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Cultural Memberships: One per Year

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip, Volume 4, No 6 - October 2000

It's really nice to be a member of a zoo, museum, concert series. You get to explore at your leisure, and when you've had enough, you go home--no muss, no fuss, no bother, and no need to feel like you haven't gotten your money's worth for the day. Typically, you get free admission for your family, and often some guest passes as well--not to mention discounts on special programs, gift shop items, and so forth, and a spiffy newsletter or magazine, as well. Plus, of course, you're supporting a worthwhile cause.

There are two problems, though. First, if you're paying, say, $50 per institution and there are five or ten places you'd like to be a member, the expense can be huge. And second, with so many competing member-only events, you can't take full advantage because they compete with each other. So here's a better way: join them one at a time. The first year, you go to the zoo five or six times and see it all in manageable chunks. Next year you join the natural history museum, the year after, the planetarium, and then the fine art museum, the historical society... You get the idea! And each month when you get the newsletter, write all the special events that interest you directly on your calendar, so you'll be more likely to really get your money's worth.

As for holding down the cost of membership, find out if they offer discounts for students or seniors, see if you can get a discount coupon from the membership office, an entertainment book, or your local Chamber of Commerce or visitor information center. Some places even give a major discount if you recruit several friends to join with you.

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