Author Topic: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?  (Read 24461 times)

SavingMon(k)ey

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No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« on: September 22, 2013, 04:02:01 PM »
I searched the threads but didn't find anything specifically about this. If I missed it, please link me there.

We're a 2 adult household, no pets, no kids. I'm telling my partner that $400 in groceries a month is waaaay too much (we're down from a whopping $600 for a couple months last year, when I put my foot down and we managed to bring it down a bit). I suggested we look into a Costco membership, and she's very open to it right now. I have a feeling we may save a lot going there. What I hear people get a lot of there is kitty litter and diapers, neither of which we need. Is it still worth it for other items? We eat a lot of:

Chicken (no red meat)
Rice
Oats
Nuts
Craisins
Fresca (ughhhh. NOT me. I think it's nasty.)
etc

Also, any tips for keeping me and my not-quite-yet-mustachian partner from falling into the pitfalls of bulk shopping? You know, like buying stuff we usually wouldn't buy, eating more of something just because it was cheap, that sort of thing. I could use some ideas for gentle uhm... "education..."

Thanks a lot!
« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 11:46:03 AM by worldstrad »

djulian529

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2013, 04:06:47 PM »
Personally, I don't find the big bulk stores worth it unless you have kids/pets or use a real lot of something that is cheaper in bulk.  We keep a membership because we have 4 dogs and also fit the category of being able to get some of our other essentials there in bulk, limiting the amount of times we need to buy them, and ultimately saving money, however, if you don't fit that mold, I say coupon and go to the grocery store.  In all honesty, with the right sales and coupon cutting, you will save more in the long run at the grocery store!

Spudd

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2013, 04:11:35 PM »
Costco is a huge impulse shopping nightmare. If either of you lacks impulse control, I would strongly recommend against getting a membership. We used to regularly walk out of there having spent $200+.

The other thing is, it costs $48/year to be a member. So you need to get savings of at least that much to make it worthwhile. We ditched our membership a while back and haven't missed it (much).

chasesfish

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2013, 04:34:54 PM »
I'm a huge costco fan and we're two incomes, no kids.  I can control my impulse shopping and love purchasing quality products for 10-12% over Costcos price. 

SavingMon(k)ey

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2013, 04:39:21 PM »
I'm a huge costco fan and we're two incomes, no kids.  I can control my impulse shopping and love purchasing quality products for 10-12% over Costcos price.
What do you purchase there, mainly?

Khan

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2013, 04:49:09 PM »
Yes, Costco is absolutely worth it. If you gas up there regularly instead of regular gas stations, you'll make up the membership fee on that alone. Great quality lunchmeats(turkey/ham) at ~22cents/oz instead of 20 cents/oz for the lowest tier at grocery store(or 50cents/oz for comparable quality). Naked Juice at ~50% discount compared to regular stores. Almond milk at a high discount as well. Soda's are 32cents/can or 22cents/can for the Kirkland brand soda(which fits right between Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper in taste). Pizza's at ~3.10$ for a medium(~4-5$ at regular stores). Chicken prices

So in summary, yes, Costco is absolo-fucking-lutely worth it. Bulk shopping is great. Dunno about craisins or fresca, but costco discounts are absolutely worth getting, even for 2. You haven't moved onto the three seashells have you? Then toilet paper in bulk.

Just don't buy things at Costco on impulse, go there for food, knowing that it's most likely your cheapest option, and pays it's employees a lot better then any other store and you'll be set. If you -need- other stuff around the house, check it out too.

chasesfish

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2013, 04:50:34 PM »
I'm going to preface this by saying I know some of these items can be beat at supermarkets with coupons/sales, and my wife does some of that, but I can consistently get good prices on the following:

Laundry Detergent
Toilet paper/paper towels
Frozen meat
Milk - $1 cheaper than everywhere else
Bulk Coffee
Nuts
Almost all toiletries
Frozen fruit
Yogurt
Cheese
Medicine
The biggest surprise to me and my wife though has been clothing.  Underwear, dress shirts, jeans ($13), socks.

Everything is sold at 10-12% over cost.  If you have more time than money, I think you can shop hard and do slightly better than Costco.  If you don't, then Costco is a great place.


Christof

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2013, 05:04:48 PM »
I'd start by either accompanying someone with a Costco membership (that is what I do) or asking your local Costco to check it out without buying anything... Costco isn't just about food and toilet paper. The first mile is all about cool electronic gadgets, movies, appliances, furniture and many other rarely needed expensive items.

chasesfish

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2013, 05:59:16 PM »
As it is right now, I do most of the grocery shopping, but not all. I have good impulse control these days, she has it too, most of the time. The coupons I seem to find are rarely for things we really use. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place? Also, we don't have a lot of time, so consistently finding good prices would be really nice. I think we'll give it a try, and I will just gently warn her of the pitfalls?

I would also recommend going in with the Clark Howard method, have a list of what you're going to buy or don't get a cart and only buy what you can carry.  I bring up CH because we share the same Costco warehouse and he is spotted in there quite a bit

dragoncar

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2013, 06:14:20 PM »
Costco is a huge impulse shopping nightmare. If either of you lacks impulse control, I would strongly recommend against getting a membership. We used to regularly walk out of there having spent $200+.

