Does Costco really save you money?

I have been debating joining Costco for a couple of reasons, and I wanted to find out if you guys think it really saves you money or if you just end up with very large quantities of products you don’t really want. (IE – I am excited about 28 cans of Progresso soup I just wish it was more than two flavors in the box. I can get behind the 12 boxes of Lean Cuisines but just wish it had two of my favorites instead of just one. Is it a deal if I eat 10 boxes of Lean Cuisines I’m not crazy about?)

Here’s why I am finally seriously considering joining:

Two incidents have made me think I need to join.

No. 1: A few weeks ago a college-age male clerk at Target was helping me out to my car with my purchases. It was admittedly a lot of stuff. It was a lot of my packaged groceries – ie Dinosaur oatmeal, Neutella, peanut butter, chips, Coke products – and toiletry-type items – four-pack of toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, … You get the picture.

So the kid says “You know you really should be shopping at Costco if you’re going to buy this much stuff. Even with my employee discount I know I save more on these types of things at Costco.”

I felt awful. If a the store clerk and a kid is telling you that could be saving more elsewhere then it’s time to really consider it.

No. 2: Also after our glasses conversation I started pricing glasses and think the $50 joining fee would be made up with the glasses for my son and myself (I think I need bifocals!!!! How awful!)!

Here are my concerns:

So I spent more than hour on Saturday just walking through Costco looking at what they had and the cost of things. (I have a pretty good idea of what I normally spend on items between Target, Wal-Mart and Kroger so I wanted to compare.)

I don’t even mind the $50 to join so much as I’m just worried am I really going to use what I buy or am I going to be stuck with products I don’t really want but they were a bargain?

For example, I didn’t see our favorite toilet paper. (Can we convert? I’m not sure.) I didn’t see the shampoo I like for the kids or my husband’s gel or the kids’ favorite toothpaste. Eight packages of toothpaste you don’t want is simply not a deal.

I was excited about inexpensive baked goods and flowers. And I know my friends love Costco’s meat but when I asked the “butcher” (or the guy putting out meats) if they had antibiotics and hormones in them, he said unless it was marked as “no antibiotics” or “no hormones” then I should assume it has it. (Is that your understanding of it? Have you guys ever asked?) And I am leery of buying vegetables in bulk. (Tell me your experiences with their fresh stuff.)

I think the answer may be that I only buy what I know we are going to use: my Coke products, my cleaning products, my paper towels, laundry detergent, some frozen foods, some cereals, lotions, pain relievers, allergy meds, sunscreen, etc… I would try to buy my glasses there if possible. I was impressed talking to one of the opticians. He was very knowledgeable and I think we would end up buying electronics there when we need them.

However, then that means another trip to Target or Wal-Mart to get the brands of things I can’t get at Costco – another store!!

Is it going to save me enough money that it’s worth adding another store into my rotation? (I think I would go once a month to Costco for those big things I know we’ll use, fresh stuff from farmer’s market weekly and then fill in with Target or Wal-Mart.)

So what do you think: Do you truly save money buying in bulk at Costco? Do you find the brands you want? Is it worth the $50 to join? Do you make that back quickly? What do you mainly buy there? What have your experiences been with the meat and produce? Do you like their in-store brand or only buy the name-brands there? Is it worth adding another store into my rotation or do you think I am doing close to as well at Target and Wal-Mart?

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Sandra

February 1st, 2011
3:59 am

It only makes sense if it is stuff you already use. We for instance don’t drink coffee but have one family friend that does (everyone else drinks hot tea or cold beverages), so it would make no sense what so ever to buy a large amount of coffee no matter how much it would save. On the other hand, toothpaste is toothpaste is toothpaste to me and toilet paper is just there to clean rears. As long as they do their job then I don’t care much about brands. I personally don’t like to bulk buy fresh produce as the longer most of it sits the more it loses. I like to grow my own when possible as I personally think it is cheaper and healthier.

