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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: zippyc on August 21, 2014, 04:08:23 PM

Title: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: zippyc on August 21, 2014, 04:08:23 PM
My membership is up at the end of the month and I'm thinking about cancelling. I know MMM raves about Costco, but I don't recall seeing a post about what he specifically buys there (sorry if I missed it).

I tend to buy more spendy and convenience options when I go, so it's a tricky place for me. What do you guys buy there that makes the membership worth it? I don't love grocery shopping, so maybe if you make me think outside of my box I will see the warehouse differently.

Thanks!
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: clarkm04 on August 21, 2014, 04:15:35 PM
For DW and I, Costco is the shit, but if you don't use it, you should cancel.  There should never be sacred cows when it comes to expenses.

We have purchased or do purchase:
Paper products and bathroom stuff (paper towels, toothpaste, mouthwash)
Fruit, veggies, milk
Have a stand up freezer designated for Costco purchases: meat and frozen food/meals
Electronics: Laptop and iPod Touch

We use Costco enough that we upgraded to their AmEx card associated with the membership.

Good luck with your decision!
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: SnackDog on August 21, 2014, 04:25:54 PM
Costco is primarily for consumers!  We don't shop there as there are better alternatives elsewhere for what little we actually purchase.  We prefer to go local/fresh on groceries.  Walmart is often better for staples.  All the housewares, electronics, clothes, etc we just never purchase.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: MayDay on August 21, 2014, 04:39:57 PM
Whole carrots
Dishwasher soap
Hand dishwashing soap
Laundry detergent
Cheese
Brown rice
Quinoa
Sugar
Raisins
Chocolate chips
Toilet paper
Frozen veggies
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: 2ndTimer on August 21, 2014, 05:10:47 PM
50lb bags of flour
coffee beans
Anything that I think I might ever need to take back i.e. small appliances that I can't find at thrift store.
Fast food.  My crowd loves to "go out for coffee"  They can get their high calorie mocha frappachinos  and I can get my 65 cent diet soda. 
gas is the cheapest in town

It has, however, taken me a while to understand that 5lb. of gummy bears is not a bargain at any price for us
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: more4less on August 21, 2014, 05:15:36 PM
There's a hack how to shop there without being a member. Ask your member friend to get you few $25 Costco cash cards (one per every visit). Every time you go to Costco you present a gift card to employee at the door, go inside, do your shopping, give one card at checkout, pay the rest with either AmEx or ATM card.

However, there are two things to consider:
1. Costco business model heavily relies on membership fees to sustain their business. Given working conditions there and overall way of making business I'd rather support them with membership fee.
2. Not sure how returns work in this case.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Goldielocks on August 21, 2014, 05:41:37 PM

Laundry detergent (with coupon on promotion)
Cheese
Quinoa
Chocolate chips
Steel cut oats in huge quantity

garbage bags, ziploc sandwich bags on sale

We cancelled ours.   It was a combination of the long drive (so monthly trips only) and the few items that were cheaper than elsewhere, so hard to get the $$'s back.   bold are my additions to the previous poster's

 See list above for our region's list of cheaper groceries than elsewhere..   

In addition, the following are good bets for value in my region:  clothes, socks, underwear personal items (toothpaste, some vitamins / shampoo) and eye glasses are cheaper.  Some furniture / mattresses / appliances.  We don't buy those much, though.
Canned goods, granola bars, rolled oats are more.   
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Trudie on August 21, 2014, 05:52:01 PM
MMM did outline what he buys there.

Our household of two still finds it to be a good deal, but we use it for lots of stuff -- food, clothes, beauty and household items....

But, we also took the executive membership with the AMEX so get back way more than what we buy there.  Also, I live in the midwest and don't have good alternative sources of certain foods like fish... so, I get value there that maybe some others don't.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: $200k on August 21, 2014, 06:00:50 PM
Brief list:

frozen meats
salad mixes
coffee beans
spices
granola
oats
honey
peanut butter
garbage bags
cat litter
contact lens
body soap
shampoo
setlzer walter

Recently shifted these to amazon prime:

toilet paper
laundry detergent
clorox wipes
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: MillenialMustache on August 21, 2014, 06:07:34 PM
Here is the article: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/30/is-a-costco-membership-worth-the-cost/

In my opinion, Costco is only a good idea if you are buying a lot of items truly bulk - ie 50 lbs of flour, not 10 boxes of Chewy bars wrapped together. Also, you can look for a bulk store with no membership fee, like GFS.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: justajane on August 21, 2014, 06:16:15 PM
There's a recent thread entitled something like, "What do you buy at Costco?" that you could refer to. There are tons of responses that outline what people buy and why they are members.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: HappyIntrovert on August 21, 2014, 06:29:00 PM
Our executive membership more was more than paid for by the amount we saved by switching to Costco sponsored (via Ameriprise) homeowners and auto insurance.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Eric on August 21, 2014, 06:36:07 PM
There's a recent thread entitled something like, "What do you buy at Costco?" that you could refer to. There are tons of responses that outline what people buy and why they are members.