The other thing is, it costs $48/year to be a member. So you need to get savings of at least that much to make it worthwhile. We ditched our membership a while back and haven't missed it (much).

This times a million.  If you are spending $400/mo on groceries, the problem may not be raw prices but buying ore packages foods or whatever, which Costco had plenty Of. 

As a single person, Costco just isn't worth it.  I think for 2 it probably still isn't unless you are very large people.

That said, I live Costco and make use of my parents membership as often as possible, splitting the really large bags of nuts, toilet paper, etc.

Mega

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2013, 06:47:05 PM »
It depends on what you like to eat and the grocery store prices.

In Canada, the price of cheese in Costco is half the price of regular grocery store prices. This also applies to many other foods. And the best part of Costco is the generous return policy.

RootofGood

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2013, 06:47:51 PM »
Yes, Costco is absolutely worth it. If you gas up there regularly instead of regular gas stations, you'll make up the membership fee on that alone. Great quality lunchmeats(turkey/ham) at ~22cents/oz instead of 20 cents/oz for the lowest tier at grocery store(or 50cents/oz for comparable quality). Naked Juice at ~50% discount compared to regular stores. Almond milk at a high discount as well. Soda's are 32cents/can or 22cents/can for the Kirkland brand soda(which fits right between Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper in taste). Pizza's at ~3.10$ for a medium(~4-5$ at regular stores). Chicken prices

So in summary, yes, Costco is absolo-fucking-lutely worth it. Bulk shopping is great. Dunno about craisins or fresca, but costco discounts are absolutely worth getting, even for 2. You haven't moved onto the three seashells have you? Then toilet paper in bulk.

Just don't buy things at Costco on impulse, go there for food, knowing that it's most likely your cheapest option, and pays it's employees a lot better then any other store and you'll be set. If you -need- other stuff around the house, check it out too.

I'm a pretty frugal shopper and tend to hit up Aldi for staples.  Lunch meats, pizza, and sodas are all 10-33% cheaper at Aldi (those are the only things with prices you listed).  Costco may be better quality, don't know.   We don't buy much of those processed foods anyway. 

I don't like the bulk sizes of many items at warehouse stores.  Sometimes I just want 1 of something, or a small quantity. 

I'll check out sales at the local 2-3 groceries including Aldi and normally hit the best 1-2 each week. 

In addition, Costco was kind of a dick to me when I wanted to go in and browse around one time.  Kind of put a negative view on them for good.  Especially when there is every other kind of warehouse store imaginable plus 3 superwalmarts and 2 supertargets within 2-3 miles of me.  Not that I do warehouse clubs at all because they charge money to get it.  Other than pizza at sams club, who lets you in for free to eat at the cafe.   

Oh, we spend $500-600 per month for a family of 5. 
« Last Edit: September 22, 2013, 07:03:44 PM by RootofGood »

lark

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2013, 06:51:12 PM »
Do you have any good friends that you can share the membership with? My friends (there are about 5 of us) make Costco runs about twice a month and split the ridiculously large items or things that spoil quickly--like spinach, 2lb blocks of cheese, or ginormous tubs of hummus. Individually the membership wouldn't be worth it, but we all save quite a bit of money this way.

SavingMon(k)ey

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2013, 06:56:11 PM »
Do you have any good friends that you can share the membership with? My friends (there are about 5 of us) make Costco runs about twice a month and split the ridiculously large items or things that spoil quickly--like spinach, 2lb blocks of cheese, or ginormous tubs of hummus. Individually the membership wouldn't be worth it, but we all save quite a bit of money this way.
Hm, that's an idea. I do have a pretty good friend who has a membership. I'll look into that.

NinetyFour

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2013, 06:58:23 PM »
I'm surprised that any aspiring mustachians would be buying and consuming soda or juice.

From MMM's recent post:  Other things you never need to buy: bottled water, packaged desserts and convenience foods, soda, juice, status watches, jewelry,  and anything ever found in a “gift shop”.

RhythmKats

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2013, 07:00:15 PM »
I split my membership with my parents, allowing us to each pay half the membership fee. So the names on the account are mine and my mother's. This is probably not 100% legit ;) So technically, my partner isn't able to shop there without me, but it's rarely a problem.

We mostly take advantage of paper goods, laundry detergent, bulk nuts, floss....stuff like that. I actually don't buy a lot of food there. Although I'm a sucker for Stacy's Pita Chips when they're on sale. I'll second the person who mentioned clothing. I've gotten good deals on things like socks and t-shirts. I've never purchased any, but the men's pants also seem reasonable.

Our local Costco also sells discounted tickets to AMC and United Artists movie theaters, with no restrictions. In my area, a movie is $12.50 at regular price and I think the discounted tix are about $8.50, so that's pretty nice too.


RootofGood

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2013, 07:02:21 PM »
I'm surprised that any aspiring mustachians would be buying and consuming soda or juice.


