Author Topic: Do I want a Costco membership?  (Read 10070 times)

iowajes

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5045
  • Location: United States
Do I want a Costco membership?
« on: August 11, 2017, 07:48:05 AM »
My mother really really wants to buy me a Costco membership. I don't know why, but she's been pushing it for years.
Right now LivingSocial/Groupon have a deal for a $60 membership, with a $20 costco cash card, some coupons etc.  It's a decent deal. If she's going to be buying this, this seems like a better way to buy it.

But she has yet to convince me that I need one. Every time she comes up here we go to Costco and buy a few things, and I am just really on the fence.  The biggest positive is I really like their giant bags of Chicago style popcorn and their price on Jelly Belly is amazing.

So, my husband does drink wine, and they have good prices there. He liked their coffee, but he said it took him nearly 20 weeks to get through the bag of beans he bought.  The meat prices at Costco are higher than the sale prices at our grocery store. I don't really like Huggies, and those are the diapers they carry. I'm not nearly as impressed by the hot dog + soda deal as my Dad is. (Also- it is hysterical to go to Costco to buy Johnny Walker Blue and then make sure to get your hot dog and coke. My Dad baffles me.)

So what am I missing? Should we get the membership just to make my Mom happy? What are we not buying at Costco that we should be?

The Costco is right next door to my husband's work, so it is an easy trip. But Aldi and Walmart are also right there.

ketchup

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2617
  • Age: 26
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2017, 08:03:27 AM »
What are we not buying at Costco that we should be?
Staples.  Popcorn, jelly beans, and wine are nice I'm sure, but the real savings is on staples.

For me that's:
Kerrygold butter
olive oil
coconut oil
heavy cream
sometimes eggs
onions
carrots
frozen broccoli
spices
canned tomato products (diced, paste, sauce)
macadamia nuts
paper towels
toilet paper
foil
garbage bags

YMMV depending on what your typical grocery shopping looks like and what your own staples are.  Do price-compare, not everything is actually a better price.  Generally the less sexy something is, the better the deal. (Their price on granulated garlic is great, their price on kombucha is nothing special.  Their price on macadamia nuts is great, their price on "chocolate covered superfruit bullshit" is bad.)  They also have good prices on quality kibble if you have dogs that eat that.

Chippewa

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3511
  • Age: 45
  • Location: Tatooine
    • stupid debt
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2017, 08:08:17 AM »
My vet referred me to their quality cat food there. But I use Costco for staples. A major supply of toilet paper and paper towels. There meat and fish is really good too.
blog :: stupid debt.  And I have a journal, y'all just think I am going to delete it

CindyBS

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 185
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2017, 08:14:11 AM »
My reason for not getting one is that it involves a long trip to ex-urbs (shudder).  Shopping already causes me anxiety and dealing with that type of shopping would be too much.  I am just not willing to do that to save a little money.  Some people can tolerate it no problem, YMMV.


I'd recommend trying the Aldi before making any decision.  I find that is the best way to save money on groceries without having to check sales flyers, do coupons, etc and with very few exceptions here and there, I have been very happy with their products.   When you go make sure to have a quarter and bring your own bags.


iowajes

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5045
  • Location: United States
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2017, 08:18:46 AM »
I'd recommend trying the Aldi before making any decision.  I find that is the best way to save money on groceries without having to check sales flyers, do coupons, etc and with very few exceptions here and there, I have been very happy with their products.   When you go make sure to have a quarter and bring your own bags.

I shop at Aldi pretty regularly. Husband prefers Walmart.


Some of the staples ketchup mentioned make sense- but that seems like a one to two times a year trip for dry goods. 

I think I've convinced myself it might be worth it for gas. I forgot their gas prices are fabulous.

Heck, since it is free, it is surely worth it.  But I don't like spending other people's money anymore than I like spending my own.

Bracken_Joy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7014
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2017, 08:27:58 AM »
Fantastic for prescriptions, including pet prescriptions. I know people who swear by their tire center, but I've never used it. Good prices on wine here. I hear in states where they sell liquor in stores, the Kirkland vodka is a great buy, always rates highly in tests (I saw a test where it beat Grey Goose). The biggest thing for me is gas is *way* cheaper at costco, so it's worth it for that alone for me. I think you can also shop online for some things and have them shipped, but I've never tried that.

Here's a couple threads about it:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/using-costco-correctly/
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/costco-what-to-buy/

It really depends on your individual circumstances. There's only 2 of us, but we eat tons and eat from staples a lot and I can resist crap food. So it depends, I suppose.
My journal: Hiding in the Ferns
Like babies? Have kids? Want to chat about Babies and Pregnancy/Infertility? Group Journal Here.

Laura33

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1298
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2017, 08:32:02 AM »
Sounds like you don't really want/need one.  If you are happy with your grocery/household items budget, and Costco doesn't offer the particular brands/staples you use, then what's the point?

I gave up my Costco membership for a number of reasons:

1.  I could not do a one-stop shop there:  my DH is picky about certain brands of things, and they didn't always carry those brands.  When a Wegman's opened up nearby with reasonably-pried house brands, I was happy to trade Costco + Safeway for Wegman's.

