Author Topic: Costco: Mustachian or not?  (Read 30751 times)

jengod

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Costco: Mustachian or not?
« on: November 01, 2015, 07:10:08 AM »
Speaking strictly about unit price, Costco is Mustachian. Anyone want to convince me that there are other aspects to Costco that aren't so economically sensible and environmentally conservative?

(DS2 is out of diapers so we have discussed not renewing Costco next year in favor of bulk buying at Sprouts, Azure Standard, and Smart & Final, and buying smaller product sizes generally, and forgoing the unnecessary. )


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realityinabox

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2015, 07:29:08 AM »
Pete seems to swear by it, but I've never had a membership.  I'd imagine the key factor is whether buying in bulk makes you buy more than you otherwise would have.  I think it would for me.

fa

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2015, 07:40:41 AM »
I love Costco but hate the endless amounts of packaging.  Especially items usually sold loose, such as apples, use a lot of plastic at Costco.  Our recycling bin is always full.  In another store you would have a fraction of that waste.

Chances are that, just like Pete, you take your car to drive to Costco instead of walking or biking to your local grocery store.

Finally, the great Costco deals are enticing to buy more than you need.  I suspect I buy more than I would if I did not have a Costco.

Rural

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2015, 07:41:17 AM »
Make sure you've actually checked those unit prices. They're almost universally higher than the discount grocery stores here, not even considering the membership fee.

justajane

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2015, 07:47:03 AM »
At Costco and anywhere else, you really have to know your prices. I am not immune to impulse buys, but usually they are ones that I know are cheaper and better quality. For instance, my son asked for all things purple last Christmas. Ever the practical one, I bought him a purple towel at Target, which is right next to Costco. Then I saw that Costco had a much better quality towel for a few dollars less. I see this regularly with Costco household products.

Ditto on the produce packaging, though. We only buy our apples at regular grocery stores in bags. I can't stomach the waste at Costco.

Also - Costco milk jugs - Worst. Design. Ever.

vhalros

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2015, 07:47:55 AM »
I find Costco to have very good prices on some items. For example, I get my olive oil, oat meal, nuts, raisins, and many house hold goods like toilet paper, detergent, etc at Costco. Some of their clothing is a pretty good bargain too. But you can't assume everything you find is a deal just because it is at Costco. You need to go into that place with a plan or you will come out with $40 of dumplings or something.

I'm pretty sure I don't eat more oat meal by buying it in bulk, since I actually use a measuring cup every time, and have been eating half a cup of it for breakfast forever.

As for the "having to drive" there argument, my local Costco is only 3 miles away, so I usually bicycle.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2015, 07:52:04 AM by vhalros »

MayDay

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2015, 08:16:41 AM »
My savings on cheese alone justify it.  That and olive oil and frozen veggies. 

tvan

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2015, 09:09:11 AM »
I used to buy chicken breast there at 2.99 a lb. realized you can get way better quality chicken at Sprouts for 1.99 a lb.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2015, 10:01:07 AM »
Cheeeeeeeese. I'm a girl on a budget. Damn they have cheap cheese.

Packaging can definitely be an issue, although not for cheese, of course. But for the things I buy, it's not such a big deal. Quaker Oats. Honey Nut Cheerios.

IME they do NOT have the best diaper prices unless they're on sale. I just got a 92-pack of name-brand Pull-Ups on sale. What if the boy stops needing them? Well, Costco would give me my money back. That's part of what you pay for with your membership.

Some things are cheaper at Walmart. Some things are the price, but Costco has a better version. If it is similar price, I'll buy the larger size at Costco because they take much better care of their employees.

And while some of their manufactured goods are not a very good deal, they do have an excellent sale on Crock-Pots this month and I've been wanting a programmable model.

My grandmother buys my membership as a Christmas present, though. Maybe I would feel differently if it was my money.

JLee

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Jack

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2015, 10:39:15 AM »
I (currently) have a Costco membership, and I vote "not." The reason is that even if Costco's unit prices were the cheapest (and they're not!), you're still overpaying based on the fact that you can't choose low-end items there. The only things you can "save" money on at Costco are luxury items -- stuff like gasoline, fancy food (cheese, prepared foods, etc.), alcohol and travel -- and those are things you mostly shouldn't be buying in any significant quantity to begin with.

I used to buy chicken breast there at 2.99 a lb. realized you can get way better quality chicken at Sprouts for 1.99 a lb.

Chicken breast is un-Mustachian. Buy a whole chicken for $0.99/lb (but not at Costco; they charge an extra ten cents!), cut it up yourself, and learn to use the other parts.

Cheeeeeeeese. I'm a girl on a budget. Damn they have cheap cheese.