How do you make cranberry and vodkas without juice?  Rum and coke without soda? 

Jack

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2013, 07:03:58 PM »

I buy:


Chicken drumsticks
Chicken thighs
...
Chicken Breasts

Everything except the potatoes, onions, milk, pasta and chicken breasts are substantially cheaper than I can get elsewhere. Those three items are comparably priced, but higher quality (preferred brand of milk and the onions aren't mushy) or convenient (6 boxes of pasta in one go, and the chicken is pre packed in meal size portions). I have a Deep and Meaningful relationship with my freezer, and whenever I get home, everything immediately gets packaged into single meal portions and frozen. My freezer is usually packed. It's awesome if you're lazy, no going to the store.

Since you use all the different major chicken parts, have you considered buying whole chickens? It would almost certainly be cheaper per pound than buying the different parts separately.

davisgang90

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2013, 07:15:12 PM »
We recently joined Costco and have been impressed with the selection.  We previously were members of BJ's Wholesale club in Florida.

One thing you need to be careful of is comparing the prices to your grocery store.  Some stuff is cheaper, but you really need to know your prices to make an informed decision.

NinetyFour

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2013, 07:17:47 PM »
I'm surprised that any aspiring mustachians would be buying and consuming soda or juice.


How do you make cranberry and vodkas without juice?  Rum and coke without soda?

I am currently (for the last 20 months) not drinking alcohol.  :)

Left

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #20 on: September 22, 2013, 07:25:23 PM »
I have a Sam's membership, each year sometime in early 1st quarter of year (for last 2 years anyways, not long track record) Groupon put out a Sam's membership for 50% off and they even throw in coupons for $40 of food (I get 1 rotisserie chicken, 1 large pizza, and other food/drinks). Anyways it was worth the $20 cost of the Groupon for me. I don't shop there much, but the gas prices that they have is discounted (more than the Hyvee-QuickTrip deal). I still drive a car so the gas savings add up. You don't even need to use the Sam's card either to pay for it, I use my discover card for the bonuses on top of the discount price.

Items I buy are boxes/bags of frozen meat/seafood. I haven't needed enough to buy part of a cow yet but I use enough to make buying "bulk" worth the savings/convenience of keeping some frozen in house. And the rotisserie chickens are great too, one of the best priced that I could find.

I get a lot of non-food items, soap/toilet paper/detergent/etc, it might be cheaper if I can stack coupons for them at say walmart, but sam's club takes a lot of the manufacturer coupons
« Last Edit: September 22, 2013, 07:27:58 PM by eyem »

Khan

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #21 on: September 22, 2013, 08:09:08 PM »
I'm surprised that any aspiring mustachians would be buying and consuming soda or juice.

From MMM's recent post:  Other things you never need to buy: bottled water, packaged desserts and convenience foods, soda, juice, status watches, jewelry,  and anything ever found in a “gift shop”.

This isn't my religion. I subscribe to whatever version of mustachianism I currently exist in. Does that make me a false mustachian? I thought this was all about finding your own comfortable spot in life and eschewing consumerism for consumerism's sake, and achieving freedom from middle class slavery, and thus taking ownership of your life.

Also, as for Costco being worth it, I'm a single guy and I think it's worth it for me. The calculations only get sweeter with more people involved. Aldi might be great, but it's not everywhere(or anywhere in Arizona). It's a growing business that is currently in heavy expansion in the US.

NinetyFour

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2013, 08:20:21 PM »
WRT the soda/juice comment I made, it wasn't just addressed to the OP and his partner.  I think a couple others commented that they buy soda/juice at Costco.  It might be cheaper to buy it there, but my question would be why are you buying it at all?

Dicey

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2013, 08:29:22 PM »
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

As has been mentioned, the gas savings alone is worth it. I was a singleton until I was 54 and I shopped at Costco every second or third week. Sometimes I shared big things with my neighbors. I got married last year and now feed a family of four adults. I shop at Costco on a weekly basis and I love it! (Weekly because it's close and I don't put two-week-old produce in my husband's lunch box.)

To avoid impulse buying, I keep a list. I know exactly where these items are located in my store and I don't deviate from the shortest path that hits them all. I watch the circulars and stock up on my regular items when they are on sale.

What seals the deal for me, besides the prices, is the fact that Costco pays their employees a living wage and offers good benefits. Costco employees are generally well informed and helpful, as well as hard-working, which I respect and appreciate.

Finally, if you want to "case the joint" before buying a membership, just tell them at the door that you are going to the pharmacy. Once you're in the door, nobody will pay any attention to where you are in the store. BTW-No membership is required to fill prescriptions. And it you have anything you take regularly, do some price comparisons at the pharmacy. That's another area where the savings can be ridiculously huge.

A few more random gold stars: Tires, printer ink refills, eyeglasses/contacts, great liquor (don't drink, but do buy the occasional gift or vodka to make my own vanilla), an ever-expanding selection of organic foods, high quality/great value Kirkland products, free AMEX card, and best of all, rebate checks which you can cash for, well, CASH!