2.  Quantities:  I am really good at using things multiple ways, and it's obviously not an issue for things like TP and coffee/tea, but my family does not like eating the same thing every day, and so it was very difficult to use up a giant crate of grapes or oranges or broccoli before it went bad.  We had a lot of food waste.

3.  Impulse buys:  I always thought I was under control, but apparently my trigger is "wow, that's a deal!"  Almost every time I went, they'd have something useful that I could use but that wasn't on the list -- things like shirts for DS, or winter coats, or whatever.  As a result, my weekly spend went up -- significantly. 

4.  Location:  ours is in a very busy strip mall, right across from a Trader Joe's, and getting in and out is hellacious.  And then since I work, I could only go when everyone else went, so the lines inside were huge, too (they always moved fast, but damn).

But, again, YMMV -- I know a lot of people swear by it and do very well.  They are just better people than I am.  I would rather run through Aldi's, which in my area is much lower-end and with a more limited selection, but it's very fast, and for me the limited selection and lack of tempting treats does a better job keeping me on track.

PS:  Costco also offers things like car-buying services, prescriptions, travel, contact lenses, and a lot of other stuff -- if you take advantage of those things, the membership could pay for itself.  Again, that just wasn't stuff I needed.  And gas, of course -- but it's 15 minutes away from where I live, and my weekend shopping trips never seemed to coincide with when I needed gas, and it didn't seem to make sense to drive that far just to fill up.
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

robartsd

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 999
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2017, 08:38:24 AM »
Costco tends to have high quality products at reasonable prices. Occassionally their prices are really great. Costco is not the best place to buy products where cheap is OK, and shopping sales at other stores often beats Costco on similar quality products. For many of our non-parishable stapples, DW has noticed that they seem to cycle into the coupon/instant rebate book regularly, so she stocks up (often an annual supply) when they are on sale. Costco also has easy returns when needed. We (two adults, no kids) shop based on best price (without considering rebates/credit card rewards), have an Executive Membership (twice the annual price, but earns 1% rebate on warehouse purchases [not gas/food court]), and generally spend enough in the warehouse each year that our rebate usually covers a little over half of our membership (so saves us just a little over a Gold Star Membership). For a larger family, it is easy to see how Costco could be a great deal, for us it is about a wash.

Bracken_Joy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7014
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2017, 08:39:50 AM »
But, again, YMMV -- I know a lot of people swear by it and do very well.  They are just better people than I am.  I would rather run through Aldi's, which in my area is much lower-end and with a more limited selection, but it's very fast, and for me the limited selection and lack of tempting treats does a better job keeping me on track.

PS:  Costco also offers things like car-buying services, prescriptions, travel, contact lenses, and a lot of other stuff -- if you take advantage of those things, the membership could pay for itself.  Again, that just wasn't stuff I needed.  And gas, of course -- but it's 15 minutes away from where I live, and my weekend shopping trips never seemed to coincide with when I needed gas, and it didn't seem to make sense to drive that far just to fill up.

Laura makes some great points. And I will say- I go when Costco first opens to avoid the lines, on weekdays, because I have a flexible work schedule and work part time. And there's a side of the parking lot that is out of the main insanity =) But yeah, if I had to go when everyone else did? Not sure I would go for anything except gas and Rx!
My journal: Hiding in the Ferns
Like babies? Have kids? Want to chat about Babies and Pregnancy/Infertility? Group Journal Here.

zinnie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 512
  • Location: California
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2017, 08:46:00 AM »
We always managed to spend more per month when we had Costco. Sure, stuff costs less per unit, but there are so many tempting sales there, and you end up with huge portions of something you wouldn't have purchased at another store. I think there were some good bulk items, but my local ethnic markets have similar prices in bulk bins with a much better experience.

And the atmosphere, ugh. Something about watching families load their giant carts up to the brim with ridiculous amounts of meats, processed foods, and desserts, and then roll them out to the parking lot to load up their giant SUVs just really grosses me out. It feels like the pinnacle of overconsumption.

ketchup

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2617
  • Age: 26
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2017, 08:56:54 AM »
Forgot about gas too.  That probably does pay for your membership right there (ESPECIALLY if you have a car that uses premium, that's way cheaper than elsewhere).

Bracken_Joy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7014
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2017, 09:27:59 AM »
yeah with that deal I would totally do it.... just try it out for a year and see if you get any value for it.  I love costco though so I am a little biased.  We love grabbing a whole pizza from the food court on the way home once or twice a month for $10. It is huge and way better than the other cheap pizzas in that price range.  Their clothing is great and cheap, we get all of our baby formula, diapers from there as well.  booze is cheaper, they have really high quality meat, seafood, etc.

Just don't let them talk you into upgrading to the executive membership for another $55 or whatever.  They like to try to do that throughout the year as you are checking out.  They will say, "oh hey based on how much you are spending this year it is worth it to upgrade to the next level, with the 2% cash back it will pay for itself or you can get refunded for the upgrade".  This is probably true but that will only urge you to spend more money there so I just keep it to the basic $55 membership these days.