In my experience, even cheap cheese costs more per pound than just about anything else eaten in large quantities except for beef and fresh fish. Eat less of it.

JLee

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2015, 10:57:24 AM »
I (currently) have a Costco membership, and I vote "not." The reason is that even if Costco's unit prices were the cheapest (and they're not!), you're still overpaying based on the fact that you can't choose low-end items there. The only things you can "save" money on at Costco are luxury items -- stuff like gasoline, fancy food (cheese, prepared foods, etc.), alcohol and travel -- and those are things you mostly shouldn't be buying in any significant quantity to begin with.

I used to buy chicken breast there at 2.99 a lb. realized you can get way better quality chicken at Sprouts for 1.99 a lb.

Chicken breast is un-Mustachian. Buy a whole chicken for $0.99/lb (but not at Costco; they charge an extra ten cents!), cut it up yourself, and learn to use the other parts.

Cheeeeeeeese. I'm a girl on a budget. Damn they have cheap cheese.

In my experience, even cheap cheese costs more per pound than just about anything else eaten in large quantities except for beef and fresh fish. Eat less of it.

If that works for you, more power to you.

I shall work an extra day or two and enjoy cheese. :)

samburger

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2015, 11:27:03 AM »
Once I discovered Aldi, I dropped my Costco membership. The only thing that was cheaper there was the cheese and lox, and I'm not supposed to eat a lot of either of those for health reasons.

If I could eat them, I'd stay for the cheese and lox.

Jack

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2015, 11:46:20 AM »
I (currently) have a Costco membership, and I vote "not." The reason is that even if Costco's unit prices were the cheapest (and they're not!), you're still overpaying based on the fact that you can't choose low-end items there. The only things you can "save" money on at Costco are luxury items -- stuff like gasoline, fancy food (cheese, prepared foods, etc.), alcohol and travel -- and those are things you mostly shouldn't be buying in any significant quantity to begin with.

I used to buy chicken breast there at 2.99 a lb. realized you can get way better quality chicken at Sprouts for 1.99 a lb.

Chicken breast is un-Mustachian. Buy a whole chicken for $0.99/lb (but not at Costco; they charge an extra ten cents!), cut it up yourself, and learn to use the other parts.

Cheeeeeeeese. I'm a girl on a budget. Damn they have cheap cheese.

In my experience, even cheap cheese costs more per pound than just about anything else eaten in large quantities except for beef and fresh fish. Eat less of it.

If that works for you, more power to you.

I shall work an extra day or two and enjoy cheese. :)

Note that I prefaced my statement by saying that I do in fact have a Costco membership. This is because I buy too much cheese (and other luxury items). But that doesn't doesn't mean Costco is Mustachian; it means I'm failing at it!

(By the way, if somebody knows an equal-priced or cheaper substitute for Costco's Coastal brand cheddar, let me know.)

JLee

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2015, 11:59:19 AM »
I (currently) have a Costco membership, and I vote "not." The reason is that even if Costco's unit prices were the cheapest (and they're not!), you're still overpaying based on the fact that you can't choose low-end items there. The only things you can "save" money on at Costco are luxury items -- stuff like gasoline, fancy food (cheese, prepared foods, etc.), alcohol and travel -- and those are things you mostly shouldn't be buying in any significant quantity to begin with.

I used to buy chicken breast there at 2.99 a lb. realized you can get way better quality chicken at Sprouts for 1.99 a lb.

Chicken breast is un-Mustachian. Buy a whole chicken for $0.99/lb (but not at Costco; they charge an extra ten cents!), cut it up yourself, and learn to use the other parts.

Cheeeeeeeese. I'm a girl on a budget. Damn they have cheap cheese.

In my experience, even cheap cheese costs more per pound than just about anything else eaten in large quantities except for beef and fresh fish. Eat less of it.

If that works for you, more power to you.

I shall work an extra day or two and enjoy cheese. :)

Note that I prefaced my statement by saying that I do in fact have a Costco membership. This is because I buy too much cheese (and other luxury items). But that doesn't doesn't mean Costco is Mustachian; it means I'm failing at it!

(By the way, if somebody knows an equal-priced or cheaper substitute for Costco's Coastal brand cheddar, let me know.)

Haha. Nah, I wouldn't say failing - Mr. MM himself indulges in luxurious goods every so often. IMO the key is being conscious of your spending and not allowing your lifestyle to inflate. I've been doing very poorly in that regard lately...having just moved across the country for a new job, I've slipped a lot farther than I'd like to admit (saving money took a back seat to adjusting to a new world). I'm getting back on the wagon now, though!