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Mom3Boys

February 1st, 2011
5:51 am

At my job we often have a Costco sign up day…they bring in food, and give us coupons that give back some of the fee…call them and have them come to the AJC. When my kids were little, and I needed all the little snack stuff, Costco was a deal for me. My membership has lapsed now, as it’s not necessary w/ 2/3 in college. The key to saving money at costco is self control!

smh

February 1st, 2011
5:53 am

I have this debate mentally every time I renew our membership :) My feeling is, as long as I can make my money back on the membership, I’m doing okay. I’m pretty sure Clark Howard is a fan, if that is any influence. The Kirkland brand laundry soap just got high ratings in some recent consumer testing so I’m trying it out now. I personally do not use my membership for main shopping due to limited storage space. Keep that in mind as you haul massive quantities home. You have to have a place to put it :) I have had good experience with fresh produce at Costco. My oldest begs for their apples! If I needed a larger sheet cake, I would buy it there. It is quite good. If you purchase books either for yourself or gifts, warehouse clubs have the best prices around. I just recently used their coupon mailer to get great pricing several items. For me shopping at Costco works.

Katie

February 1st, 2011
6:59 am

MOST DEFINITLY!

Heres a few reasons why we join and its only me, my hubby, and five year old little girl.
A) Gas. Its ALWAYS ALOT cheaper there and as an intersting tidbit, they don’t use foreign oil.

B) The Kirkland Brand- Totally and complelty the exact same as the “brand name”items and always several dollars cheaper.

C)Cleaning products- I’ve had the same bottle of Pine Sol for like, a year now. I don’t care because its what I like to use and it was dirt cheap and its lasting me forever and a day. Same thing with things like Windex. or Saran Wrap. Aluminum Foil… you get the picture.

D) Coupons- they send out great coupon booklets to your house! Then you can pair those with the manufacturer coupons and wha-la! Even better deals!

E) Their churros. Theu’re Hot and delicious and only $1. And we pick up one of their huge frozen pizzas for big events.

F) Electronics- usually cheaper then anywhere around, PLUS they have a 90 day return policy so that if it quits working, you find a better deal, or a newer model comes out and out want that, no problems. I’ve also heard good things about vacations booked through them, although I’ve got no personal experience in that catagory.

I know I probably sound like a PR worker for Costco, and I’m totally not, I just love that place. I love saving money and even though it takes us a little longer to go through some things because its just the three of us, the money that we save is just incredible. So I’m sure if we save a bunch, you will too. And its nice to not have to worry about buying paper towels every week.

Try it for a year. If you don’t like it, don’t renew it.

1sus

February 1st, 2011
7:05 am

Dont’ feel back to just purchase the few things you want there. I’d love a Costco. We have BJs and a Sam’s just opened. I’m jumping ship from BJ’s to Sam’s myself. You know your prices. Personally, I buy milk cheaper at Kroger. Over the years I have loved these types of stores for diapers, wipes, laundry detergent, frozen food, etc. I have a friends who only buys beer and chips at BJ’s. I find BJ’s rotisserie chickens are much larger than those of the grocery store, so for me, a better deal. Just use it for the items you feel you use a lot of and are a good deal. Like someone else said, if you make back your membership fee and enjoy some of the products over the year, you’ve made out ok!

1sus

February 1st, 2011
7:05 am

That should have been don’t feel “BAD” . . . . not finished my coffee yet!

A

February 1st, 2011
7:13 am

We joined Costco before having a kid and it has been worth it. As someone else said, you save on gas, which can really add up depending on how much you drive. You can also save on the staples like milk, coffee, bread and yes TP. And I don’t know how hard it is to change TP brands, but don’t use that as an excuse not to join Costco. I can’t do all of our shopping there, so I also go to Publix and Target. So overall I know we make up the $50 membership fee and then some during the course of the year. Another plus is that Costco seems to treat its workers well, which is important to me and one of many reasons I have not set foot in a Wal-Mart in ages.

HenryCo

February 1st, 2011
7:33 am

Who wants to drive to crime ridden Morrow to go to Costco? I would be a member if it were in Henry County, but then again no normal retailer wants to set up shop down here. We don’t even have a Trader Joe’s or World Market (that’s pretty standard) No, we are getting an Academy Sports….WTH?

DAVE

February 1st, 2011
7:35 am

the best part is the electronics; costco doubles the manufacturer’s warranty and if you use costco’s free AMEX card to pay for them it is tripled. flat screens killed by lightening get fixed or replaced. also, the tires, every quarter they have a tire sale. next best item is the beverages, canned and bottled drinks, and wine. costco is the nation’s #1 wine retailer. great for books also, and throw rugs.