Here:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/what-do-you-buy-at-costco/
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: PilotsWife on August 21, 2014, 06:52:53 PM
There's a hack how to shop there without being a member. Ask your member friend to get you few $25 Costco cash cards (one per every visit). Every time you go to Costco you present a gift card to employee at the door, go inside, do your shopping, give one card at checkout, pay the rest with either AmEx or ATM card.

However, there are two things to consider:
1. Costco business model heavily relies on membership fees to sustain their business. Given working conditions there and overall way of making business I'd rather support them with membership fee.
2. Not sure how returns work in this case.

This hack doesn't work anymore, at least in Seattle. Now, they require that you pay the full amount with a gift card.  :(
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: tmd012 on August 21, 2014, 08:31:49 PM
I also have the Costco Amex but I only use it to pay for gas.  You get 3% cash back at ANY gas station.

It is still a better deal to use my Fidelity Amex for costco warehouse purchases which gets 2% cash back on top of the 2% executive membership cash back.  The costco amex only gives you 1% in the warehouse on top of the executive membership 2%.

Just a "cool story bro" for anyone that was curious
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: zippyc on August 22, 2014, 12:05:32 AM
Thanks everyone! I went and read the links, too. There are some things I love to get there... Cashews, raw almonds, taco seasoning, frozen chicken thighs (yes, I prefer the dark meat!), frozen cod (even though I can get it much cheaper on sale at QFC), some kids clothing items (can usually find them on sale cheaper, too if I look). My husband works for a certain drug store, so we get much of our household items at a discount (above the sale price - which is when we buy things). Unfortunately, it's a 20 minute drive to Costco, so not close enough to get gas.

I guess I find that a lot of items I buy at Costco are yummy convenience items (marinated shrimp, rotisserie chicken, salmon burgers, Adels chicken meatballs), rather than truly more affordable.

I guess the next question I would ask is where the heck does one store 50 lbs of flour?? Do you put it in a trash can in the garage? I think the best buys at Costco are the bulk items, but I have no idea how to store those items in a city house. 

Looking at the lists of what others buy gives me good food for thought - ha! Ha!. Thanks!
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: clarkm04 on August 22, 2014, 05:45:35 AM
I guess the next question I would ask is where the heck does one store 50 lbs of flour?? Do you put it in a trash can in the garage? I think the best buys at Costco are the bulk items, but I have no idea how to store those items in a city house. 

DW and I purchase 50 lbs of bread flour yearly to make homemade bread.  To store it we bought a 40 lb dog food container with sealer from Amazon for under $30.
http://www.amazon.com/Vittles-Vault-STACKable-40-Stackable/dp/B0002H3S5K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408707812&sr=8-1&keywords=dog+food+container+40+lb

It keeps the flour sealed, fresh, and keeps out any insects that would love to live in it. 

As an aside, I homebrew and I use these bins for my base grains since they are relatively compact (for storing 40 lbs) and stackable.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: begood on August 22, 2014, 05:49:15 AM
Since your husband works at a certain drug store, that would cancel out one of the more affordable things at Costco: generic OTC drugs. I get all my OTC drugs at Costco because they're a fraction of the cost at any other store. Even if I can't use 600 diphenhydramine 25 MG before the expiration date, it's a hell of a lot cheaper than buying it anywhere else.

Some of our favorite Costco items:

16 lbs. jasmine rice - lasts us 6 months, store it in plastic bin

Rotisserie chicken - you can't beat $4.99 for a big bird like that. It lasts our family two meals plus broth from the bones

Movie tix - I know it's not Mustachian to go to movies in theaters, but if you do, no reason not to use the VIP passes (good for new releases too!) for $8.50 each instead of paying $12 at the box office.

Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Scandium on August 22, 2014, 07:10:44 AM
I've tried to figure out if Costco makes sense for us, but it's near impossible since their website is godawful and doesn't tell me what they have and the price. I'd have to bring my grocery store receipt and walk through the store? What a waste. Who has time for that??

Between card-member deals and coupons at our two closer grocery stores (teeter and wegmans) I find it hard to believe that costco would be worth it. Maybe if we bought 50 lb bags of things, which we don't.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Money Bags on August 22, 2014, 07:13:09 AM
DIAPERS (with coupon)
milk (saves around a dollar per two gallon box)
Cheese (cheese sticks for the baby are way cheaper at Costco)
Butter (half price of grocery stores)
Toilet paper (with coupon)
Paper towels (with coupon)
Vitamins
Fruits and veggies (gotta check for better deals on fruit because Costco I  tricky on fruit prices plus for the two adults that eat fruit it  is a commitment to eat that much sometimes)
Couch (way cheaper and I can take it back if it rats out)
Gas (only if in neighborhood, costs money to make a 10 mile round trip for gas)
Trail mix
Unnecessary Random Items (I agree that random unnecessary items find their way into my cart at Costco)

AMEX with cash back is the bomb for us. Get a couple hundred back every year because we put everything on it.