I opted for the executive membership, but I am very much a list shopper. If it isn't on the list, it doesn't get bought, period. So no worries of spending more.
My journal: Hiding in the Ferns
Like babies? Have kids? Want to chat about Babies and Pregnancy/Infertility? Group Journal Here.

MoneyRx

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 87
  • Location: USA
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2017, 09:30:43 AM »
Don't forget you can use the pharmacy and the food court without having a membership.

We are on our first year of membership and I was initially saving receipts with a plan to analyze at the end of the year to see if I thought the membership was worth it. However, I had a coworker interested in a membership so we decided to split the Exec ($120 with 2% back on all purchases) and will come out with a membership cost much less than $60 - probably more like $15 each, so I am not going to spend the time to check.

Benefits for us have been the staples like TP, paper towels, rice, diapers/wipes, bread, cheese, coffee, etc as well as gas. The downfall has been "impulse" buys- nothing crazy, but things like grabbing a tub of chocolate covered almonds or a bag of dried mangoes that we don't really need. It has not been a substitute for our regular grocery store, we have just been able to buy certain items at a cheaper price at Costco that we no longer buy at the regular grocery store.

DarkandStormy

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 459
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Midwest, USA
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2017, 09:34:04 AM »
Just don't let them talk you into upgrading to the executive membership for another $55 or whatever.  They like to try to do that throughout the year as you are checking out.  They will say, "oh hey based on how much you are spending this year it is worth it to upgrade to the next level, with the 2% cash back it will pay for itself or you can get refunded for the upgrade".  This is probably true but that will only urge you to spend more money there so I just keep it to the basic $55 membership these days.

Wut?  They literally refund you up to $55 if you don't hit that on your cash back alone.  So if you only earned $40, you just bring that check in and they give you one for $55 (or whatever it's up to know).  There is zero risk in getting the Executive Membership as it'll AT WORST cost you the regular membership amount at the end of the year.
The Chase Trifecta:
Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points with Chase Sapphire Preferred - $4k spend in 3 months.
https://www.referyourchasecard.com/6/2MOVOLZCEJ
Earn a $150 bonus with Chase Freedom Unlimited - only $500 spend needed in 3 months.
https://www.referyourchasecard.com/18/ENYF0FTS66
Earn a $150 bonus with Chase Freedom - only $500 spend needed in 3 months.
https://www.referyourchasecard.com/2/DBOP9XI9XT

Southwest Cards - Earn 40k miles for $2k spend in 3 months.
Premier -
https://www.referyourchasecard.com/224/JY2BMSDZJ2
Plus -
https://www.referyourchasecard.com/223/F3ZW8H140N

Recommended Cell Service - Google's Project Fi: https://g.co/fi/r/THK0WX

robartsd

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 999
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2017, 09:51:58 AM »
Wut?  They literally refund you up to $55 if you don't hit that on your cash back alone.  So if you only earned $40, you just bring that check in and they give you one for $55 (or whatever it's up to know).  There is zero risk in getting the Executive Membership as it'll AT WORST cost you the regular membership amount at the end of the year.
I've never heard of this before.

Bracken_Joy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7014
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2017, 09:55:13 AM »
Oh, and of course worth mentioning- the costco citi card is INCREDIBLE. 4% back on gas? 3% on hotels? You do need good credit to get it, but your costco membership "is" the yearly fee.

Anyway, between the citi card and the executive membership, costco is incredibly worth it for us.
My journal: Hiding in the Ferns
Like babies? Have kids? Want to chat about Babies and Pregnancy/Infertility? Group Journal Here.

DarkandStormy

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 459
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Midwest, USA
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2017, 09:57:30 AM »
^Just ask next time you're in.  That's what we were told when we signed up - guaranteed to make $55 on an Executive Membership at worst.
The Chase Trifecta:
Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points with Chase Sapphire Preferred - $4k spend in 3 months.
https://www.referyourchasecard.com/6/2MOVOLZCEJ
Earn a $150 bonus with Chase Freedom Unlimited - only $500 spend needed in 3 months.
https://www.referyourchasecard.com/18/ENYF0FTS66
Earn a $150 bonus with Chase Freedom - only $500 spend needed in 3 months.
https://www.referyourchasecard.com/2/DBOP9XI9XT

Southwest Cards - Earn 40k miles for $2k spend in 3 months.
Premier -
https://www.referyourchasecard.com/224/JY2BMSDZJ2
Plus -
https://www.referyourchasecard.com/223/F3ZW8H140N

Recommended Cell Service - Google's Project Fi: https://g.co/fi/r/THK0WX

ketchup

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2617
  • Age: 26
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2017, 10:13:16 AM »
I am very much a list shopper. If it isn't on the list, it doesn't get bought, period. So no worries of spending more.
I made my initial pro-Costco post with this in mind.  I assume that's most people on this forum, but if it's not, Costco can be very bad.  I see people impulse buying all kinds of stupid shit there.

lbmustache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 740
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #18 on: August 11, 2017, 10:17:29 AM »
Oh, and of course worth mentioning- the costco citi card is INCREDIBLE. 4% back on gas? 3% on hotels? You do need good credit to get it, but your costco membership "is" the yearly fee.

