Author Topic: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?  (Read 24475 times)

RootofGood

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1361
  • Age: 39
  • Location: North Carolina
  • Retired at age 33. 5 years in, still loving it!
    • Root of Good
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #50 on: September 24, 2013, 07:04:40 PM »
BEHOLD, our costco spreadsheet.


Thanks for the spreadsheet.  Looks like yeast is the only thing with a cheaper per unit cost at costco.  Of course it would go bad before I could use much of it, so overall it is more expensive. 

And the comparison grocery prices are (nearly) unbelievable.  Our local costs at Aldi/Walmart/nearby grocery store sales are between a quarter and a half of the prices you quoted.  I could see how costco would be a smart choice in your situation! 

ioseftavi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 401
  • Location: NYC
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #51 on: September 24, 2013, 08:05:16 PM »
BEHOLD, our costco spreadsheet.


Thanks for the spreadsheet.  Looks like yeast is the only thing with a cheaper per unit cost at costco.  Of course it would go bad before I could use much of it, so overall it is more expensive. 

And the comparison grocery prices are (nearly) unbelievable.  Our local costs at Aldi/Walmart/nearby grocery store sales are between a quarter and a half of the prices you quoted.  I could see how costco would be a smart choice in your situation!

Glad the spreadsheet was helpful!  If you can do it on a free basis, you still may want to check out your local costco or BJs just in case.  My prices are Costco NYC prices, which again, may vary by region.  Other stuff may be cheaper where you are in bulk stores - I have no idea if warehouse stores vary by region, but it's worth being sure about.

RootofGood

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1361
  • Age: 39
  • Location: North Carolina
  • Retired at age 33. 5 years in, still loving it!
    • Root of Good
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #52 on: September 24, 2013, 08:42:54 PM »
I visited once.  The prices seemed roughly in line with what you posted.  In other words, a little more expensive than what I can pay at my regular grocery stores.  There was nothing that I buy regularly that I could save money on.  And the $50 for the privilege of shopping there is a huge hurdle to jump.  I mean that is a grocery cart full of food at Aldi! 

FYI, we have seen the same effect on dining out expenses.  Having a well stocked fridge, freezer, and pantry makes it compelling to dine in often instead of going out or grabbing take out.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 08:44:50 PM by RootofGood »

SavingMon(k)ey

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 300
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Denver, CO
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #53 on: September 24, 2013, 08:46:23 PM »
Mmmmm, I feel a spreadsheet coming on... With lots of tracking to indulge in...

Rural

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4842
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #54 on: September 25, 2013, 05:25:16 AM »
I think Costco must be a better deal in high COL areas. For me, prices there are the same or slightly higher than my regular store, then there's the cost of membership, and then, in my case, the 50-mile-each-way travel to the nearest Costco/Sams/etc.

It's a no brainier in my situation, of course, but from reading this and other threads, I think that across the board the warehouse club prices allow folks in high COL areas to pay prices comparable to what I pay every day. That's at Wal-Mart/ Sav-a-lot-- Kroger, the only full-price chain grocery anywhere near my work, is much higher, so Costco would look better if that were my available point of comparison.

RootofGood

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1361
  • Age: 39
  • Location: North Carolina
  • Retired at age 33. 5 years in, still loving it!
    • Root of Good
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #55 on: September 25, 2013, 07:33:24 AM »
Mmmmm, I feel a spreadsheet coming on... With lots of tracking to indulge in...

Glad to see I'm not the only one with a grocery spreadsheet or the desire to build one!  For us, groceries represent over 25% of our core spending.  Trimming 10% off the cost of groceries reduces overall expenses by almost 3%.  Well worth it to pay attention to prices. 

Excited for this weeks Aldi trip.  Fresh veggies for $0.40 to $0.66 per pound!  Green peppers, carrots, sweet vidalia onions, zucchini.  And hydroponic butter lettuce is under a buck (not sure what that stuff is, but at that price I will know soon enough). 

I feel like a freaking ninja walking in and paying these prices when the shlubs over at the high priced grocery are paying 3-5x as much.  Or they buy junk food instead because the real food is too expensive. 

ichangedmyname

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 420
    • Luxe Frugality
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #56 on: September 25, 2013, 10:46:15 PM »
I wish we had Aldi's here CO Springs.

