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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: I'm a red panda on August 11, 2017, 07:48:05 AM

Title: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: I'm a red panda 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: ketchup 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: SingleMomDebt 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: CindyBS 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.

Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: I'm a red panda 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Bracken_Joy 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/share-your-badassity/using-costco-correctly/)
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/costco-what-to-buy/ (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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Laura33 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: robartsd 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Bracken_Joy 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!
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: zinnie 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: ketchup 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).
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Bracken_Joy 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: MoneyRx 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: DarkandStormy 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: robartsd 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Bracken_Joy 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: DarkandStormy 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: ketchup 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: lbmustache 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Bracken_Joy 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!).
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: I'm a red panda 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!
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: ixtap 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: jpeizie 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Bracken_Joy 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: robartsd 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: La Bibliotecaria Feroz 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: EarthSurfer 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Goldielocks 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Zikoris 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Bracken_Joy 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Altons Bobs 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?

Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: ixtap 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Jesstache 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!
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: gerardc 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: ltt 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 :)
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: kmart 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: gerardc on August 12, 2017, 05:11:37 PM
...

Strong username to post content ratio!
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: kmart on August 12, 2017, 08:18:15 PM
...

Strong username to post content ratio!

Haha I didn't even catch that. Well played!
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: kimmarg 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: retiringearly 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.

Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Laserjet3051 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: HipGnosis 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!!
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: slappy 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: jmwagner5 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...
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Dicey 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!
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: I'm a red panda 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Bracken_Joy 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Dicey 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: momcpa 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: FINate 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.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Dicey on August 13, 2017, 07:37:21 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.
Not sneaky, you just pay. Two adults using the same address can be on one membership, but I believe everyone else who has a card under that address pays an additional membership fee for it. There are some workarounds like shopping with a member, paying cash or using Costco gift cards, but they keep a pretty close eye on member's transactions to avoid shenanigans. That said, anyone can use the pharmacy or buy booze.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: iris lily on August 14, 2017, 10:18:14 AM
There are just two people in our household and the quantities at these warehouse places are ridiculous. We even have a full chest freezer and a refrigerator in our basement, but those are always full of garden produce, prep ahead dinners, and meatbfeom family farm area.

Also, the limited selection annoys me, I still have to go to a refular geocery store after going to a warehouse place.

I finally convinced DH to drop our membership to Sams Club. I always found it stupid to pay a "membership" fee to shop in a place anyway. I suppose it keeps out the riff raff,  but since these placs are along the highway and in suburbia, I doubt they would be overrun with homeless anyway.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: robartsd on August 14, 2017, 11:33:14 AM
I finally convinced DH to drop our membership to Sams Club. I always found it stupid to pay a "membership" fee to shop in a place anyway. I suppose it keeps out the riff raff,  but since these placs are along the highway and in suburbia, I doubt they would be overrun with homeless anyway.
I used to read DebtKid.com. He used his expired Costco card to access the warehouse for free samples and people watching. Of course he couldn't purcahse anything, but he was focusing all his finances on his debt emergency anyway. I imagine if he had approached Costco looking like riff raff, they would have inspected his membership card at the door.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Clean Shaven on August 14, 2017, 01:36:55 PM
I'm a big fan of Costco.

FYI, on the Costco Citi Visa card:  the 4% cash back that you get on gas purchases is not restricted to gas bought at Costco pumps.  While that 4% applies to Costco pumps, it also applies to any gas bought at any retailer, with an annual cap of $7500 in purchases ($7500*4% = max of $300 annual cash back).
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: retiringearly on August 14, 2017, 07:40:15 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 fully appreciate the fact that you are a single mom, that is not an easy burden to shoulder.  But do you honestly feel OK with your "returns"? 

Your negligence damaged a toaster so you asked for your money back.

Your kids played too hard in school pants and ripped the knees so you asked for your money back.

You asked for your money back on THREE YEAR OLD car seats.

You asked for your money back for cheese that went bad before you finished it.

You asked for your money back on food that your children DID NOT LIKE?

SERIOUSLY??


Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: La Bibliotecaria Feroz on August 14, 2017, 07:55:24 PM
...
I fully appreciate the fact that you are a single mom, that is not an easy burden to shoulder.  But do you honestly feel OK with your "returns"? 

Your negligence damaged a toaster so you asked for your money back.

Your kids played too hard in school pants and ripped the knees so you asked for your money back.

You asked for your money back on THREE YEAR OLD car seats.

You asked for your money back for cheese that went bad before you finished it.

You asked for your money back on food that your children DID NOT LIKE?

SERIOUSLY??

Are you seriously going to guilt me for taking advantage of a store policy THAT I PAY FOR???

The return policy is a major reason why I pay $55 a year for my membership, drive across town, and buy stuff there that I could get just as cheaply elsewhere. (There are a few things that I get more cheaply at Costco, but not that many.) If Costco thinks it's a bad bargain, they are welcome to cancel my membership.

I do not see how it is any of your business.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: retiringearly on August 14, 2017, 08:08:34 PM
...
I fully appreciate the fact that you are a single mom, that is not an easy burden to shoulder.  But do you honestly feel OK with your "returns"? 

Your negligence damaged a toaster so you asked for your money back.

Your kids played too hard in school pants and ripped the knees so you asked for your money back.

You asked for your money back on THREE YEAR OLD car seats.

You asked for your money back for cheese that went bad before you finished it.

You asked for your money back on food that your children DID NOT LIKE?

SERIOUSLY??

Are you seriously going to guilt me for taking advantage of a store policy THAT I PAY FOR???

The return policy is a major reason why I pay $55 a year for my membership, drive across town, and buy stuff there that I could get just as cheaply elsewhere. (There are a few things that I get more cheaply at Costco, but not that many.) If Costco thinks it's a bad bargain, they are welcome to cancel my membership.

I do not see how it is any of your business.

Fascinating.  You didn't answer any of my points.

You are a human being that I would never want to do business with.

MOD EDIT: This is unnecessarily rude. Please be nice.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Goldielocks on August 14, 2017, 08:21:55 PM
...
I fully appreciate the fact that you are a single mom, that is not an easy burden to shoulder.  But do you honestly feel OK with your "returns"? 

Your negligence damaged a toaster so you asked for your money back.

Your kids played too hard in school pants and ripped the knees so you asked for your money back.

You asked for your money back on THREE YEAR OLD car seats.

You asked for your money back for cheese that went bad before you finished it.

You asked for your money back on food that your children DID NOT LIKE?

SERIOUSLY??

Are you seriously going to guilt me for taking advantage of a store policy THAT I PAY FOR???