Back to Costco - I just moved to NJ and was stunned at the price difference between Costco and regular stations for gas -- I'm used to maybe a ~10c difference (AZ), but premium is a good ~50 cents a gallon cheaper there than at most other places. Regular is 10-15 cents less as well, but the difference for premium was surprising.

lbmustache

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2015, 12:05:41 PM »
The cheap price of Costco gas pays for the membership. They are usually about $.50 cents cheaper than everyone else.

Membership: $55

Gas: 12gal/week
Savings: $.50 x 12 = $6

$6 x 4 = $24 x 10 months (I teach, don't drive as much in the winter/summer) = $240.

Even if I account for times where the gas difference may not be as much year round (maybe only $.30 instead of $.50), I still come out ahead.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2015, 12:20:48 PM »
Cheeeeeeeese. I'm a girl on a budget. Damn they have cheap cheese.

In my experience, even cheap cheese costs more per pound than just about anything else eaten in large quantities except for beef and fresh fish. Eat less of it.

Sure, but it is great for SEASONING cheap foods. Bread. Pizza dough. Beans. Yes, I understand how a grocery budget works :-). We're a family of 4 people and my menfolk (ages 3-35) all have the metabolisms of hummingbirds.

I buy 3 different kinds of cheese at Costco (cheddar, American, mozzarella) and each 5 pound package lasts for several months. I divide up the packages and freeze in usefully-sized portions.

We came in at about $550 on groceries for the four of us for October, and that's even though I do not separate out household goods and doodads like toothpaste, dishwashing gloves, shower caps, etc. Although the boys get free breakfast at school, so that helps.

jengod

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2015, 12:53:20 PM »

The cheap price of Costco gas pays for the membership. They are usually about $.50 cents cheaper than everyone else.

Membership: $55

Gas: 12gal/week
Savings: $.50 x 12 = $6

$6 x 4 = $24 x 10 months (I teach, don't drive as much in the winter/summer) = $240.

Even if I account for times where the gas difference may not be as much year round (maybe only $.30 instead of $.50), I still come out ahead.

One of the reasons we might drop Costco is because their cheap gas (3 miles from house) is the same price as Arco cheap gas (6 blocks from house).

Both of those gas stations refuse to accept credit cards (debit only) so the bulk of the savings almost certainly comes from their not having to pay credit card vendor fees.

Arco had a .35 per purchase debit transaction fee, but that is only .04 more per gallon for our main vehicle and still many many cents per gallon less expensive than, say, Mobil or Chevron.

Note to self: Start paying in cash at Arco when possible.


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Astatine

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2015, 02:30:38 PM »
Make sure you've actually checked those unit prices. They're almost universally higher than the discount grocery stores here, not even considering the membership fee.

+1 Same in Australia. Aldi plus a combination of small independent ethnic grocers is much cheaper than Costco for us.

Making Cents

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2015, 02:51:52 PM »
I only became a Costco member in May, so the jury's still out, but according to Mint my monthly grocery expenses have gone up, not down, since beginning to shop there.

I think part of it may pay off in the long run because I'm still front-loading a lot of costs by buying lots of non-perishables in bulk now which I never did before.

But I am also spending way too much by getting suckered into processed food in their frozen aisles (yes! I know!). Relative healthy organic quick food in bulk is just too tempting for a working girl who has crazy hours. (Yes I do plan and pre-cook homemade meals every weekend, but having some "survival food" in the freezer for emergencies is still something I'm trying to wean myself off of.) I need to figure out a way to buy frozen whole foods to save over produce without getting reeled in to the convenience items.

I'm also spending more on gas for a  monthly trip half an hour away through heavy traffic instead of my local grocery right around the corner.

I'm thinking of either not renewing my membership next May or making  a strict rule that I can only go bimonthly or quarterly and am only allowed to buy the tried and true staples: eggs, cheese, milk, olive oil, nuts, tuna cans, flour and other baking goods, etc.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2015, 03:53:58 PM »
One of the reasons we might drop Costco is because their cheap gas (3 miles from house) is the same price as Arco cheap gas (6 blocks from house).

Both of those gas stations refuse to accept credit cards (debit only) so the bulk of the savings almost certainly comes from their not having to pay credit card vendor fees.

Arco had a .35 per purchase debit transaction fee, but that is only .04 more per gallon for our main vehicle and still many many cents per gallon less expensive than, say, Mobil or Chevron.

Note to self: Start paying in cash at Arco when possible.


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Latest word from Costco is that starting next spring, they will start accepting Visa (their deal with AmEx is not being renewed). So the reward points would put them ahead of your other choice for gas!