I know people will be upset that I don't cheap out and use washable diapers but o well.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Money Bags on August 22, 2014, 07:23:35 AM
My parents are empty nesters and they can't make sense of it for them. We did find that renting a car was way cheaper through Costco website and when we went to Hawaii, my parents came for part of the time and it saved them 200 on their car so they paid for a one year membership. I don't  think they will renew. But sometimes it makes perfect sense.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: AH013 on August 22, 2014, 07:25:45 AM
Since your husband works at a certain drug store, that would cancel out one of the more affordable things at Costco: generic OTC drugs. I get all my OTC drugs at Costco because they're a fraction of the cost at any other store. Even if I can't use 600 diphenhydramine 25 MG before the expiration date, it's a hell of a lot cheaper than buying it anywhere else.

Highly recommend you saunter over to Walmart's elusive $0.88 medicine section.  175 ct aspirin, 24 ct generic Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, 8 ct NyQuil or Dayquil, 24 ct diphenhydramine, 100 ct band-aids, Neosporin and a boatload of the other generic medicine cabinet staples.  Probably not as cheap as Costco on a cost per pill basis, but unless you run a free clinic or suffer from chronic pain/allergies, it is probably cheaper on a cost per used pill basis.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: begood on August 22, 2014, 07:32:29 AM

Between card-member deals and coupons at our two closer grocery stores (teeter and wegmans) I find it hard to believe that costco would be worth it. Maybe if we bought 50 lb bags of things, which we don't.

Scandium, where do you live (generally speaking) that you have both harris-teeter and wegmans???? That's where I want to retire! ;)

Money Bags reminded me: I always rent cars through Costco. I once got a 35% off + $35 off Avis coupon that netted me 8 days in a white Lincoln Town Car (we also got upgraded for free from "standard" to "full-size") for $199.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Neustache on August 22, 2014, 07:59:50 AM
Yeah, we joined and so far, not impressed.  I'm going to stock up on allergy pills for the kids, though, and oats and flour before our membership runs out.  Any Sam's Club fans out there?  The membership is cheaper and my MIL has done both and prefers Sam's (she's super frugal, FIL had to beg for real butter for years as she couldn't bring herself to buy it over margarine! LOL. - love that woman!)

It feels like Costco is great for people who would otherwise eat out - but I couldn't even find bulk dried beans at ours. 
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: OSUBearCub on August 22, 2014, 08:30:45 AM
Highly recommend you saunter over to Walmart's elusive $0.88 medicine section.  175 ct aspirin, 24 ct generic Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, 8 ct NyQuil or Dayquil, 24 ct diphenhydramine, 100 ct band-aids, Neosporin and a boatload of the other generic medicine cabinet staples.  Probably not as cheap as Costco on a cost per pill basis, but unless you run a free clinic or suffer from chronic pain/allergies, it is probably cheaper on a cost per used pill basis.

+1  I save THOUSANDS with their generic 88 cent Zyrtec (Cetirizine)!  I've noticed no difference between name brand and the generics offered in the Walmart bin - and my "seasonal" allergies are year-round down here.  As for elusive, at least here in Florida, the bins are right in the middle of the main aisles either by the registers or near the pharmacy.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: OSUBearCub on August 22, 2014, 08:34:23 AM
Also, you can look for a bulk store with no membership fee, like GFS.

+1  I'm down with any place that will sell me an entire (loaf?) of deli turkey and slice the whole damn thing while I do the rest of my shopping! :-)
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: MoneyCat on August 22, 2014, 08:38:59 AM
I have a membership with BJ's Wholesale (an East Coast warehouse store chain) instead of Costco and it is absolutely worth the membership price.  We get nearly all our groceries there (except for some perishables that wouldn't be cost effective in bulk).  Gallons of milk cost about $1.50 less than if we bought them at a grocery store and the savings are especially good for Lactaid milk for my wife.  We also save about 30 cents a gallon on gasoline and BJ's Gas is one of the few stations that accepts rewards credit cards without a surcharge in our state which saves us another 3% to 5% per gallon through cashback rewards.  In addition, BJ's offers a "Rewards Membership" which returns 2% of your purchases as a rebate every six months which typically ends up almost paying the total cost of our membership by the end of the year.

BJ's accepts both their own store coupons and manufacturer's coupons and you can stack the two.  They also are not strict about quantity requirements for manufacturer's coupons and frequently consider units within multi-packs to be individual units for the terms of the coupons.