Khan

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #24 on: September 22, 2013, 08:33:08 PM »
WRT the soda/juice comment I made, it wasn't just addressed to the OP and his partner.  I think a couple others commented that they buy soda/juice at Costco.  It might be cheaper to buy it there, but my question would be why are you buying it at all?

And my statement to that is this: This isn't a religion. There is no official dogma beyond: Do what feels right. Does MMM drink soda? Nope. Is he my prophet, am I committing a moral sin by drinking soda? No. I'm doing minor damage to my wallet(and by minor, we're talking way less then a starbucks addiction), and whatever amount of damage to my body compared to drinking water or healthy stuff.

Quote
free AMEX card
Actually, the Costco Amex card is a pretty decent selling point too, and I'd advise people to look into it. I'm lazy and happy with my own centralized banking system(NFCU) but it is a decent choice and gives points at Costco as well.

cats

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #25 on: September 22, 2013, 08:53:23 PM »
We are 2 people, no kids or pets, and our membership is definitely worth it.  Before we bought in, I did take the time to "tour" our local costco and compare the prices of our more staple items to the best non-Costco price locally available.  I have a pretty good handle on how much of these items we use in a month/year, so I was then able to calculate how much we would save on X or Y over the course of a year.  A membership here is $55, so the goal was to make the savings equal at least $55.  I managed to beat that number so I figured it was at least a break even situation.  Some of the top items for us are:

Olive oil (one half to one third of the price of other places, estimated savings for us is $30-$40/year)
Canned tomatoes (we buy a super large can and freeze it into several portions, savings vs. buying several 28 oz cans is about $30/yr)
Nuts (we buy mostly almonds and walnuts, estimated savings is about $10/year)
Cheese (mostly extra sharp cheddar, savings of $5-10/year)
eggs (savings of about $30/year)
quinoa (savings of about $5/year)
Rolled oats (savings of about $5/year)
black beans (savings of a few bucks each year)
Onions and garlic (savings of $10-15 each year)

Also stuff like detergent, toilet paper, etc., which we restock on infrequently so I'm not sure exactly how much we are saving, but I know the prices are better at Costco.  Booze is also much cheaper at Costco, which I know you said isn't a concern for you, but there is no way my boyfriend is giving up his single malt, so....

However, as you can probably also see from our list, while the membership is definitely paying for itself in savings, it is NOT making a huge dent in our monthly grocery bill--I doubt more than maybe $20 on the basic stuff.  We save as much or more through things like cooking food from scratch, meal planning (cuts down on food waste), being savvy about buying produce in season, stocking up when there are crazy good prices, not eating too much meat/cheese, and not going grocery shopping more than once a week (with a list!!).  And, Costco may lead to you "upgrading" some of your foods.  For example, Costco has very good prices on meat, which I just wouldn't bother buying at a conventional store because it is too expensive.  Also, if our only option was buying that single malt of the boyfriend's at a regular grocery or liquor store price, I probably would argue much more strongly for cutting it or sharply reducing consumption.  Also, I probably buy more almond butter and spinach than I would otherwise.  Still, it does help us to eat ridiculously well while keeping our grocery expenditures from getting too crazy.

On the bright side, I actually find it *very* easy to avoid buying packaged or convenience foods at Costco, because I can't mentally deal with buying a large volume of those foods.  I'm more likely to get sucked in by something like that at the regular grocery store where it's more a situation of "oh, I could get *a* _____ to have for dinner tonight, then get back on the homecooked and healthy bandwagon tomorrow, so what the heck".  At Costco it's more like "uh, do I really want to make frozen pizza a *regular* part of my diet??" 
« Last Edit: September 22, 2013, 08:58:30 PM by cats »

SavingMon(k)ey

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #26 on: September 22, 2013, 09:07:27 PM »
I have been looking at some grocery receipts lately to compare prices, but from what you all are saying I need to know it in more detail. Will do.

We actually cook from scratch quite a bit, so the high costs are hidden somewhere else. I have a feeling they are lurking somewhere in snacks my partner loves (I hate pointing fingers, it's really not my intention, and I probably eat expensive stuff too so I need to be fair and look at those receipts). Lunch meat, too. She's perfect about packing her lunch every day, and I have been very good since finding MMM, but that meat and cheese adds up. Most of our dinners are actually quite simple (baking some chicken/fish, steaming veggies like broccoli/cauliflower/spinach, boiling rice or couscous). I have to track things and find the culprits.

cats

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2013, 09:40:51 PM »
Yeah, I would definitely suggest taking a hard look at what you are buying in general, and thinking about how much you really want to reduce your grocery bill.  Also, not to get into a larger discussion, but if this is starting to feel like a game of finger pointing with your GF, I'd suggest the following approaches:

1) Inspect the grocery bills to see what "sins" you are guilty of and work on those first.  If you are going to specifically suggest that she cut something, be ready to offer something comparable of "yours" to cut too.

