Are You Wasting or Saving Money With a Warehouse Club Membership?

By Xin Lu on 3 September 2009 (Updated 24 August 2012) 91 comments
Photo: miamism

Warehouse clubs or wholesale clubs are large stores such as Costco or BJ's that charge a yearly membership that allows customers to purchase items at prices that are slightly above wholesale. The memberships cost anywhere from $50 to $100 a year and the idea is that you can save more than the membership cost by shopping at these stores. My husband and I recently decided to cancel our membership after realizing that we were not really saving money at all. Here are our reasons why we parted ways with the warehouse club. (See also: 5 Frugal Rules You Must Follow When Shopping at Costco)

1. Warehouse prices are not necessarily the best.

We used to buy things like toiletries and various meats at the warehouse, but pretty soon we realized that we could get cheaper prices at local grocery stores or stores such as Target if we just looked for weekly specials. When you pay a membership fee you expect that the prices are low, but that does not mean that you always get the lowest price. Many people just assume that the wholesale club has the lowest price and ignore other stores, and that could mean missed savings.

2. Quantities are too large.

Buying too much of something is a problem for small families like ours. These warehouses force you to buy a large quantity of everything, and sometimes things go to waste when they are not consumed in time. Another problem with large quantities is that it takes a lot of room to store them. We live in a 1000 square feet apartment and large piles of paper towels had to be stored in the living room, and that was a bit ridiculous. We also do not have a large freezer so a lot of frozen foods just will not fit.

3. The fee is not always recouped.

In the past few years we visited the warehouse club less than 10 times, and we are pretty sure we did not save enough to cover the membership fee. This is because it is just much easier to buy foods at grocery stores that are close by.

4. Shopping at a warehouse is stressful.

A big reason why we do not like visiting the warehouse store is because it is so crowded every single time. My husband also hates driving in the parking lots of these stores because people are always streaming out with huge carts of stuff. When you get inside the lines are always long. It is much easier for us to just walk to the grocery store on the next block to get something small like toothpaste even if we are paying 50 cents more. I do not know if it is like this in other parts of the country, but here in San Mateo the warehouse clubs are seriously mad houses.

Warehouse clubs make a lot of sense for families with a lot of storage space and the ability to consume large quantities of food without waste, but for us it just was not working out. Interestingly enough most of these warehouses make a large part of their profits through the membership fees, and not through their merchandise. So it would seem that many members may be underutilizing their memberships. If you have one of these memberships, look back on how much you used it in a year and how much you actually saved to determine whether or not it is worthwhile.

What do you think?  Are you saving money through a wholesale club or are you throwing money away on a  membership?
 

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Guest's picture
Rosa

We made up our warehouse store membership on diaper savings for a year, and I said I'd quit when my son was all the way potty trained.

Well, now he's only wearing a pullup at night and a giant box of diapers lasts us 3 months. I think even if he's not quite out of them when our membership comes due, I'm done - the rest of the store doesn't save us money.

Guest's picture
Guest

I am not sure if it saves us money or not, but I think we come out even at the least. If we had kids, it would be easier due to diapers and things like milk that we just don't use much now. Being able to freeze things like chicken and fish and buy other things in bulk definitely makes my life less stressful and Costco has great selections of cheeses that I can also freeze into small sizes. Plus their gas is cheaper than other places as well. I think the time-savings alone is worth something as I can go to the store less often this way. However, I only go at off hours because otherwise the shopping experience is awful. Here it is not too bad during the day on weekdays.

Guest's picture
Russell

We have a good degree of storage space available in our home, and a standalone freezer. This helps make sure that nothing we buy goes to waste.

There's only a small window during which the store generally feels too crowded for us. Add in the fact that our Costco is 10 minutes from the house, versus 5 for a grocery store, and we're not really having to expend any effort to take advantage of the store savings.

One of the tricks, though, is that you really need to convert to buying darn near everything there. Apart from some very specialized items or emergency supplies, we try to buy everything at Costco.

Guest's picture
Y

I don't have a ridiculous amount of space, either - but some of the programs offered at the stores more than make up for the price - Costco's car buying program saved me several thousand dollars on a new fuel-effocient car.

For big-ticket items and meat, I think it's tough to beat the chains. For everything else, YMMV.

Guest's picture
Petey

It never ceases to amaze me when I go to one of these places how many shoppers are running around with their carts piled high with overpriced groceries that they have happily paid (via memberships) for the privilege of buying. It is shocking how many people have no idea how much things are really costing them and that they can get much better deals through sales/couponing. We have only purchased a membership when buying something like tires which we have researched and determined might be a much better deal and make it worth the cost of the membership. I also occasionally go with a friend who has a membership to buy certain things like Parmesan cheese that might not be available in bulk elsewhere.

Guest's picture
Heron

I don't really care if I would save money (and as a single person with limited storage space I likely would not) - I just hate costo. The shelves are too tall, there are too many people, and I just find it distressing to be in the store.

Guest's picture
valletta

Mark me down as another person who finds Costco very stressful and not enjoyable!
I even get claustrophobic. I can do much better for just myself and my husband.
If we had kids, I'm sure I would feel differently.
Except for the stress part, haha

Guest's picture
Sarah

We love Costco! Granted, our membership is part of a business membership, so we aren't personally paying the fee. However, even if we were, we would more than make up the cost even as a family of 2.

Here's how:
1) Costco AmEx cash back: we earn rebates far and above the cost of membership by this alone (and yes, we pay off the balance in full every month).

2) Food court and samples: A hot dog & soda is $1.50. This is our super cheap date night meal out - $3 total for both of us! Samples usually provide appetizers and dessert and we have fun.

3) It's close to our house and easy to stock up on staples at the same price or cheaper than our discount grocery store. Frozen chicken, beer, soups and cheese are our best bets.

Guest's picture
Keith

Here's how:
1) Costco AmEx cash back: we earn rebates far and above the cost of membership by this alone (and yes, we pay off the balance in full every month).

