Author Topic: Costco Membership: worth it?  (Read 48429 times)

Schwartz

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Costco Membership: worth it?
« on: August 31, 2012, 10:17:09 AM »
I am considering a Costco membership and I know a lot of forum users are members, so I'm hoping you can provide some advice.

Background: I'm living on a small graduate student stipend in Chicago, IL. I was a YMOYL devotee before finding MMM and I have since buckled down even harder on my expenses. I'm not in a position to save a mustachian percentage of my income at the moment, but I have set a goal for myself of saving $100-$200 per month to invest. I have eliminated all sorts of unnecessary spending and now I find that in any given month, my make-or-break category is food. Lately I have been doing better - averaging about $270 (groceries, restaurants, homebrewing ingredients, household goods) over the past 5 months. I prepare my own food and once or twice a month I eat out at one of the many inexpensive restaurants nearby. My diet consists of a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits, rice, beans, quinoa, eggs, cheese, nuts, meat at 3-4 meals per week, occasional seafood (mostly frozen salmon filets), and fairly rarely things like bread and pasta.

Current Grocery Alternatives to Costco: I am currently living with one housemate in the center of the Chicago grocery universe.

Whole Foods- 2 minute walk. Outstanding quality. Stupid prices. The bulk foods (especially spices) are often a bargain and I take advantage of that fact. Produce, cheese, and a few other things are occasionally purchased here out of convenience.

Jewel Osco (large local grocery chain)- 10 minute walk/5 minute bike ride. Generally I find their prices to be a little bit lower than Whole Foods, but with disappointing quality, especially for produce. They are open 24 hours, so sometimes I go there to stock up on staples at 11PM to avoid crowds.

Trader Joe's- 15 minute walk/7-8 minute bike ride. They have some tasty "ready to cook" frozen stuff. Produce is terrible. Can't buy most staples. Always crowded, frequently bare shelves. Basically only go there to hit up their ample stock of wines under $5/bottle.

Small independent Greek/Mexican grocer - 20 minutes by bike, but frequently have other business right nearby. My bread and butter lately. Great prices and quality on produce. Access to cheaper cuts of meat that the big grocers don't carry. Some staples at good prices (beans, rice, olive oil, anything that fits into a Greek/Mexican cuisine diet). Not so great on packaged goods, spices, more obscure grains. Almost no organic offerings besides dairy.

So Costco members, assuming I can convince my housemate to split a $55 membership to Costco, do you think I will recoup my $27.50 investment? By how much? Do you think it is worth it? Costco is a 10 minute bike ride away.


$_gone_amok

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2012, 11:02:08 AM »
Costco is really good for families that are able to consume large quantities of food in a week or two. I don't see the benefit of a Costco membership if you are single unless you are willing to split the purchases with your roommates.  Costco's electronics are also cheap and high quality but mustachians don't need 52' TVs, right?  =)

I have the $100 Costco membership card for my family and my last year's Costco rebate was $127. Sure it saves me some money, but I care more about convenience than the low cost.  I have no doubt that you will recoup your membership, but it is easy to fall into the excessive consumption habit at Costco. Remember the Seinfeld episode where Kramer bought beans by the gallon but end up not being able to finish it? =)

tooqk4u22

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2012, 11:17:53 AM »
I have looked into it and people say great things about Costco.  So far for me (family of five) doesn't seem to makes sense given the 20 minute drive to get there.

kisserofsinners

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2012, 11:18:07 AM »
For me i went through the store firsts. You'll want a pen and paper or your phone for notes. Get counted and tell the guy that you are getting a membership, so don't have your card yet.

Go up and down the isles and determine what you would use and note weight and price per package. Compare to your other sources prices per pound/oz/L.

I would not count on your roommate to always be willing to pay. Make sure you can make your own $55 in saving with purchases of things you'd already get anyways. I wouldn't include booze or wine with corks. I've found that they are not good about storing them properly on their side. I was very disappointed with the frequency of getting a dry cork.

