BBB Tip: New Year’s Guide to Finances, Gym Memberships and a Fraud-Free 2024


Whether you focus on resolutions or not, the start of the new year can feel like a fresh start in many aspects of your life. Here are BBB’s tips and other articles to help you as you think about changes you may want to make in the new year. 

When thinking about current finances and sticking to a New Year’s Resolution, consider these tips from BBB: 

  • Inventory your credit cards. Credit cards have high-interest rates, which can waste much money over time. Reach out to the credit card company to see if a balance transfer offer can be used to switch to a card with a lower rate or ask if the interest rate can be lowered. Research the financial institution where the credit card is held on first. Read the terms and contract carefully – there may be big penalties if a payment is missed. If you have multiple cards, decide which debt-paying strategy is best for you. Some experts recommend paying off cards with the highest interest rates first. Others recommend paying off cards with the smallest balances first. Additionally, try sending in payments throughout the month. Put the $5 that would have been spent on a morning coffee towards debt instead. 
  • Avoid wasting money on unethical businesses or scams. When making a purchase or choosing a business, check with BBB. Making careful decisions now can save time, money, and headaches later. Research all companies at, and check BBB Scam Tracker regularly to see what scams are happening in your area. 
  • Take advantage of free tools. Many online tools can help manage and reduce debt.  
  • Start budgeting. Creating a written budget and tracking spending is one of the best ways to save money and stop spending more than what is earned. First, figure out how much debt you have; you need an accurate picture before figuring out your budget. Note the difference between fixed expenses, needs, and wants. If you have debt, include repayment goals in your budget. If possible, factor in retirement and emergency savings. Save money by giving up morning coffee – and cooking at home instead of getting takeout. Factor in any alternate income, like selling unused items or part-time work in the gig economy. 

Get the most from a gym membership by considering these tips from BBB: 

  • Determine your fitness goals. Determining your goals in advance will help you select a facility that is most appropriate for you. Consult with your physician before embarking on a new fitness regimen, especially if there are medical conditions that might be a concern. 
  • Figure out your priorities. What is most important to you? Will a convenient location and extended hours help you stick to your fitness plan? Will a variety of equipment or classes keep you motivated? Do you work out while traveling and prefer a chain with numerous outlets? Determine your top priorities before you start shopping around. 
  • Check Read what previous customers have to say, and see how the businesses respond to complaints. This information may help you narrow down the list of gyms you want to tour in person. 
  • Take a tour. Make sure the gym has the equipment, classes, and trainers you need or expect. Pay attention to things that are important to you, whether it’s the cleanliness of the showers or the availability of Wi-Fi. Ask questions and make sure you understand all the rules. Ask about busy times, wait times for equipment, whether classes require pre-registration, availability, and cost of trainers, etc. Ask how the gym staff is maintaining the cleanliness of the facilities. 
  • Ask questions about limited free trials. Gyms often give a one-week free pass for potential members; this is a great way to see if the gym is a good fit for you. Try the gym at different times to see how crowded it is and whether there is a wait for certain equipment. Check out classes if they are offered. 
  • Don’t feel coerced. Do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics to join right away. A reputable gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly, tour the facilities, do some research, and make an informed decision. 
  • Calculate the true costs. Gyms often use special introductory offers to encourage new members, but the price could go up more than you budgeted once the initial period is over. Make sure you understand what the regular monthly fees will be and what they include. 
  • Understand the terms. Read the contract carefully before signing. Make sure that all verbal promises made by the salesperson are in writing. What matters is the contract and the terms within it, so don’t just take a salesperson’s word for it. What happens if you move or the gym goes out of business? Will the membership renew automatically at the end of the term? What is the cancellation policy and under what circumstances? 

BBB recommends these tips to help make the upcoming days and months fraud-free:

  • I resolve to be cautious with email.  Be wary of unsolicited emails from a person or a company. Remember, scammers can make emails look like they are from a legitimate business, government agency, or reputable organization (even BBB!). Never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails.  
  • I resolve never to send money to strangers. If you haven’t met a person face-to-face, don’t send them money. This is especially true if the person asks you to transfer funds using a pre-paid debit card or CashApp. Money sent to strangers in this way is untraceable, and once it is sent, there’s no getting it back. Scammers will try to trick you into panicking – so before making a move,  think the situation through. Don’t fall for it! 
  • I resolve to do research before making online payments and purchases. Research the retailer before entering payment information whenshopping online, or if asked to pay online, research the retailer before entering payment information. Ask: Is this a person or business I know and trust? Do they have a working customer service number? Where is the company physically located? Would I be making payments through a secure server (https://….com)? Have I checked to see if others have complained? 
  • I resolve to use my best judgment when sharing my personal information. Sharing sensitive personal information with scammers opens the door to identity theft. Never share financial information, birthdate, address, Social Security/Social Insurance number, or Medicare number with an unsolicited caller. 
  • I resolve to be social media smart. Use privacy settings on social media and only connect with people you know. Be careful about including personal information in your profile, and never reveal your address and other sensitive information – even in a “fun” quiz. Scammers may use this information to make themselves pass as friends or relatives and earn your trust. Also, be careful when buying products you see on social media. BBB Scam Tracker has received thousands of complaints about misleading Facebook and Instagram ads. 

For more information

To learn more about scams, go to For more about avoiding scams, check out If this scam has targeted you, help others avoid the same problem by reporting your experience at See BBB’s New Year’s guide for additional information. 

About BBB Midwest Plains

Better Business Bureau of the Midwest Plains is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization, dedicated to serving over 300 counties across Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota. Headquartered in Omaha, it also has offices in Kansas City, MO, Lincoln, NE, and Sioux Falls, SD. BBB sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Its consumer services are offered at no cost, providing objective advice through a comprehensive directory of over 5.3 million companies and 11,000 charity reviews. BBB offers dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit for more information.