Are you sure? Most places I've researched on this say they have not and they paid attention. it does not sound like you have paid attention to the numbers...you are guessing.

2) Food court and samples: A hot dog & soda is $1.50. This is our super cheap date night meal out - $3 total for both of us! Samples usually provide appetizers and dessert and we have fun.

No, actually in the end the health care costs of eating this garbage will far outweigh your "cheap dates." I shop at whole foods only, pay a premium and will forego future health issues related to garbage cheap foods like hot dogs thank you very much.

3) It's close to our house and easy to stock up on staples at the same price or cheaper than our discount grocery store. Frozen chicken, beer, soups and cheese are our best bets.

Beer is a staple? Need I say more?

Guest's picture
Brent

I'm a single guy and Costco is definitely worth it for me. I do have a decent amount of storage space, but I don't have a separate freezer or anything like that. I just shop fairly regularly. Things I use a decent amount of are always there and cheaper than smaller quantities at the grocery store. Also I go at off peak times. For Albuquerque 30min before closing the place is empty, I take about 15min grabbing everything on my list making a big loop around the store and then checkout takes like 5 minutes. But I do have to say that as you get more frugal and consume less that memberships start making less sense. Here is my strategy to make sure it works.
Only buy things that are a better deal than elsewhere, Don't buy anything so big that the waste negates the price savings, Use often enough, go during off times (there are no samples at these hours) and keep a list for what you need.

my last trip included:
2lb of cheese, 30ct tortillas, 2 loafs bread, 5.5lb sirloin, 1/2 gallon salsa, 1 bag stirfry veggies, 18ct eggs, strawberry jam, 3lb lunch meat, 2 gallons of orange juice, 2 steel water bottles, 1 bottle of wine.

Guest's picture

We make up our savings through movie tickets--a regular adult ticket here is $12.00; we can get a pair at Costco for $14.99. So our membership pays for itself after about five movies. Other than that we're really selective and only buy things we use very, very frequently. Right now we live about eight blocks from Costco; I'm not sure if the cost savings would be the same if it were a long or difficult trip for us.

Guest's picture
Lorenzo

When I was single, it was certainly a waste of my membership fee. But when I was single, I also had a lot of disposable income, and wasn't looking to be so frugal. Now, with a family, and a chest freezer in the garage, it was a relatively good deal, before this recession hit. After it got bad enough for a couple of misguided bailouts, we found that some local grocery stores were dropping their regular prices below the warehouse stores. And we also found a shop that caters to local restaurants, so while quantities are still warehouse-sized, the price and selection is much better, and no membership is required.

Guest's picture
falnfenix

our Costco membership has, in fact, saved us a bundle.

it helps that we live in a 4k sq ft house, and tons of storage space.

there's a good chance we'll be buying flooring through there, as well as our next mattress. my partner used their vehicle finder service when he bought his truck. i used their travel service for our vacation last year. DVDs CAN be cheaper through the store, depending on what we buy. vitamins? significantly cheaper.

when we first started shopping there we'd make a list with grocery store unit cost so we could easily determine where our money is best spent. now that we shop there regularly, it's almost shocking to see what prices are at a regular grocery store.

Guest's picture
Luke

The benefits for me outweigh the cost of the membership. It depends on how much of an item you buy. For example, my father and me split a membership. He use there photo department for photo developing (he develops a boat load of photos), and I use it for misc things. But the savings on just photos (8x10's being in the 3-4 dollar range at the local stores vs $1 something) pays for the membership. Also when your a warehouse club member, look for misc things that would save you money. An example would be, It would cost me $20-30 at my auto dealership to get a tire patched. I got a slow flat on a Sunday (dealership isnt open on Sunday) and got my tire fixed for free at the warehouse club. Also some do the food sample thing and you can practically get a free meal out of a trip on a Saturday afternoon.

My biggest stress at the warehouse club is the line getting out of the store, with only 1 man and a highlighter, going through everyones things.

Guest's picture
MichaelM

We currently have a Costco membership, but will be letting it expire in November because...

1) The more you spend the more you save. We've been being more frugal, which means we spend less. We don't shop enough to save as much money.

2) The best savings are on name-brand products. Buying cheerieos in a 1000 serving box is probably cheaper than the smaller boxes at the local grocery. Even cheaper though is buying offbrand imitations. We do buy some name brand things (Oreos!), but not enough to save a ton at Costco.

3) You save the least on staples. It seems like staples (flour, sugar, veg. oil, rice, beans) aren't as good of a deal as other items, and name brand really doesn't matter much with these items either. Since we've been cooking more, we just wait for bulk sales at the local grocery stores and buy then.

Guest's picture
Cat

We keep a warehouse membership for one reason, and one reason only. We're both on non-drowsy allergy medications, such as Zyrtec and Claritin. I can buy 180 tabs of store brand Zyrtec for around $22 at BJ's, which is far lower than I can get it elsewhere.

We could buy limited quantities of Zyrtec by shopping smart and using coupons and we MIGHT save a little more than at BJ's, but we wouldn't be able to buy enough to keep the household stocked regularly.

Same thing with stuff like Osteo Bi-Flex. The other day I scored 3 $5 off coupons by begging them off friends, and found it BOGO at Teeter, making one 40 count bottle only $3. HOWEVER - I take 2 per day and my husband takes 2 per day. So that $3 bottle lasts us 10 days. With my multiple trips (required to use coupons on each bottle due to HT BOGO/coupon policy) I was only able to get us a 30 day supply.

Whereas at BJ's it will cost more than the coupon-hunted price above but the cost for a much larger bottle is less than what the store's regular price. So I might go to a grocery store to take advantage of a really great sale, but for everyday use, I need to go to BJ's.