I honestly find that many things are not worth it. Yes, you'll get a ton of stuff, but often the per unit price is comparable to regular stores and i don't need to store all the excess in the mean time. I might conciser going back for things like plastic bags, foil, and batteries, but current use doesn't warrant that yet.

Norman Johnson

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2012, 11:27:22 AM »
If you are looking to buy huge quantities of stuff with only a couple of brands to choose from, then yes, you'll probably do okay. I was not impressed with selection, but their produce is nice. For us, distance to the store, plus the lack of storage space for 400 rolls of TP or a five gallon drum of ketchup (haha) keeps us from shopping there.

artistache

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2012, 11:28:13 AM »
I've found that for our 2 person household, we recouped the cost of the membership on a few key items: canned fish, toilet paper, and coffee.  Admittedly, we drink a lot of coffee and we french press it (I worked at Starbucks during college and have never gone back to canned folders-style), so a good quality bean matters.  And toilet paper cost dropped in half by buying it in such large quantities, and the tuna/sardines/salmon keeps forever and it about 2/3 the cost as well.  We've also gotten good deals on large bags of organic quinoa and nuts.  It's no good for things like produce, though.

Another Reader

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2012, 12:09:16 PM »
I recoup the cost differential of my "Executive" membership on gas and bagged pet food alone.  There's a 2 percent rebate on what's sold in the warehouse for that membership, which now costs $110 per year.  The Costco Amex card gives 3 percent on gas purchases everywhere.  The gas at one of the Costcos here is always $0.05 to $0.15 per gallon cheaper to start with. 

I don't buy the meat or fish because I can get better quality elsewhere.  The Atlantic salmon is better at Safeway - Costco fish is not handled properly.  In California, the Costco beef is labeled as originating in the US and Mexico.  Not interested in eating food passing Mexican food safety standards, no matter what BS the stores give you about US inspections.  Some of the produce is good, but you need a large family to eat it all.  The chicken pieces freeze well and are packaged to allow for smaller meals.  Bread prices are so-so, and my local Costco no longer carries Acme bread, which is carried in Costcos in the more upscale communities here.

Like any other store, you need to comparison shop price and quality.  Go shopping a couple of times with a card-carrying friend and see what you think.

Schwartz

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2012, 12:15:25 PM »
Thanks for the feedback so far! I didn't realize you could get in the store on a one time "thinking of joining" basis, but I think I will definitely do that. I have a fairly extensive grocery price book so I should be able to compare unit costs and decide whether it will work for me.

Food, TP, and electronics aside, have any of you found deals on other goods that you buy on a regular basis?

caligulala

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2012, 12:15:42 PM »
I'm in Chicago too and go to the Costco in Lincoln Park. Sounds like you're downtown and would be going to the new one in Pilsen?

I've had a Costco membership my entire adult life and LOVE it. We cook using mostly staples and we save a lot of money by purchasing there. Eggs, organic meat, cheese, organic dairy, yeast & dry goods are all well priced. You can't shop at Costco the same way you'd shop at a normal grocery store, so savings might not seem worth it if you aren't used to planning and buying for the long term.

Fruits and veggies are probably better for larger families, although we buy our organic romaine and spinach there for about half the price of Mariano's. You can save a lot on prepared foods, but we don't really buy that stuff so I can't speak to any specifics.

You also have to be careful to stick to your list. I don't get sucked in very often, but bought some unplanned for rain gear at a great price last week. If you aren't great with temptation, those impulse buys can negate any grocery savings quickly.

Mr. Everyday Dollar

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2012, 12:47:18 PM »
As others have mentioned, take advantage of checking out your Costco to see if it makes financial sense for you.

I have only been to Costco once or twice in my life and I don't care for it because it's always busy (but that doesn't really matter for saving money), living in a sub-1,000 sq ft condo I don't have a lot of extra storage space for items, I am vegetarian and their produce section sucks and you got the membership fee as well.

Additionally, I would have to drive way out to the suburbia big box wasteland where the Costco is located. I don't like doing that based on principle.