Anyway, between the citi card and the executive membership, costco is incredibly worth it for us.

Agreed. Costco gas is routinely $.30+ cheaper per gallon than everyone else, plus 4% cash back is worth it in and of itself. Basically pays for the membership before I even buy any actual goods.

Bracken_Joy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7014
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #19 on: August 11, 2017, 10:34:30 AM »
Oh, and of course worth mentioning- the costco citi card is INCREDIBLE. 4% back on gas? 3% on hotels? You do need good credit to get it, but your costco membership "is" the yearly fee.

Anyway, between the citi card and the executive membership, costco is incredibly worth it for us.

Agreed. Costco gas is routinely $.30+ cheaper per gallon than everyone else, plus 4% cash back is worth it in and of itself. Basically pays for the membership before I even buy any actual goods.

Yeah, we bought a new car in January and it already has 17,500+ miles on it. Gas cost is a *huge* thing for us. (Plus, husband gets gas reimbursement (I do for one contract, not the other), so the cheaper we can get the gas price, the more we can "make" on his trips!).
My journal: Hiding in the Ferns
Like babies? Have kids? Want to chat about Babies and Pregnancy/Infertility? Group Journal Here.

iowajes

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5045
  • Location: United States
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #20 on: August 11, 2017, 10:40:00 AM »
Oh, and of course worth mentioning- the costco citi card is INCREDIBLE. 4% back on gas? 3% on hotels? You do need good credit to get it, but your costco membership "is" the yearly fee.

Anyway, between the citi card and the executive membership, costco is incredibly worth it for us.

Agreed. Costco gas is routinely $.30+ cheaper per gallon than everyone else, plus 4% cash back is worth it in and of itself. Basically pays for the membership before I even buy any actual goods.

Yeah, we bought a new car in January and it already has 17,500+ miles on it. Gas cost is a *huge* thing for us. (Plus, husband gets gas reimbursement (I do for one contract, not the other), so the cheaper we can get the gas price, the more we can "make" on his trips!).

My car is almost 3 years old and almost has 10,000 miles on it!

ixtap

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 393
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #21 on: August 11, 2017, 10:46:08 AM »
I just got hiking style "travel" pants for <$20, the day after agreeing we could each spend up to $80 for a pair. Now we each have a couple of pairs and they fit me better than any Columbia or North Face.

There is only one place in town that matches Costco gas prices, but you are never far from a Costco here

We get a bag of kale salad (same price as the grocery store, but twice the size), a rotisserie chicken (much yummier and usually less cost than any of the local grocery stores) and feta every single week for salads to take to work.

We also get toothbrushes and dental floss in 8 packs.

We just try to be aware. I got TP there recently just o avoid making another stop. It is my brand and style, except the sheds are "extra wide" so we are going through it faster.

jpeizie

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 19
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2017, 10:54:33 AM »
I'm not sure if we really come out ahead on our regular shopping at Costco because we are certainly guilty of doing the impulse purchases. And you really do need to watch the fresh fruit/vegetable purchases... the food waste in our house meant we were more than negating any savings there, so we stopped buying fresh foods from them.

But Costco also does homeowners and auto insurance. Each of those individually was hundreds less per year than what we'd been paying. That alone made it more than worth it.

Bracken_Joy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7014
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #23 on: August 11, 2017, 10:56:45 AM »
I'm not sure if we really come out ahead on our regular shopping at Costco because we are certainly guilty of doing the impulse purchases. And you really do need to watch the fresh fruit/vegetable purchases... the food waste in our house meant we were more than negating any savings there, so we stopped buying fresh foods from them.

But Costco also does homeowners and auto insurance. Each of those individually was hundreds less per year than what we'd been paying. That alone made it more than worth it.

As much as I hate food waste, it still is sometimes more affordable. I can buy 6 romaine hearts for less than I can buy 3 at other stores in my area. If I "only" use 4, I'm still ahead cost wise. Now, I hate doing this, because food waste seems morally abhorrent to me, but that doesn't mean that financially it isn't sound. Same applies with garlic and onions there- they sell them so much cheaper than other places in my area (and I have far fewer mold problems with theirs) that even if I don't make it through all of the bag, I'm still well ahead.

More than anything, it encourages me to meal plan.
My journal: Hiding in the Ferns
Like babies? Have kids? Want to chat about Babies and Pregnancy/Infertility? Group Journal Here.

robartsd

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 999
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #24 on: August 11, 2017, 11:37:27 AM »
As much as I hate food waste, it still is sometimes more affordable. I can buy 6 romaine hearts for less than I can buy 3 at other stores in my area. If I "only" use 4, I'm still ahead cost wise. Now, I hate doing this, because food waste seems morally abhorrent to me, but that doesn't mean that financially it isn't sound. Same applies with garlic and onions there- they sell them so much cheaper than other places in my area (and I have far fewer mold problems with theirs) that even if I don't make it through all of the bag, I'm still well ahead.