And I'm definitely taking over the spreadsheet for Costco. Hubby does it to divide the cost by 3 but I would like it more detailed so we know when we purchased xyz, what the price was, etc. The challenge sometimes is figuring out what the code is on the receipt LOL

prodarwin

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 302
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #57 on: September 26, 2013, 07:50:35 AM »
I shopped at Aldi in college.  I'm really surprised to see it recommended here.  It is CHEAP, but as of the last time I went there, the food was all complete crap.  Just processed shit.  Almost no selection of fresh meats, a poor selection of vegetables, and that's it.  Yes, Costco has a lot of processes shit as well, but its easy to shop there and not buy any of it.

I would never cross shop Costco and Aldi.

HappyHoya

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 134
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #58 on: September 26, 2013, 08:08:58 AM »
We have a Costco membership for a two adults, one small dog household. Look into an executive membership- it cost more but you get a percentage back (I believe it's 2%) at the end of the year. We do most of our shopping at Costco and the money we get back covers the cost of the following year's membership. We do find we save money on many of our most-purchased grocery items (lentils, rice, spices, chicken breast, green veggies), but it's true that many of these things can be bought for comparable prices if you double sales + coupons, and play other retail games like that. For us, we like that we know we can always get those prices, and don't have to mess with coupons and sales and purchase things on our schedule, rather than a store's. I also like that we know we only have to go to one store. However, the biggest savings are on some of the services. We've used Costco to get a better rate on health insurance and car repairs. It also saves a ton of money on my contact lenses. Our executive membership came with a free roadside assistance, which we also value. If you find even one of these big ticket service or health items that you can purchase at the same price or more cheaply through Costco, I suspect you'll find the membership worth it.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2013, 08:10:38 AM by HappyHoya »

Rural

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4842
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #59 on: September 26, 2013, 07:06:04 PM »
I shopped at Aldi in college.  I'm really surprised to see it recommended here.  It is CHEAP, but as of the last time I went there, the food was all complete crap.  Just processed shit.  Almost no selection of fresh meats, a poor selection of vegetables, and that's it.  Yes, Costco has a lot of processes shit as well, but its easy to shop there and not buy any of it.

I would never cross shop Costco and Aldi.

Aldis varies wildly from location to location. Jove described the one nearest me to a T, but my mother shops at one that's jam-packed with fabulous and fabulously cheap produce and meats. I didn't realize it until I went with her on a visit home, but if you haven't been inside the Aldis near you, it's worth looking in case you have the fabulous variety.

Silverwood

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 162
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #60 on: September 26, 2013, 07:29:10 PM »
I like that they have a good selection of gluten free products.  Also they have a huge  ass jar of coconut oil for cheap. I think I paid $20 and at my regular store it was almost that price for the small one.

RootofGood

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1361
  • Age: 39
  • Location: North Carolina
  • Retired at age 33. 5 years in, still loving it!
    • Root of Good
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #61 on: September 26, 2013, 09:33:28 PM »
I shopped at Aldi in college.  I'm really surprised to see it recommended here.  It is CHEAP, but as of the last time I went there, the food was all complete crap.  Just processed shit.  Almost no selection of fresh meats, a poor selection of vegetables, and that's it.  Yes, Costco has a lot of processes shit as well, but its easy to shop there and not buy any of it.

I would never cross shop Costco and Aldi.

Wow, totally different from our local Aldi's.  They have limited items and some are seasonal, but the produce is awesome about 90% of the time.  And the other 10%, well at least it is cheap.  My biggest complaint is that they are so popular that the produce on sale flies off the shelf so quickly I don't get a shot at it!  Today's picks included a big bag of salad mix, 2 lb carrots, 6 large green peppers, 5 lb zucchini for under $7.  That is about 11 lb of high quality fresh vegetables for under $7.  They were sold out of their delicious sweet onions ($0.45/lb) that are so good for caramelizing.  My kids even devour them. 