Not everyone saves money at Costco. I don't know if I save the membership fee plus my time. I enjoy going there and my grandmother enjoys buying the membership for me :-). Sometimes I buy the kids a dollar-fifty hotdog... that, for all of us to share, plus samples, just about makes lunch for the three of us!

vhalros

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2015, 04:08:44 PM »
Although I sometimes  bicycle there, I guess it is worth mentioning that  I actually order a lot of my Costco items via Google Express. Google Express has given me so many coupons that it has more than offset its own cost (although I am sure that won't last forever). They only deliver non-perishables, but that is mostly what I get at Costco, and this also neatly avoids the "$40 of frozen dumplings" problem.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2015, 04:10:18 PM by vhalros »

Trudie

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2015, 05:14:11 PM »
I don't think there's a "one size fits all" answer to this question.  It depends on what you value, what you buy, what viable alternatives you have in your given geographic area, and how convenient it is for you to get to their store.  We have a membership (for two people) and I swear by it for the purchase of certain products:
- milk
- rotisserie chicken
- butter
- Kirkland Greek yogurt
- cheese
- Ecos Detergent
-TP, paper towels, napkins
- olive oil
- raisins, nuts, oatmeal, spices
- $10 flu vaccines
- OTC medications
- fresh fruits and veggies are much better at Costco than our conventional grocers (both in quality and price)

I've been particularly pleased with sweaters, jackets, and other work-appropriate clothes I've purchased there.

We just bought a laptop to replace our 10-year-old desktop.  The price was excellent and they offer concierge service as a free bennie.

My feeling is that if you're sticking to basic, whole foods and simple consumer products it's really worth it.  If you avoid the seasonal specials and fancy gift items you should avoid problems.

We take a list and stick to it, and for basic items I think it's really good.

As someone who does not shop often and does not enjoy it I like going to Costco.  I like being able to take care of lots of things at once.  And our Costco shares a parking lot with Aldi.  Brilliant!


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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2015, 06:12:27 PM »
We have a membership, and find it incredibly valuable for a few things, with caveats. Base line: for what they sell, we find that it's about equal to slightly more than our grocery store's sale prices, but the stuff is actually available at almost-sale-prices all the time, so if you're not interested in stalking 3 grocery stores weekly to combine sales (and spend more on gas than you save...) then it's a good option. But keep a strict list shopping list and STICK TO IT, otherwise it all goes downhill really quickly.

Valuable for:
- DIAPERS omg (ok, you can equal the price IF you get Amazon Prime, but I'd rather deal with a company that treats it's employees well for the same consumer cost, personally)
- Staples: flour, sugar, butter, oats, rasins, nuts, cocoa powder, baking soda, yeast, olive oil, most meats, fresh veggies (like lettuce) in winter (but NOT summer), etc: basically, everything a 'cook everything from scratch, all the time' family uses.
- Cell phones: we're Canadian, so MMM's cell recommendations don't work for us. I needed to replace my phone this week. Going through the Costco kiosk to get the phone I wanted, with the carrier I wanted, with the plan I wanted - basically the same thing I would've done at the mall otherwise - just saved me 175$ (Ok, I got 175$ in costco coupons, but that's more than a third of my month's groceries paid for as a bonus of getting the thing I was going to get anyway)
- Gas IF we're going through there anyway.
- Electronics when they're something we're looking for anyway - they usually have better prices than the electronics chain stores, but it's easy to get suckered into buying something you don't need, so this is a 'proceed with A LOT OF CAUTION' zone.

Caveats:
- DO NOT get suckered into extra convenience food. Every bottle of dip, frozen pizza, etc is more expensive than making it yourself (with ingredients they sell!!!)
- DO NOT get suckered into buying ANYTHING not on the grocery list - impulse buy starts at 10$ per, which adds up REALLY FAST.
- Clothes can be worth it, surprisingly, IF you try them on, make sure they fit and you'll wear them, and return them right away if not. A pile of unworn clothes never helped anyone, and I've seen a few people fall into that mistake. That said, their socks last a long time, their leggings are comfortable, my sheepskin-lined slippers from there were affordable and are so warm and I love them, and their kid clothes are affordable, cute, and durable.
- BEWARE all the consumer goods. ONLY buy things that you need, are on your list, and that are at a price that's better than other stores AND you'll use the entire package (USB memory sticks are not a bargain if you have to buy more than you need, even if the price per unit is lower, for example).
- Kid's toys ONLY if it's something you'd been looking at anyway (last time I went, I found the EXACT THING I had been intending to buy my daughter for Christmas, but 30$ less than Amazon. Done. But not the 6 other 'oh this looks cute she'd love it' thing in the same aisle, those are a bad deal if you weren't intending to get them anyway!)
- Extra trips there aren't great. In my case, Costco is directly on my way home and less of a detour than the grocery store, so the convenience factor of getting all my staples and then cooking everything from scratch is pretty high... but a half-hour detour would kill that one.

justajane

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2015, 06:19:00 PM »
Diaper prices must really be regional because Costco's prices here in the Midwest are really not very good at all. Even on sale they are over 20 cents a piece, whereas at Sam's the regular price for the size we need is 15 cents. Target also beats Costco prices pretty handily if there is any sale at all.