The local food cooperative where I shop, much like the Whole Foods you mention only cheaper, has a lot of bulk items Ė flour, quinoa, oats, olive oil, maple syrup, shampoo. I take advantage of the bulk items because 1) they are cheaper than the prepackaged counterparts and 2) by re-using containers I donít put additional waste into our landfills. I eat super healthy, mostly fresh local produce and spend around $50/week on food.

As for wine, I can recommend Bota Box and Black Box. I was never a box wine guy but this stuff is good, about $16 (4 bottles in each). I am working on downing a Black Box Malbec and it's great to be able to pour off a glass when I want.

Schwartz

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2012, 01:00:17 PM »
@caligulala- I'm in Roscoe Village and would go to the Lincoln Park Costco as well. I think a fact finding mission is in order soon.

@ Mr. Everyday Dollar- I will have to give the boxed wine a try. I have balked at the prices in the past, but didn't realize they equated to 4 bottles. Not a huge wine drinker, I mostly was using the cheap Trader Joe's wine for cooking, but if comparably priced, the box wine might be a better option. It should hold up a lot longer too, so if I do decide to drink a glass it won't be oxidized and gross.

TLV

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2012, 01:53:11 PM »
Another option you may have for buying in bulk is to find a restaurant supply store.  We still go to Costco every other month or so (the savings on baby formula alone pays for the membership if you have an infant that isn't breastfeeding), but the restaurant supply store beats the pants off Costco in nearly every category it carries.

For staples, we've found it worth it to buy baby formula/diapers/wipes, toiletries (TP, floss, etc.), grape juice, peanut butter, and nuts at Costco. Everything else (especially things like spices and dry beans) is much cheaper and offered in better variety at the restaurant supply store.

Oh, and according to my wife, Costco's photo-printing service is a good deal too.

Mr Mark

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2012, 02:30:41 PM »
Think about forming a mini-cooperative that shares a membership, go once a month. But even as a family of 3, we more than pay back, although it is just 5 min away...

Costco I find great for coffee, olive oil, pet food, toilet paper and paper towels, canned beans, milk, any staples, razors, .. its great, but do due diligence. Cherry pick the deals through knowledge and iron discipline. Oh, free food too. Yum.

kisserofsinners

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2012, 02:55:27 PM »
I used to get my smoothie fruit there, batteries, foil/plastic wrap/wax paper, plastic bags. Pizza, photo processing, passport photos, optics, and printer cartridges (i actually recommend refilling your old ones, but some people need the "good stuff") are really the best deals they offer. In sf they have deals on transit cards/services and sporting event tickets.

The trick is that most of it in name brand or costco re-brand of name brand. You can get generics for cheaper in most cases. Things like gillet razors are not actually cheaper than what i can find on ebay/amazon and i don't need to buy 50, but generics are half price online.

When i went my list was so small i'd just carry everything around, only go to the things i buy, and it was very fast to get in and out. I actually timed it once that i was in and out in the time it took my friend to get through the line and pick up his pizza. We randomly passed each other while i was on the way in. The less time you spend wandering around the less likely you are to buy some random shit.

I tried the co-op account and it was really hard to coordinate in my case.

Jaherman99

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2012, 03:31:48 PM »
I easily make back the membership on coffee alone.  Add to that canned goods and cleaning supplies, and it's totally worth it.  Be very, very careful to avoid perishables that have a great price, but are packaged in such a large quantity that you throw half of it out when it spoils.  Being a single guy, I did that a lot if I wasn't careful.

PaulM12345

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #15 on: August 31, 2012, 07:24:26 PM »
Nuts, coffee, maple syrup, oats (for making granola), and organic fruit (although make sure you can eat it all) - these are some things that are good deals for us.