The meat has always been good when I buy it.  It's too bad some stores suck, and I consider myself very lucky to have a decent one near me.  Decent and very plain.  It reminds me of shopping in a local market in Mexico or somewhere.  Some stuff is sold out, you bag your own stuff, you can barter with the staff on stuff that is close to expiration (oh that 80% off chorizo was oh so good).

nikki

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 645
  • Age: 33
  • Location: South Korea
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #62 on: September 26, 2013, 10:25:04 PM »
I'm in an interesting position because Costco is the only place to get things like sliced turkey and cheese that doesn't suck (even cheddar) in my city (Busan, South Korea). I usually have done without Costco except for rare trips with friends who have a membership, but my American boyfriend is currently visiting me. And he has a membership.

We've gone twice in the past two months. While it's nice to have certain products that aren't available at regular stores, I feel like I've spent more on these trips than usual, and on things I don't necessarily need. And I've certainly felt buyer's remorse (I didn't *have* to cave in and get a dozen donuts for two people at his request).

So when the boyfriend goes home, I probably won't visit Costco for a very long time again. There probably are some savings on some basics (flour and butter, for example), but the cost of membership and transportation costs to get to and from Costco likely won't balance out for me. I'll just end up buying American crap I don't need out of nostalgia or something .__.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10893
  • Age: 61
  • Location: NorCal
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #63 on: September 26, 2013, 10:40:09 PM »
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).

Mega, this made me laugh. Costco has fantastic prices on Men's underwear, too. DH has lost 60 lbs. and his undies are hilarious. Let's just say his whities are no longer tidy. I shop at Costco weekly. I employ mega-tunnel vision to avoid impulse purchases with such a high degree of success (lol) that I keep forgetting to buy undies. I will have to write. it. down. Thanks for the reminder.

BearDown

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #64 on: January 20, 2014, 08:14:43 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.

I agree that some people buy into the if-it's-bulk-it's-cheaper idea and automatically assume Costco has the cheapest prices. Maybe I'm fortunate to have a wide selection of small grocers near me but if you watch for sales you can find most foods cheaper at other stores. The thing is, because they sell in large quantities, you got to break their prices down to the ounce/pound/each to compare it to other stores.

For example, Costco has 5 quarts of canola oil for $7.69, or 4.8 an ounce. A local grocer really had a sale on 48 ounces of canola oil for $1.99, or 4.1 an ounce. Granted, we're talking about less than a penny difference but it's a difference just the same. Larger differences can be found with perishable foods such as meats, fruits, vegetables, and dairy. For example, Costco regularly sells boneless, skinless chicken breast for $2.99 a pound but I they regularly go on sale for for $1.49-$1.69 at smaller grocers near here. Milk is $2.25 at Costco but I can sometimes find it for $1.99 at other stores. I'm not even going to get into the fresh fruits and vegetables prices because I consider Costco overpriced in that department.

Ultimately what I did was make a list of every item we buy regularly and then recorded the Costco prices of those items in a spreadsheet, breaking them down to their smallest units. I then saved it to my phone and used it for reference when I was out and about at other stores. That way instead trying to guess "Do they have this cheaper at Costco?" I had the answer right there. Over time I've memorized most prices but when you're just starting and don't know what's a good price for bulk navel oranges or pork chops, it's extremely useful.

**EDIT**  Just saw someone did the same thing a few posts but I still recommend it! ;)
« Last Edit: January 20, 2014, 08:26:21 PM by BearDown »

SavingMon(k)ey

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 300
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Denver, CO
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #65 on: January 20, 2014, 08:40:06 PM »
Yeah, I'm in the process of shopping for the best prices and watching sales. Some things are cheaper at Costco, some are not.

PASSPORT PHOTOS are a lot cheaper there than anywhere else in town. There is also an app for that, but I didn't have time to wait for them to be printed at a store (this was actually not for passport, but another official document that required 6 of them).

Khan

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 616
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #66 on: January 20, 2014, 08:53:25 PM »
Quote
A local grocer recently had a sale

See, I'm just too lazy to do that. My hat's off to anyone that clips coupons, and comparison shop's. I have absolutely no interest in doing that, so Costco wins my business as the default position.

If while I'm in my local grocer(and I only go to one, I don't go to multiple stores to find the best deal, that's a time investment I'm not willing to make), I notice a sale on something, then I'll pick it up there.