More than anything, it encourages me to meal plan.
Kudos for using Costco produce volumes and your hate for food waste as motivation for meal planning.

DW has a similar issue with food waste. Sometimes I think it becomes a roadblock when we have a glut of free fresh produce. In an attempt to rescue the salvagable bits of produce that is going out, we sometimes fail to fully utilize/preserve the produce that is in its prime. My attitude is that feeding some of it to the compost bin is not a waste.

frugalparagon

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2964
    • The Frugal Paragon
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #25 on: August 11, 2017, 02:28:12 PM »
I'm a single mom of two (50% custody) and have a Costco membership. I love it for these reasons:

Returns
Some things I have returned to Costco for a full refund:
1. A toaster in which I had accidentally melted a fitbit charger (no, really, my apartment smelled like burnt plastic for days)
2. School pants with ripped knees (3 or 4 pairs)
3. Three-year-old car seats that I did not like once I converted them to booster usage
4. Cheese that went bad before we finished it
5. Frozen meatballs that the kids would not eat

Less purchase research
Need a toaster? Just buy the one they have for twenty bucks at Costco. If it is unsatisfactory, you'll get a refund. Hiking pools? Hook me up.

Occasion shopping
My five- and six-year-old boys like going to Costco. They like to use their allowance money to buy frozen yogurt; sometimes I also buy them a hot dog to share. I like going around eating samples. Sometimes I take a bite of each end of the hot dog, give the kids the rest, eat samples, and call it lunch.

One does definitely have to resist impulse purchasing but in general, it works really well for me.

Generally the only produce I buy there is clamshells of spinach or spring mix. Their bananas are awful.
I blog about Mustachianism during the child-raising years at frugalparagon.com.

And I tell the real story in my journal, https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/still-living-well-in-the-living-room-but-what's-my-next-move/

EarthSurfer

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 97
  • Location: 5280
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #26 on: August 11, 2017, 02:30:13 PM »
For those of us with a little more gray in our 'stashes, the savings on a pair of glasses with progressive lenses is enough to justify the membership cost in the years I need a new pair of glasses.

The Kirkland branded progressive lens with 1.67 high index plastic, transitions, Anti-reflective & anti-scratch coatings are $200. Costco has a limited selection of frames at low prices, and you can bring your own frame for a small fee (It must be in 'like new' condition.)

This year Costco was giving a $50 credit towards purchase of a second pair if ordered at the time of purchase. I found out the second pair could be my "computer glasses" (fixed Rx, high index, AR coat). I chose the cheapest frame ($20), and the total cost for the second pair was $20 after the credit.

My progressive pair with frame was $260. Quotes from other optical places were $400+ for similar lenses and frames.
Retired early, retired often since 1998...

Goldielocks

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4526
  • Location: BC
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #27 on: August 11, 2017, 03:20:16 PM »
I stopped getting a membership years ago.  There was almost no way to save the membership price based on the food prices alone.

The items that I do miss getting.

Kitchen trash bags.
Nuts in large bags for baking. (store in freezer)
Cheese.
Rotisserie Chicken (although local stores often have same price for smaller ones).
Large one time purchases -- They were the best place to buy a mattress, after we shopped around, and the savings more than paid for the membership that year.  I do get better prices on tires elsewhere, watch out for lower quality large items, like toilets that don't hold up.

--- recently --
Pharmacy
Eye Glasses
 -- with going off work benefits, I really feel the sting of these costs, now.  So there is savings just for these.

Note--
I don't like their meat because of a scummy practice of needling (tenderizing) all their steaks but not listing it on the package.  Needled meat needs to be cooked through like ground meat, or you risk food contamination illnesses.

Unfortunately, the comment about impulse purchases is so hugely true, I even impulse bought furniture once, and kitchen wares, not to mention the large packs of dates because the unit price was good, or the mega granola bar pack that we did not need to eat so many bars in such little time....   etc.   The problem is that only 1-2 extra items is a MEGA purchase, but your brain doesn't think so.

Costco -- where you go in with $200 cash, and don't have enough at the checkout, despite only having an 8 item list.  LOL.

Zikoris

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2563
  • Age: 31
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
  • Vancouverstachian
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #28 on: August 11, 2017, 05:33:37 PM »
We have a very short list of things we buy at Costco:

Flour
Sugar
Soy milk
Broccoli
Granola bars
Basic toiletries (deodorant and soap)

Our visits are extremely fast. I park the boyfriend in line (with a neon hat if it's crowded) as soon as we walk in, run around grabbing the two things we need, and head right to the front of the line and out the door. Generally less than 10 minutes total. Zero browsing or impulse buying.
Blogging about frugality, travel, and Vancouver life - www.incomingassets.wordpress.com

I also have a journal! http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/the-zikoris-diaries/

Bracken_Joy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7014
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #29 on: August 11, 2017, 05:52:13 PM »
We have a very short list of things we buy at Costco:
Our visits are extremely fast. I park the boyfriend in line (with a neon hat if it's crowded) as soon as we walk in, run around grabbing the two things we need, and head right to the front of the line and out the door. Generally less than 10 minutes total. Zero browsing or impulse buying.

