It’s not easy to muster the willpower to hit the gym every day. But it’s even tougher to face the grim reality that you just don’t use your membership and need to quit.
The gym industry thrives on selling monthly, automatically-billed memberships to customers that rarely use the facilities. You probably fall into one of two categories if you’re this kind of person. There’s those who keep their wasted payments going because of the delusion that they’ll get around to using them someday, while another group is made up of people who forget entirely that they’re paying for them.
If either of these describes you, you need an exit strategy. But quitting a gym membership isn’t as easy as just not going. You’ve got to deal with slick salesman bent on convincing you to stay, as well as laborious red tape meant to discourage would-be quitters.
We’ve told you how to save money on gym memberships, but the way to save the most money is to get rid of it entirely. Here’s how to quit.
Skip the small talk
Retention specialists will do whatever it takes to distract you from the task at hand. Whether it’s appealing to your ego, offering you a special deal to hang on, or simply distracting you with small talk, the goal is to get you talking about anything other than canceling.
Unless you really feel like catching up on the goings on of a gym employee you’ve never met, cut through the ploy by staying on message and asking what it will take to get you a refund.
Related: 10 Easy Things You Can Do to Take Charge of Your Finances
Even better, send the gym’s headquarters a registered letter requesting cancellation. As long as you’re not trying to cancel a membership before a contracted period expires, companies can’t legally ignore such a written request.
Don’t get lazy
We’ve become accustomed to taking care of just about everything from the couch or at your office desk, but canceling your membership typically isn’t something you can do with a few clicks or a phone call.
Sure, gym personnel probably could get rid of your membership that way, but there’s little incentive for them to make things easy for you. Don’t allow yourself to succumb to laziness and stay at it.
You’ll hear a million excuses and be told that the manager—who happens to be the one authorized to terminate your membership—isn’t around. Be prepared to set up an appointment and be forced to wait around when “something suddenly comes up”.
Study the fine print
It helps to know what sort of technicalities you will have to deal with before you go about trying to mess with them. Many gyms require a written declaration in writing that you plan to quit.
The sole reason for this—rather than an employee simply agreeing to cancel your membership when you request it—is to throw another roadblock in your face in hopes that it will discourage you from proceeding.
Be prepared to keep paying
Most gym contracts contain deviously clever language that make sure to squeeze every last possible drop of unwarranted money out of you. The system is arranged to have you always paying a month ahead, unable to get a refund for your most recent unused month of service.
In the best case scenario, you’ll still have to pay for 30 more days once you do everything you need to quit. A retention specialist may convince you to keep your membership for a while since you’ll be paying for it anyway, but don’t fall for the trap.
Cancel your credit card
The nuclear option to stop paying for a membership through a back channel—getting rid of the credit card that is being automatically charged.
Before you get that route, you can ask your credit card company to stop your charge. Many times, especially faced with a cancellation if they don’t comply, they will go for the idea.
Canceling a credit card can hurt your credit score, which is why this option is a last-case scenario.
Try services like Trim
Want to cancel your gym subscription but can’t bring yourself to make the phone call? Trim will do it for you!
They’re a free service that cancels all unwanted, forgotten subscriptions for you (with your permission). You simply link your bank and credit card info to their service (they only load the transactions related to subscriptions), and they send you a text message with all your subscriptions and you can cancel them by replying with “Cancel [insert subscriptions here].”
They’ll even send your gym a certified letter telling them you aren’t coming anymore, so no more awkward phone calls for you!
Canceling your gym membership is absurdly difficult, but you can do it. And you’ll thank yourself in the end when you’re saving $25-$50 a month.
Related: How to Save When You’re Born to Spend