Kitsune

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #25 on: November 02, 2015, 11:36:12 AM »
Diaper prices must really be regional because Costco's prices here in the Midwest are really not very good at all. Even on sale they are over 20 cents a piece, whereas at Sam's the regular price for the size we need is 15 cents. Target also beats Costco prices pretty handily if there is any sale at all.

Well, I'm in Quebec, so: no Target. No Sam's. No Aldi. We DO have Walmart, but their prices are higher than in the US and generally about even with Costco's. Or we have local pharmacies and grocery stores ($$$). If you comb through the sales flyers, you can occasionally get diapers that are a cent or two per diaper less than Costco's prices, but I seriously don't feel than a 10 cent per day savings on diapers is worth doing trips to multiple stores. So: Costco.

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #26 on: November 02, 2015, 11:50:59 AM »
We get lots of stuff from Costco. Their giant packages of flour and sugar tend to be much cheaper than any supermarket in our neighborhood, and we make enough pancakes, bread, muffins, etc. to go through it in a reasonable amount of time. We also get soy milk, beer, jeans, cereal, maple syrup, cheese, canned beans and tomatoes, and more. All of these things are consistently cheaper than they would be elsewhere. Sure you can say some of these things (like beer and cheese) are unnecessary luxuries and we would spend less without buying them. This is perfectly true, but I like having all of those things in moderation and so I choose to buy them for as low of a price as possible.

kimmarg

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #27 on: November 02, 2015, 11:57:18 AM »
Know your prices and common purchases. When I had a costco membership it paid for itself in peanut butter and frozen veggies. yMMV. You can ask to go in the look around before deciding to join.

hops

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #28 on: November 02, 2015, 12:04:46 PM »
We joined a few months ago, splitting the membership cost with my parents, and so far it's been worth it. It's still cheaper for us to purchase some household staples like cat litter, toilet paper and laundry detergent at Target (when you combine coupons, sales, RedCard discounts and rebates), and we still shop at Aldi, ethnic grocers and regional supermarkets for products that either aren't carried at Costco or cost less elsewhere.

Costco blows our alternatives out of the water when it comes to cheese, quinoa, tofu, rice and beer, and we've had good luck finding friends who are interested in splitting costs to maximize savings on items that are either perishable or something we don't want in vast quantities.

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #29 on: November 02, 2015, 12:07:43 PM »
Costco works for us for:
Cheese
Raisins
Peanut Butter
Sour Cream
Nuts - pistachios, pecans, almonds
Bagged greens
Carrots
Frozen Fish
Frozen Peas
Frozen fruit (for smoothies)
Bananas
Butter
Bread
Canned Tomatoes
Chicken Broth
Brown Sugar
Maple Syrup
Toilet Paper
Paper Towels
Dishwasher detergent
Trash Bags

We used cloth diapers so I cant comment on those prices.  And I will not give up cheese.

acroy

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #30 on: November 02, 2015, 12:47:26 PM »
Not Mustachian

This applies to the one closest to me:
- annual fee
- good prices only on name brands
- lots of packaged goods we don't use anyway
- distance: 7mi, too far to bike comfortably while loaded (Kroger is 2 mi)

It's actually cheaper for us to hit the local Kroger. No annual fee, good quality store brands, and we kill it on points and 6% cashback on the Amex card! whoo!

yuka

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #31 on: November 02, 2015, 10:52:33 PM »
I share a house with two other guys, and we're all pretty out-of-control on our spending. Costco is the main place where we buy our expensive stuff.

  • Beer
  • Liquor
  • Cheese. Those logs of mozarella are the best-tasting thing in my house, almost always
  • Eggs. We like buying the eggs there because it's just easier to get 5 dozen at a time. Plus my one roommate is using the cartons for soundproofing (I didn't ask.)
  • salt and pepper grinders
  • olive oil
  • Ice cream. Runner up for best thing in my house is the vanilla ice cream they sell.
  • Veggies. When we buy from Costco, I'm always on a mission to eat them so they don't go bad.

Le Poisson

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #32 on: November 02, 2015, 11:26:36 PM »
Here in Canada, I am mostly nonplussed by Costco, but they come in handy just often enough to justify the cost of a membership. We often let it lapse though and don't miss it. I am baffled by people who buy groceries there.