2) Figure out if there are other areas where cutting back will "hurt" less.  Frankly, I know our grocery bill is higher than it "has" to be and that we probably *could* cut it down by another $25-50/month if we really worked on it, but I we would notice it in the quality of our meals (I used to eat MUCH more cheaply in grad school: tomato-lentil soup, carrots, hummus, kale, apples and oranges may be reasonably healthy but it's really not optimal to me, and definitely not to the BF).  On the other hand, we have a ridiculously cheap but not-so-high-quality internet plan that is at least $25/month cheaper than the next cheapest option available, and while the connection is sometimes slow and we can't really stream movies, we don't notice those drawbacks too much because we don't use the internet a whole lot at home anyway, and we can get movies for free from the library.  We also choose to live in a studio rather than a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment, saving at least $200/month.  Etc.  I'm sure you are examining other areas of your life, but maybe make sure that the attention paid to each form of cost-cutting is proportional to the potential savings :)

3) If cutting back on groceries to save money is a sore point, go at it from another angle.  Lunch meat and cheese are also not the healthiest thing to be eating every day, no matter what they cost.  Maybe suggest that you could start making extras at dinner and packing leftovers for lunch instead?

Left

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #28 on: September 22, 2013, 10:30:51 PM »
I wouldn't try the blame game on food costs, she'll just start to point out non-food related but hobby related costs you incur then it'll snowball from there. See if you can't get a sodastream for the fresca, there has to be an equivalent flavor out there for it. She might like the convenience of it too, it does cut some off the soda bill. I like it to carbonate apple juice :P.

Don't mind the bulk buying habit too much. Just work on the impulse buying habit. She could always go out and buy a car one day instead of 10 of them. If she's with you on cutting foods down, she is probably aware of an impulse buy.

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #29 on: September 23, 2013, 03:19:02 AM »
Depending on where you buy your nuts and dried fruits you may find you earn back the membership cost on those and then some --  nuts and dried fruits are one of the main things we stock up on at Costco during our trips back to the US because they are ridiculously expensive here.   Spices can also be a good deal if you cook a lot.  Their malabar black pepper is pretty good -- we use a ton of that along with garlic powder, smoked paprika, curry powder, taco seasoning, fancy salts, etc.  We get a jug of maple syrup for the kids weekly pancakes (and I've been sneaking the leftover from the serving dish into my yogurt -- YUM!!!).  Deli cheeses and meats are great quality at lower prices than you can get in most grocery stores.  In our Costco they have Dave's bread for about 1/2 what you pay in the grocery store.  A rotisserie chicken from Costco can be stretched to several meals for two people.  The big bins of salad mix are great if you eat a lot of salad. 

I wish we had a Costco here in Beijing....

chasesfish

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #30 on: September 23, 2013, 05:04:29 AM »
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention my Costco membership is fully funded by two costs:

Gasoline - Costco gas is next to my office and easily $0.10 cheaper than everywhere else.  I consume too much gas, so its around $70 in savings.

Dress Shirts - These are easily $10 cheaper than anything else I can find of similar quality and I go through a couple a year in my rotation.

jrhampt

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #31 on: September 23, 2013, 06:11:32 AM »
Also childless here with a BJs membership.  As others have said, it is worth it, but you must make a list and stick to it.

Mega

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #32 on: September 23, 2013, 07:27:25 AM »
I just wanted to mention a couple of fantastic purchases I have made at Costco.

Dress Socks - Costco sells HIGH QUALITY dress socks at a very reasonable price in bulk. Buy 1-2 packages, and never worry about matching socks again. I have not worn out a single sock yet (3 years or so).

Plastic shed - Yes, I know building from scratch is a better option. Cost for the shed - $799 plus tax. Cost at home depot ~$1200 plus tax. That alone paid for 4 + years of the membership.

Greeting cards - net cost is around $0.50 each, and they are really nice, high ends cards. Comparable to Halmark $4 cards.

And just to touch upon what others have mentioned, their products are typically of a much higher quality than what you would find at Walmart or most other stores. This means durable goods (vacuum, shelfs, etc) that you buy there are actually durable, and will not require annual replacement.

SavingMon(k)ey

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #33 on: September 23, 2013, 07:35:23 AM »
Lots of good Costco insight here, guys. Thank you. Costco is a bit out of the way for us, so I'd have to do the math on the gas to see if it's still cheaper.
 
I definitely have no business pointing fingers, and I don't want it to become that with my partner. We both have our frugal strengths and weaknesses, and the more I think about it, the more I find areas where she's really good at it! Both of us have been in really tight financial situations before, and we both have picked up many good habits but let some lifestyle inflation creep in as our situation got better. I think it's all about taking an objective look at receipts and finding a balance of what works for both of us. :)

Another Reader

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #34 on: September 23, 2013, 07:47:58 AM »
Costco is good for some things on your list, not for others.  I think you have Sprouts in Denver now.  The boneless skinless chicken at Sprouts here is by far the best quality and it's the lowest priced when it's on sale.  Right now, boneless skinless chicken breasts are $2.49 a pound.  They have very good prices on cheese and the produce selection and prices are generally good, although you have to watch the quality of the loss leaders.  Their sales are great for stocking up.  I buy rice at WalMart - Golden Star jasmine rice.  It's $5.98 for 5 pounds.  I don't think the quality of Costco rice measures up, and five pounds should last for a few weeks for one or two people.  Nuts I buy at Trader Joe's.  For one or two people, large quantities take awhile to consume and nuts will go rancid fairly quickly.