Another nice thing about shopping at BJ's is that they are viewed as a grocery store by one of the credit cards I use, so I earn 2% back as rewards on the final purchase price on top of everything else.  It's a fantastic deal.  Overall, I end up saving about $900-$1000 a year for two people by shopping there, which really helps keep our COL very low.

I would really reconsider cancelling your warehouse store membership, especially if you have kids.  You can save a ton of money.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: usmarine1975 on August 22, 2014, 08:42:47 AM
We have been debating the same thing.  I don't think we are using it too it's full advantage to date as my wife is used to shopping at Sharp Shoppers and Dollar General Stores as well as others.  She usually stops on her way home from work or such.  But I like the idea of buying bulk and planning our meals. (has yet to happen)  That being said I also like that Costco has a good record in regards to what they pay their employees and the benefits they provide.  To me that is important even if it cost me more then a store that doesn't have a good record with employee pay and benefits.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Ottawa on August 22, 2014, 08:45:41 AM
Cancelled Costco membership 1 year ago.  Best decision in awhile now.

Saved:

1) Membership Fee
2) Going out of way to get there
3) Buying more bulk food than needed
4) Buying general stuff not needed
5) Stress due to throngs of people
6) Parking lot nightmares
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: tmd012 on August 22, 2014, 09:27:28 AM
I think it is worth it for us and we are only 2 people with no kids.

But we get all of our gas there for the most part, clothing, food, household items, booze, etc.  Also, optometrist, contacts, glasses saves a lot of money.

We also get roped in to taking both of our parents and brothers and sisters there usually once a month and get credit for all of their purchases which gives us more cash back at the end of the year so that helps ease the pain of the $110 executive membership.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Neustache on August 22, 2014, 09:31:33 AM
I think I'm going to consider going halfsies with my MIL for a Sam's Club membership and see if she'll watch the little guy while I go shop for both of us.  Win/win! She can't shop for us because we would get heavy, bulk things (kitty litter) and she's tiny with MS.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: WESTOFTHEHUDSON on August 22, 2014, 09:38:12 AM
Not sure if this would work for you but I will suggest it. I "split" my membership with a friend. Our Costco is a bit of a drive away but I keep the card and she gives me half the money and we either go together (our husbands will watch the kids) or I'm in the area where Costco is more frequently than she is so if I have a trip planned, I ask her and she'll give me the cash and a list and I'll pick it up.

I find a few things have significant savings like Yeast for making bread and a few other items but the savings wasn't worth the $50 something membership. Although now that I'm back in University, the savings on the gas is worth it but regardless it's a win win situation.

You have to be flexible but since we both are, it works well for us and we can enjoy membership without paying the full price.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: begood on August 22, 2014, 09:41:09 AM
We have also split Costco items with a friend, and she pays me for half. That way there's less waste.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: ketchup on August 22, 2014, 10:30:43 AM
Also, optometrist, contacts, glasses saves a lot of money.
Protip: You don't need to have a Costco membership to see the optometrist there.  Same for Sam's club.  There's some law about it, otherwise Sam's wouldn't do it.

Source: My parents are both optometrists.  My mom works at a Costco, and my dad works at a Sam's.  Costco gives my mom a free membership.  Sam's doesn't give my dad shit.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: MandalayVA on August 22, 2014, 10:45:37 AM
It's just my husband and me, but we've had a Costco membership for years.  We have cats so it's great for food and litter and as a result the beasts will eat nothing BUT Kirkland cat food.  We have a chest freezer so we get lots of meat there, and, of course, those awesome rotisserie chickens.  Paper products, stuff like Kerrygold butter; I even got my first iPod there.

What I like about Costco most, however, is that it's an extremely well-run company that treats its employees very well.  The CEO doesn't take any sort of bonus and his salary's pretty small for a CEO, but employees get great benefits and bonuses.  There are employees at our Costco that have worked there since the eighties.  Contrast that to Walmart/Sam's Club, or as I refer to it the Evil Empire, whose "low low prices" come at the expense of their employees.  If the employees get any sort of benefit, it's because Walmart was sued over it.  Yes, I was a minion back in the day--I once got a $500 check from a class action lawsuit regarding overtime and breaks.  I will not set foot in a Walmart unless I have zero other choices.  It's one thing to be Mustachian (I'm trying!), it's another to support a store that treats its employees like garbage just to save a few bucks.   
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: stlbrah on August 22, 2014, 04:42:55 PM
the time and gas wasted driving farther to get to costco, and the time spent in ridiculous long lines is not worth it for me
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Roland of Gilead on August 22, 2014, 06:02:27 PM
Just the money I save on coffee beans and gas pays for my Costco membership.

Gas is always $0.05 cheaper than anywhere else.   3 pounds of Columbian for $15 is cheaper than anywhere else by at least a buck a pound even if it is on sale.