What we do buy at costco includes:
 
  • Gas - if we are driving by. We don't make a special trip.
  • Tires for Mommas minivan - couldn't beat their price - even online
  • Auto batteries - hands-down winner
  • photo printing when a deal is on
  • Online shopping often has tough to beat prices - even beating Amazon on some stuff

I hear there are deals on clothes, but I've never hit gold there. The seasonal aisle is a complete waste of time. Household goods and appliances can be beat.

The great weakness to Costco is that they push name brands hard. This means that apples to apples, you feel like you hit a deal since "Ragu" Spaghetti sauce is cheaper to buy in 5 gallon jugs at costco than it is to get 20 quarts at the grocery store. But if you compare the Ragu at Costco to the no-name, suddenly Costco loses its shine. Same with just about everything else in the store.

For stuff we do buy in bulk, we have a local Bakery/Restaurant supply that kicks Costco's butt on bulk buys. The difference - its product is packaged for industry in plain buckets and boxes with a sticker identifying what it is. The Ragu there will be cheaper than the no-name at the grocery store. Case in point - Eggs at the local WalMart are about $0.22 each, bought by the dozen. At Costco they are $0.21 each bought by the flat. Restaurant store has them for $0.20 each, bought by the case (180 eggs per case). It would take some effort for us to get through a case of 180 eggs, so we opt for the local store since a trip to Costco isn't worth the 12 cents savings.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2015, 11:28:09 PM by Prospector »

Goldielocks

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #33 on: November 02, 2015, 11:52:45 PM »
Prospector-  do you think no name and even frozen veggies are a Canadian thing?  I agree with you about Costco, not worth the annual and gas to drive there for the amount of brand name cheese, Kirkland garbage bags, and nut we buy.

.  We did buy our mattress there, however, that savings paid for the membership.

Here, Shoppers Drug Mart has the cheapest eggs and butter, at $2,29 a dozen, and $3.79/ lb butter. Plus points days worth uo to 30% off.


No name old cheddar at $8 per 800 gm, plus 10% off in points is the best I have seen recently. ( Superstore), but doesn't taste as good as other types.

Astatine

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #34 on: November 03, 2015, 02:04:41 AM »
The great weakness to Costco is that they push name brands hard. This means that apples to apples, you feel like you hit a deal since "Ragu" Spaghetti sauce is cheaper to buy in 5 gallon jugs at costco than it is to get 20 quarts at the grocery store. But if you compare the Ragu at Costco to the no-name, suddenly Costco loses its shine. Same with just about everything else in the store.

That was my conclusion too. If you buy name brands, Costco makes sense where I live. But who'd buy name brands*? Sense, it does not make.

*I care about the brand of tissues I buy. Chronic rhinitis and severe seasonal allergies means that Kleenex aloe vera is the only choice if you blow your nose many times per day, every day.

Le Poisson

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #35 on: November 03, 2015, 04:56:56 AM »
Prospector-  do you think no name and even frozen veggies are a Canadian thing?  I agree with you about Costco, not worth the annual and gas to drive there for the amount of brand name cheese, Kirkland garbage bags, and nut we buy.

.  We did buy our mattress there, however, that savings paid for the membership.

Here, Shoppers Drug Mart has the cheapest eggs and butter, at $2,29 a dozen, and $3.79/ lb butter. Plus points days worth uo to 30% off.


No name old cheddar at $8 per 800 gm, plus 10% off in points is the best I have seen recently. ( Superstore), but doesn't taste as good as other types.

Yeah - every two weeks shoppers has another surprise on a staple that's hard to beat. Also Macs Milk (the corner store) will often match their prices on milk. This means we can send one of the kids.

epipenguin

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #36 on: November 03, 2015, 05:30:03 AM »
I am ditching my Costco membership soon (just waiting for some cashback from the Costco Amex card, and then I'll be out). I do not think Costco is Mustachian, especially since Aldi moved in to my city. While I can't deny the savings on things like dry cat food, toilet paper and kitchen towels, on everything else I think I spent more. Especially food, because the quantities are so large. If you're single or part of a couple it is hard to get through such large quantities - the massive bag of brown rice was definitely getting that "off" smell at the end there, even though I kept it in the fridge. I used to talk about the great quality of Costco products, but lately I've been reconsidering. Perhaps I've just trained myself to like the cheap coffee, olive oil, cheese or whatever. But I really don't notice a great quality difference any more. The gas was never that much cheaper either, for some reason. I mean, it was the cheapest price in its own 5 mile radius, but I have to drive 8 miles to get there and gas nearer my house was not much more expensive. I bought some furniture from there in 2012 and sadly 3 years later I want to replace nearly all of it because it is not wearing well.