Guest's picture
Nancy

Savings on one item from the Health/Beauty Dept pays for my membership every year. Otherwise, as I am shopping for 1 or 2 people, the groceries are usually not on the list, Frozen fish usually is. The roasted chicken always is - 3-4 lbs. chicken for $5 vs grocery store for scrawny 2 -2.5 lbs at $8. I do make storage room for toilet paper, paper towels and tissues. One does have to shop carefully and not succumb to impulse buys and it does pay off for us. I didn't think it would for just the 2 of us.

We refer to the free food samples as a 'New Jersey Buffet' -- from a Stephanie Plum novel by Evanovich.

Guest's picture
Denise

I totally agree with you. While wholesale clubs may be a good deal for large families, I don't think they are cost effective for most people. I have never belonged to a wholesale club but used to be a big fan of big box discount stores. That was until I realized that it was only a rare occasion that I could get out of these stores for less than $200. There were just too many good deals on stuff that I didn't need but thought that I wanted or just didn't want to miss out on the bargain. Now that I've limited my big box shopping to 3-4 times a year for items that I just can't get somewhere else at a good price, my monthly spending has dropped from around $600 a month to just under $400. (that's for groceries, clothes, cleaning supplies etc.)
Like you said if you take the time to pay attention to the sales, you can easily find better deals.

Guest's picture
ro

I love Costco.
With executive membership ($100) you get 2% back on your purchases and then if you use the True Earnings Credit Card from American Express you get 3% on gasoline 2$ on travel and 1% on everything else including Costco. Your membership pays for itself with some money left.
The quality of the produce and fruits is excellent, some of it might be cheaper at the regular grocery store, but the size and the quality from Costco are better. Their return policy is amazing, simple if you don't like just return it, no questions ask.

Guest's picture
Bryan

I work at Costco and let me just add a little to your post. I would encourage everyone to look into getting the Executive Membership. You do save 2% on almost all purchases but and there are many benefits only available to Executive card holders (cheaper rates on all of our programs from car insurance to travel) but, best of all, if your renewal time comes around and you get your 2% check and it doesn't exceed or equal the $50 extra you had to spend to get the Executive Membership, just take it to the membership counter at any store and you will be refunded the difference to make up that $50. You can also cancel your Executive right there if you wish.

So next time you go into Costco, stop by the membership counter and ask about the Executive Membership and we will gladly look up your account and even give you and estimate on how much you would get back on 2% based on your spending history.

Guest's picture
Andie

Costco may save us money; it probably does. But I actually keep our membership because I trust Costco to carry good quality stuff at a good price. There are certain things I'm willing to research and bargain shop for, but when my husband says we need a fire safe, I can go to Costco, pick up the one model in the size he wants and trust that the quality and price are good. Same with a GPS, same with an external hard drive, same with tires, etc. etc. Were I to find one day that the quality goes down, prices get too high or the selection increases too much, I will very quickly cancel my membership. Right now those are at a nice sweet spot. I might be able to save more hunting around town or the internet, but my time is worth something to me too.

Guest's picture
aa

Warehouse stores are for families with a 1500+ ft house and at least a kid.

Guest's picture

Xin Lu--We've been going to Sams for many years now and are generally satisfied with the prices and selections, and the annual fee is in the neighborhood of $35. But we have teenagers, two refridgerators and ample storage space, so it makes sense.

However I do agree with much of what you're saying. Merchandise isn't always cheaper just because it's in a warehouse. You really do have to be aware of prices all over to know if you're saving money. Also it does appear that the price advantages versus regular grocery stores is narrowing. We've found milk, eggs and often meat to be cheaper at grocery stores.

Another thing I've noticed is that the warehouse advantage seems to be disappearing since the economy tanked. The mainstream grocery stores seem to have reacted by cutting prices. We're buying more at grocery stores now than we did a year or two ago.

Guest's picture
Valerie

While I know that I don't always get the best deals on paper products, I at least know that I'm getting a good deal on a good product at Costco. Furthermore, buying in bulk saves me the hassle of going to the store a multitude of times for non-perishable goods when they run out--which also saves the gas I would use for a multitude of trips.

I am careful about what groceries I buy here, and share the fruits I purchase with a co-worker when I know my family can't eat them all before they get overly ripe. Their individually packaged meats are fantastic for meal planning.

And best of all, they provide wonderful customer service that I have NOT experienced else where. Having a pleasant shopping experience like that is worth $50/year or $4.16/month for me.

Guest's picture
Tyg

I have the Costco card and it is definitely worth it for me, but I also only get the membership every other year. My savings are mostly in the form of flour (white bread flour and wheat flour), sugar, and yeast. Buying one large bag of each already makes up for the membership cost, and since my family goes through 2-3 loaves of homemade bread a week we use the large quantities that we buy. I also only pay for the membership every other year though - at the end of the month that my membership will expire I stockpile a year's worth of supplies (in my garage mostly, my house is only 900 square feet) and then let the membership run out. Over the next year I use the supplies, and then 12 months later get the card and stock up all over again. Even if I got the membership every year I would still save money, but with doing it every other year I really am saving a whole lot more.

Guest's picture
Lynn

I totally agree that the warehouses prices on products aren't that much cheaper but we find the services hard to beat. We have our car insurance through Costco's program and we pay $1200 for a 2007 Saturn SUV and 2003 Toyota Matrix. I have not been able to come close to that with offers that I get from other insurance companies. We also buy our bank checks through them because we find it to be alot cheaper also. (Of course, you have to buy alot but we're not planning on changing banks anytime soon so it's ok).

Guest's picture
Karen

One way to save money on your Costco membership is to split a membership with someone else. They don't have to be a relative, you can split it with a friend. And they don't even have to live in the same city. Costco cards are good anywhere. Just go to the customer service desk and say you want to get a second card, and then the other person will bring in the membership number to their local Costco and get their own card. It's much easier to recoup the cost of membership if you're only paying for half of it.