The Craisins are an interesting item.  For the last couple of years, Costco has run a big special on large bags in the Fall.  It's tough to use up a large bag before they get dry and moldy.  The price, however, was very low.

No soda in this house, but grocery store sales and Walmart seem the best way to go on that.

Gas prices here are generally lower than the discount no-name stations by $0.02 to $0.05, sometimes more.  The gas lines are long here when the store is open.

If you can split a membership, it's probably worth it.  At $55 per year or $110 for the "executive" membership where you get 2 percent rebate on most items sold in the warehouse, it's questionable, especially if you only spend some of your food budget there.

Ottawa

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #35 on: September 23, 2013, 08:26:43 AM »
WRT the soda/juice comment I made, it wasn't just addressed to the OP and his partner.  I think a couple others commented that they buy soda/juice at Costco.  It might be cheaper to buy it there, but my question would be why are you buying it at all?

And my statement to that is this: This isn't a religion. There is no official dogma beyond: Do what feels right. Does MMM drink soda? Nope. Is he my prophet, am I committing a moral sin by drinking soda? No.

Mustachianism most certainly isn't a religion.  Whereas religion is based purely on following on 'faith' in an evidential vacuum...Mustachiansim asks you to dissect and question everything.  Mustachianism makes you think about the choices you make with respect to: HEALTH, HAPPINESS, RESOURCE CONSUMPTION and SPENDING LESS. 

I think this applies ESPECIALLY in the broken down quote below. 

I'm doing minor damage to my wallet(and by minor, we're talking way less then a starbucks addiction)

Really?  Soda is about 50 cents per unit (at least).  How many per day? 
1 = $2800 over 10 years (including lost opportunity)
2 = $5600 over 10 years
3 = $8500 over 10 years

What if a household of 3 each drink a couple per day?  That would be one year of financial freedom lost to soda over 10 years.

Additionally: I find that people who have a habit in the area of soda...often have habits in other nutritionally devoid areas.  It is the canary.

and whatever amount of damage to my body compared to drinking water or healthy stuff.

This! A lovely little summary (with real scientific articles to support) of 14 reasons...well actually 13...we covered #14 above.
http://verdavivo.wordpress.com/2009/02/12/14-reasons-not-to-drink-soda/
« Last Edit: September 23, 2013, 08:30:49 AM by Ottawa »

prodarwin

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #36 on: September 23, 2013, 08:51:46 AM »
Single guy here, and I'm pretty sure when I lived in NOVA my Costco membership almost paid for itself in Milk alone.  In Fairfax it was almost $1/gallon cheaper than surrounding stores.  Paper towels, TP, Chicken and Turkey are also things I get there that are priced much better than elsewhere.

BTW, if you get the executive membership and your 2% rebate doesn't cover the difference between it and the normal membership, they cut you a check for the difference.  It's happened to me twice.

cynthia1848

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #37 on: September 23, 2013, 09:14:51 AM »
Costco has giant bags of craisins and giant boxes of oats.  We buy both of those.  :)

fallstoclimb

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #38 on: September 23, 2013, 09:43:05 AM »
There's only two of us, but I think Costco is totally worth is solely for the fact that I hate shopping and am very comforted by the fact that we have a TON of TP and like, shampoo, in our house at all times.  Seriously.  It's also great if you're having a party and need to stock up on food. 

snuggler

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #39 on: September 23, 2013, 11:37:12 AM »
WRT the soda/juice comment I made, it wasn't just addressed to the OP and his partner.  I think a couple others commented that they buy soda/juice at Costco.  It might be cheaper to buy it there, but my question would be why are you buying it at all?

And my statement to that is this: This isn't a religion. There is no official dogma beyond: Do what feels right. Does MMM drink soda? Nope. Is he my prophet, am I committing a moral sin by drinking soda? No.

Mustachianism most certainly isn't a religion.  Whereas religion is based purely on following on 'faith' in an evidential vacuum...Mustachiansim asks you to dissect and question everything.  Mustachianism makes you think about the choices you make with respect to: HEALTH, HAPPINESS, RESOURCE CONSUMPTION and SPENDING LESS. 

I think this applies ESPECIALLY in the broken down quote below. 

I'm doing minor damage to my wallet(and by minor, we're talking way less then a starbucks addiction)

Really?  Soda is about 50 cents per unit (at least).  How many per day? 
1 = $2800 over 10 years (including lost opportunity)
2 = $5600 over 10 years
3 = $8500 over 10 years

What if a household of 3 each drink a couple per day?  That would be one year of financial freedom lost to soda over 10 years.

Additionally: I find that people who have a habit in the area of soda...often have habits in other nutritionally devoid areas.  It is the canary.

and whatever amount of damage to my body compared to drinking water or healthy stuff.