James

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #16 on: August 31, 2012, 07:25:16 PM »
We dropped our Sam's Club card (no Costco around here) because we often purchased more of something than we really wanted, and would purchase things we didn't really need.  We also live too far a way for it to be practical.  I'm sure it works for some people, but not for me at this point.  My brother lives close to a Costco and uses it a lot, I'm sure if you are the right personality and figure out a good system it could save a bit.

cats

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2012, 08:52:21 PM »
Well, I'm a single person in grad school, and I have found a Costco membership to be worth it.  Before joining, I did a tour of the store and did a quick calculation of my potential savings on staple items that I was definitely already buying (i.e., I did not include that Costco has great prices on fancy cheese that I would not normally buy).  The stuff I already buy that I now buy at Costco is mainly:

-almonds/walnuts
-olive oil
-carrots
-canned tomatoes
-oranges
-cheddar cheese
-spinach (a somewhat non-frugal food but one I really love)
-onions
-garlic

Also stuff like TP, but for one person you're basically only buying once every year or maybe even 2 years if you buy a Costco sized unit.

Some stuff I found not to be such a great buy (for example, almond milk is still cheaper at Trader Joe's).  Aside from the produce mentioned above, I do not really buy produce at Costco, as I find it is cheaper to shop the loss leaders at the local grocery store and/or eat a lot of cabbage (which my Costco does not sell, but which is super cheap at the grocery store).

I would say for a single person, Costco is not the magic bullet of savings that it is for a family, but it can still be worthwhile, if there's a Costco in your area.  Personally, I have gotten my food costs down largely by shopping loss leaders in the produce department (produce being the majority of my grocery bill).  I also eat a lot of legumes (which are typically cheap if purchased in bulk, even somewhere like whole foods).

herisff

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #18 on: August 31, 2012, 08:58:34 PM »
I was just in Costco today to look at their appliances (I need a washer & dryer for my new place) on a guest pass. I can see getting a membership if I were going to remodel my home now, as I like the look and cost of their cabinets and counter surface material. But I won't be remodeling for a couple of years, so can't justify the membership expense for a single person. And besides, I was happier with the washer/dryer selection at my local Sears store!

Irishmam

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #19 on: August 31, 2012, 09:35:42 PM »
Costco around here is cheapest for: Milk, eggs (organic or otherwise), cheese, nuts, honey, peanut butter, coffee, cereal, oatmeal (single serve or bulk packs), OJ, single serve hummus, tinned tomatoes, granola bars, smoked salmon, detergent, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, batteries and TP. Their furniture has withstood lots of abuse and house moves. Anything I have not been impressed with has been returned without question, even 1 year after purchase. We upgraded to an 'executive' membership because we get a rebate even if we use cash / debit card for purchases, and our average annual rebate is $140-$200.
I agree with other posters, you need to evaluate if it is worth it for your personal situation.

Will

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #20 on: August 31, 2012, 10:06:56 PM »
Hmmm, if only MMM himself would answer this question....

Oh, wait!  He has!!!

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/30/is-a-costco-membership-worth-the-cost/

James

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #21 on: September 01, 2012, 09:53:21 AM »
Good point Will...  :D

One rebuttal I thought of and never put in the comments there (maybe I should) is that I can get similar prices by buying bulk at my local co-op.  Unfortunately I don't keep track of prices, and I know people around here are rightly concerned with fact and not just guesses.  I buy whole wheat pasta, peanuts, hard winter wheat, honey, buttermilk powder, vanilla extract, tea, oats, chickpeas, etc.  We do a lot of bulk special orders and since we are members the markup is very small.  (just became life members now that we have paid the $10 membership for 5 years in a row!  No more membership fees to pay which is a nice feature of our co-op)

I can also order beef in bulk from local farmers at great prices, we get chicken from the local Amish farmers, and I get eggs from a friend who has chickens.  (Super high quality fresh eggs from grass and compost fed chickens at $2 a dozen?  Yes please!)

So if you can find a way to mimic the effects of Costco without the yearly fee I see that as a big win.  We do end up paying more for some things, but not enough to make the distance or membership to a big box store like Costco worth it.