John

February 1st, 2011
7:36 am

If you have potential to spend more than $2500 in a year go for the executive membership. It gives you 2% back. The cost is $100 instead of $50, but if you spend $2500+ in a year then you’ve at least paid for the extra part of the membership. If you don’t then Costco will actually “refund” you back down to a regular membership.

Costco lets you return anything (except electronics which are 90 days) at any time.

Never asked those questions about the meat, but they are my local butcher pretty much. The selection and quality of what they have is great. They do have some organic meats and wild salmon etc, but I’m sure not everything is that way. Coffee is a good deal there – they sell it in whole bean form, but if you need it ground they have an industrial grinder there you can grind it before you leave.

Also one more thing to consider – your membership gets you a free Amex Costco card – which gets you 3% back on gas and dining out, 2% on travel (I think this is right), and 1% on everything else. We always get back a good chunk on that every year too. Amex would normally charge an annual fee on such a card. It’s good to have since all costco takes is debit card or Amex.

Then there are the coupons every month pretty much. They almost always have what we buy at Costco in them. TP, Household Supplies, paper towels, sodas, etc. To me the sodas aren’t a really great deal at Costco without the coupon. You can usually wait for a sale at a grocery store and do similar or better otherwise.

I prefer Costco over Sam’s just based on the quality of what’s there. To me Costco is to Target as Sam’s is to WalMart. Target has things just a notch nicer than WalMart, Same with Costco & Sam’s.

Melissa

February 1st, 2011
7:41 am

My husband and I are Costco shoppers. We buy Kirkland brand paper towels (80 sheets per roll – more than name brands), Kirkland brand toilet paper (I believe it is the Quilted Northern equivalent), meats (their meats are Choice cuts – we buy in bulk, divide and freeze), baked goods (their bagels are Einstein Brothers brand baked in the store), Coke products, fresh vegetables (only when we have company because with the two of us it doesn’t make sense to bulk shop when it will go to waste). The list goes on and on and, like another reader mentioned, they send out coupons. The coupons are for items we actually use like Tide, OxiClean, Downy, Scope – and we even used a $10 coupon we received to get our TurboTax software (Deluxe edition state and federal was $49.97 before coupon – the same version at Best Buy was $59.99). I have purchased many books and gifts there – a Cuisinart immersion blender with a whisk attachment and chopper was just $29.99, comparatively a great deal! We shop once a month and believe we have more than covered the $50 membership fee in the savings we get.

eddie

February 1st, 2011
7:42 am

i think it ends up costing more at costco. not a true dollar increase, but an increase in buying stuff you don’t really need. like a juicer, crablegs, cool new pants, an ipod accessory, christmas reindeer, wall mirror, etc…. i think you get the picture. so instead of buying the milk and meat you went in to get for $60, you buy that extra item you don’t really need and your bill is now $300!!!!

madmommy

February 1st, 2011
7:42 am

We had a BJ’s membership mainly because it was less per year and you could use manf. coupons at the store, which I know you cannot use at Costco. Thankfully I have several friends with a membership and we use it as a time to shop and catch up with each other. Seems like once you have kids you have to take your chances when you can. I generally only get a few items there as I have compaired pricing and when taking into account the coupons that I use, getting it at Costco just isn’t a deal. It can be a bargain/deal if you use the items, have space to store it and are willing to shop at other stores along with Costco. It is silly to think that one store can meet all your needs, but it has to be worth both time and money to go there.

PS. I LOVE the cakes from Sam’s Club. I would get a membership there just for cake alone, but then it would make my gym membership useless.

DonH

February 1st, 2011
7:43 am

One other great benefit is COSTCO extends the manufacturer’s warranty an additional year (from ONE year to TWO) on their flat screen TVs and perhaps other electronics too (not sure?). Price out buying an extended warranty on a flat screen TV at other retailers and you’ll see it’s a big bonus and easily covers the membership fee right there alone.

CPT

February 1st, 2011
7:44 am

For some items it is definitely cheaper, for others it is not. You need to be an educated consumer and don’t fall into the trap of ‘Oh, it’s Costco, so it must be cheaper’.