Hours at work fly by. If 2-5 hours of work a year are a tradeoff for not comparison shopping, clip cutting, and visiting multiple stores, then that's a fair trade.

And Costco, of course, pays it's employees fairly(better).

/end costco shilling

Zikoris

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3492
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
  • Vancouverstachian
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #67 on: January 20, 2014, 09:19:02 PM »
We primarily go to Costco for soy milk, flour, veggie burgers, and bulk nuts.

The soy milk savings alone actually pays for our membership - the stuff costs $5/box in regular stores, $3/box at Costco, and we drink a fair bit as two vegans.

BoulderTC

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 60
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #68 on: January 20, 2014, 09:27:26 PM »
I live in Denver also. We go to Sprouts for 90% of our groceries. We recently found out that we can buy bulk foods through Sprouts for their cost if we buy in the sized packages they get from their distributors (i.e. 50 lb bag of black beans). We are planning on buying bulk oats, dried beans, rice, lentils, and potentially almonds and cashews. I feel like leveraging this system to get the bulk foods you're willing to commit to large quantities of is a good way to buy bulk without giving in to all the neat things Costco has. We have decided to not get a Costco membership because we would certainly buy many things we wouldn't need, and the great bulk foods can be found at Sprouts.

horsepoor

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3180
  • Location: At the Barn
  • Horses: for sanity & poverty!
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #69 on: January 20, 2014, 09:27:43 PM »
I'm surprised that there hasn't been more discussion of the Costco COFFEE!

That alone pays for our Costco membership - 3 pounds of delicious, organic Rainforest blend for $15, whereas I'd be paying about $9 a pound for regular beans at the grocery store, and more like $12+/lb for organic fair trade stuff.

Ditto the previous poster on the coconut oil.  Their jar is about 6# for $22.  Regular grocery store is $10 for a pint jar.

We don't have kids, but we have dogs, and the dog food there is actually very good quality for the price.  I've compared the ingredient list of the Kirkland brand dog food and it seems to be more actual food and less filler than some of the upper-mid range dog foods like Iams or Science Diet.  Also, the dog beds are actually affordable, and big enough for our 50 and 80# dogs. 

They also have good prices on gardening supplies in the spring.  I've purchased all of our tulip and daffodil bulbs there, and they bring in really good quality 100' garden hoses for about 50% of the price of the home improvement store.  Also, both gardening/work gloves and ski gloves are much cheaper there.

When the coupons circulate, I purchase my shampoo at Costco, so about $6 and I'm good for the year.

As mentioned, nuts are usually a good buy there, as well as olive oil.  My husband goes through lots of blue cheese dressing and croutons, and they are less than half the price.

Tubs of salad greens and spinach are generally $1 less.  Also, frozen berries are a good price per pound.


KBecks

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1898
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #70 on: January 21, 2014, 04:07:39 AM »
The Costco in our area is 14 miles away -- and honestly that feels like a LONG DRIVE.   I have Super Walmart, Super Target, Aldi and a Sam's Club that are all much closer.   There is also a big grocery store called Woodmans that many friends like, its' not membership based.

Is it worth the drive?  I have a family of 5 which includes 3 boys who don't eat much now, but will someday be teenagers.

Maybe we should check it out.

Bulk item story, when I married my husband, he had this GIGANTIC roll of aluminum foil from Sam's club.  It did not fit in a drawer. I hated that thing.  It took us 3 years to use up that foil, and he had it for years before that.  I will never, ever buy that big of quantity of foil  again!  (And that foil  has kept me the heck away from wholesale clubs for many years.)

It does look like Costco will refund your membership if you don't feel like you are getting the savings. That is nice.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 04:12:57 AM by KBecks »

starbuck

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 361
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Small Town Connecticut
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #71 on: January 21, 2014, 05:50:20 AM »
Bulk item story, when I married my husband, he had this GIGANTIC roll of aluminum foil from Sam's club.  It did not fit in a drawer. I hated that thing.  It took us 3 years to use up that foil, and he had it for years before that.  I will never, ever buy that big of quantity of foil  again!  (And that foil  has kept me the heck away from wholesale clubs for many years.)