Schwartz

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2012, 05:09:46 PM »
Aha Will! I thought I remembered a post way back when about this but when I searched "Costco" it didn't come up in the first page of results. I think it got buried in a pile of forum posts. Thanks for the reminder. I appreciate the feedback so far. I am going on a fact finding mission soon and I will bring along my price book and let you all know what I find out.

atelierk

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2012, 06:37:08 AM »
For me i went through the store firsts. You'll want a pen and paper or your phone for notes. Get counted and tell the guy that you are getting a membership, so don't have your card yet.

Go up and down the isles and determine what you would use and note weight and price per package. Compare to your other sources prices per pound/oz/L.

I honestly find that many things are not worth it. Yes, you'll get a ton of stuff, but often the per unit price is comparable to regular stores and i don't need to store all the excess in the mean time. I might conciser going back for things like plastic bags, foil, and batteries, but current use doesn't warrant that yet.

We don't have a Costco here, but we do have a BJ's Wholesale (about 20 minutes away) which sounds about the same. The above was my experience as well. I had been keeping a price book ala Amy Dacyczyn (Tightwad Gazette) and spent a good part of one afternoon comparing BJ's prices with other stores that are a lot closer to me. Quite frankly, I was underwhelmed. As I recall, I'd have saved a little bit on a few items but after factoring in the gas (no, the trip is not doable on a bike - it's a 19 mile round trip and besides, bikes are illegal on limited access highways) and the membership fee, I concluded the whole thing was a scam. Yet people were leaving the store with their carts piled high with cases of stuff, apparently on the blind assumption that buying in bulk is always cheaper.

Maybe Costco is a whole lot cheaper than BJ's but my guess is that all these warehouse places operate similarly with similar margins to regular grocery stores. (I can't compare with Whole Paycheck and the like, since we don't have any of those here.) Buyer beware.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2012, 06:38:53 AM by atelierk »

mindaugas

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2012, 01:38:11 PM »
My wife and I get our "fancy" dinners from there which amounts to frozen fish. Anything we go through quickly makes it on the Costco lists and we always combine the trip with others. Costcos also vary, we have one fairly close that doesn't have the same selection as one 16 miles away. Especially for diapers and baby formula. Also, the nicer costco we have to drive far to has gluten free bread, 2 loaves for about $6. They are normally $5 at king soopers for the same brand. Since i have celiacs, getting that bread cheaper helps a TON.

We did have a Sam's club membership when it was just us, we ended up just buying bulk candy and rice krispy bars. After gorging ourselves for a year I finally let it expire :P We have more self control now :)

Monkey stache

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #25 on: September 03, 2012, 07:56:50 PM »
So this doesn't directly address your Costco question but you should consider dumpster diving to save money on food. There's a good documentary on Netflix about it called Dive! Grocery stores throw out perfectly good food (especially Trader's). There's a whole thread on this: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/share-your-badassity/dumpster-diving/
Also, check your local ordinances on it and never go into a compactor. =)

Sylly

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #26 on: September 04, 2012, 10:06:23 AM »
The short answer has already been given: go to the store, look around, and make note of what you already buy that's cheaper at Costco.

Long answer:

For my household, the majority of our membership cost is covered by the savings on a specific brand drug one of us takes daily. Without that, I think we'd have a much harder time breaking even (if at all) on a household of two.

Other things we save on Costco are almond/soy milk, sliced ham, bread flour, and yeast.

I find that the produce packaging is still far too large for us, so except for the occasional fruits, we don't save on produce here.
Meat and poultry is no cheaper than regular grocery stores' sale prices. Seafood is more often to be cheaper.

Canned and other packaged goods can work well for you if Costco carries your preferred type, and/or you don't need constant variety. We find they don't carry any of our preferred cereals. Their box of canned soups usually consists of one or at most two types of soups. Their pasta sauce is big jars of the plain ones. Same with diced tomatoes, etc. Yes, I'm aware the more Mustachian thing for us to do is to spice up the plain things ourselves, but that's one convenient factor we're still willing to pay for (at grocery store sale prices).

