Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Joining In on the Fun

As a mom of young children, I have found that we frequently are heading to places like the zoo and the science center. The entrance fees aren't that high, but when you are paying admission for four multiple times, it does add up. For us, at the one local zoo and a nearby science center (we have a more local science center than we joined), the cost of admission for the four of us is $34 and $40, respectively. Recognizing that we visit these locations more than a couple of times per year, we researched memberships.

In visiting the website for the zoo and science center, we had frequently looked at the information about joining the zoo or science center. When it was just us and our son, it was harder to find the value in joining. Then, when my daughter came along, it became easier to justify joining.

For a family membership to the zoo, including one adult guest at each visit, is only $88 / year. Based on admission rates, if we go to the local zoo twice a year and bring one guest each time, we cover the cost of the membership and all future visits are money saving opportunities.

For a family membership to the science center, is $82 / year. At our science center, you can add one or two unnamed guests for $20 annually. If we do just the family membership, two visits is not quite enough to cover the annual fee, but if we add one unnamed guest and make two visits with one guest, we start to save money on the second visit.

A few years back, we had suggested family memberships to one of these venues as a family Christmas gift. None of our family took us up on the suggestion, but after realizing what a savings it could be for us, we joined on our own.

Not only do we get admission to the zoo and the science center, but there are other membership perks (how did the ad go "Membership has its privileges") - early sign up for special events, free or reduced admission to other exhibits and events, a free t-shirt, a discount at the gift shop and more. In addition to these offers at our local zoo and nearby science center, both are part of a larger network of zoos and museums that allow us free or reduced admission to locations across the country. One year, we used our zoo membership to visit four different zoos, including our local one. For the science center, we have visited three different locations with our membership. Last year, we got to go to a special Breakfast with Elmo at our nearby science center. My youngest, who loves Elmo, didn't care for an adult sized Elmo, but otherwise it was a great time and a memory we will always have.

For my family, a membership to the zoo and science center works and provides days of frugal fun.

For more tips and tricks on being frugal, check out the special Works for Me Wednesday Frugal Edition at We are THAT Family.

Also check out Frugal Fridays over at Life As Mom for even more frugal ideas.


Buffie said...

Some employers have company tickets that you can use for free too. We've taken advantage of this with hubby's employer. It's worth checking into at least.

Aisling said...

We did that with our local living history museums. Our boys got too old to enjoy it, but they've added a whole new row of buildings to the main one this year, so we might go back.

Niki Jolene said...

We try to buy memberships to several places a year. The savings is tremendous!