I love this plan. Wish husband was more game/available to come with me. I buy quite a bit (trips are usually ~$100-150), and I'm out the door in under 15min usually. =)

Tips:
Get to a side wall ASAP when you get inside, and cut straight back to the food.
Do 'cart recon' for really congested areas, like the cheese/toiletries zone. There's usually dead spots based on the layout. I park the cart, then do zippy out and backs to get bacon or TP or whatever.
Knowing your store helps immensely.
I also have a personal rule: never backtrack. If you miss the item, you can buy it another day, lol.
My journal: Hiding in the Ferns
Like babies? Have kids? Want to chat about Babies and Pregnancy/Infertility? Group Journal Here.

Altons Bobs

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 238
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #30 on: August 12, 2017, 02:13:32 PM »
We are on our first year of membership and I was initially saving receipts with a plan to analyze at the end of the year to see if I thought the membership was worth it. However, I had a coworker interested in a membership so we decided to split the Exec ($120 with 2% back on all purchases) and will come out with a membership cost much less than $60 - probably more like $15 each, so I am not going to spend the time to check.

The Executive cashback calculation is only based on the purchases made by the Primary member, you know that right?


ixtap

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 393
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #31 on: August 12, 2017, 02:43:21 PM »
We are on our first year of membership and I was initially saving receipts with a plan to analyze at the end of the year to see if I thought the membership was worth it. However, I had a coworker interested in a membership so we decided to split the Exec ($120 with 2% back on all purchases) and will come out with a membership cost much less than $60 - probably more like $15 each, so I am not going to spend the time to check.

The Executive cashback calculation is only based on the purchases made by the Primary member, you know that right?

Primary member and primary holder, for a total of two people. The check will be in the name of the primary member, but can be used with either card.

Jesstache

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 153
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #32 on: August 12, 2017, 04:23:07 PM »
Yeah, this doesn't seem true as I do 95% of all our Costco shopping but my husband is the primary card holder (he had the account when we got together and just added me).  If my purchases didn't count, we would get no rebate but our check begs to differ.

Milk alone pays for the standard membership fee before the rebate ($3.89 for two gallons vs. $2.89 per one gallon) and we drink 1-2 gallons per week.  Also, rental cars are always 20-25% cheaper than all other online deals I can find and I check every time. The one time per year we need to rent a car we usually save $50-$100.  Every Christmas I order personalized Christmas cards through them dirt cheap and also make personalized calendars for the family of our kids as Christmas gifts, and they are also a great price (the other sites may have cheaper prices but gouge on shipping, and I pay none for in store pick up).  Someone already mentioned glasses, eggs, butter(!), and produce is usually an especially good deal for us as we eat a lot of produce.  We rarely allow any to go bad as my kids snack on it daily.

My general plan of attack is to rotate every  week between Safeway and Costco as neither has every thing I need.   I generally spend between $60-100 per week on groceries and household items for a family of 4 (my husband and kids are HUGE eaters and have the metabolism to match, lucky ducks! I eat pretty little relatively. 

That said, if we had an Aldi. I'd probavlu change this strategy!

gerardc

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 397
  • Age: 33
  • Location: SF bay area
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #33 on: August 12, 2017, 04:42:43 PM »
I tried Costco membership for 1 year but was disappointed. Regular grocery items are cheaper at my local neighborhood Mexican shop. You need to buy TONS of staples to maybe save $10 bucks over the year here or there, but it's not worth the hassle of going there, dealing with the crowds, etc. I also ended up buying more stuff I didn't really need. Fuck that.

ltt

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 676
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #34 on: August 12, 2017, 04:51:13 PM »
If you have a large family, a large vehicle to haul your purchases home in, and a Costco nearby, then I would say yes.  We finally didn't renew our membership and haven't missed it.  You really are buying items in large quantities.  Now, we do miss the hot dogs they serve there :)

kmart

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #35 on: August 12, 2017, 04:56:04 PM »
I think a lot of benefits with Costco go unnoticed although some have already mentioned:

1) Passport pictures - half price of anywhere I could find
2) Car Rentals - get extremely good deals
3) Gas prices and alcohol prices - you won't find cheaper (in Canada at least)
4) Tires - I haven't bought but people I know swear by them
5) The fact you can return almost anything with basically no questions asked
6) The photo area they will convert old VHS/tapes - at a fraction of the price I could find elsewhere

For the people that say it comes packaged too large and goes bad, you might think there is big waste but you are probably paying the same or more for a smaller bag or portion.

It's not the only place I go but if you are especially Canadian and don't want to spend loads of time price comparing, chances are Costco prices will beat all other places 90% of the time.

gerardc

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 397
  • Age: 33
  • Location: SF bay area
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #36 on: August 12, 2017, 05:11:37 PM »
...

Strong username to post content ratio!

kmart

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #37 on: August 12, 2017, 08:18:15 PM »
...

Strong username to post content ratio!