In general though, I find that Costco is not a huge saving if you know how to shop the sales at standard grocery stores.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #27 on: September 04, 2012, 10:56:29 AM »
In general though, I find that Costco is not a huge saving if you know how to shop the sales at standard grocery stores.


This I think is the big factor....I think if you compare to regular non-sale prices Costco probably wins, but we know that the things we buy (most of them) go on sale regularly (3-6 week cycle) and compared to the sale prices typically not worth it.


Sparky

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #28 on: September 04, 2012, 07:10:23 PM »
Seems like Costco is a Hit and Miss thing with MMM readers.

I personally share a membership with my family of 4, my parents being the cardholders. $55 split 4 ways it becomes worth having.

We tend to shop in Canadian Costco's for meat, bakery and to a lesser degree things like batteries and car tires. Our trips tend to cost about 300 to 500 combined with about 5 trips a year. Compared to shopping locally or at the normal small town grocery store, Costco works out much much cheaper for us.

riskystartup

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #29 on: September 04, 2012, 09:19:09 PM »
Costco Pros:
- Prices are mainly good for major staples like toilet paper, garbage bags, batteries.
- Awesome warranties if you buy electronic equipment.
- Their in-store restaurant (and free samples) could feed family of 4 for $5 (in Canada). Last week we had two hot dogs, fries and pop for $5. I go there for work lunch often - where else can you eat full meal for $3 these days?
- My favorite - rotisserie chicken - cheaper than doing it yourself, tastes like heaven.
- Online Costco store offers free shipping, better rates and takes MC and Visa!

Cons:
- Huge portions (who can eat 8 heads of lettuce before they go bad)? Or 8 pounds of ground meat?
- Membership fees (you have to do math to make sure savings will be worth the effort).
- They do not take Mastercard and Visa (so my 2% cash back MC does not work there - again, in Canada, not sure about US).

Ideas:
- Go with someone else who has the membership for the first few trips to make sure it works for you (I doubt it will if you are single). Added benefit - split gas expenses :)
- In Canada at least, you can get a cash-back membership - 2% cash back if I remember, but $100 for membership. So, you have to spend $2500 just to pay for the difference from regular membership.
- Bundle with others. My two brothers, my parents and my family (total of 10 people) are all using same membership, we shop together once every few weeks and save on driving costs and maximize cash back.
- See if your company offers (or is interested to offer) Costco Memberships to employees. Our company was approached by Costco and provided free membership to all employees.

Wendyimhome

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #30 on: September 05, 2012, 10:47:00 AM »
I'm sort of a contrarian on the whole membership warehouse theme.  If you have fewer than 4 people living in your home, I just don't think they are worth it.  I didn' t like the lack of practical sizes, the long lines, the jungle parking lot.  Above all, the thought of paying a store for the privilege of shopping in it just seems so anti-mustachian.   On top of that, you can't use coupons, so that negates a lot of any savings you achieve. 

Costco also doesn't have everything you need in terms of groceries, so you end up hitting the supermarket anyway.  And the location in most cities (not yours apparently) is inconvenient inasmuch as they tend to be in large commercial districts far from neighborhoods.  The poor locations also make the gas discount illusory since you'll burn up that saving just driving there.

Just not very practical in my opinion.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2012, 01:06:07 PM by Sparafusile »

MMM

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #31 on: September 05, 2012, 02:18:46 PM »
Wendy, did you read the article right on this blog about Costco?

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/30/is-a-costco-membership-worth-the-cost/

By my own calculations, I save about $290 EVERY TIME I visit Costco. Almost $1200 per year. That's pretty damned practical!

 Family size is irrelevant - what matters is product shelf life for the things you happen to buy versus your consumption rate.  If you use things like nuts, oil, rice, canned goods, or anything frozen, the shelf life can be a year or more. So as long as you can use it up within a year, the bulk size was not too big for you.

Of course, the calculation will vary for everyone depending on what staples you use. But that calculation needs to be done with a spreadsheet, rather than just a subjective description of the store conditions.