The inventory at Costco is not fixed – so one month they may have your favorite shampoo, but not the next. Costco will never replace your regular grocery store – but it’s a good place to stock up on toothpaste, diapers, and dental floss.

Paula

February 1st, 2011
7:54 am

Sam’s membership is cheaper by $10 plus they give you a $10 gift card making it a $30 fee overall. We buy a lot of milk and they are usually cheaper. Their meat is cheaper, coffee (depending on what kind you HAVE to have), I buy their brand in a lot of things and it is usuallly very good. Costco does have the best frozen pizza but Sam’s is a close second. My BJ’s just closed and their prices were often better than Sam’s b/c they do take coupons. Electronics and glasses/contacts are almost always cheaper there than any other store (maybe not some online stuff).

q1

February 1st, 2011
8:02 am

Actually, there is no Costco where I live, soooooo I should not even be commenting, however I will anyway. I go to Sams which I would gather is similar to Costco. I like buying in bulk, even though I am the only one living in the house, my PT comes in occasionally. Now, let us take the one All American product, still produced in the good old USA,[toilet paper]. Now, believe it or not, when I first set up housekeeping, I would buy a roll, then when it got low, i would run to the store for another one. You guessed it, I would run out and that is something i dislike doing with toilet paper. At Sams I get those mega, mega boxes of toilet paper. It is like a security blanket knowning that right upstairs, i have 100s of rolls of toilet paper[a 10 year supply] and it is only pennies a roll, I used to think I needed “Charmin” brand because of Mr. Whipple, but now I know anything goes.
I believe in bulk, one time I boguht a 50 year supply of popcorn and the bag broke.

catlady

February 1st, 2011
8:09 am

Theresa, you don’t have to join because some bag-boy told you you should.

Bifocals are not awful. Using “myself” instead of “me” is. Well, maybe not awful. But squinting in a myopic way is when you are dealing with little print. How long since YOU went to the eye doctor?

RJ

February 1st, 2011
8:12 am

Although I’ve never had a Costco membership I have had Sam’s and most recently BJ’s. I decided not to renew my BJ’s membership this year. I just found that I saved just as much, if not more shopping at Walmart. As for gas I can get gas just as cheap at QT which is close to my house. I have a family of 4 with a husband and son that can eat like it’s a family of 10!

The $50 membership seems pretty high to me. My BJ’s membership was about $30 last year.

@q1 I don’t know if it’s Mr. Whipple but I ONLY want Charmin. Everything else feels like sandpaper to me:)!

Nicole

February 1st, 2011
8:14 am

My husband and I joined Costco last year, and it has proven to be a good deal even for our family of 2. Here are some of the perks we have noticed, and my opinon of the specifics you mentioned.

1. The Kirkland brand (Costco Brand) is wonderful! We use their paper towles, laundry detergent, toilet paper, olive oil and beer!

2. If you don’t like something, you can take it back no matter what it is! We tried some frozen fish that was absolutely repulsive, and so we took it back. It was opened, we had eaten 2 pieces, and they didn’t ask any questions at all. Their customer service is great. We even returned an XBOX Kinect without paying a restocking fee.

3. We really like their meats. I have never looked for anti-biotic free, but I am almost positive I have seen them. In my opinon, their fresh chicken is better than Perdue, or any of the other brands I’ve purchased at Publix. I NEVER have to trim the meat, which I am very particular about. Their steaks are also very good.

4. Their pizza is really yummy :) My husband and I will occasionally have a Costco date night and get pizza, soda and a frozen yogurt. Dinner for both of us is less than $10. We have joked that our membership is worth it for the pizza alone.

5. I have enjoyed the produce I purchased from Costco, but I have finally come to the realization that it is not realistic for a family of 2. I end up throwing away a majority of it, but that’s our problem. One produce item that I have found they have great deals on is berries. I just purchased a huge container of blackberries there for less than $4. It was at least 3 times what I would get at Publix for the same price.

I have noticed that some of the items aren’t great deals. You just have to pay attention to the unit prices. For example, I also eat the Healthy Choice entrees, but I get them for about the same price when they’re on sale at Publix, and I’m able to get the flavors I like. Even though there are a few situations like this, we very easily make up the membership fee. Hope this info helps!