Haha I didn't even catch that. Well played!

kimmarg

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 516
  • Location: Northern New England
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #38 on: August 12, 2017, 08:39:57 PM »
I think you can also shop online for some things and have them shipped, but I've never tried that.


You can! I actually have a membership from back when I lived less than a 2.5 hour drive away. I order baby wipes and a few other assorted items online.  Also the photo center is great if you are the type to do photo holiday cards.

retiringearly

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 328
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #39 on: August 12, 2017, 11:31:01 PM »
I have the Executive Membership - I put my sister on my account so i get 2% back on all of her purchases.

The biggest money savers there for me are:

1) Eyeglasses - I have no-line bifocals, high-index (thinner) lenses.  The price at Costco is amazing.
2) Gas - their gas is part of the Top Tier program and it is always a good 15 cents cheaper than anywhere else.
3) Tires - I buy my tires there when they have Michelin on sale.
4) The car buying service - I have used it for myself, my sister and a couple of my co-workers.  Really good deals without the hassle of negotiating.

Those four more than pay for my membership by a mile.

« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 11:35:52 PM by retiringearly »

Laserjet3051

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 351
  • Age: 49
  • Location: SoCal
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #40 on: August 13, 2017, 11:13:23 AM »
I'm an extremely meticulous/analytic shopper and am very knowledgable on pricing across my local stores. That said, if it weren't for the 4% cash back I get on the Costoc gasoline I buy, the membership dues wouldn't be worth it at all for me. But every person's shopping list is different. It is the very RARE item on my shopping list that is cheaper at Costco. Aside from price, I purchase a small # of items at Costco for their high QUALITY (Olive oil from Tuscanny, Dolmas).

But cut my 4% cash back on gas, and I'd drop that membership like a hot potato. YMMV.

HipGnosis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1064
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #41 on: August 13, 2017, 11:50:32 AM »
Mom wants to buy you something you could use, and it would make her happy? 

Why are you even asking?
Make mom happy!!

slappy

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 402
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #42 on: August 13, 2017, 01:03:03 PM »
I'm an extremely meticulous/analytic shopper and am very knowledgable on pricing across my local stores. That said, if it weren't for the 4% cash back I get on the Costoc gasoline I buy, the membership dues wouldn't be worth it at all for me. But every person's shopping list is different. It is the very RARE item on my shopping list that is cheaper at Costco. Aside from price, I purchase a small # of items at Costco for their high QUALITY (Olive oil from Tuscanny, Dolmas).

But cut my 4% cash back on gas, and I'd drop that membership like a hot potato. YMMV.

I'm glad I'm not the only one! I feel this way about Sam's club/bjs. Some things are a bit cheaper but probably not enough to warrant the membership. They get you on the stuff you buy just because you are there. For example, I wanted to pick up some apples while I was there last, but they were $1 a pound more than the local grocery store. Same with grapes. There have been times when I bought them anyway, just for convenience, but it really annoys me.

jmwagner5

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #43 on: August 13, 2017, 02:09:53 PM »
The Costco rewards credit card is great for the cash back on gas.  Buying it cheaper at Costco and getting 4% cash back is a pretty good bargain for something you have to buy anyways.

While I agree with many people that buying in bulk from Costco can be worrisome for expiration dates for some things (produce and fruit in particular), I use it as an incentive to eat healthier at more meals.  I don't want to throw food away so I eat healthier by default. 

Plus, there is something to be said for getting a 'free' meal out of all the samples distributed around the store on any given day...

Dicey

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5951
  • Age: 59
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #44 on: August 13, 2017, 02:17:27 PM »
Oh shit, I've been a Costco member for more than 30 years. Even coasted for a decade as a free family member on my brother's employee card when we were both single. I second everything Happy Plant has said. They will pry my Costco Card out of my cold, dead hand, hopefully at least another three decades from now.

I saw that deal on Living Social and experienced brief twinges of envy for all the potential new Costco members. I knew many clever mustachians would figure out ways to work the angles to score that deal.

DIY Costco Vanilla has become a huge money saver for me, as I use it frequently.  I just noticed the Costco size bottle has somehow zoomed from $6.99 to $27.99, WTF? Meanwhile, the Kirkland 1.75 liter bottle of Vodka has held steady at $13.99 and they seasonally, but regularly, carry twin packs of Rodelle Whole Vanilla Beans, at a price I can't remember off the top of my head, but is way cheaper than anywhere else, including the internet. Open the vodka bottle, split open a whole tube of beans lengthwise, drop 'em in, hide the bottle in your pantry, and you're on your way to cheap, awesome Vanilla deliciousness. Turn/shake the bottle occasionally and wait a few months. Voila! 1.75 liters of yummy Vanilla. Great for gifts, but start soon if you want it ready in time for Christmas. BTW, anyone know the reason for the huge price spike? I even double checked the shelf tag, sure I was just looking at the wrong one. Nope.

Back on topic, I use a list on my phone. Nothing fancy. I just put an X in front of the items I need to buy, which makes shopping and avoiding the budget bombs a breeze. I leave the Xs until the next trip to help me remember what I bought last time that might be in the outside pantry, oof.