Wendyimhome

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #32 on: September 05, 2012, 08:40:24 PM »
If you saw my movie (the Shining), you know that I, Wendy, am a big believer in dry goods; I locked my hubbie Jack in the pantry once, and it was the best move of my life.  :)

That said, yes, I read the Costco article, which was well done as usual.  But my results varied.  Admittedly, I was using a Sam's Club at the time, but I found I was buying a huge lot of bananas that quickly went bad; two loaves of bread when I only needed one; meats of dubious quality; and other items in odd sizes that just didn't work for me.  (e.g., I didn't want 24 pop tarts of the same flavor.)  If memory serves, I also lost out on generics and store brands, which, combined with loss of coupons (and double coupons), really did me no favors.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2012, 09:33:42 AM by Wendyimhome »

Wendyimhome

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #33 on: September 09, 2012, 09:51:05 PM »
One other thought I had on this subject that perhaps others can answer.  I've been told that these discount warehouses have to make prescriptions and optical available to the general public.  Those are two of the areas where I saw really substantial savings.  Contact lenses, in particular, were a real help for me. 

Is it true that these stores have to provide these items to everyone, member or no?

AJ

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #34 on: September 10, 2012, 03:18:44 PM »
One other thought I had on this subject that perhaps others can answer.  I've been told that these discount warehouses have to make prescriptions and optical available to the general public.  Those are two of the areas where I saw really substantial savings.  Contact lenses, in particular, were a real help for me. 

Is it true that these stores have to provide these items to everyone, member or no?

idk...but you could always call them and ask...

alexgodden

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #35 on: September 11, 2012, 12:09:03 AM »
In my experience, CostCo is great if you like expensive things and want to pay less for them - smoked salmon, fancy cheese (the Brillat Savarin is incredible), quality liquor etc. I prefer to spend more on nice food at home and eat out less, but I am lucky enough to have the space in my budget to do so. If you are already cutting costs by avoiding buying any expensive things: couponing, eating dried beans and ground meat etc you probably won't save as much, and given the upfront fee it may not be worth it.

mustachecat

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #36 on: September 11, 2012, 06:27:38 AM »
We're a two-person household, and Costco works for us. We very rarely buy perishables there, but we've found the prices are great for things like toilet paper, sponges, laundry detergent, dish soap, garbage bags, etc. A lot of pantry items are incredibly cheap, too, so we'll get rice, canned anchovies, olive oil, dried beans... If only they stocked flats of coconut milk!

We only go 2-3 times a year, but we save about $250 each time, so it's unreservedly worth it for us.

Will

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #37 on: September 27, 2012, 07:50:34 PM »
As far as "expensive" things go, all you need to do is find one at Costco and it'll more than pay for your annual fee. 

Example:  a Dyson DC33 is currently available at Costco for $299, with an extra attachment.  Same vacuum at other stores is $399, no extra attachment.  There's $100 saved right there!

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Re: Costco Membership: worth it?
« Reply #38 on: September 28, 2012, 09:07:31 AM »
One other thought I had on this subject that perhaps others can answer.  I've been told that these discount warehouses have to make prescriptions and optical available to the general public.  Those are two of the areas where I saw really substantial savings.  Contact lenses, in particular, were a real help for me. 

Is it true that these stores have to provide these items to everyone, member or no?

idk...but you could always call them and ask...

I don't know about that either, seeing as I've always had to show my card just to get in the door, but Costco is the cheapest place (and the fastest) I've ever found to get prescriptions filled.  Also the only place I've ever seen where I can get a good quality kids snowsuit for $30 or less.  We're a three-person household and it works for us....

Every year at renewal time I swear I'm not going to renew it, because like others here I have a problem paying a store to be allowed to shop in it, but every year I do the math on what we always seem to buy and it's always paid for itself in savings.  I've also just discovered that I can pay for the membership with aeroplan points....although it may not be the most judicious use of the points, if I'm not using them for anything else, I'd rather fork them over than the cash.  :)