40 gallons of gas a month @ $0.05 plus 6 pounds coffee per month @ $6 = $8

$8 x 12 = $96
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: MrsPotts on August 23, 2014, 02:44:42 PM
I am a Costco member primarily because it is half a mile away, so I use it as my main grocery store.  We actually eat better when I shop there because the produce is so high quality and comes in such big packages that we eat way more fruits and vegetables.   I get my gas there, too.  On canned or dry goods, it is usually cheaper at Winco.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: madame librarian on August 23, 2014, 03:14:20 PM
Coffee
Cooking oil
Canned items (beans, tomatoes)
Chicken
Hygiene products (soap, shaving cream, hair shampoo & conditioner)
Huge loaves of gluten-free bread (can't eat wheat for medical reasons)
Cheese
Tomato sauce
Honey

It's only a couple miles away for me though, so it's not like I'm paying crazy $ in transportation to get there. I buy almost all my groceries there except produce -- I have had pretty bad luck with their produce when I bought it -- so I get that at the Asian grocery right across the street from my apartment.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: MayDay on August 23, 2014, 04:17:05 PM
We buy 25 lb. Bags if flour from a different source, but the way we store it is in our deep freeze. Then I have a gallon glass jar that I gill and put in the kitchen to scoop out of.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: steveo on August 23, 2014, 05:43:57 PM
We use Costco but Aldi is cheaper for us. Costco has for us personally cheaper brand name products which we don't need to buy. We won't be renewing our Costco membership because of this.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: horsepoor on August 23, 2014, 07:36:02 PM
Dog food and coffee pay for our CostCo membership.  I get the organic Rainforest Blend and it's awesome and $5 a pound.

The added value comes in with:

My undies.  90% of my undies are from CostCo- 6 pack for $9.99
Cheese - we buy the Pecorino Romano, cheddar and Kerrygold sharp cheddar, and sometimes chevre, feta, or if we're feeling really fancy, brie.  The regular cheddar isn't a huge savings, but for example, a 4oz of chevre at the grocery store is like $3.50, and a big log (maybe a pound?) at CostCo is like $6, so half price.  The Kerrygold is I think $12.99 for about 2#, whereas it's $5 for 7 oz at the grocery store, so again, half price.  I try to portion these out and vacuum pack them so that they last a long time.
DH's blue cheese dressing - don't know the numbers, but I know it's cheaper, and no, he won't make his own dressing.  Also, his croutons, which he pours on salad like he's pouring a bowl of cereal.
Nuts
Vanilla
Vinegar
Mustard
Wortchestershire sauce
Canned tomato products - can often get organic for the same price as conventional store brand at the grocery
Olive oil
Coconut oil
Shampoo/conditioner/body wash
Allergy meds - a year's supply of the generic Zyrtec is like $15
Protein powder
Toilet paper, detergent, paper towels, cleaning supplies - usually when there's a coupon
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Roland of Gilead on August 23, 2014, 07:54:24 PM
I forgot about bananas.   Sometimes I will buy a bunch of bananas at Costco for some ridiculously low price (like $1.39?)

It is 5 or 6 bananas for $1.39.    Can't be found for that price at any other store.

edit:  Actually I think it is more like 7 to 8 in a bunch.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: RapmasterD on November 21, 2014, 01:56:23 PM
I re-upped after taking several years off last Summer and will probably not renew.

I represent a household of three.

I'm starting to lean into higher grade meats (organic, grass fed, etc.). Their supply of grass fed steaks at the store is not reliable. Online their grass fed steaks come from Uruguay. Why the F would I do that when I can purchase beef from a local farmer's market that is sourced from about 25 miles away? Their organic chickens are from a company owned by Foster Farms - NFW on that one for me.

Parking and crowd hassles? Oh yeah.

And it's a HUGE consumerist outlet -- let's be honest. The blaring gigando TVs when you walk in? Yuck. The upsell-ism everywhere? Yuck. I particularly loathe the salespeople who scan your receipts EVERY time you check out and try to sell you their Exec memberships with the AMEX card.

I applaud Costco's mission and values. I applaud their hiring policies - they truly lift people up. And I think for larger families Costco is a no brainer. But for me to drive (or yes, ride) 8.6 miles round trip to save 87 cents on 96 rolls of toilet paper not so much.

P.S. The most sincere apology for this complainy-pants post. I mentioned to my wife last night that the Costco thing was getting old again for me. And I went there on a R&D trip this morning. I didn't regard it as a successful mission.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Mesmoiselle on November 21, 2014, 02:38:41 PM
What we bought at Costco (in Louisville Kentucky) and the price per unit.

