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Author Topic: Is ARRL Life Membership Worth It?  (Read 47202 times)
W4YA
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« on: December 31, 2008, 03:56:17 PM »

For those who may have considered an ARRL Life Membership, and wonder if it's worth it, this was my experience:

Sometime in the 60's, a year after ARRL started Life Membership, our Division Director was bugging me at a hamfest to get a life membership. I told him I wasn't a millionaire and couldn't afford to shell out 20 years' dues. At the time membership was $6, so Life Membership would be a whopping $120!! No way I would do that!

He prevailed, and I finally signed the paper just to get him off my back.

Now, 40+ years later, I can brag about the great investment that I made.

However, I have noticed that my QST subscription will expire in 2099. I knew there was a trick to it!!!!

73,
Jim W4YA
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ND4MR
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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2009, 04:56:32 AM »

At some point, ARRL Life Membership just isn't worth it. Do the math. The median life expectancy here is the USA is currently 74.8 years. A life membership costs 20 times the current annual dues. That means anyone over 55 is (on average) never going to get back a value equal to what they've paid. This line of reasoning makes a good case for taking out a Life Membership when you're young!
      Of course, getting your money's worth isn't the only reason to "invest" in a Life Membership. As a Director once explained to me, these Life Member revenues go into an income earning fund, and their intentions are to use that fund's earnings to pay for subscription costs, without having to touch the original investment.
      Now I realize that financial wizards and bean counters will want to complicate this simple logic by factoring in future inflation that we annual members will experience, and they will probably want to calculate the "net present value" of a lifetime membership that you buy now. If you want to make your financial decisions based on that kind of complex calculation, have at it. The simple fact remains that you are essentially buying a 20 year subscription, and that just isn't worth it if you don't expect to live for 20 more years.
       
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WA1K
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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2009, 07:37:13 PM »

I've been a life member for about 20 years.  While the ARRL may not be perfect (who is?), I couldn't imagine how ham radio would be without it.  I remember being very interested in ham radio as a teenager and it was the ARRL that got me information in the mail that told me what to expect in the hobby and how to get started.  The price of membership is going to keep going up, so if you plan on being around for a while, why not lock in today's rates?  I'm glad that I did many years ago.
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ND4MR
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« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2009, 07:00:01 AM »

May I say, so that no one is confused, that I am an ARRL member, just not a Life Member. As stated by the previous post'er, how could there be an amateur radio without the League.
      Having said that, I think that saying that ARRL membership is a good investment is a dubious claim. A good friend of mine had a "life" subscription to 73 Magazine, and they went belly up. Just a few days ago I overhead a QSO where another ham had a "life" subscription to WorldRadio and, as we all know, they have now discontinued printed publication.
      My original point remains: if you are over 50, a life membership in the ARRL just isn't worth it.
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K8WV
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« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2009, 09:48:40 PM »

Yes, it is.  It's worth it in two slightly different ways.

First, it's a pretty good investment.  I became a life member as soon as I got my first "real" job after college - 37 years ago.  I've saved a ton of money in dues.  But that's not the best reason

The best reason is the second one.  It's an investment in amateur radio.  Over the years I've found that true supporters of a cause or idea contribute to it in many more ways than just money, and typically don't count the money they do contribute.  I think amateur radio is worth preserving, and I absolutely believe that the League is devoted to that idea.

I should mention that I don't always agree with the League, but I never doubt their dedication.  Over the years I've gotten to know a lot of League officials, and I've been uniformly impressed.

I know many hams disagree with my sentiments, and that's fine.  But they are hams, and without the League, wouldn't be.  Amateur Radio would have ended decades ago.  Not with a bang, but a wimper.
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KD4LLA
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« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2009, 10:38:28 AM »

I belong to other organizations that have life memberships.  Nothing against the ARRL, but had I paid earlier in life it may have been worth it.  But as said in prior posts, after you are 55, one will probably never live long enough to "pay" for it.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2009, 07:47:41 AM »

If you really believe that the ARRL is going to defend ham radio, spend your money.  It isn't worth it if you're over 50, but if that's what you want.....

My view is that the ARRL has shifted its focus to defending emergency communications at any cost and has ABANDONED the rest of the hobby outside of promoting contesting--and that even has an emergency communications theme.  Look at the 'membership journal', QST--you'll see that its main focus in any of the articles is toward--emergency communications--and what isn't is nothing but sales catalogue!