Kristie

February 1st, 2011
8:16 am

Before you give up because they don’t have your brands, try the Costco brand (Kirkland Signature). I love their toilet paper and paper towels. Both are very high quality. I have been a member of Costco for 7 years and really like it there. I used their optical center for the first time this year to get my kids’ eyes examined. It was a deal. The assistant told me that most people don’t even use their eye insurance at Costco, because they save even more just buying directly from Costco.

Katy

February 1st, 2011
8:24 am

I LOVE Costco. I agree with some of your concerns…i.e. they don’t carry certain flavors or brands. For some things, I’ve switched…like buying that gigantic pump bottle of Dove shampoo. Costco brand paper towels are just as good as the name brand, and a few bucks less…yes please! And, we also get our toilet paper there…feels sooo good to have endless toilet paper! (there are only 2 of us) Another thing that we buy at Costco that you might not expect is grapefruit! They have beautiful, delicious grapefruit in bulk! Aside from typical groceries, I’ve also bought a laptop (they extend the manufacturing warranty by a year) and other housewares, dog beds, kitty towers…etc. I could spend hours wandering around Costco. But do be prepared, it’s known as the “hundred dollar store”….its very unlikely that on any given trip you will spend less than a hundred dollars…but you get a lot for it! I’d say go for it! Especially with a family!

new mom

February 1st, 2011
8:25 am

I think it depends on what you are shopping for. If you need (ok, want) a new TV or electronic item and you’ve priced it out, and even with the membership fee you still save money, go for it. If it’s close enough to use as your gas station and still save you money, even with the membership fee, go for it. But in my opinion, if you are shopping for everyday household items, groceries, toiltries, etc., then no.

I ‘coupon’ (and not in a stereotypical, fanatical way) and have found that I can get top quality, national brand items for very cheap if not FREE by using coupons and sales at my CVS and Publix. I use southernsavers.com, and I never clip a coupon until I’m ready to use it. I could write much more about this, but won’t bore you all…I’ll leave it to say that even shopping at these stores whose regular price is higher, by combining BOGOs, ECBs, manufacturer coupons, and store coupons, my price point for most items is ‘dirt cheap’. Things I don’t pay for: any toiletry (toothpaste, toothbrushes, body wash, shampoo, lotion, etc. etc), cleaning products, lots of grocery items, and my price point for toilet paper and paper towels is usually $2 a large pack. Charmin, Bounty, etc. And no, we aren’t ‘ripping off’ any store. Coupons are advertising. And stores get reimbursed for manufacturer coupons, plus a handling fee.

And yes we have a little supply going, because you have to buy it when it’s on sale and not necessarily the instant you need it. (which isn’t different than buying in bulk to me!) And the best part–plenty to donate too. We are always able to give a sizable donation anytime our local co-op is in need. And no emergency late night runs for toilet paper.

CW

February 1st, 2011
8:28 am

We had a similar debate, but decided the cost of contacts for our daughter would save us more than the membership fee. We are vegetarian, in part because of the antibiotics in meat issue, so we no longer have to face your question re meat. The fundamanetal issue for you seems to be is whether it is more important to save or to keep your conveniences. If the latter, then don’t join and accept that you will pay a “premium” for your conveniences. If saving is important, then join.

Dancer

February 1st, 2011
8:34 am

I LOVE Costco!!! Do almost all my shopping there. I recent the ‘crime ridden’ reference to Morrow. Crime is no more prevelent than in Henry County. BTW, we do have a great Morrow Police Department…

motherjanegoose

February 1st, 2011
8:35 am

I would fight you to give up my Costco membership. I am an executive member . It costs me $100 per year but I got back a check for $68 this year….$32 cost.

We were member of Sam’s for over a dozen years. I added my son on in August of his Freshman College year ( $25 to add a family member). When our renewal came around in December I was told that I would have to renew him again at full fee. WHAT? I just paid to put him on in August. SORRY. I called several sources and got the same answer: NO. NO PROBLEM…..we switched to Costco and have been there for 5 years plus. Sam’s is 5 miles from our house and Costco is 3.
That seems silly but when you factor in the traffic at the MOG, 2 miles could take 30 minutes!