This! A lovely little summary (with real scientific articles to support) of 14 reasons...well actually 13...we covered #14 above.
http://verdavivo.wordpress.com/2009/02/12/14-reasons-not-to-drink-soda/

You could quite simply replace numbers and links in your argument to change it into an argument about alcohol instead of soda, yet we know many Mustachians (including MMM himself) do not deny themselves alcohol. And the argument about costs and health effects (dead brain cells and beer bellies, anyone?) end up being much stronger.

The point I'm trying to make is that this place is NOT about denying yourself the simple, low-cost things that you personally take pleasure in. MMM has made certain priorities in his life, and if some of the members here prefer to have a couple of sodas a month instead of a couple of beers, who are we to judge that decision?

snuggler

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #40 on: September 23, 2013, 11:41:56 AM »
Another thought for the OP: I have heard that you can shop at Costco without a membership if you pay with Cash Cards (their version of gift cards), even at the gas station.

I've never tried it myself personally, but have thought about asking friends to buy me a Cash Card to try it out. That way, those who are sharing subscriptions wouldn't have to coordinate shopping trips, etc. I could just give them money to buy me a Cash Card, and go when we needed things.

Another thing to be aware of is that in many states, you can buy prescription drugs at Costco without a membership. I have heard it's actually federal law, which means it should be true in any state, but I haven't done the research to be 100% confident that that is true. However, I have tried it in CA and MN without any problems.

dragoncar

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #41 on: September 23, 2013, 11:52:35 AM »
Another thought for the OP: I have heard that you can shop at Costco without a membership if you pay with Cash Cards (their version of gift cards), even at the gas station.

I've never tried it myself personally, but have thought about asking friends to buy me a Cash Card to try it out. That way, those who are sharing subscriptions wouldn't have to coordinate shopping trips, etc. I could just give them money to buy me a Cash Card, and go when we needed things.

Another thing to be aware of is that in many states, you can buy prescription drugs at Costco without a membership. I have heard it's actually federal law, which means it should be true in any state, but I haven't done the research to be 100% confident that that is true. However, I have tried it in CA and MN without any problems.

This is true about gift cards last time I tried (over a year ago however).  The problem is its kind if a pain.  They probably do this on purpose but they always have to call a supervisor over to override the membership and if it's busy this can take a while, plus piss off the people behind you.  Just something to consider.


Also in certain states you can buy alchohol without a membership, which is nice because Costco tends to have some of the best alchohol prices and occasional good wine deals (not sure if wine counts).

CommonCents

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #42 on: September 23, 2013, 03:47:55 PM »
Mustachiansim asks you to dissect and question everything.  Mustachianism makes you think about the choices you make with respect to: HEALTH, HAPPINESS, RESOURCE CONSUMPTION and SPENDING LESS. 

Let's not digress too far off topic from the question of value at Costco, shall we?  Perhaps the posters have thought about the choices and decided to make them anyhow.  Unless you are free of "sin" of spending on items needlessly.  Even MMM admits to luxury spending.

Yes, I'm a coke drinker - but I never pay 50 cents for a coke, I buy it on sale for 0.25 to 0.33 cents a can (most recently 0.2 cents).  But I don't drink coffee, even at home, as many on here do.  We all have our little foibles that make us happy.

OP, I think part of it boils down to whether you think you or your partner will overspend your list at Costco.  I could probably save by going there, but I find that I buy on sale & with coupons gets me the same if not better prices.  We also have a small apartment, so do not have extra storage space for much.  Also, it doesn't do me much good to buy a ton of fresh fruit and have it go bad because the quantities are too much.  Even once in a rare while I'll want something there and I'll go with a friend.  I did this 1.5 years ago to shop for food for the BBQ the day before our wedding.  Hosted 95 people much more reasonably than catering!

snuggler

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #43 on: September 23, 2013, 04:39:54 PM »
Another thought for the OP: I have heard that you can shop at Costco without a membership if you pay with Cash Cards (their version of gift cards), even at the gas station.

I've never tried it myself personally, but have thought about asking friends to buy me a Cash Card to try it out. That way, those who are sharing subscriptions wouldn't have to coordinate shopping trips, etc. I could just give them money to buy me a Cash Card, and go when we needed things.

Another thing to be aware of is that in many states, you can buy prescription drugs at Costco without a membership. I have heard it's actually federal law, which means it should be true in any state, but I haven't done the research to be 100% confident that that is true. However, I have tried it in CA and MN without any problems.

This is true about gift cards last time I tried (over a year ago however).  The problem is its kind if a pain.  They probably do this on purpose but they always have to call a supervisor over to override the membership and if it's busy this can take a while, plus piss off the people behind you.  Just something to consider.


Also in certain states you can buy alchohol without a membership, which is nice because Costco tends to have some of the best alchohol prices and occasional good wine deals (not sure if wine counts).

I didn't know about the alcohol thing. I'll make sure to check that out here. Thanks for the tip!

Ottawa

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #44 on: September 23, 2013, 05:26:59 PM »
Sorry OP! 