Guest's picture
Guest

Our Costco will not let you split a membership....they ask for proof of the 2nd persons address and it must be the same as yours. Our 2nd card was even delayed until we came in with my boyfriends mail that proved he lived with me.

Guest's picture

I've found that the warehouse stores have promos, one day passes and such. I bring in my price chart, see what's a good deal and stock up. Some even allow for a trial membership. It's not a good deal if you have no place to store stuff, though.

Guest's picture
mylegs

Costco is certainly worth it for us with a little one in diapers. I don't have to clip coupons to get good prices on these. Other stuff, not a true "Bargain", but good nonetheless. They have good prices on wine and veggies/fruit, which we eat lots of. Plus, milk is pretty cheap. We are exec. members and always make our membership money back.

Guest's picture
Pepe

I think it boils down to a few simple things:
- Do you have (ample/sensible) storage space
- Do you appreciate portion-freezing foods (I love it, we have an economical freezer and is exceedingly convenient)
- Is the MadHouse-effect worth it for you ;-)
- Is the warehouse conveniently located so that you actually can use it
- Are there must-have items (I love the Kirkland trail-mix, for example and Kirkland diapers are an economical choice)

It's not for everyone but I love it.

Guest's picture
Pepe

Oh yea, like someone already said, I trust Costco. I don't trust may stores but Costco is great!

Guest's picture
GT0163C

I'm single and share a Sams membership with my sister. They don't seem to mind that we have different last names, live in different states and have nothing to prove that we're related other than our word.
I figure that I save half of my membershpi fee (so, a quarter of the overall fee) buying gas at Sams (usually $0.3-$.06 cheaper than the cheapest gas station and insanely convenient on my daily commute). The rest, I save on various things. Chocolate chips (I like to bake), string cheese for my lunch, best seller paperbacks by a few select authors, cat litter, some gifts (okay, mostly Firefly on DVD). But, as others have mentioned, for many things, especially things I don't use a lot of, I have found that I can find better deals at the grocery or big box stores.

I don't save a lot having a membership, but I save a little. I also like being able to help out with church events by doing the shopping, picking up a last minute cake for a children's event, getting pizza for the youth, etc.

It's not a lot, but it works for me.

Guest's picture
Guest

I go to COSTCO about 4 times a month...but I don't buy tons of stuff.

- Milk is $1.67 per gallon! You can't beat that.
- Take and bake pizza for $9.99 each and they are huge! You can also buy them pre-baked if you call ahead to the food court! Great for sleepovers and B-day parties!
- Dog Food - cheaper than anywhere else. IAMS 40 lbs is less than $35.00.
- Wholly Guacamole - YUM! Comes in a three pack (they freeze great), for less than $8.00.
- Starbucks coffee - 2 lbs cheaper better than anywhere else.

We don't buy large quantities of anything except paper goods, but for some things if you can store it, it is well worth it.

Guest's picture
Jonathan

I've been a Costco shopper for a year and I've found that shopping there saves money with the following caveat: know your prices. Some of the items are excellent values. Other items can be had for less at the grocery store on sale with a coupon. You just have to get a sense for what's good and what's not. I do find that Costco's housewares and other equipment offer excellent quality for a good price. Also their meat department offers butcher-shop quality for prices that are only slightly above the grocery store - it comes in handy when planning a dinner party or barbecue.

Guest's picture
vicki

We have a costco membership. There are three of us in our family. We don't have a huge house or a lot of storage. Things I have found particularly well priced at Costco:

Cheese -- we go through tons of cheese at my house. It's a regular snack for everyone. I can buy brand name string cheese in an 48ct pack for $7 vs. $6 for the 24 ct pack at the grocery.

Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, etc -- The economy pack of Charmin is actually a very good price. Kirkland paper towels are also a good value. Costco also freqently has coupons on the Charmin, and a pack lasts us about a month.

Dog Food, Dog treats, dog beds, etc -- I have five dogs. I feed my dogs high quality food that I purchase from a specialty pet store. If I need to cut something though, I could switch to Costco's Kirkland dog food at $22 for 40 pounds. It's not quite as high quality as what I currently use, but it's much better than most brand names. We also buy our dogs chew treats in bulk for under $15 and we've gotten them huge, high quality dog beds for under $20.

Juice and Soda -- While I realize, buying soda on sale at the grocery store makes sense, the brand I like is almost never on sale, and is always under $10 for a case of 36. We go through tons of juice at my house with all of the kids coming and going, and it's definitely cheaper to buy it at Costco.

Milk -- There is no place cheaper, including discount groceries in my area for milk. Under $2 for a gallon.

Guest's picture
Jennifer

I am fortunate enough to have a Costco Membership through work that I am allowed to also use for personal purchases (obviously I still pay for my items myself) but even if I didn't Costco saved me a ton of money this year on new tires for my car, and on my DIY wedding flowers! They have an excellent floral selection and you can't beat 2 dozen ivory roses for $15.99. Those purchases, however, aren't things I'd buy very often so I don't know that it would be worth maintaining a membership on my own.

Guest's picture
echomyst

We have a Costco membership and are happy with it. The savings on gasoline and electronics are worth it for us. We also love the "sampletizers" -- makes grocery shopping more enjoyable.

As others have noted, Costco memberships provide peace of mind: the quality of its products are generally high, and their return policy is great too. We plan on purchasing appliances and maybe window furnishings / flooring materials through Costco if/when we become homeowners.

Guest's picture
F_D

Like with just about anything, if you let yourself go nuts then you definitely won't see the savings. In our household, we found that our best savings came when we bought non-perishable items that were unlikely to go to waste. (We also do quite a few freezer meals—further ensuring that as little as possible goes to waste.) What was a surprise to me was how little saving (if any at all!) there were on electronics, household, and other consumer goods. When we bought our TV, Best Buy had the better deal (even after the extended warranty); when we were looking for new kitchen knives... well, we found some at CostCo but the price certainly wasn't right. What does work? We go early in the morning, with a list, and blast through real fast for baby wipes, cereal, and whatever is on the list for our freezer meals.