I buy: gas, contacts,whole bean coffee, eggs ( 2 1/2 dozen $3 or so) milk ( $2.48) , fruit ( 3 pounds of bananas for $1.39), veggies, books, gifts, meat, fish, bakery, ready to eat food, luggage and furniture.

Does anyone remember my Costco purchase of 2 leather couches for $638 out the door? Last week, I heard Clark Howard talk about Costco having a furniture showcase this month ( true) and that they are the most reasonable place to buy furniture. WHY? Because they do not have to mark it up to cover those who are being financed for 72 months or offering FREE delivery. That got me thinking. No, they do not have the selection but there is also no sakes pressure nor gimmics.

I am thinking you could easily save the $50 just buying your Christmas gifts there. They had a THREE pack of nice men’s Pierre Cardin pen and pencil set in individual boxes for less than $10….true! Also, a 3 pack of hot chocolate tins with cute decorations for less than $5. I use these all the time. Kid’s books are awesome there too.

TWG…I almost NEVER go to Wal Mart. I sometimes go to Target and stock up on paper products/cleaning/toiletries at Walgreen’s when they have them BOGO. I am not a brand snob.
But I HATE cheap toilet paper or paper towels.

Ultimately you have to decide if another store is worth adding to your list. I shop regularly at 6 stores or less.

Late night runs for toilet paper?

February 1st, 2011
8:37 am

Surely you jest…that is what showers are for until morning…

Tychus Findlay

February 1st, 2011
8:41 am

Kirkland brand beer sounds terrible, but after Best buy, Costco is my favorite place to shop.

new mom

February 1st, 2011
8:41 am

If that toilet paper comment was directed to me (which I think it was…) yes, I grew up with parents (very sweet, I will say!) who always seemed to run out of toilet paper at 9:30pm and apparently loved the challenge of ‘can we get to the store for more before they close?’ It always annoyed me…I don’t particularly enjoy that game! :)

Ted

February 1st, 2011
8:41 am

I am in the same boat. We have bought the membership , twice in the last 3 years. When I did I came out with a set of fancy german knives and a garmon navigation device. Neither one did we really need. I think I spent about $400 in there. We try to stay out of there for fear of blowing a bunch of money on stuff. If you are a coupon cutting anul type A personallity you might make it work, but we are not. Also our friends that go there by the same crap for their parties and brog on it that it came from Cosco. It makes the food less desirable in my mind and it looks and tastes the same every time we go over there. Also, they pull out crap from there frig and freezer and feed it to us that they got from Cosco. No telling how long that has been in there. My point is that these people that make it work, are penny pinching folks that hate to throw anything away. Not that that is a terrible way to be these days just watch what they serve you when they pull something out of the frig or freezer. Eat it at your own risk!

Ally

February 1st, 2011
8:48 am

I’ll add my vote in favor of Costco. We joined pre-kids because we were throwing a party for my husband’s birthday and that made up for the fee. Now we don’t throw parties, but still find plenty to buy at Costco.

The good: QUALITY! I always trust their meats, produce and anything Kirkland (their in-house brand). Regarding produce, I buy most of our fruit there because we eat it fast enough (except for oranges…couldn’t eat a whole box before some went bad.) The only vegetables I buy there are bell peppers and anything frozen (love the frozen broccoli). Sometimes we buy meat, but I’m not good at freezing extra, so we buy more of the prepared meats (spend some time in the refrigerated section). We also buy bread, organic milk, eggs, butter, squeezable yogurt, sliced cheese, orange juice and cottage cheese. All of these we eat before they go bad and it saves me many trips to the grocery store. We also eat a lot of walnuts, so I keep a bag in the fridge and it doesn’t go bad. For me, I buy tea bags and chocolate. We don’t buy a lot of packaged snacks for us, but for feeding a soccer team, Costco is great. On the non-food side, we buy Dove soap (the only kind I will use), TP, paper towels, conditioner, napkins, laundry detergent, dish soap, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, tissues, lotion, face creams, toothpaste, deodorant, feminine products, vitamins, books, DVDs and batteries. And the seasonal items are fantastic. Like others, we buy TurboTax cheaper there, we’ve gotten our Christmas tree there, they have great Christmas gifts, beautiful roses that smell heavenly, landscape plants, margarita makers, kitchen items, Easter dresses, Docker pants and on and on.