0.03c/OZ--Canned Tomatoes (Diced, Pureed, and Whole)

0.07c/OZ--Applesauce, Singles (I replace Oil with applesauce in baking and a jar always goes bad)

0.05c/OZ-- Unbleached cane sugar

0.03c/OZ-- Baking Soda (Used for cleaning, hair, baking)

0.15c/OZ-- Agave Nectar

0.35c/OZ-- Maple Syrup

0.14c/OZ-- Chocolate Chips

0.05c/OZ-- Oatmeal

0.40c/OZ-- Walnuts

0.15c/OZ-- Ground Flax

0.12c/OZ-- Olives

0.09c/ OZ-- Pre Minced Garlic

0.18c/OZ-- Hummus

0.12c-0.18c/OZ-- Salsa

0.75c/LB -- Carrots, 5lb bag

$2.20/half gallon of Almond Mylk

Foil, batteries, plastic wraps, plastic baggies are one time purchases I made that I expect will get me handled for a few years to come. I will probably count up all the objects and buy a years worth right before my membership ends. Then skip a year. Repeat that experience. My first trip I did the breakdown comparison and actually know for a fact that I saved $300 on the trip as compared to buying the same items at my preferred grocery store.

Costco is awesome if you have a list, a plan, know the prices of your area, but it is NOT a one stop shop if you want to use the place to save money.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Cassie on November 21, 2014, 03:30:51 PM
We got rid our ours because it is a lot cheaper here to shop at Winco.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: MKinVA on November 21, 2014, 04:33:04 PM
We won't renew ours after joining again following years away from it. Then they opened the new store quite near to us, and we decided to try again. My experience is similar to others here. The place is such a pain in the behind to park, get around in. We don't find there is much we really want or need in such quantities with just two of us home now.

Someone mentioned BJs. We will go back to our membership there. Smaller quantities, better prices on milk and butter, easier in store experience. It is further away, but we would do monthly trips and combine it with other errands, so it wasn't too bad.

Not to get off the subject, but Virginia was found recently to have the highest priced groceries in the country! By far! And we grow everything here (not just tobacco). I don't get it.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: MayDay on November 21, 2014, 06:28:18 PM

. I particularly loathe the salespeople who scan your receipts EVERY time you check out and try to sell you their Exec memberships with the AMEX card.

FYI the new CEO discontinued this practice. You were apparently not t he only one who disliked the upsell.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: JustTrying on November 21, 2014, 06:53:49 PM
Kirkland makes relatively high quality dog food. The first ingredient is meat, there are no animal byproducts, and no corn, soy, or wheat. But it's half the cost of dog foods with similar ingredients that you can buy outside of Costco. We also buy meat and cheese at Costco, but the dog food is what I feel we get the best deal on!
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: enigmaT120 on November 21, 2014, 08:46:27 PM
I'm mad at them because they stopped selling the chocolate dipped ice cream bars in the food court.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: whiskeyjack on November 21, 2014, 10:25:42 PM
Kirkland makes relatively high quality dog food. The first ingredient is meat, there are no animal byproducts, and no corn, soy, or wheat. But it's half the cost of dog foods with similar ingredients that you can buy outside of Costco. We also buy meat and cheese at Costco, but the dog food is what I feel we get the best deal on!

+1   I think we make back our membership cost on dog food alone.   

Despite this I'm still a little on the fence about it.  The store is too big.  I don't like that it doesn't carry the same stock all the time.  Produce is packaged too large for it to not go bad before we eat it.    I hate the shape of the milk jugs.  But I'm learning my way around the non-perishable items.   
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: act01 on November 21, 2014, 11:57:51 PM
Has no one else bought tires at Costco? That in itself made up the cost of the membership cost one year.

You don't need a membership to get prescriptions. I don't know if that applies to pharmacy items, though.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Zikoris on November 22, 2014, 01:20:38 AM
Our soy milk savings alone pay for the membership - the stuff is REALLY expensive in normal grocery stores here, $5/carton vs $9.49 for 3 at Costco. We also get vegetarian meat substitutes, flour, deodorant, nuts, and movie tickets. That's about it.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Goldielocks on November 22, 2014, 06:40:03 AM
Our soy milk savings alone pay for the membership - the stuff is REALLY expensive in normal grocery stores here, $5/carton vs $9.49 for 3 at Costco. We also get vegetarian meat substitutes, flour, deodorant, nuts, and movie tickets. That's about it.

I could not get Costco to pay and advantage based on groceries alone either.   Only real savings for us is on cheese and garbage bags.  We only need one costco size pack of garbage bags a year.

It does make sense for one time items, like tires, basic fridge (if new) or our new mattress when the membership pays back in the one time savings.  Used to be good for clothing basics, but then some of the items I bought did not last and I discovered thrift stores.   Otherwise, it is just a huge "push" on selling items you don't need, but could use.

My biggest beef with them is two fold:

1) Needling beef (tenderizing it) without labeling that you need to cook it through-- this is how a family ended up with E Coli 2 yrs ago during the recall.
2) People who blindly assume / exclaim that costco is the cheapest price and fill up their car, week after week.    Y'all know the ones I am talking about.