I'm 53, and I would gladly spend the money for a lifetime membership even if I wouldn't get my moneys worth--IF THE LEAGUE WAS MORE CENTRALLY FOCUSED ON THE ENTIRETY OF THE HOBBY.  Since it isn't, I may not even keep up my annual subscription.

You're mileage may vary--and if you think membership is worth it--go for it!

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W6KGP
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« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2009, 01:53:01 PM »

My opinion...

It's not a matter of cost per se although ones personal cash flow circumstances should be considered.

It's a matter of supporting the voice of Amateur Radio and its interests.  Yes it's worth it!

Not to mention that it's also convenient!
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K1CJS
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« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2009, 04:27:25 AM »

What is the difference, Len, if you buy into life membership--or you pay by the year?  You're still supporting the interests of ham radio--the interests of those who control the ARRL, that is.

The only thing you're doing by going for life membership is trying to save yourself a little money by paying a lesser fee per year (as figured by your age and the length of your life) as opposed to the yearly fee.  For those of us over 50 or 55, it just isn't worth it.
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K5LXP
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« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2009, 08:03:17 PM »

It's a good bet the League invests life membership dues and they get some return from it (well, maybe not currently).  When you send in $40 a year or whatever, they're probably doing little more than breaking even.  Life memberships give them some working capital.

Last time I thought about being a life member the dues were not that much less than what I could buy a nice HF rig for.  So I bought the rig.  :-)  If I'd had that kind of coin when I got my ticket at 16 then for sure by now I'd be "ahead" and even now I could probably still beat the odds, but I'd still rather put that kind  of money into equipment.  As others have noted I think it's more a matter of support for the cause than economy.

Wondering though, since they have nonprofit status, if you could somehow deduct your life membership dues?  


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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JLEVERIN
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2009, 02:24:55 PM »

 
  You raise a good point, if one is over a certain age it truly wouldn't be worth it. One collector's society that I belong to offers life membership but prorates it on a scale according to your age so the older ones don't end up paying as much as the younger people. Maybe the ARRL should look at something along those lines and they might get more life members. I've only got a few more years and it will no longer be beneficial either.
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KE6WNH
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« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2009, 04:39:53 PM »

Much of it boils down to what the ARRL or any other ham org has to offer you. I've never become an ARRL member, but I've bought the Handbook and a few of their other project books, and it's a comfort to know the options are available for those who want them. OTOH someone who may have just recently gotten their ticket and wants to learn more about ham radio, could benefit from joining... particularly if they live in a region where there aren't many resources for hams.
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N3AWS
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« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2009, 11:35:02 PM »

Consider this--the ARRL periodically raises the price of dues.  Since Life Membership is the cost of 20 years at the current rate, next year or the next, dues may jump up.  Over 20 years there might be lots of dues hikes!

73,  Jim N3AWS
From the Land of the Morning Calm
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N2EY
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« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2009, 04:57:03 AM »

It All Depends

Sure, if everything stays the same, there comes an age when you'll never get back what the life membership cost. But when is that age? It's important to use the right number for life expectancy, and that number depends on a lot of factors. The CDC and insurance companies have a lot of data online but you have to sift through it.

The usually-quoted-by-the-media numbers are life expectancy for babies born in a certain year, and includes all income levels, ethnic groups, genders, risk factors, etc.

But when you get more specific, the numbers look very different. For a white male who is 65 now, future life expectancy is almost 20 years, not less than 10. Nonsmokers can add a couple of years, smokers deduct a couple, etc.

Then there's the fact that things don't stay the same. 20 years ago, ARRL membership was $25/year, now it's $39/year. That's a little more than 2% increase per year. Depending on your income situation, that may be more money *to you* or less.

And there's more! If you renew for multiple years, (I usually do 3 years) there's a discount. If you're over 65, there's another discount on top of that.

Of course the big thing is the psychology of spending money. A lot of people will balk at paying one big bill for something, but will not question paying a lot of little ones.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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W3WN
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« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2009, 08:03:37 AM »

I'll tell you what.

When I was 16 and a newly minted ham, I was all gung-ho to get a Life Membership.  My father, who didn't think I'd stick with it, point blank told me not to do it.  So I didn't, even though I could have snuck the money out of my bank account without his knowledge.

That was over 35 years ago.

Do the math.
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