The return policy is a major reason why I pay $55 a year for my membership, drive across town, and buy stuff there that I could get just as cheaply elsewhere. (There are a few things that I get more cheaply at Costco, but not that many.) If Costco thinks it's a bad bargain, they are welcome to cancel my membership.

I do not see how it is any of your business.

Fascinating.  You didn't answer any of my points.

You are a human being that I would never want to do business with.

Get off the high horse, already...   If you had almost no money, two kids under 6, and were a few steps away from EBT, but by virtue of your own super thrifty-ness and determination are making it work with minimal handouts, then I think it is OK to use a store return policy, especially if you do so without lying about the reasons why.

Look at it this way -- don't you think that this is a LOT of work for a single mom to go to, to return items of lower overall cost?  What life circumstances do you think would have a person make that much an effort for this amount of money?

Anyway, lots of people gladly return expensive camping equipment to REI and other stores with "lifetime" policies, even when it was due to their own abuse... what is so different about kids pants, and the other items?

The answer to your three questions is a clearly implied "YES" in the post above.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: retiringearly on August 14, 2017, 08:28:40 PM
...
I fully appreciate the fact that you are a single mom, that is not an easy burden to shoulder.  But do you honestly feel OK with your "returns"? 

Your negligence damaged a toaster so you asked for your money back.

Your kids played too hard in school pants and ripped the knees so you asked for your money back.

You asked for your money back on THREE YEAR OLD car seats.

You asked for your money back for cheese that went bad before you finished it.

You asked for your money back on food that your children DID NOT LIKE?

SERIOUSLY??

Are you seriously going to guilt me for taking advantage of a store policy THAT I PAY FOR???

The return policy is a major reason why I pay $55 a year for my membership, drive across town, and buy stuff there that I could get just as cheaply elsewhere. (There are a few things that I get more cheaply at Costco, but not that many.) If Costco thinks it's a bad bargain, they are welcome to cancel my membership.

I do not see how it is any of your business.

Fascinating.  You didn't answer any of my points.

You are a human being that I would never want to do business with.

Get off the high horse, already...   If you had almost no money, two kids under 6, and were a few steps away from EBT, but by virtue of your own super thrifty-ness and determination are making it work with minimal handouts, then I think it is OK to use a store return policy, especially if you do so without lying about the reasons why.

Look at it this way -- don't you think that this is a LOT of work for a single mom to go to, to return items of lower overall cost?  What life circumstances do you think would have a person make that much an effort for this amount of money?

Anyway, lots of people gladly return expensive camping equipment to REI and other stores with "lifetime" policies, even when it was due to their own abuse... what is so different about kids pants, and the other items?

The answer to your three questions is a clearly implied "YES" in the post above.
I apologize.
I never saw where she said she has "almost no money".  Nor did I see her say she was "a few steps away from EBT".

"What life circumstances do you think would have a person make that much an effort for this amount of money?"  My honest answer is that she is not a moral person.

"Anyway, lots of people gladly return expensive camping equipment to REI and other stores with "lifetime" policies, even when it was due to their own abuse... what is so different about kids pants, and the other items?"
No difference.  All of those people have no morals.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Goldielocks on August 14, 2017, 08:48:16 PM
Ah, but if I buy a $300 Osprey backpack with a lifetime warranty, it is because I know that they will repair or replace it for free after 15 years plus of use / mis-use...  and that at least $100 of that cost is actually to support this amazing warranty that is built into their advertising and pricing model...


I mean, wouldn't you return a car battery under pro-rated warranty if it gives up after 12 months?  Or a TV with a manufacturer's defect under warranty period?  Expect Toyota to repair your airbag if it has a bad sensor?  Sleep on that mattress for 14 days and return it if it doesn't suit you?

Like a person with a huge capacity for eating going to an all you can eat buffet-- Is that amoral as well?  Should they volunteer to pay double just because they can eat (more than) double a normal person?

 Warranties are built into the pricing model originally, as long as you don't falsely claim anything and comply with the policy where the heck is morality coming into it? 

A business can quickly change policy if they underestimate the impact and make a mistake, after all.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: retiringearly on August 14, 2017, 08:53:25 PM
Ah, but if I buy a $300 Osprey backpack with a lifetime warranty, it is because I know that they will repair or replace it for free after 15 years plus of use / mis-use...  and that at least $100 of that cost is actually to support this amazing warranty that is built into their advertising and pricing model...


I mean, wouldn't you return a car battery under pro-rated warranty if it gives up after 12 months?  Or a TV with a manufacturer's defect under warranty period?  Expect Toyota to repair your airbag if it has a bad sensor?  Sleep on that mattress for 14 days and return it if it doesn't suit you?

Like a person with a huge capacity for eating going to an all you can eat buffet-- Is that amoral as well?  Should they volunteer to pay double just because they can eat (more than) double a normal person?

 Warranties are built into the pricing model originally, as long as you don't falsely claim anything and comply with the policy where the heck is morality coming into it? 

A business can quickly change policy if they underestimate the impact and make a mistake, after all.
There is a huge difference between legitimately using a warranty and fraud.

Fraud = destroying a toaster by your own negligence and then returning it for a refund.

Support fraud all you want, it is still fraud.

Morals, how do they work?
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Goldielocks on August 14, 2017, 08:59:48 PM
Ah, but if I buy a $300 Osprey backpack with a lifetime warranty, it is because I know that they will repair or replace it for free after 15 years plus of use / mis-use...  and that at least $100 of that cost is actually to support this amazing warranty that is built into their advertising and pricing model...


I mean, wouldn't you return a car battery under pro-rated warranty if it gives up after 12 months?  Or a TV with a manufacturer's defect under warranty period?  Expect Toyota to repair your airbag if it has a bad sensor?  Sleep on that mattress for 14 days and return it if it doesn't suit you?

Like a person with a huge capacity for eating going to an all you can eat buffet-- Is that amoral as well?  Should they volunteer to pay double just because they can eat (more than) double a normal person?

 Warranties are built into the pricing model originally, as long as you don't falsely claim anything and comply with the policy where the heck is morality coming into it? 

A business can quickly change policy if they underestimate the impact and make a mistake, after all.
There is a huge difference between legitimately using a warranty and fraud.

Fraud = destroying a toaster by your own negligence and then returning it for a refund.

Support fraud all you want, it is still fraud.

Morals, how do they work?

But it is not fraud when you say to the return desk "I dropped a plastic spoon into the toaster and fried it, can I still return it under Costco policy?"...   So utterly NOT fraud, if Costco then says "yes".   I worked at a different retailer's desk, and the answer there would have always been "No", and it still was not fraud of the customer to ask us.