In actual fact, I found Safeway (a hi/low and pricey grocery here) to be cheaper than costco when you shop the sales -- and not even just the annual sales, but the monthly ones.
e.g.  Campell's chunky soup -- $1.67 on sale at a hi-lo grocery versus $2.49 regular price at Costco, if you buy the full case at a time.



Oh,  and 75 cents/lb for carrots in Tennessee seems really high this time of year.  That is our average price year round, but since late September,  I have been purchasing between 30 cents and 60 cents per lb. 
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: fa on November 22, 2014, 07:06:19 AM
In our area Costco seems to have the best value for money.  You obviously have to be careful with quantities, especially for perishables.  We find the Kirkland brand to be an especially good pick in general.  Also, their car batteries are rated as some of the best around.

The danger with Costco is that it is so easy to leave the store with much more than you needed.  When I read YMOYL, I changed my mindset when going to Costco.  Whereas we used to never get out of the store with less than $100 of purchases, now it is rarely over $100.  Definitely don't go wandering down the aisles to see what cool stuff they have.

A really annoying trend at Costco lately is the vendors that are in the store.  I don't want to have to say "no" constantly to people offering all kinds of stuff while I shop.  They used to have an occasional vendor but now they are all over the store.

A really big plus:  the very generous return policy.

I own a business and we buy supplies at Costco.  So with my executive membership the cash back is really nice.  After I sell my business and the kids are gone, I doubt we will keep the membership.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: fartface on November 22, 2014, 09:38:28 AM
Family of Five living 1.7 miles from local Costco (next door to Aldi which we also frequent A LOT)

Kirkland Coffee
Kirkland Toilet Paper
Kirkland Chocolate Chips
Kirkland Milk
Frozen Organic Broccoli
Organic Spinach
Romaine Lettuce
At least one Rotisserie Chicken per week
Organic ground beef
Organic eggs
Cereal
Guilty pleasure: spinach, Artichoke, and Parmesan dip

Average monthly grocery bill: ~$600/month
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Rural on November 22, 2014, 10:43:58 AM
I let my membership lapse last month. I bought it strictly to get the "free" hearing check that was a good deal, actually, better than any other hearing check I could get. And if I had needed hearing aids, it would've been an even better deal.

But. I went in a couple of times, parking and navigation nightmare though it was, and I never found a single thing to buy that did not cost more per weight than the same item cost at my local groceries. The tires also cost more than the local tire shop, but people drive hundreds of miles to go to my local tire shop, so there's a good reason for that. The only thing that cost less than anywhere else was fuel, but that doesn't help me at all since it's 45 miles away.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Zikoris on November 22, 2014, 11:52:53 AM
One nice thing about walking to Costco - makes it impossible to overspend. Anything we got beyond the essentials would be literally impossible for us to carry out the door.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: The_path_less_taken on November 24, 2014, 09:45:54 AM


A really annoying trend at Costco lately is the vendors that are in the store.  I don't want to have to say "no" constantly to people offering all kinds of stuff while I shop.  They used to have an occasional vendor but now they are all over the store.



I registered in order to answer this comment above:

Those "vendors" are the MOST Mustachian thing about Costco!!!

There is no way that you can go to Costco practically any day (and especially now thru New Year's Eve) and not consume several thousand calories of FREE FOOD. Their job is to make sure you try the free food. They WANT you to try the free food, and are delighted when you do. Their policy is to let you try it as much as you like.

Yesterday in Costco (northern Nevada) they were handing out turkey, stuffing, some veggie casserole, gravy,  cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie...on one plate! And: meatballs, eggrolls, sausage, at least 5 types of cheese, mango juice, pomegranate tart, popcorn, whole grain toast...and those are just the ones I remember walking by!

Several times a week they also give out free laundry detergent, free roll of toilet paper, free supplements...basically little envelopes of totally FREE stuff!!! When they have less than a full pallet of something and need floor space, they will drop it to a laughable price: a full flat of Bartlett pears for $4 most recently here.

Costco actually is increasing their organic and gluten free products, faster than my other local stores.

Granted, the people who don't live near one can't benefit. But if it were within biking distance, there would be a great advantage to eating a free lunch there while shopping.

Ethically I would feel the need to have a card, and despite being single I make money in rebates on my AMEX card so Costco pays for me. But you actually don't need a card to get into Costco.

By law, they are required to let you in to use the pharmacy, the ear test, and the optometrist.

Just sayin'.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Zikoris on November 24, 2014, 10:28:40 AM
I'd love it if my Costco gave away stuff other than food I can't eat. I also say "no" a lot.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: tmd012 on November 24, 2014, 10:55:06 AM


A really annoying trend at Costco lately is the vendors that are in the store.  I don't want to have to say "no" constantly to people offering all kinds of stuff while I shop.  They used to have an occasional vendor but now they are all over the store.



