memberships throughout the year:


  1. Hours of Operation.  The museum or park should be open when children and adults are not engaged in their normal activities. Weekends, mornings (starting at 9 AM), and afternoons (open until at least 5 PM) should be a standard. If a museum is not open Sunday afternoons or does not open until 1 PM, look for another option.
  2. An Annual Membership.  The museum or park should have an annual membership and a discount. A good rule of thumb is that the annual membership should pay for itself after 2 to 4 visits. If the annual membership is more expensive, then see if you can commit to going at least once a month to make sure that it pays to have an annual membership.
  3. Variety of Activities.  Look to have a combination of museums, an animal activity (zoo), and physical locations (such as a State Park) for a balance during the year. In the height of summer and winter, you will want an indoor reprieve from the weather. In the fall and spring, you want to maximize your outdoor time.
  4. Multi-Age Offerings.  It is especially important that an activity can grow with your family. Look for offerings for Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten through Grade 3, Grades 3 to 7, and so on. Multi age offerings will ensure the entire family likes to go.
  5. Summer Discounts and Registration Priority.  A great many zoos have high demand summer programs that teach kids interactive science or how to be a zoo keeper. A reason to join an annual membership could be that annual members get priority for registration and a discount.
  6. Take Them For a Test Drive.  Before joining anything for a year, go 2-3 times to make sure that you will want an annual membership and that you and your family enjoy the activity.
  7. Ask For a Pro-Rated Refund If You Have to Move.  Ensure that they offer a pro-rated refund if you receive orders to move your family during your membership year. If they do not offer one, don’t be afraid to ask for a pro-rated refund and get it in writing.
  8. Schedule a Written Plan to Use Your Memberships.  The worst thing for having annual memberships is not using them. Make sure that you schedule these family outings and go use your memberships.

Summer is a great time for family activities. Memberships that are enjoyable, fun for all ages, and great financial value will ensure months of summer fun! Enjoy!


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Chad Storlie is the author of two books: Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and Battlefield to Business Success. Both books teach how to translate and apply military skills to business. An adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University and Bellevue University in Omaha, NE. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces officer with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics. He has been published in The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and over 40 other publications. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.




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