On what planet is that fraud?
--Is it finding a possibly unintended loophole that takes advantage of a possibly poor business policy? -- you bet. 
Fraud?  No.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: La Bibliotecaria Feroz on August 14, 2017, 09:03:49 PM
I am genuinely baffled why it would be somehow immoral to use a return policy when Costco clearly feels that offering the policy is in their best business interest. It would be immoral if I took advantage of the policy by, say, buying food, eating most of it, and then returning it for a refund, as a premeditated plan. I only buy things that I intend to keep or use up, and I only return things that no longer meet my needs, and that is exactly what Costco promises.

I have never told Costco anything that isn't true, I pay for my own membership, and I never share it. Costco has earned a level of brand loyalty I have never given any other store. If I want to buy something, Costco is always my first thought. That will still be true when better days come and I no longer find it worthwhile to stand in line to get my $10 back for the ripped pants because that is literally the only way I can afford to send my kids to school in pants that are not ripped.

My conscience is clear.

On the other hand, I would consider shaming single mothers and children (seriously--played too hard??? He's a kid, he's supposed to) on the Internet to be, if not immoral per se, a dick move.

Goldielocks, he's just a troll. Thanks for having my back.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Bracken_Joy on August 14, 2017, 09:04:10 PM
Ah, but if I buy a $300 Osprey backpack with a lifetime warranty, it is because I know that they will repair or replace it for free after 15 years plus of use / mis-use...  and that at least $100 of that cost is actually to support this amazing warranty that is built into their advertising and pricing model...


I mean, wouldn't you return a car battery under pro-rated warranty if it gives up after 12 months?  Or a TV with a manufacturer's defect under warranty period?  Expect Toyota to repair your airbag if it has a bad sensor?  Sleep on that mattress for 14 days and return it if it doesn't suit you?

Like a person with a huge capacity for eating going to an all you can eat buffet-- Is that amoral as well?  Should they volunteer to pay double just because they can eat (more than) double a normal person?

 Warranties are built into the pricing model originally, as long as you don't falsely claim anything and comply with the policy where the heck is morality coming into it? 

A business can quickly change policy if they underestimate the impact and make a mistake, after all.
There is a huge difference between legitimately using a warranty and fraud.

Fraud = destroying a toaster by your own negligence and then returning it for a refund.

Support fraud all you want, it is still fraud.

Morals, how do they work?

But is it not fraud when you say to the return desk "I dropped a plastic spoon into the toaster and fried it, can I still return it under Costco policy?"...   So utterly NOT fraud, if Costco then says "yes".   I worked at a different retailer's desk, and the answer there would have always been "No", and it still was not fraud of the customer to ask us.

On what planet is that fraud?
--Is it finding a possibly unintended loophole that takes advantage of a possibly poor business policy? -- you bet. 
Fraud? 

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fraud (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fraud)

"No.a :  deceit, trickery; specifically :  intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right was accused of credit card fraud
b :  an act of deceiving or misrepresenting :  trick automobile insurance frauds"

Trickery/perversion of truth are key to fraud. If FrugalParagon told the truth (which I have no doubt she did, being an honest person, which is evident from her many postings around here), then she is simply using a return policy. It is up to the store whether to accept the return or not. And costco prides themselves on their return policy- it's a key selling point.

Definitely not fraud. Just a fantastic benefit built into the business model of a delightful company.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: retiringearly on August 14, 2017, 09:10:12 PM
Wow, I give up.

There are people on this forum that disgust me.

Please, take a hammer and smash a TV that you purchased at Costco 10 years ago and return it for a refund.

Have at it.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: CrispySub on August 14, 2017, 09:12:10 PM
If you are on the edge, Costco has an excellent membership fee refund policy.

Get a membership and try it out.  Buy things in bulk, stock up, get whatever you need. If you don't think you will continue shopping there because you don't need 8 steaks and 96 rolls of toilet paper, cancel your membership for a full refund.  Try it out for 1 month or 11 months.  You will either keep your membership or get a full refund.

In fact, I had a Costco membership a year or two ago.  The bulk food buying wasn't very effective for a single person, but I still saved money. I also bought the executive membership with a deal of $90 for the year.  I cancelled within that year and not only got a full refund, but a full membership refund on the normal membership price (I think it was $110 then).  So essentially, I unexpectedly was paid $20 to try Costco out and save money.

Your mom is right.  There is nothing to lose.

Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: La Bibliotecaria Feroz on August 14, 2017, 09:20:23 PM
If you are on the edge, Costco has an excellent membership fee refund policy.

Get a membership and try it out.  Buy things in bulk, stock up, get whatever you need. If you don't think you will continue shopping there because you don't need 8 steaks and 96 rolls of toilet paper, cancel your membership for a full refund.  Try it out for 1 month or 11 months.  You will either keep your membership or get a full refund.

In fact, I had a Costco membership a year or two ago.  The bulk food buying wasn't very effective for a single person, but I still saved money. I also bought the executive membership with a deal of $90 for the year.  I cancelled within that year and not only got a full refund, but a full membership refund on the normal membership price (I think it was $110 then).  So essentially, I unexpectedly was paid $20 to try Costco out and save money.

Your mom is right.  There is nothing to lose.

Also, if you're on the fence about Executive, they will refund the difference at the end of the year and you can continue as a Gold Star member.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: retiringearly on August 14, 2017, 09:36:38 PM
I am genuinely baffled why it would be somehow immoral to use a return policy when Costco clearly feels that offering the policy is in their best business interest.
So your negligence damages a product, and you think that makes it OK to return it for a refund?

Please address that specifically.

Thanks.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Bracken_Joy on August 14, 2017, 09:42:31 PM
I am genuinely baffled why it would be somehow immoral to use a return policy when Costco clearly feels that offering the policy is in their best business interest.
So your negligence damages a product, and you think that makes it OK to return it for a refund?

Please address that specifically.

Thanks.

No no no. You already gave up on us. You even said so. =)

Please cease your trolling.

Thanks.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: La Bibliotecaria Feroz on August 14, 2017, 09:45:53 PM
I am genuinely baffled why it would be somehow immoral to use a return policy when Costco clearly feels that offering the policy is in their best business interest.
So your negligence damages a product, and you think that makes it OK to return it for a refund?

Please address that specifically.

Thanks.

Sure. My understanding of my $55 (or is it $60?) membership fee is that it acts as purchase insurance against accident or changing needs as well as getting me in the door.

FWIW I think I'm actually a good customer on balance. While I return a lot of stuff, I tell everybody I know how great they are, including passing strangers who thought my five-year-old looked cute with his hiking poles. ("Thanks! Got them at Costco!")