As a brief aside: I tracked our spending for the first 90 days of our CostCo membership, putting in the extra effort to do unit-price comparisons with the other nearby stores... Typical savings for an item were around 10-15% — though sometimes you get a ridiculous savings (60% savings on chevre!) and/but more often than seems proper the savings are under 5% (hardly worth the effort).

Guest's picture
Guest

I bought a TAG HEUER aquaracer watch for under 800.00 . It might be last years model, but that watch retailed for over 1500.00 at the jewelry store, (I checked the price on the same watch when I took it to the jewelry store to get it sized). The savings on that alone pays for the membership for many many years to come.

Guest's picture
Guest

I am a single senior, and I definitely get my dollar's worth out of my Costco membership. I've gotten a new car, several sets of tires, and 2 cameras in the way of big ticket items. I get clothing (not much), wine (best selection around), and freezable foodstuffs (monthly). And their food samples add great variety to my diet.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

wow they sell new cars at costco?  I didn't know that

Guest's picture
Guest

no, they don't sell cars. they have an auto buying program where they send you to a participating dealer, and you recieve a pre-negotiated haggle free price. My experience was the dealer tries to talk you into not seeing the costco price, and they say "I can get you a better price than costco, but if I show you the costco price, I can't get you a better deal". If they pull that, just go to another participating dealer.

Guest's picture
Guest

My husband and I love Costco. A lot of the big savings are on more specialty items, like the cheeses, which I would not be willing to pay the grocery per-pound price for. I also find their products to be almost uniformly high quality. Gift items are also a great deal there and can help recoup membership costs.

Guest's picture
GrizDave

Well like most forms of saving money it takes a little homework. You need to be able to be sure what the cost of supermarket vs Costco times quantity that you use (or can store). We go once a month to a Costco about 30 minutes away and easily pay for the membership, and will be going to the executive ($100-2% rebate) next time the membership is due (or they have a switch over deal). Just my wife and Daughter, but you have to buy smart and not waste money on large quantities that you would be better to buy on weekly sales from grocery store. Also be sure you are comparing like quality of goods

Guest's picture
Guest

As a single mom of a college student who is away at school I still find Costco membership to be worth it.

First off they have an optical dept. My contacts are 12.00 per box (6 pr) vs 32.00 elsewhere. At 24.00 vs 64.00 every 3 months the savings add up. Both my daughter and I wear glasses and the exams and glasses cost alot less too.

Secondly, they have a pharmacy. Drugs are considerably cheaper here especially when I didn't have insurance. A pain killer I was given when I broke my back was $74.oo for a weeks supply at a pharmacy but only 22.00 at Costco! My cholesterol Rx is ALOT cheaper as well as antibiotics. You can also use the pharmacy without a membership and the rx's are cheaper than the chains and independants but it is cheaper still to have a membership.

I've bought toiletries and saved quite a bit, small appliances of good quality plus gifts, toys, and books/cds/dvds. And I get film developed too! Now thats a savings right there.

Food I buy even with only me at home - fruits/vegetables, frozen and dairy and sometimes meat - but I need to make sure to cook and seperate to freeze as soon as I get home.

I also bought my bed and my daughters and the price was good and they are sooo comfortable I'm happy with my purchase every night!

I haven't used some of the other services mentioned by others but I know I will in the future. I'm not sure how others are not making back the membership fee - unless they are only purchasing food but even then.. its easy to get $50 in savings in a year.

Guest's picture

Places like Costco is definitely a waste of money for the consumer. You tend to OVERBUY and therefore OVER CONSUME.

There's a reason why Costco is making a ton of money. Think about it.

Buy "variably" and only what you need.

Financial Samurai

Guest's picture
Snakecitygirl

I think you are dealing in generalities and each individual is unique. This invalidates your whole comment.

Guest's picture
Olivia

Between shopping sales, using (doubled) coupons, and hitting our local bump and dent place, we paid more going to Sam's Club. (Yes we used a list and yes we used stuff up.) Even when the card was free through my husband's work. Keeping a price book was the big eye opener.

Guest's picture
Guest

For me two ways to make it worth the price:
1. Split the membership with someone else, so it is only $25 a year per person

2. I use it for a prescription that I use daily - the difference between Costco and CVS is more than the $25 it costs me a year to be a member.

Guest's picture
Lisa

I have read several comments from people who said that the membership was worth it because of the savings on prescriptions. You DO NOT need a membership to use the pharmacy. Prescriptions are federally regulated substances. You just tell them at the door that you wish to use the pharmacy, and they will let you in.

Guest's picture
Susan

We only have a BJ's within driving distance of our home.
I recently found out they accept coupons and you can use them in ADDITION to the coupons BJ's prints in the store flyer and the ones they mail to your home. For example, they had a $14 bottle of Tide with a $2 off coupon. I added my $2 off coupon to this and bought it for $10. Comparing the size of the bottle to the grocery store, I saved about 40%.
Also, the gas prices are usually 4 to 5 cents cheaper per gallon. The bakery makes birthday cakes about 1/2 the price of the grocery store and twice as tasty!
I definitely recoup my $35 annual fee every year.

Guest's picture
Scott

I happen to enjoy warehouse shopping and choose to go on a weeknight when it's not crowded. It's worth the fee to me because: it's subsidized through my work and I then split the rest with a family member. I also prefer some things in bulk and SOME of the prices are better. I've been getting all my vitamins there and find clothes at a huge discount. Every Saturday they offer so many food samples it's like going to a buffet for free. ( I don't consider this a benefit of membership though, nor do I go every week. Just an interesting aside) If you like something, sometimes the numbers don't have to add up for it to be "worth it"

Guest's picture
fern

I live alone, but even then, I think Costco saves me money. A gallon of their milk is currently about $1.95 and i think it's fair to say i go through almost a gallon in a week, so multipy that by 52 weeks and you pay for your annual membership fee.