I registered in order to answer this comment above:

Those "vendors" are the MOST Mustachian thing about Costco!!!

There is no way that you can go to Costco practically any day (and especially now thru New Year's Eve) and not consume several thousand calories of FREE FOOD. Their job is to make sure you try the free food. They WANT you to try the free food, and are delighted when you do. Their policy is to let you try it as much as you like.

Yesterday in Costco (northern Nevada) they were handing out turkey, stuffing, some veggie casserole, gravy,  cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie...on one plate! And: meatballs, eggrolls, sausage, at least 5 types of cheese, mango juice, pomegranate tart, popcorn, whole grain toast...and those are just the ones I remember walking by!

Several times a week they also give out free laundry detergent, free roll of toilet paper, free supplements...basically little envelopes of totally FREE stuff!!! When they have less than a full pallet of something and need floor space, they will drop it to a laughable price: a full flat of Bartlett pears for $4 most recently here.

Costco actually is increasing their organic and gluten free products, faster than my other local stores.

Granted, the people who don't live near one can't benefit. But if it were within biking distance, there would be a great advantage to eating a free lunch there while shopping.

Ethically I would feel the need to have a card, and despite being single I make money in rebates on my AMEX card so Costco pays for me. But you actually don't need a card to get into Costco.

By law, they are required to let you in to use the pharmacy, the ear test, and the optometrist.

Just sayin'.


The free food people are great but I think they meant the 3rd party vendors.  I totally agree with them-  The DirecTV guys are so annoying.  Then you have the drinking water people, gutter guard people, flooring, etc.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: The_path_less_taken on November 24, 2014, 01:00:19 PM
I'd love it if my Costco gave away stuff other than food I can't eat. I also say "no" a lot.

They do--national chain so national advertising-- but not usually on weekends. Those tend to be Monday/Tuesday demos I think. And they're harder to spot if you're just casually shopping...I only normally walk back to detergent if I need it.

Now having scored probably 3 cleaning samples and a roll a toilet paper just this year, I cruise the store quickly just to see.

As for the vendors: agreed. But the blender ones have awesome samples. The other ones I just nod 'no thanks' at.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: jamal utah on November 24, 2014, 01:53:30 PM
Has no one else bought tires at Costco? That in itself made up the cost of the membership cost one year.

You don't need a membership to get prescriptions. I don't know if that applies to pharmacy items, though.

My wife recently got some all season tires at Costco.  I can't remember what we paid, but it was the best deal around.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Zikoris on November 24, 2014, 01:56:09 PM
I'd love it if my Costco gave away stuff other than food I can't eat. I also say "no" a lot.

They do--national chain so national advertising-- but not usually on weekends. Those tend to be Monday/Tuesday demos I think. And they're harder to spot if you're just casually shopping...I only normally walk back to detergent if I need it.

Now having scored probably 3 cleaning samples and a roll a toilet paper just this year, I cruise the store quickly just to see.

As for the vendors: agreed. But the blender ones have awesome samples. The other ones I just nod 'no thanks' at.

I've been on weekdays, weekends, daytime, evening, and there never seems to be anything other than food, but they could be hiding it somewhere I don't go I suppose.
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: jamal utah on November 24, 2014, 01:57:47 PM
Our Costco is pretty good for buying health food items.  I can get chia seeds, coconut oil, and quinoa far cheaper at Costco than anywhere else. 

I know a lot of people buy meat at Costco, but I have always found the prices to be much higher than other places. 
Title: Re: Thinking of cancelling Costco membership
Post by: Dicey on November 24, 2014, 02:12:14 PM
I particularly loathe the salespeople who scan your receipts EVERY time you check out and try to sell you their Exec memberships with the AMEX card.
FYI the new CEO discontinued this practice. You were apparently not t he only one who disliked the upsell.

There's a reason for the receipt scanning. In order to keep their overhead low, Costco does as much as they can to ensure accuracy and prevent theft. Yes, there are a number of people who would take an old receipt, shoplift the same item on a different trip and try to pass it off as their original purchase. Highlighting your receipt makes that evil trick more difficult to pull off. Ever notice that it's a different color every day? Since I can't stand paying more for stuff because other people steal, I happily wait for my receipt to be checked.

I heard that the checkout line program was discontinued, but the same guy is still at my Costco, perhaps because it's one of the highest volume stores in the company. Either way, I don't love being asked, especially since we have an Exec. membership and AMEX.

I, too, use Costco as my primary source of groceries and gas. Tires and rental cars are great deals as well.  For us, a Costco membership is a complete a no-brainer. The fact that they pay a living wage that costs me nothing bit a bit of wait time in line and again at the door is something I really appreciate.