Those pants that got ripped? I just bought 12 more pairs for the next school year. One of my coworkers was going to buy her daughter's  school uniforms at Old Navy but got the whole year's worth from Costco because I told her how great they were.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: retiringearly on August 14, 2017, 09:50:04 PM
I am genuinely baffled why it would be somehow immoral to use a return policy when Costco clearly feels that offering the policy is in their best business interest.
So your negligence damages a product, and you think that makes it OK to return it for a refund?

Please address that specifically.

Thanks.

Sure. My understanding of my $55 (or is it $60?) membership fee is that it acts as purchase insurance against accident or changing needs as well as getting me in the door.

FWIW I think I'm actually a good customer on balance. While I return a lot of stuff, I tell everybody I know how great they are, including passing strangers who thought my five-year-old looked cute with his hiking poles. ("Thanks! Got them at Costco!")

Those pants that got ripped? I just bought 12 more pairs for the next school year. One of my coworkers was going to buy her daughter's  school uniforms at Old Navy but got the whole year's worth from Costco because I told her how great they were.
Incorrect.  Your membership is NOT an insurance agent against your negligence.  It never was meant to be.

You are being inherently dishonest.

Honest to God, I feel bad for you.

Best of luck.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: retiringearly on August 14, 2017, 09:51:02 PM
I am genuinely baffled why it would be somehow immoral to use a return policy when Costco clearly feels that offering the policy is in their best business interest.
So your negligence damages a product, and you think that makes it OK to return it for a refund?

Please address that specifically.

Thanks.

No no no. You already gave up on us. You even said so. =)

Please cease your trolling.

Thanks.

Please address my question.
Thanks.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: snacky on August 14, 2017, 10:17:37 PM

Retiringearly, you do you but maybe back off on telling other people about the ethical implications of their actions. Your morals aren't inherently superior just because they belong to you.

Back to the subject at hand: Costco! I just went on their website and discovered that they sell coffins. The more you know!
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: retiringearly on August 14, 2017, 10:24:13 PM
Serious question:  so you feel it is OK to ask for a refund at Costco when your negligence damages a product?

Yes or no.

MOD NOTE: This is enough. You've made the point you wanted to make. There is no need to continue to repeat yourself.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: snacky on August 14, 2017, 10:28:19 PM
If a policy allows for a behaviour, that behaviour is permitted. If they didn't want people doing that thing, the policy would prohibit it.

Is this somehow different from shopping for only loss leaders or signing up for a service just for the intro offer, then cancelling? Because these are all rational economic behaviours that many around here do.

And yes, I have personally returned things after many years and heavy use. The company (MEC, in my case) accepting that return graciously made a lifelong customer out of me, which was probably what they intended.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: retiringearly on August 14, 2017, 10:32:15 PM
Did your NEGLIGENCE lead to your returning the product to MEC?
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: gerardc on August 14, 2017, 10:37:36 PM
Did your NEGLIGENCE lead to your returning the product to MEC?

Negligence is not a crime. You don't have to clean your toaster and change the filter every week, it is just recommended, but does not void the warranty. Unless it is specifically stated that the warranty is void by your negligence, then it's fine to take advantage of it I guess. Not everybody has time to manage the upkeep of their every item, some people have lives.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: snacky on August 14, 2017, 10:41:04 PM
What is your motive here? To identify and shame sinners? To become the self-appointed judge of appropriate uses of return policies? I am confused by your dogged determination to root out egregiously unethical* product returns.

Yes, I got a backpack repaired after my dog chewed the zipper. I was honest with them and they were fine with it. I also returned a winter coat after 5 years of use because I never liked the way the collar rubbed against my chin when it was zipped up. No problem.

*unethical from your perspective.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Flyingkea on August 14, 2017, 10:42:42 PM
Serious question:  so you feel it is OK to ask for a refund at Costco when your negligence damages a product?

Yes or no.
Like everything,  context is key,
So a conditional yes based on:

The store allows this in its Ts&Cs
The store is aware of what happened, and decides to replace it anyway
The damage was not intentional
It was not done with the aim of defrauding the store.

Since these conditions were met, I have no issue with returning the toaster
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: calimom on August 14, 2017, 11:35:30 PM
OP, it would be pretty hard to pass up a fully paid membership, and if that doesn't convince you, and if the testimonials about cheaper gas and all the items you can affordably purchase there don't do if for you, check this Huffington Post piece from 2013:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/19/reasons-love-costco_n_4275774.html

For many reasons I'll  never shop at Walmart. We all have different values and goals with our spending.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Goldielocks on August 15, 2017, 12:04:40 AM
Wow, I give up.

There are people on this forum that disgust me.

Please, take a hammer and smash a TV that you purchased at Costco 10 years ago and return it for a refund.

Have at it.

Specifically.
It is not fraud to smash your own TV with a hammer and to take it back and say...

" I was drunk last night and smashed my own TV with a hammer, and nothing else is wrong with it.  Will you refund it?"

At this point, it is up to the company and manager to decide if their policy covers this.   
Obviously if they said "no", I would not be surprised. 
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: robartsd on August 15, 2017, 09:19:31 AM
You asked for your money back on THREE YEAR OLD car seats.
Product was sold as a convertable car seat, but did not function as well as expected after conversion. I think that due to the time in use, a full refund is not warrentted - as a customer, I'd be satisfied with a 25-40% refund in this situation. OTOH, I might have experimented with the car seat in its various configurations shortly after purchase to avoid the problem down the road.

You asked for your money back for cheese that went bad before you finished it.
Depends on how long after purchase/sell by date the cheese went bad, not how much of it got used before it went bad. I've recieved perisables that clearly did not stay good as long as they should have and returned them to Costco. I've had times where only one part of a multi-pack was bad, but Costco accepted the return of the remainder and gave a full refund.

You asked for your money back on food that your children DID NOT LIKE?
With the size of items Cosco sells, I don't think it is unreasonable to return items that didn't meet your expectations. I certainly would not be inclined to try a new product offered at Costco if it were not for this policy.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: jeninco on August 15, 2017, 09:42:07 AM
Let's try this in a different direction: if I purchase a product and it doesn't hold up as expected/advertised, it seems entirely reasonable to return it and at least ask for a refund. If the store provides one (because it is their policy, typically) then they have invested in customer retention. If they don't ... well, that's their choice, and I'll decide what I want to do going forward.

I have a pair of LL Bean boots on which I've entirely worn off the tread, and the uppers are separating from the rubber bottom. I don't expect a refund (I bought them in 1987), but I'd find it entertaining to send them back (and maybe they can recycle the components?)  I'm trying to balance the guilt I'd feel (because these things held up far past what I would reasonably expect)  with their lifetime warranty. I'm 90% certain that if I called, they'd tell me to just send them back and they'll replace the things. And that I shouldn't worry about it so.