My Costco is one of the Top 10 in the country. It is always a madhouse. I pass the time in line by playing otherwise time-wasting games on my Android phone, completely guilt-free. I am also friendly with the staff, which has proven helpful and makes the trips more pleasant. DH and I laugh laugh laugh when we visit other Costco warehouses in our travels. We shopped in Parker, CO, last month. We were asked if we needed any assistance so many times we thought we were being spoofed. Parking? Checkout lines? Nah, piece of cake.

There have been many great tips so far, but the BEST reason to shop Costco is because they pay a living wage and provide good benefits, including solid healthcare, to their employees. This alone is enough to justify the Costco membership, IMO, because it reminds me to shop there and support a retail giant who actually treats their employees like valued human beings who have worthwhile lives and families to support, instead of like so many clods of dirt.


And gas, for that tiny number of Mustachians who still possess gas or diesel powered vehicles. Ahem.

Whew, I guess I had a lot to say on that subject!
I did it! I have a journal!
A Lot Like This
And hell yes, I am still moving confidently in the direction of my dreams...

iowajes

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5045
  • Location: United States
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #45 on: August 13, 2017, 05:34:47 PM »
We got the membership. It will probably be just for wine and gas as most things were more expensive there.
The milk was 40% higher than aldi/walmarr, diapers 30% more than target, almost all fruit higher than Walmart.

We did buy a desk chair that we've sorely needed and are trying a dog food.

And we came home and researched car rentals, but the one we needed was cheaper through the booking on our chase card.

Bracken_Joy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7014
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #46 on: August 13, 2017, 05:38:26 PM »
We got the membership. It will probably be just for wine and gas as most things were more expensive there.
The milk was 40% higher than aldi/walmarr, diapers 30% more than target, almost all fruit higher than Walmart.

We did buy a desk chair that we've sorely needed and are trying a dog food.

And we came home and researched car rentals, but the one we needed was cheaper through the booking on our chase card.

Ha, you hit on almost everything that IS more expensive there =P I did remember one thing usually cheaper there- name brand ziplocks are the only ones I'll bother with (too much freezer loss and meat drawer disasters), and they're on a ~3 month sale cycle at costco. When on sale, they're cheaper than I find them anywhere else.
My journal: Hiding in the Ferns
Like babies? Have kids? Want to chat about Babies and Pregnancy/Infertility? Group Journal Here.

Dicey

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5951
  • Age: 59
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #47 on: August 13, 2017, 06:45:00 PM »
We got the membership. It will probably be just for wine and gas as most things were more expensive there.
The milk was 40% higher than aldi/walmarr, diapers 30% more than target, almost all fruit higher than Walmart.

We did buy a desk chair that we've sorely needed and are trying a dog food.

And we came home and researched car rentals, but the one we needed was cheaper through the booking on our chase card.
Hey Iowajes,
I've used Costco for car rentals before with good luck, but often can nudge the Hertz website to spit out a decent price if I try enough codes. Recently on a trip in/out of Denver, nothing was coming up that wasn't nuts. Some lovely person here recommended autoslash.com. I tried it and saved about $200. The deal came up on National, so I grabbed it, then hopped over to their website and signed up for the Emerald Isle program. It lets you choose any car in the aisle + spouse as secongddriver for no extra charge. We grabbed a Dodge Grand Caravan with all the bells and whistles (Leather, sunscreens on the windows for baby, remote start, heated steering wheel, heated seats, and Dog knows what else. It had only 1700 miles on it. Since we were visiting our grandbaby, we were a complete hit with a fancy-pants minivan for the price of a mid-size sedan. It got amazing gas mileage, over 20 miles to the gallon, including lots of mountain driving and two trips over the Continental Divide.

You simply put in your city and dates and they email you back with links to the best options. Best of all, it's only a reservation, so no $$ in advance.
I did it! I have a journal!
A Lot Like This
And hell yes, I am still moving confidently in the direction of my dreams...

momcpa

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 71
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #48 on: August 13, 2017, 07:03:25 PM »
Question for those of you who have added others to your cards or are an 'extra' person on a co-worker's/family member's card.......how did you do that?  My daughter and her family have a membership card.  When we were visiting them and went with her to Costco, I went to the information desk and asked how to be added to her card.  They said it wasn't possible.   Is there some "sneaky" way around that?   Do the addresses have to be the same?   Same last name?   Thanks for any help/info.

FINate

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 651
Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
« Reply #49 on: August 13, 2017, 07:31:53 PM »
Before kids when we both worked and ate out a lot more (I know, for shame!) Costco wasn't worth it.

Two kids later and FIRE, cook almost all meals at home. Now the cash back on Executive Membership more than pays for itself. We only buy staple items and stick to a list, very few impulse purchases (only for good deal on grass fed beef or other food we know we'll use). It helps that our local Costco is only 10 min away and carries a lot of organic stuff.

It think it's worth it if the following conditions are met:
1) Going through enough staples for cash back to cover cost of membership.
2) You have the self control to resist impulse/non-staple purchases.
3) It's close enough that you're not spending a large amount of time and gas.