The other place where I know i save big is on their 44 lb. box of clumping cat litter; compare that to supermarket prices and you'll be amazed.

I have wasted food there, like the gouda cheese that got moldy. I won't get that again.

Still, i hate the crowds, parking and lines; the only time I can tolerate going is as soon as they open in the a.m. they should really expand their hours.

Guest's picture
fern

I meant to say in post above that Costco's price for milk, at $1.95, is over a full dollar cheper than surrounding grocery stores.

Guest's picture
Guest

"...most of these warehouses make their profits through the membership fees, and not through their merchandise. So it would seem that many members may be underutilizing their memberships."

Please expand on your premise that because warehouse club stores derive much of their profit from membership fees, that somehow members are not "fully utilizing" their memberships (I'm not ever sure what you mean by that...does utilizing mean shopping there more often?). I see no causal relationship between membership fee profit and frequency of shops. Do you think that if more members "fully utilized" their memberships across the board, the stores would somehow realize LESS profit? Profits from flat membership fees are realized whether a person shops once a year or 500 times a year. Please explain your implication that somehow shopping more and spending more will result in less profit for the corporation.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

Guest,

It's just a fact that these stores derive most of their operating income and profit from membership fees.  I've linked a related article if you are interested.  You can also google for things like warehouse club membership profit to see where their profit actually comes from.  I mean that if people underutilize their memberships then they are basically giving the whole amount to the club  Some of the really good deals really don't make them any money considering that they are charging a few percent above wholesale. 

Guest's picture
Guest

Thanks for the reply Xin Lu. I am very aware that club stores derive virtually 100% of their profits from membership fees and essentially ZERO percent profit from merchandise sales, after accounting for operating costs and taxes. I just don't follow your implied causality that BECAUSE club stores earn their entire profit from annual membership fees, that THEREFORE members are "under-utilizing" their memberships. How would "more utilizing" of the membership over the course of a year change the fact that all profits come from the annual membership fee? If we agree that no profits come from sales and all profits come from annual membership fees, a person could "utilize" (purchase merchandise) in the amt of $1./year, or $1MM/yr, and the profit to the company would still be the same, because profit = membership fee. Sorry, maybe it's me, but I just don't see your logic regarding the connection between the company's source of profit and the extent to which people "utilize" their memberships. Thank you.

Guest's picture
Guest

Warehouse club memberships are useful if one divides up the goods. As a single person this strategy was helpful both to myself and others with similar demographic profiles. Perhaps those that are shut-in or those with limited mobility could benefit from this approach as well.

Guest's picture
Janet

BTW, the Redwood City Costco is currently closed for renovation. A lot of extra people are going to the San Mateo location because of that. It has been extra busy since April when the other store closed.

Guest's picture
Guest

Absolutely, with Costco purchase, we readily, easily cover the cost of our membership! As with all shopping, it is necessary, prior to one's shopping excursion, to do a bit of research!

Wednesday newspaper reads should include the supermarket commercial "inserts" Shopping excursions should definitely include a shopping list. And, most definitely, if one makes use of a credit card, pay off the balance, in full, in a timely way, i.e. do not incur balances/interest.

And keep a "mental list" of potential purchases, with cost comparisons in mind. Costco is not always the best price, however, for those purchases whereby Costco remains competitive, that membership cost is covered many many times over.

And make note of "expiration dates." Dishwashing detergent has a very long expiration date. As do most vitamin supplements. Cash in on two-for-one coupon savings. I currently have a 3 year supply of Electrasol dishwashing tabs purchased at two-for-one prices ... 5 cents per wash/v. 15 or 20 cents/per wash retail. Large portion fish/salmon/etc., are easily used, in smaller portions, when repackaged in zip lock bags. Speedo swim suit collection was purchased at Costco for a fraction of standard retail prices. Huge collection of cashmere sweaters was purchased, at Costco, over several years, at a fraction of retail price cashmere costs.

As with all consumer purchases, "shopping smart" whether at Costco, the supermarket, or any number of alternative sites, may well result in advantageous savings. In terms of savings anywhere, any time, a little planning goes a long way in delivering advantageous savings.

Costco weekends are a real zoo/circus in terms of shopping. Mornings and late evenings are easy going ....

Guest's picture

Before buying a Costco membership, we visited and took inventory of things we might buy and compared prices per unit/pound/etc. to what we'd pay at the grocery store. For example, we make pizza all the time and a pound of block mozzarella cheese at the grocery store can easily run us $4-5. At Costco we got a 5 lb. block for about $8. We split it up, froze it, and just pull out a block whenever we need it.

We allocate about 1/4 of our monthly budget to Costco shopping where we go at the beginning of the month to buy lunch meat, cheese, chicken, beef, hummus, crackers, and granola bars (staples we eat all the time). It lowers our weekly bill significantly, and because we know exactly what we're getting at Costco, our trips generally take less than an hour.

You just have to be organized!

Guest's picture
Kristen

We have been Costco members for years. I will echo what others say about the high quality of their products. Items we purchase regularly (we shop there twice a month).

- Meat. Very high quality for about the same price per pound as sub-par grocery store meat.

- Diapers and wipes. As someone else noted above, it's hard to beat their cost per piece, even with coupons. And I like to buy a lot and not think about it for a while rather than running out for last minute diapers.

- Same with toilet paper. It is really hard to figure out what a good deal on tp is what with the different plys and square footage listed, but I buy a giant pack and don't think about it for a few months.

- Cheese and dairy are a great deal! Butter, milk, cheese, whipping cream.

- Organic veggies for the same price (or less!) than conventional at the grocery store.

- Frozen fruit for smoothies. Frozen chicken. Frozen shrimp.

- Kirkland brand dish detergent and laundry soap. Very good price per load.