I bought a pair of travel pants a few years ago that I took on a 3 week trip and wore every second or third day. Unfortunately, they came home saturated with the smell of rhino poop, and nothing I tried made them not stink. I went back to the store where I bought them and asked if there was some special cleaning stuff I could use (on a weird synthetic material), and they just refunded me for the pants. Ethical? I wore them a lot while traveling, but I typically keep pants for years, and they were unwearable.

RetiringEarly, while I appreciate your impulse to encourage people to act ethically, you're missing some context on FrugalParagon. Also, your stance is coming off as inflexible and kind of jerky: without knowing anything else about the person you're responding to, your "voice" here is quite aggressive. And since you didn't know how the conversation went when she returned the toaster, the aggression seems misplaced. (Based on what I've read from FP and what I know about Costco policy, I'd guess the conversation was "I totally screwed up and did XXX which broke the toaster. Can you help?" "Sure, fill this out and I'll grab you a new one." More a situation that will engender lasting customer loyalty then an example of fraud.)

And Costco partly has a generous return policy for exactly the "did not like" situation -- not many folks here would want to buy a 24-pack of something new'n'different without the option to return it if they found it yucky.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: DarkandStormy on August 15, 2017, 09:56:38 AM
http://clark.com/shopping-retail/weirdest-returns-costco-employees-have-ever-seen/

https://customerservice.costco.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1191

Costco does track your returns, so I'm guessing if they see a concerning pattern they may address your membership.

That said, I wouldn't have the cajones/fortitude to return a 3-year old toaster that bit the dust because I messed up or food that my family didn't like (sample it first, maybe?), but people are free to do what they want and if Costco OKs it then good for them.

Re: REI - they used to offer lifetime warranties/return policies.  They've updated it to one year.  https://www.rei.com/help/return-policy.html

I wonder if Costco will adopt a similar one-year policy in the future.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: I'm a red panda on August 15, 2017, 10:12:38 AM
or food that my family didn't like (sample it first, maybe?), b

How would you recommend doing this?

People talk a ton about the costco samples, but when we went on Saturday the only thing being sampled was gluten free pizza.  One sample.  So every other product in that store is an unknown.


I've returned food I didn't like to Aldi. I literally told the cashier "I'm sorry this was gross". I got a full refund, and they offered me another pack of the product (since it was double replacement guarantee). I did not take the 2nd product because the problem is that it was gross, not that it had gone bad.  If Costco has a similar 100% guarantee, it's reasonable to return food that you just don't like.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Bracken_Joy on August 15, 2017, 10:26:31 AM
or food that my family didn't like (sample it first, maybe?), b

How would you recommend doing this?

People talk a ton about the costco samples, but when we went on Saturday the only thing being sampled was gluten free pizza.  One sample.  So every other product in that store is an unknown.


I've returned food I didn't like to Aldi. I literally told the cashier "I'm sorry this was gross". I got a full refund, and they offered me another pack of the product (since it was double replacement guarantee). I did not take the 2nd product because the problem is that it was gross, not that it had gone bad.  If Costco has a similar 100% guarantee, it's reasonable to return food that you just don't like.

I've returned a terrible food item to Trader Joe's once (a new yogurt, it was literally inedible, I've had milder goat cheese. I couldn't tell if it was rotten or awful. Turned out, just awful). The cashier actually *thanked* me, and said that all the returns of that item meant corporate was actually having them pull it that week.

And costco definitely doesn't always have samples. In fact, when I'm able to go (right at opening on some week days), they *never* have samples. Many of the products they sell aren't sold elsewhere, so there isn't even an option to track down a smaller pack to try it first. And that's a huge assumption about how much free time there is anyway!
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: I'm a red panda on August 15, 2017, 10:49:53 AM
I just wasn't sure if the sample it first comment meant Costco had a sample policy like Sephora (I think it is Sephora). They will open ANYTHING in the store and let you sample it if you ask.  You can even take home like 3 samples a visit.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Bracken_Joy on August 15, 2017, 10:52:28 AM
I just wasn't sure if the sample it first comment meant Costco had a sample policy like Sephora (I think it is Sephora). They will open ANYTHING in the store and let you sample it if you ask.  You can even take home like 3 samples a visit.

Oh I don't know! It still wouldn't have made a difference in FP's case though, unless her kids were with her shopping. And personally, I would do anything in my power not to shop in Costco with children, haha. =)
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: DarkandStormy on August 15, 2017, 11:16:40 AM
or food that my family didn't like (sample it first, maybe?), b

How would you recommend doing this?


I meant in a general sense - don't buy meatballs at Costco if you don't know if your kids like meatballs, for example.  In that case, I'd buy a smaller pack at a grocery store first.

For specific products, it would be harder if they aren't in the sample rotation at Costco.

I understand returning food items that are spoiled, made you sick, were inconsistent with the taste of previous versions of that exact same item, etc. etc.  Personally, if I picked out a new food product and just found it wasn't to my liking, it doesn't rise to the level of "well, let's return it."  1) It's on me - I made the purchase expecting to tolerate it enough to consume it.  2) It's food waste - there's no way Costco/grocery store will be able to re-sell it.  I'd rather find a more creative way to make sure it doesn't go to waste - offering it a family member, friend, or neighbor who might like it.  Food waste simply because I didn't like a product is unnecessarily wasteful.

We don't go to Trader Joe's all that often anymore (more on a Costco & Aldi routine right now) but we'll still go to TJ's every couple months.  They will let you sample almost anything if you ask.  We asked about a new product once (just a general, "what is this?  Is it good?")  -  the employee said it was new and he didn't even know, so he opened it up right there in the aisle.  We don't do this all the time, just when we see a new product and want to ask about it.  Other than that, we just take the food and/or wine samples if we care to and they're offering them.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: La Bibliotecaria Feroz on August 15, 2017, 02:18:38 PM
...
I meant in a general sense - don't buy meatballs at Costco if you don't know if your kids like meatballs, for example.  In that case, I'd buy a smaller pack at a grocery store first.
...

OK, OK, maybe I should have, but the kids had always eaten meatballs before.

I am actually really cognizant of food waste. Have been known to eat carrot greens, know how to freeze a variety of things, know how to refresh lettuce, etc. This was a one-time thing. The damn meatballs were taking up half the freezer and it would have taken me six months to eat them all by myself! Yeah, I'm asking for a pass on that. No one is perfect. Normally I find a way to use things up even if I regret buying them.