Yea, there are definitely things I won't buy at Costco solely because of their size. Our house has lots of space, but I'm still not willing to store giant packages of toilet paper, or restaurant sized jars of mayo, or a 25 lb bag of flour. (I'd buy a 10 lb bag, but not 25!!) But I will buy the nice compact box of several hundred trash bags. I don't think I'll need to buy trash bags for the next 4 years, at least...

For me it's not always about price. Often it's about convenience and shopping less often (like with the trash bags.) They could be cheaper than at the grocery store when on super sale, but I don't really know or care. I see a distinct trade off between time and energy spent chasing grocery sales v. close enough to the best price, just buy it and move on.

tat96

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 41
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #72 on: January 21, 2014, 03:01:36 PM »
Costco is definitely worth the price of membership for two people however, you need to cook a lot at home for it to truly pay off.  Buying frozen staple goods, coffee, soaps and detergents, and clothes can save you a ton of money.  Buying boxes of unnecessary crap just because it is a "good deal" is stupid!!!  My wife and I save a ton shopping there because we buy the basics and only food that will not spoil in 15 minutes.  Do not go in and buy 5 lbs of spinach and expect it to last 30 days in the fridge!

DO NOT FALL INTO THE TRAP OF HYPER-CONSUMING COSTCO GOODS!!!!!  My grandmother used to shop at Costco almost exclusively and began to overuse paper towels, toothbrushes, floss, detergents, OTC medications, etc. because she had so much of it.  Plus, she bought far more food than anyone could eat and ended up eating 1,000 extra calories a day just to avoid throwing anything away which she ultimately ended up doing. 

Also, realize that Costco only sells Kirkland and name brand items.  My point is:  Buying 6 tubes of super tooth whitening fancy gel from Crest is cheaper than buying it individually but is still far more than my American Dental Association approved 80 cents a tube toothpaste I use.  Some stuff is just a waste.  Cosctco can easily take advantage of people that are not crunching the numbers.  Lastly, their 18" pizzas are a steal for $9.99.  Do not go anywhere else for a pizza.  This is coming from guy who used to work at Papa John's!! 

Shor

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 480
  • Location: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #73 on: January 21, 2014, 04:15:17 PM »
Lastly, their 18" pizzas are a steal for $9.99.  Do not go anywhere else for a pizza.  This is coming from guy who used to work at Papa John's!!
Every once in a while, they will have a mfgr rebate on various items. For pizza, it drops it by $3 or so (Look for the home cooked costco pizzas, usually in the back by the meat/produce section!

Craisins also go on sale from $7.50 to $4.50 maybe once or twice a year. If it's on sale, I stock up, otherwise I don't buy it.

I shop exclusively at Costco but always to replenish the foods / goods which I already need, thus while it's nice to peruse the aisles there is never any impulse purchases. I also have the membership shared with my Mom who Costco shops for the rest of the family back home. Tack on the Amex card bonuses and it gives a plus every year, easily.

I shop at Costco because it has competitive prices. It may not be the lowest penny-pinching price on everything, but they also distribute to their employees 'more fairly' than their competitors. If I had to choose between Costco and Walmart, I'd end up at Costco every time. It doesn't have to be the cheapest around to make it a win-win.... I also count that as my charity donation while I'm still growing the stache..

Fireman

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 397
  • Location: Fredericksburg, VA
Re: No kids/pets - Costco still worth it? Pitfalls of bulk shopping?
« Reply #74 on: January 21, 2014, 04:48:46 PM »
I used to have a Costco membership and now my SO has one with her family that we use.  The highest discount i've found thus far is on contact lenses.  Currently, my brand/type (Acuvue oasis for astigmatism) are 29.99/box at Costco.  The next cheapest alternative is 1800-Contacts at $37.37/box and that's with their discount.  Additionally, Costco is offering a $25 rebate if you buy a year's supply of 8 boxes.  So total savings is (37.37-29.99)*8+25=$84.04; this easily covers the cost of a membership even if you don't buy anything else all year!

Other things that are cheapest at Costco include Gillette shaving cream, ground beef, milk, and gasoline.