Guest's picture
Heather

We make our membership twice over in savings on milk alone at BJS (.5 miles from our house and it is part of my weekly shopping trip on a weekday morning, not crowded) . 6 gallons a week for 4 growing boys, .50cent average on each gallon.
I pricebook every item I buy and MOST items are more expensive per unit there so only select shopping gets done here. Butter and hamburger/hotdogs buns, which I use alot of, are also a big savings per unit. BJ's, unlike other warehouse clubs, will let you use coupons, If I buy a 4 pack of Scrubbing Bubbles Foam Bathroom Cleaner, I can use a coupon for the same, on EACH on in the pack, plus I can stack it with a BJ's coupon. This dosn't happen alot, but when it does the savings are HUGE. Meat is also high quality and lower in price, I am in a bulk freezer cooking group as well. The butcher cuts up my meat to any poundage I want.
It works for us!!!

Guest's picture
Josh

I am an absolute Costco fanatic! But putting personal feelings aside, membership is economically beneficial for me.

I do not have a high income, so I don't have much to spend. However, I pay $100 for an executive membership, which is GUARANTEED to pay for itself, otherwise, Costco will pay me the difference between the executive and gold star membership fees.

I save plenty of money at costco. The cost of membership pays for itself in saving from food purchases alone. I also save money on drugs, gas, water filters... the list goes on and on.

Some things are cheaper elsewhere (Costco is not a good place to buy computer hardware IMHO), so it sometimes pays to shop around and price compare. By in large, however, Costco is significantly cheaper than other stores, even the big discount box stores.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

The logic is pretty simple.  If people utilized their memberships more you should see more profit coming from merchandise instead of membership even if the margin is small.  The fact that pretty much all the profits come from memberships means that either a) these stores make no profit on their merchandise or b) people are not buying enough things for these stores to make a profit beyond the membership fee.  I am probably the customer that doesn't use the stores enough for them to make more profit on the merchandise, but other customers do give these stores a bigger profit

Guest's picture
Guest

One final attempt to clarify this.

You write:

> these stores make no profit on their merchandise

YES! This may seem counter-intuitive but it is absolutely true. The average mark-up at Costco is so low that once you factor in cost of goods, operating expenses and taxes, essentially NO profit is made on merchandise sales.

You further write:

> If people utilized their memberships more you should see more profit coming from merchandise instead of membership even if the margin is small.

NO! (And herein lies the breakdown of your argument and the source of my confusion over your reasoning.) Profit on merchandise sales, for all intents and purposes, is ZERO. You will not see more profit on greater sales when the profit margin is zero. $1 x ZERO = ZERO, and $1 million x ZERO = ZERO.

In short, Costco is successful in large part because they are "giving away merchandise at cost." (With cost = cog + operating expenses + taxes.) What they are SELLING (and earning pure profit on), are the annual memberships.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

Costco and BJ's merchandise margin is around 10 to 14% according to this article:  http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewarticle/articleid/3088758.

So to make more profit on merchandise than a membership, each member should spend around $500 to $1000 a year or so.  Not everyone spends that much every year.  We definitely spent less than $1000 a year so most of the profit from us is in the membership.   Anyway, the profit margin on merchandise is pretty thin, but it is not 0.   

Guest's picture
Aunt Jenny

I would keep my Costco membership for the gas prices alone. The Costco is on my way to work and the gas is typically at least ten cents cheaper per gallon than the gas station by my house.

My husband and his buddies at work go during lunch for the cheap (but tasty!) pizza and pop deals. Much better deal than going to the local fast food restaurants.

I completely agree that some things are more expensive at Costco (pop for example), but so many things are not. I do a lot of cooking from scratch and I find that the ingredients can be much less expensive at the Costco. Chocolate chips and peanut butter are two things that I always buy at the Costco because I have found they are more expensive at Target (although Target has wonderful prices on some things).

Guest's picture
odograph

I switched from Costco to the Trader Joe's and Smart and Final combination. I think I save money. I did like Costco meats but probably didn't eat enough to pay for a membership.

Add Walmart to the TJ's and S&F mix, and I'm sure you could beat the warehouses ... if WM is convenient and moral to you.

Guest's picture
Marcie

For us having a Executive card brings us better benefits for things outside of just warehouse shopping. I get free roadside assistance by having car insurance thru Costco and I get other benefits for my car insurance. Knowing that I probably wouldn't pay just $100 year (the executive membership fee) for roadside assistance here in WA we decided it was best for us.
But No, we dont' get back $100 for the 3% back per year. Which sucks because you'd think we'd at least get close because we do a lot of our shopping there....well we did.
Its a love hate relationship for us with Costco. Some stuff hands down is cheaper but other stuff its so much more expensive if I had just waited until it went on sale at a local grocery store.
BUT because we get such benefits as having free roadside assistance on our car insurance its worth the membership fee. (this is mainly because my hubby doesn't exactly have the best driving record! this might not be as cost effective for other drivers out there)

Guest's picture
Guest

I've always thought that a lot of people who BELIEVE they're saving money by shopping at warehouse clubs ("Look, honey! Sprite is $1 less for 36 cans than if we'd bought 3 12-packs at Food Lion!") aren't really saving any money at all, once you count all the impulse purchases of DVDs, huge packages of frozen convenience foods, and plastic tubs of cookies that could've been made from scratch much cheaper. Add in the yearly membership fees, and I think it's a disciplined shopper indeed who actually manages to make the warehouse club pay off for him or her. Kinda like Vegas...the house almost always wins.

Guest's picture
Alex

When I was single in my small one family house, I would never have considered a club membership as it wouldn't save me money. My family had some financial issues and I bought a bigger house. Now that my uncle is divorced and has custody of his children they moved in with me also. So altogether, there are 13 of us. Yes, BJs really does save me a lot of money. Yes, those $60 a year really is worth it to me. We are 4 adults and 9 children n only my uncle and I work. The other two adults are disabled. I really do appreciate the savings I get ad they accept coupons too. I'm well off financially due to frugality and my education from both the formal schools and the school of hard knocks. I love them all and I know they are struggling, but they all have a year to get on their feet and move out. I worked full time, go to school full time and I am a single parent. I'm sure if I can do it, they all can.