The cheese that went bad was in a sealed package before the sell-by date. Since that time, I am more cautious--I know that it doesn't keep that long in a home fridge and will generally open the package, divide the contents amongst freezer bags, and freeze in usable portions.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Chesleygirl on August 15, 2017, 03:05:20 PM
The savings on gas are why we have a Costco membership. That's where we fuel up and save money. I don't shop so often in the store, just every 3 months I go in and buy things like toilet paper, paper towels, etc, but gasoline savings is the main reason we have our membership.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Dicey on August 15, 2017, 10:30:31 PM
http://clark.com/shopping-retail/weirdest-returns-costco-employees-have-ever-seen/

https://customerservice.costco.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1191

Costco does track your returns, so I'm guessing if they see a concerning pattern they may address your membership.

That said, I wouldn't have the cajones/fortitude to return a 3-year old toaster that bit the dust because I messed up or food that my family didn't like (sample it first, maybe?), but people are free to do what they want and if Costco OKs it then good for them.

Re: REI - they used to offer lifetime warranties/return policies.  They've updated it to one year.  https://www.rei.com/help/return-policy.html

I wonder if Costco will adopt a similar one-year policy in the future.
Costco does indeed track purchases and patterns. That's why you never need a receipt to return anything. You also get back exactly what you paid, even if it's been marked down or discontinued.

About their return policy: It was indeed more liberal on electronics, but there was too much abuse, so return policies were adjusted.

And yes, you can buy a huge-ass big screen at Costco to watch some stupid game and then return it. They'll take it back, but we all know that won't mean it's the right thing to do. And if you do it enough, you'll get a polite letter telling you your membership has been revoked.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: iris lily on August 15, 2017, 10:55:38 PM
I can see there are varying ideas here about what constitutes abuse in returning items. If I don't like a food that doesn't mean that it's returnable, in my opinion. I will not go out to dinner with one of my friends because she constantly returns things to the kitchen because she doesn't like them. I think that is an abuse of goodwill of the restaurant.  She does this almost every time we go out, or else she will ask for something extra with no charge, or she will ask for a special favor. That  is snowflake behavior I can't tolerate, so that's why I will not go out with her anymore.

There isn't much I don't like, but when I run into a restaurant meal that isn't my favorite I wouldn't dream of returning it unless it was incompetently  prepared. In that case the restaurant wants to know.

 I have told the story before, and probably here, but I was horrified to be in a professional meeting with a vendor when someone from another institution returned the product they have been using for 10 years.  It was defective, yet they had actively used it. For 10 years.

Apparently they had not noticed the defect. OK! The vendor was gracious about it and took the product back and promised a refund, and I was amazed. But that was about customer service and not about practical business.

Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: seattlecyclone on August 15, 2017, 10:57:02 PM
We buy quite a bit at Costco, including:

Flour
Sugar
Breakfast Cereal
Rice
Beer
Liquor
Cheese
Vegetarian sausages
Soap
Jeans
Beans
Cooking oils
Maple Syrup
Soy Milk
Pasta/sauce
Frozen pizzas
Frozen veggies

The price on these items tends to be less than more local grocery stores. We tend not to buy much produce there because it comes in quantities larger than we can typically consume before it will spoil. Instead we go once every couple of months to stock up mostly on non-perishables and frozen items. If the gas tank is below half full we'll fill up while we're there, but the store is far enough away that driving there for cheaper gas definitely does not make sense.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: carozy on August 17, 2017, 02:02:40 PM
I don't think there's a right or wrong answer, OP, it just depends on what's right for you.

It's just me, and I find Costco worth it for the main reason that I use it and it does save me a lot of money.  I am also generally very pleased with the quality of their items.

It works for me:


Costco offers a lot but it's not for everyone.  If it's just one person I would tour it and write down all the items you could use long term.  If you live in a small place consider your storage space also (or get good at Storage Tetris).  Things that don't go bad like cans of black beans, chickpeas, oats (if you regularly eat oatmeal), or things that you would use anyways (TP, paper towels, saline solution, coffee, shampoo/conditioner).  Kirkland brand is usually the cheapest.  You can also buy the bread and put a loaf in the freezer.  I found it's worth it to me if I don't go crazy, keep in mind how much storage I have and how much I'd actually use the items.

I forgot, they also have a really tasty kale and cranberry salad which is great for potlucks, under $5 I think.

EDIT: added spacing, minor typo edit, changed Stretchers to Sketchers :)
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: carozy on August 17, 2017, 05:05:56 PM
I happened to come across these articles which I'm going to dive into myself:

The Ultimate Costco Meal Plan, Part 1 -- http://www.choosefi.com/ultimate-costco-food-budget-part-1/

The Ultimate Costco Meal Plan, Part 2 -- http://www.choosefi.com/ultimate-costco-meal-plan-part-2/

From the Choose FI website (www.choosefi.com).  I was looking for his bread baking article since his podcast inspired me to buy a bread maker.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: krisvolley27 on August 19, 2017, 09:23:45 PM
Maybe someone already said this, I didn't read all the posts.  If your mom is a Costco Member she can sign you up as a co-member (I forget exactly what they call it).   I've done this with my sister for years!!!   I have the cash back membership and my sister has kids while I don't.  All her diaper purchases more than paid for my membership.  It's a free additional card you get with your membership and they don't pay attention to who or where that second card is.  Im sure its designed for husband and wife situations but for me I've put my sister on it which is a totally differently family living about 500 miles away from me.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: gggggg on August 20, 2017, 05:24:46 AM
A side question. Costco is about a 40 minute drive from my house, but BJ's is a mile, at most. Is there any significant advantage to Costco over BJ's that would offset the convience of having BJ's a mile away?
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Goldielocks on August 20, 2017, 09:36:42 AM
A side question. Costco is about a 40 minute drive from my house, but BJ's is a mile, at most. Is there any significant advantage to Costco over BJ's that would offset the convience of having BJ's a mile away?

Our Costco drive would cost us $2 each way in fuel...   plus the annual membership, so that definitely put a "no" onto the idea of getting a membership unless we have a large item purchase that could save the fee in a single shop.

How much fuel would it cost you to go to Costco out of your normal routine today?
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: begood on August 20, 2017, 11:01:13 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.

I did this just yesterday! My executive membership rebate check was $42, so they gave me $13 in cash to get me to the $55 "extra" I paid for the executive membership. And then the lovely guest services lady asked me questions about my usage of the executive membership and suggested I drop down to Gold Star (regular member). I used my rebate check and cash to pay my renewal and now I'm done through November 2018. \o/
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: HildaCorners on August 20, 2017, 12:08:27 PM
I gave up my Costco card a few years ago, after comparing costs on things I buy.

It turned out the only things I saved money on were:
toilet paper (tiny savings)
eggs

Everything else cost less if I did careful sale shopping at the 6 market chains nearby. I have some excellent markets.