The bad: you must be able to store large packages of TP, paper towels, etc. Most everything else doesn’t seem to take extra space in my opinion, and the time and gas that I save by taking less trips to the grocery/drug store is definitely worth a once a month trip to Costco. Sure, if you’re vigilant with your coupons and watching sale ads, you may find things cheaper elsewhere, but I’m not great with that, so Costco is my standby. Also, I do buy the kids’ toothpaste elsewhere, along with other things that they don’t have at Costco. But since I need to go to Target anyway for other things, I just pick up those few things there.

The bottom line is: we live in a good sized house, so we have plenty of space to store extra TP, paper towels, etc, and it is the best feeling to have all of that already at home so I don’t have to rush out every week to stock up. I love the quality at Costco (I’ve gone to Sam’s and won’t go back) and have converted some of my favorites to what they have available because it’s cheaper and better.

Good luck with your decision — let us know what you decide!

motherjanegoose

February 1st, 2011
8:57 am

I love coupons but if you spend 5 hours a week getting serious with coupons and visiting several stores to take advantage of their deals, that is not time effective for me. If I were not working…then yes. We almost always use a coupon for eating out and save at least $10-$20 per week. I keep them all in one large ziploc and we peruse what we have before we leave. That is $500-$1000 per year for us. Now that it is mostly just 2 of us, we really save!

Eating at Costco’s is TOO funny. I have been in Costco all the way to Hawaii.

BTW if you go to Maui, you WILL save $50 just buying your things in Costco by the airport. The milk there was almost $6 a gallon…cheaper than the local stores! We rent a condo and stock up on food as we head out of the airport…that Costco is packed!

Anyway, the Dunwoody GA Costco is hands down the most crowded place at lunch…too funny. Where else can you get a piece of pizza or hot dog and a drink for less than $3?

YUKI

February 1st, 2011
8:58 am

My husband and I both love Costco. Of course it doesn’t make sense to buy huge amounts of things you won’t use, but for things you will, it saves money. We love the Costco brand of many things…toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent and yes, beer. Don’t knock it until you try it. I got a set of luggage for Christmas there this year and got a great deal on it. We also bought two leather couches a few months ago and they are really nice and look great.

To us, the $50 is well worth it. If you have a baby, the Kirkland brand diapers and wipes are great, and we even used to get formula there as well.

tim

February 1st, 2011
8:58 am

As soon as you wrote about buying 28 cans of soup or 12 lean cuisines, I knew you weren’t a member. You sound like my neighbor whos never been in a Costco, Sams or Bj’s.

Even after walking thru a store, you still seem to have blinders on concerning their products and prices.

Gas, tires, seasonal prepared meals, extended warranties, Kirkland Brand, no ask return policy, 25% of products are new, many products you won’t find in other stores, weekly & monthly coupons, online shopping…

They aren’t super busy cuz it’s a bad experience or not worth it.

Nuff said….

Techmom

February 1st, 2011
9:00 am

Only worth it if you live nearby. You really will save on staple items but if it’s not convenient to get to, you’ll end up buying stuff as you run out at your normal grocery store. I let my Costco membership lapse when I stopped working across the street and there isn’t one close to my house. I have a Sam’s (and HAD a BJ’s until 2 weeks ago) 2 miles from my house. It was worth it to have a membership since I went there more than my normal grocery store and it’s the only place we get gas unless we’re out of town. BJ’s takes coupons (and I believe Costco does now as well though there are conflicting messages above). Costco also has better ‘other’ stuff.

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katherine

February 1st, 2011
9:02 am

I’m single, no kids, and I have the executive membership. It pays for itself. I buy lots of gas, clothes, and Christmas gifts there. Maybe you should just buy a gift card to Costco. It isn’t neccessary to have a Costco membership card to shop there with a gift card. Just a thought. I don’t know if you can use manufacturer’s coupons there, but I love the monthly Costco coupons.

Tonya C.