I have created a new topic post on an aspect of this current post (that I apologize for taking off-topic)!  I think it is an interesting conversation...it is here:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/throw-down-the-gauntlet/is-there-a-good-addiction-vs-bad-addiction-argument/


FYIW - I cancelled my membership last month. I realized that I had only spent $2000 in the previous year (most for a work coffee club).  I now tag along with someone else who uses their membership much more.

SavingMon(k)ey

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #45 on: September 23, 2013, 07:23:47 PM »
Thanks, Ottawa! :)

ichangedmyname

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #46 on: September 23, 2013, 08:18:44 PM »
We go to Costco enough times and spend enough money that they offered to upgrade our membership so we can get cash back on purchases.

3-person household, all adults, 1 pet cat. We go probably once every 6 weeks.

MsGuided

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #47 on: September 23, 2013, 08:41:08 PM »
We belong to Costco.  I buy their gas regularly and have begun to shop there begrudgingly over the last few years.  I used to hate going there and tired of many of my friends saying everything was cheaper and better at Costco.  I think, as others have said, you need to watch prices and compare to grocery store loss leaders if you're trying be uber thrifty. 

Now that I'm used to the layout and have gotten over the feeling of being livestock in a large warehouse waiting for the slaughter, I hate going there less than I used to.   I have bought some shiny & wasteful items there, though. 

ioseftavi

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #48 on: September 23, 2013, 09:39:03 PM »
We're a 2 adult household, no pets, no kids. I'm trying to convince my partner that $400 in groceries a month is waaaay too much (we're down from a whopping $600 for a couple months last year, when I put my foot down and we managed to bring it down a bit). I suggested we look into a Costco membership, and she's very open to it right now. I have a feeling we may save a lot going there. What I hear people get a lot of there is kitty litter and diapers, neither of which we need. Is it still worth it for other items? We eat a lot of:

Chicken (no red meat)
Rice
Oats
Nuts
Craisins
Fresca (ughhhh. NOT me. I think it's nasty. This is my partner's habit and she drinks a lot of it. And loves it.)
etc

Also, any tips for keeping a not-quite-yet-mustachian partner from falling into the pitfalls of bulk shopping? You know, like buying stuff we usually wouldn't buy, eating more of something just because it was cheap, that sort of thing. I could use some ideas for gentle uhm... "education..."

Thanks a lot!

BEHOLD, our costco spreadsheet.

We are 2 city dwellers, no kids, no pets.  The spreadsheet there will show you how prices stack up compared to our two other grocery stores which we would normally buy our stuff from.  We're in NYC, so it's a pretty dramatic difference.  We generally go to Costco about once every 6-8 weeks and spend about $300.  We get fresh veggies when needed from the local stores, as well as occasionally other things, but we really try to push the bulk of our shopping to costco because the savings are so good.

That spreadsheet is from our first trip - we spent about $650, if I recall.  There were lots of things from that trip (pasta, olive oil, rice, ziploc bags, cleaning supplies, flour, sugar, rice) that we bought once and are still using five months later, so it's not 'normal' for us to spend that much.

All in all, we are confident that we save massively over the local grocery stores.  We have repeated this exercise on two other trips and the results are similar.

You may find that local stores just aren't as pricey as where we are, so your savings will be less dramatic.  However, it's also worth pointing out that since shopping at costco, we go out to eat / order dinner WAY less.  A fridge, freezer, and pantry full of good food makes it easy.

As far as avoiding over spending?
-Make a list
-Don't buy huge quantities of stuff that you cannot freeze or leave out without it spoiling
-Don't be tempted into buying stuff that you didn't plan to get.  Seriously.  Put it back.  Every extra thing in your cart is going to be like $10, at a minimum
-If it DOESN'T spoil, and it's a good price/you have room for it: BACK UP THE TRUCK.  Seriously, buy 6 tubes of toothpaste or whatever.  Stuff like toothpaste or laundry detergent - you're gonna be surprised at how much cheaper it is.
-Before you check out, go through your cart again.  Seriously.  Remember that if you don't REALLY need what you're buying, you're about to drop $10-$20 or more on a VERY LARGE SUPPLY of that item.  So think twice.

The first time you go to Costco, set a limit of like $200 or whatever.  Get stuff that you're DEFINITELY going to use, and then make a spreadsheet like mine.  I'd be willing to bet you find that you save quite a bit, but I'm obviously biased because my results in NYC are nothing short of spectacular. 

Hope this helps!
« Last Edit: September 23, 2013, 09:41:19 PM by ioseftavi »

Left

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Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #49 on: September 23, 2013, 11:35:43 PM »
hm for all the savings that has been pointed out, and making lists of only what you want... I might just not be able to control myself as much as the rest of you but I don't bring a shopping list. If I'm not saving money, at least nothing is really overpriced so I'm not spending more than if I had gone to some other store either.

just wanted to point out this out, to save you a trip, you don't have to look for best priced items ONLY. Get what you need even if it is the same price elsewhere because you save a trip/time and you'll still use it in the end.