Now, if I bought brand name items, had a husband and 4 kids, and a large freezer plus root cellar, my decision might have been different. Or if my local Costco had organic foods and better meats. But I don't, and they didn't, so no membership. I don't miss it.

I do have a card for the local restaurant supply store, which is similar to Costco in some ways, without the rampant consumerism. Still, I go there less than once a year.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Dicey on August 20, 2017, 12:26:09 PM
I gave up my Costco card a few years ago, after comparing costs on things I buy...

Everything else cost less if I did careful sale shopping at the 6 market chains nearby....

Or if my local Costco had organic foods and better meats.
Sorry, no way am I interested in shopping SIX other market chains. My time has value. Costco consistently has the best prices for the things I buy on a regular basis and I don't have to waste any time or mental bandwidth chasing elusive sales at SIX different places, not to mention gas.

As to "organic foods and better meats", things have improved a lot in the past few years. All organics are now identified by green signs. You'd be amazed.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: I'm a red panda on August 20, 2017, 02:54:37 PM
I'm at Costco now waiting for my free with sign up coupon pizza.
Freaking everything is organic. Which means a lot of it costs more than our comparable products.  I'm annoyed there was no non organic spaghetti and no shell noodles at all, as that is what I came for.

I'll probably eat my membership in cheese/caramel popcorn though. And my daughter got a great nap while we walked around for 2 hours.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Dicey on August 20, 2017, 02:58:52 PM
I've noticed the lack of shell noodles, too. I wonder if there was too much breakeage? Costco watches every little detail. Remember when nuts came in round containers? Seems Costco figured out square was more efficient and now it's square, square everywhere.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: HildaCorners on August 20, 2017, 03:24:31 PM
I gave up my Costco card a few years ago, after comparing costs on things I buy...

Everything else cost less if I did careful sale shopping at the 6 market chains nearby....

Or if my local Costco had organic foods and better meats.
Sorry, no way am I interested in shopping SIX other market chains. My time has value. Costco consistently has the best prices for the things I buy on a regular basis and I don't have to waste any time or mental bandwidth chasing elusive sales at SIX different places, not to mention gas.
...

My time has value too.

When I first moved to this area, I checked out all the chains. One has uniformly high prices and isn't close by, I never go there. One has very good deals on meat, but not often, I go there 3-4 times a year. One is Whole Paycheck Foods, also not on the list.

The chain in walking distance to my house has high prices, I sometimes go there because its convenient. That leaves two, in adjacent strip malls. One is Trader Joes, the other has overall low prices. I go to these two on a regular basis, and look at the ads for the rest.

I probably spend 20 minutes more a week than you do. My monthly food budget for me and a teen boy is under $300 a month, I don't think Costco could beat that.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Dicey on August 20, 2017, 03:59:02 PM
ZCademy, your prior post clearly stated that you shop at "six different chains", which could be interpreted that you shop at more than one location of some chain stores, making the total number even higher.

You do you, and I'll do me. It's all good.

BTW, I'm pleased that Iowa Jesus (autofill for iowajes) got enough feedback to make a decision.

Love this forum!
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: I'm a red panda on August 20, 2017, 06:59:43 PM
I need to change my username. :)
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: TheAnonOne on August 20, 2017, 09:34:07 PM
I didn't read anything in this thread.

The answer is "Yes", Costco is a gift from the heavens. Shame on you for not being born in one.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Dicey on August 21, 2017, 01:05:55 AM
I didn't read anything in this thread.

The answer is "Yes", Costco is a gift from the heavens. Shame on you for not being born in one.
Alas, I was born before Costco was. Once I was visiting my very funny cousin and we went to Costco. As we approached the entrance, we passed a string of carts that all had very young children in them. She quipped, "Oh, look! Costco's selling babies now." I never stopped to think maybe they were born there, lol. You know, those long checkout lines...

Seriously, there are so many Costco locations around the world, I'm sure a baby's been born in one of them somewhere.
Okay, I just had to Google it...

I see someone got pretty darn close! At the end of the article it says the warehouse manager gave them a survival kit, including diapers and a Costco membership! Now that's mustachian!

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/woman-gives-birth-at-costco-in-winter-park_20151107090038124

Note to the artist formerly known as iowajes, I'm just here to help ;-)
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Mgmny on August 21, 2017, 01:21:20 PM
As others have mentioned, their rotisserie chicken is probably worth it right there!

For 4.99, you get a large, delicious chicken already cooked. Even if you only got 1 chicken a week for a year, that's only $1 extra per chicken, and $5.99 for their chickens is still a great deal. They are great to eat alone, in/on salads, sandwiches, everything. I can't even buy an uncooked chicken that size for that price!
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: farmecologist on August 21, 2017, 02:54:53 PM
As others have mentioned, their rotisserie chicken is probably worth it right there!

For 4.99, you get a large, delicious chicken already cooked. Even if you only got 1 chicken a week for a year, that's only $1 extra per chicken, and $5.99 for their chickens is still a great deal. They are great to eat alone, in/on salads, sandwiches, everything. I can't even buy an uncooked chicken that size for that price!

I second this...the rotisserie chicken is great!  However, I think you can also get one at Target for around the same price?


Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: robartsd on August 28, 2017, 12:46:45 PM
As to "organic foods and better meats", things have improved a lot in the past few years. All organics are now identified by green signs. You'd be amazed.
While I'll agree that Costco has added quite a bit of organic options at most stores, I still notice differences in what is available ammong the different Coscto warehouses in my area (there are 2 warehouses that I shop frequently and a few others in the region that I occasionally visit).
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: I'm a red panda on August 28, 2017, 01:02:52 PM
As others have mentioned, their rotisserie chicken is probably worth it right there!

For 4.99, you get a large, delicious chicken already cooked. Even if you only got 1 chicken a week for a year, that's only $1 extra per chicken, and $5.99 for their chickens is still a great deal. They are great to eat alone, in/on salads, sandwiches, everything. I can't even buy an uncooked chicken that size for that price!

I second this...the rotisserie chicken is great!  However, I think you can also get one at Target for around the same price?

Pretty much everyone around here offers a rotisserie chicken at that price.

I've never purchased a pre-cooked chicken. We often buy whole chickens, and they are just a tad less than that, but then we get to decide how to season it.


We did find almonds are way cheaper there.
And if I can find a good storage container- bread flour is a fabulous price.  We use a ton of bread flour, but we don't have anywhere to store such a large open bag.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: robartsd on August 28, 2017, 01:46:25 PM
And if I can find a good storage container- bread flour is a fabulous price.  We use a ton of bread flour, but we don't have anywhere to store such a large open bag.
I'd recommend food grade 5-gallon buckets (~$5 but you may be able to find a food service that will give you these for free). Usually you have to get lids separately (food service ingredients that come in buckets have 1 time use lids that get cut open). One-time use lids are best for shipping or storage, but there are also lids designed to be opened and sealed many times. Basic lids should be less than $2, the screw open/closed Gamma Seal lid can be found for about $7. Each 5-gallon bucket can hold about 30 pounds of flour, so you'd need 2 to store the flour from a 50 pound bag.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: farmecologist on August 28, 2017, 03:24:40 PM
As others have mentioned, their rotisserie chicken is probably worth it right there!