Before I end my membership, I will get some new eyeglasses (they are a good value) and of course stock up on cat food and other dry goods.

justajane

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #37 on: November 03, 2015, 06:01:03 AM »
That was my conclusion too. If you buy name brands, Costco makes sense where I live. But who'd buy name brands*? Sense, it does not make.

I don't know. Ounce for ounce, Costco Cheerios on sale beats Aldi store brand. Plus IMO there is a very big taste difference. It's the same with goldfish (for my kids) and other snack foods. Ultimately, though, the argument there isn't about name brand versus generic - it's that boxed cereal and prepared snacks are just not frugal to begin with, no matter if they are generic or not.

nobody123

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #38 on: November 03, 2015, 06:42:46 AM »
I joined because they had the best deal on tires I could find, even after paying the $55 membership.  My wife got suckered into paying the extra $55 for an "executive membership" when she went a few weeks later, but it turns out the last 3 years we've received a rebate check in excess of the $110 membership, so it's been worth it and takes the membership fee out of the math.  There are two locations in my area, one closer to work and one closer to home.  Surprisingly, their prices and selection do vary slightly. 

In general, they carry some name brand items that are non-negotiable in my house (Jif peanut butter, Bounty towels, Kleenex tissues, etc.) at prices as good or better than the area grocery stores, kids clothes at lower prices than the outlet mall, and most of the Kirkland brand items we try are of excellent quality.  Just bought my third set of tires there, and their prices still can't be beat.

We are guilty of letting some impulse buys creep into the cart.  Usually, it'll be something that the wife and kids will sample and then want more of.  It's as mustachian as any other store; if you go in with a plan and get only what you need, it's fine.

snogirl

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #39 on: November 03, 2015, 09:04:33 AM »
I had a Costco membership, but ditched it when starting my financial makeover.
The store is right behind where I work so many co-workers are members.
If I really need something like olive oil or nuts, there are plenty of card holders who help me.
Give them cash, they magically return with my goods.
My neighbor helps me too.  He always calls when he is going to check.
To give back, I make them banana bread or cook a dinner to share.
It has worked out well for I do not buy enough since divorcing (no kids) & has helped me save $.

Bellatrix

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #40 on: November 03, 2015, 09:33:52 AM »
If costco wasn't the closest store to my house, I would drop my membership.  Quantities are usually too big for me to finish as a single person, so things get wasted.  The quality is only so-so in terms of fruits and veggies.  I'd rather go to Costco though than drive 30 minutes to another store. 

mm1970

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #41 on: November 03, 2015, 10:47:18 AM »
Not Mustachian

This applies to the one closest to me:
- annual fee
- good prices only on name brands
- lots of packaged goods we don't use anyway
- distance: 7mi, too far to bike comfortably while loaded (Kroger is 2 mi)

It's actually cheaper for us to hit the local Kroger. No annual fee, good quality store brands, and we kill it on points and 6% cashback on the Amex card! whoo!
Yeah this is why it pays to know your prices, because it's totally going to vary.

We don't have gas at our Costco.  However, I've got a price book, and I can tell you they  have the best prices (even compared to store sales) on:
frozen chicken breasts
raspberries (or any in-season berry)
rotisserie chicken
cheddar cheese
American cheese
sandwich bread
diapers/pull ups
canned tomatoes (particularly in the #10 can, but also in the smaller cans)
spices
milk
eggs (sometimes)
frozen pizza
sliced ham for sandwiches
nuts
peanut butter
organic jam
raisin bran

Distance-wise, it's a mile from the office.  So if I need cheese, or light things, I walk there.  If we need something heavier, I make my husband go over on the way home.

justajane

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #42 on: November 03, 2015, 11:12:40 AM »
One of the reasons we might drop Costco is because their cheap gas (3 miles from house) is the same price as Arco cheap gas (6 blocks from house).

Both of those gas stations refuse to accept credit cards (debit only) so the bulk of the savings almost certainly comes from their not having to pay credit card vendor fees.

You can purchase Costco cash cards online with a credit card, then use those cash cards for gas/shopping.  That's what I do so I can hit the sign-up bonuses on my credit cards.

You're blowing my mind here. Thanks so much! I never even thought to do that.

Le Poisson

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #43 on: November 03, 2015, 11:23:18 AM »
One of the reasons we might drop Costco is because their cheap gas (3 miles from house) is the same price as Arco cheap gas (6 blocks from house).

Both of those gas stations refuse to accept credit cards (debit only) so the bulk of the savings almost certainly comes from their not having to pay credit card vendor fees.