February 1st, 2011
9:04 am

TWG, thanks for this timely topic. I have been going back and forth on whether or not to join, but the posters here have given me the incentive to become a member again. We were members for two years and LOVED it.

Annie

February 1st, 2011
9:07 am

Dont forget tires. You can easily cover the 50$ annual fee on tires alone.

jarvis

February 1st, 2011
9:13 am

Lucky Jeans are less than half the cost at Costco.

jarvis

February 1st, 2011
9:16 am

I also like to buy my wife roses from Costco. They come in two dozens at about the same cost as one dozen from anywhere else.

That said, they jack up the prices on their flowers the week of Valentines. Good for them on that. If you can sell them for more, why wouldn’t you?

Mom Of 2

February 1st, 2011
9:17 am

I am a member at Sam’s because it is much closer to me than Costco but I’m sure some of my experiences would apply to Costco too. I can “pay off” my membership just on the savings from vitamins/supplements and non prescription medicines, especially when I am willing to buy the house brand (Members Mark is the Sam’s equivalent of Kirkland). The trick is to know your prices and be disciplined. If you don’t need small appliances, don’t go look there. Get to know the layout of your store and just go to the areas on your shopping list. A multi-pack of something you like is worth the storage space. A multi-pack with half things you like and half things that you don’t is not worth the $. I don’t buy as much there as I used to due to trying to buy more environmentally friendly products, but even with that we definitely save money.

Goergiamomof5

February 1st, 2011
9:19 am

5 kids and I have the same question and my conclusion is no after a year of research. I spend more when I shop there. This could be attributed to the fact that I use a lot of coupons. I also was completely frosted by the fact Sam’s wanted to upgrade the membership so you could get their coupons. Are you kidding–I just bought the membership? I liked that I could get discount ski lift tickets through Costco to places like West Virginia and Canada. The quality is good, the value is moderate. IF you can shop sales and use coupons, you are better off at your local grocery. I don’t buy jewlery or furniture there, so that value was lost on me, too. Their office supplies were pricey. Thanks for the timely question. I have enjoyed everyone’s responses. There is truth in the fact you will not usually go buy 15 packages of TP at Kroger, regardless of how cheap it is. I wonder why? Obviously most of enjoy having that “security” of 15 rolls (persoanlly I just hate buying TP everyother day). Best of luck. Hope you share what your conclusion is.

jarvis

February 1st, 2011
9:19 am

To be fair, my membership is free though throgh an employer…so I can’t really particpate fairly in the discussion.

Their travel agency is pretty solid too.

jim

February 1st, 2011
9:21 am

I have long been a fan of warehouse clubs, but I sometimes spend too much on my occasional trips there. But it’s my lack of self-restraint and my perception of a good deal….no one is holding a gun to my head and making me buy the stuff!
I find the best deals on beer/wine, and of all things, razor blades. I’ve shopped all three brands, Sam’s Club, BJ’s and Costco. The largest Sam’s Club in the southeast just opened nearby so I’ve joined up. I’m not a fan of Wal Mart/Sam’s Club but it is the closest warehouse club to me so I’ll shop there occasionally.
Costco would definitely be my favorite of the three, and their fresh meat products are very good.
In a nutshell, if you can exercise self-restraint, and shop only for items that you know you’ll use, you’ll certainly recoup your membership fee, and generate additional savings depending on how much you spend over the course of a year.

Val

February 1st, 2011
9:23 am

I like Costco, for I use the Kirkland brands…no problems. Also, I like the snack stand. The discounts on the hotdogs, pizza and drinks makes me happy! =)

Bill Skipper

February 1st, 2011
9:24 am

First of all, when are you going to ween your family off of the “Coke products”? Talk about an unhealthy habit. We swore off soft drinks years ago. Two diet Cokes per day adds up to 2.5 cases of soda per month; 30 cases per year. Set an example, woman!.

As far as your weekly grocery list goes, there are going to be very few items you will be buying at Costco every week. Virtually EVERYTHING is sold in bulk. It will be impossible for you to buy all of your weekly groceries at Costco.

That said, you can pay back the cost of membership rather easily, I would think. Buy one set of tires or a TV. Most wine (at BJ’s) is a buck or two per bottle cheaper than grocery stores. It all adds up.