For 4.99, you get a large, delicious chicken already cooked. Even if you only got 1 chicken a week for a year, that's only $1 extra per chicken, and $5.99 for their chickens is still a great deal. They are great to eat alone, in/on salads, sandwiches, everything. I can't even buy an uncooked chicken that size for that price!

I second this...the rotisserie chicken is great!  However, I think you can also get one at Target for around the same price?

Pretty much everyone around here offers a rotisserie chicken at that price.

I've never purchased a pre-cooked chicken. We often buy whole chickens, and they are just a tad less than that, but then we get to decide how to season it.


We did find almonds are way cheaper there.
And if I can find a good storage container- bread flour is a fabulous price.  We use a ton of bread flour, but we don't have anywhere to store such a large open bag.

That's what I thought.  However, at least from my experience, the Costco chicken is noticeably larger than the other stores.

Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Mgmny on August 29, 2017, 10:51:31 AM
As others have mentioned, their rotisserie chicken is probably worth it right there!

For 4.99, you get a large, delicious chicken already cooked. Even if you only got 1 chicken a week for a year, that's only $1 extra per chicken, and $5.99 for their chickens is still a great deal. They are great to eat alone, in/on salads, sandwiches, everything. I can't even buy an uncooked chicken that size for that price!

I second this...the rotisserie chicken is great!  However, I think you can also get one at Target for around the same price?

Pretty much everyone around here offers a rotisserie chicken at that price.

I've never purchased a pre-cooked chicken. We often buy whole chickens, and they are just a tad less than that, but then we get to decide how to season it.


We did find almonds are way cheaper there.
And if I can find a good storage container- bread flour is a fabulous price.  We use a ton of bread flour, but we don't have anywhere to store such a large open bag.

That's what I thought.  However, at least from my experience, the Costco chicken is noticeably larger than the other stores.

My Targets don't have a rotis chicken. Iowajess, you probably live near HyVees, no? Our HyVee has smaller chicken for closer to $8. That's 60% more expensive, AND smaller. 
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: I'm a red panda on August 29, 2017, 11:08:24 AM
As others have mentioned, their rotisserie chicken is probably worth it right there!

For 4.99, you get a large, delicious chicken already cooked. Even if you only got 1 chicken a week for a year, that's only $1 extra per chicken, and $5.99 for their chickens is still a great deal. They are great to eat alone, in/on salads, sandwiches, everything. I can't even buy an uncooked chicken that size for that price!

I second this...the rotisserie chicken is great!  However, I think you can also get one at Target for around the same price?

Pretty much everyone around here offers a rotisserie chicken at that price.

I've never purchased a pre-cooked chicken. We often buy whole chickens, and they are just a tad less than that, but then we get to decide how to season it.


We did find almonds are way cheaper there.
And if I can find a good storage container- bread flour is a fabulous price.  We use a ton of bread flour, but we don't have anywhere to store such a large open bag.

That's what I thought.  However, at least from my experience, the Costco chicken is noticeably larger than the other stores.

My Targets don't have a rotis chicken. Iowajess, you probably live near HyVees, no? Our HyVee has smaller chicken for closer to $8. That's 60% more expensive, AND smaller.

Target, Walmart, and Hyvee all have rotisserie chickens. Hyvee is always more expensive than the other options.  I've never bought a precooked chicken though.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: kelvin on September 12, 2017, 02:02:09 PM
There's a grocery delivery service in my area that delivers from Costco, no membership required. There might be something similar in your area - you could order groceries in for a month or two, see if you liked eating those foods all the time, had storage space for all the toilet paper, etc. Paying a delivery fee is cheaper than paying for a membership you might not use.

Best of luck.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: StarBright on September 12, 2017, 02:22:05 PM


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.



yes!!!! ^^^

and the chickens, gas, papertowels and kleenex and my DH's annual pair of jeans.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: jane8 on September 12, 2017, 02:39:25 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.

^^^ This, also LOL at the "If you miss, get another day".

I'm single but my Mom is on my card (and Dad benefits as Mom is primary shopper). During a brief downturn I lived with my parents and added her via the "two adults on one address" or whatever the rule is. Be advised there is a rule and they do check.  I've long since moved out and they always ask me if I want to update my address and I'm all "Nope".

Even w/o my Mom on it, as a single person I still think its worth it as I HATE shopping for toiletries etc. Do not understand people who enjoy trips to Target. Does not compute.

I like that I can buy a pack o'toilet paper and it lasts for an average of six months. The gas, toiletries, bulk meat, coffee alone cover the cost for me. Having my Mom (and unofficially Dad by proxy) is a bonus.

Also, as another person mentioned, they pay their employees a living wage with insurance, etc (or at least they did as of a few years ago --- I presume this hasn't changed). There are almost always check out lines but every store I've been in the checkers WORK to get people in and out. I appreciate that.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: calimom on September 12, 2017, 11:25:19 PM


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.



yes!!!! ^^^



Yes x1000.

Check out how Costco treats employees. Then check how Walmart treats employees. For reference, if you're at all interested in the plight of the working poor, watch the documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

Plus, OP, your mother is paying for your membership! What more do you need!!
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: Bobberth on September 13, 2017, 03:40:44 PM
I know this is supposed to be a forum about saving money and I'm mixed on the actual dollar savings at Costco but it would be worth the membership cost for our family of 5 for their great quality of foods. Our frozen back-up meals are all from Costco-running late tonight and still have to get someone to practice? How does cilantro crusted tilapia sound? No leftovers for lunch the next day? Do you want a salmon burger or 4 cheese ravioli? Our last minute, quick prep meals from Costco are better than most people eat when they order out. Their take-n-bake pizzas are great and are a good value.

The rotisserie chickens are amazing and actually sold at a loss at $4.99 in order to drive people in the door (and to pay membership fees) http://fortune.com/2015/05/29/costco-chicken-prices/ (http://fortune.com/2015/05/29/costco-chicken-prices/) 

I also enjoy buying the ginormous packages of TP so I don't have to worry about running out for a long time.
Title: Re: Do I want a Costco membership?
Post by: farmecologist on September 13, 2017, 10:52:58 PM
Interesting article!  As I suspected...it's all about the chicken.  :-)