You can purchase Costco cash cards online with a credit card, then use those cash cards for gas/shopping.  That's what I do so I can hit the sign-up bonuses on my credit cards.

Does anyone know if a Canadian Costco membership is honoured in the US? If so I am totally doing this for our next road trip. Thanks for the tip!

JLee

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #44 on: November 03, 2015, 12:10:02 PM »
One of the reasons we might drop Costco is because their cheap gas (3 miles from house) is the same price as Arco cheap gas (6 blocks from house).

Both of those gas stations refuse to accept credit cards (debit only) so the bulk of the savings almost certainly comes from their not having to pay credit card vendor fees.

You can purchase Costco cash cards online with a credit card, then use those cash cards for gas/shopping.  That's what I do so I can hit the sign-up bonuses on my credit cards.

Does anyone know if a Canadian Costco membership is honoured in the US? If so I am totally doing this for our next road trip. Thanks for the tip!

My US membership works in Canada - I assume it goes both ways.

One of the reasons we might drop Costco is because their cheap gas (3 miles from house) is the same price as Arco cheap gas (6 blocks from house).

Both of those gas stations refuse to accept credit cards (debit only) so the bulk of the savings almost certainly comes from their not having to pay credit card vendor fees.

You can purchase Costco cash cards online with a credit card, then use those cash cards for gas/shopping.  That's what I do so I can hit the sign-up bonuses on my credit cards.

Costco (USA) accepts American Express credit cards.

The_path_less_taken

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #45 on: November 03, 2015, 12:16:29 PM »
Single. After paying the executive membership I still 'made' (got cash back) I think $270 this year.

When they have their coupon books the prices truly are astounding, even compared to Walmart.

The only thing I buy that most of you probably don't is carrots....huge bag of organic carrots for the horses. And when I'm not growing lettuce, I buy the big bag for the ducks.

If I just bought that, and gas/tires, I'd break even but I do buy most of my groceries there. The fact that if I get tired/lazy and don't cook that last bell pepper I can give it to my chickens means that I rarely have waste.

My problem with Costco is that the closest one has gone psychotic, moving shit around every week it seems. And their 'brilliant' idea to put the organic produce up front means it's not refrigerated...I'm not buying produce I can't count on for a week or so. But I noticed that no one was buying it so they did finally move it back with the other stuff.

It's amazing the impact one person can have, even on a store that huge: they hired a hyper "slam it fast/get 'er done" guy to work produce: he doesn't take the time to notice if there's a huge moldy section in the blueberries: just squares up the display. Moron.

And the worst Costco policy, which is nationwide, is that they 'showcase' something for a few months, you get hooked on it, and it's gone. In a rural area it's not like I can replace that.

There's no Aldi here, but the way  you people talk about it makes me jealous. If the new Visas card promo is also 3% cash back I will keep Costco as it saves/makes me money, using the card.

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #46 on: November 03, 2015, 02:38:52 PM »
Does anyone know if a Canadian Costco membership is honoured in the US? If so I am totally doing this for our next road trip. Thanks for the tip!

Yup the Canadian and US memberships are interchangeable. My parents are snowbirds and regularly go to US and Canadian Costcos. We always have them bring back booze for us from their US Costco.

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #47 on: November 03, 2015, 03:00:56 PM »
Does anyone know if a Canadian Costco membership is honoured in the US? If so I am totally doing this for our next road trip. Thanks for the tip!

Yup the Canadian and US memberships are interchangeable. My parents are snowbirds and regularly go to US and Canadian Costcos. We always have them bring back booze for us from their US Costco.

We were able to use our Costco membership for great effect when visiting Hawaii. The prices in the Hawaii Costco seemed very similar to those on the mainland, while the prices at the other grocery stores on the island seemed much higher.

rmendpara

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #48 on: November 03, 2015, 07:56:52 PM »
All bulk purchasing options have the same question: Do the savings from the purchase price hit your bottom line?

In this case, it means whether you actually reap those savings by using everything, or do you just get 24 eggs for $0.01/egg, but end up throwing away 1/3 of them since you can't finish it all regularly? Obviously, when you consider what and how much you throw away overall, that may get you to the overall impact to your budget.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Costco: Mustachian or not?
« Reply #49 on: November 04, 2015, 01:19:25 AM »
I agree that the savings in cheese is enough to justify the price. A 5 lb. bag of mozzarella is 11.39. At Walmart an 8 oz. bag of "Great Value" is 3.19. That equates to 31.90 for a 5 lbs.

I did experience some waste at first when first shopping at Costco. However, I learned to minimize it. I typically buy stuff that I can throw in the freezer. Lettuce has been my only problem with waste. However, I am getting better.

I am a believer.