Guest's picture
Mich

I split a membership with a friend of mine -- we are both in the same boat -- divorced with a teenager. We literally split the membership, the bill for the items, and the products we purchase. We "invested" in a 'food saver" (that we got 1/2 price, with additional 20% off), and freeze as much as possible.

But before we decided to do this together, Costco would really not have been economical for just the two of us. Now, she and I can go in, get paper goods, rx, toiletries, etc., split them, and have these things last months. For food items, we usually cook up everything into all sorts of meals one weekend a month (usually 10 different meals we each make), and have a large variety of meals at hand, so that none of us are tired of the same meal, over and over.

Guest's picture
Guest

Has anyone bought a car with the Costco Auto program? I am looking into buying a new car but am wondering if Costco acutally saves you money. I'm already a member but don't know anyone who has used this service before. Any information would help, thanks!

Guest's picture
Snoopdogg

I'd say 95% of the items sold at Costco is more expensive than local stores, some of the stuff at local stores may have higher regular prices than Costco, but why would you buy it, just wait for the sale at local stores in a couple of weeks or so. For tires, you can go to various tire websites to buy or even have them installed at designated shops. And trust me, it's cheaper than buying at Costco.

Guest's picture
Oboe

savings on gasoline alone more than pays for my costco membership over a yr. prices can be 10 cents a gallon less than the street price. couple wks ago i got gas there and then passed a station a block away that was selling the same grade for 13 cents a gallon more.

if u live in my part of the country where grocery-store meat isn't the greatest, costco beef & lamb are so much better quality it's worth the membership even if u never save a dime.

Guest's picture
Guest

First, you claim warehouse prices may not be the lowest. Then, you claim they make most of their money on membership fees, not product markup. Those two claims certainly appear to be contradictory.
If their markup is low, they must be beating the grocery stores, who MUST make their profit on the products. One of your statements must be untrue. It's only logical.

Guest's picture
flyingfish

I've been told that supermarket margins are miniscule, in the 1-1.5% range. I can believe that because I was in the highway construction field and my margins were about the same maybe 1/2% higher. That would account for the comment and math. I know of only one warehouse buying club that allowed no membership for a short time, BJs Club, And that was only a 15-30 day allowance for promotion.

When I was a Costco member, I routinely beat their prices, especially for their meats at local supermarkets.

Guest's picture
Guest

I see everal posts about grocery chains lowering their prices so that Costco, BJ's, etc isn't a bargain anymore. But you have to remember, before the gorcery chains start cutting prices, they start cutting quality. I used to work for a small grocery chain and I can tell you over the last year and a half, their new yorks have lost almost a 1/4 in thickness and only gone down 15% in cost. I've never measured the steaks at Costco, but they don't look any thinner to me.

Guest's picture
Steph

I am always amazed when my friends tell me they make up the membership cost in diapers.

Kirkland size 3 diapers are 212 diapers for $48.99. (23 cents each diaper)
Amazon sells Luvs size 3 diapers, 204 for $35. (17 cents each diaper.) FREE SHIPPING and no membership fee necessary. I don't even have to drive to the store to get them...

Costco isn't for me-- I would fay way too much stuff to waste my money on.

Sonja Stewart's picture

Xin, I just love your articles! I was trying to work out the math just the other day on my Costco membership. I absolutely love their return policy, though. But since I am making most things from scratch now, there are very few things that really save me money. And after I add in the membership cost, I wonder if it really makes sense. I'm going to let my membership lapse next time and see how I fare. Thanks!

Guest's picture
Diane

We've had a Costco membership for 5+ years and renew every year. They sell items other stores don't carry, making the membership worth it to us! Plus their bakery is outstanding.

Guest's picture

Great Advise!!! I don't have a ridiculous amount of space, either - but some of the programs offered at the stores more than make up for the price. Most places I've researched on this say they have not and they paid attention.

Guest's picture
David

I have to say you really should reconsider the cost saving of Costco on a daily basis rather than basing your thoughts on individual items. The reason Costco is saving you money is because each item is quality tested and scrutanized before the warehouse will even carry it. They are not overstock, they are not expiring, they are brand new. This includes things from electronics to food to clothing. While yes, you can sit around and wait for meat to go on sale, or spend endless hours looking through magazines, finding coupons, cutting them out, and remembering to store them somewhere for grocery day at a chain grocery store. That fact is, the only reason most deli items go on sale at a grocery store is because they are about to expire ("Manager Special"). An everyday low price on meat that still has a great shelf life far outweighs any benefits of maybe getting food poisoning from meat that has been in the meat counter too long.
As far as buying quantity (buying in bulk) is going, that's based on your individual needs. I have to say tho, I am a single young man, and the buying of toilet paper, paper towels, dish washing detergent, clothing detergent, shampoo, soap, all of the non-food kitchen and bathroom items that will never expire before u are done using, practically pays for my membership. And I don't have to make a trip to the store every two weeks because I've run out of something. Those things will last me at least 6 months, and I don't have to worry if they will be on sale the next time I go to the store or will I have to pay more or find a brand I don't like. (As a side note Costco DOES run a coupon program that goes for about three weeks every month, so on top of the already discounted prices you get additional savings. Usually these household kitchen/bathroom needs are included in every pack of coupons.) I don't need an envelope for all my different coupons either just one coupon takes the discount off all items in your cart in the coupon book.
As a young man, the benefits of being able to keep a low, and fairly routine shopping budget has made my life exceptionally easier. I know exactly how much my bill will be everytime I go shopping aside from a few last minute purchases. On top of that I never have to worry about the best deal because I know whatever I get will be a quality product and if by some freak chance my item is 50 cents or a dollar more expensive than a chain stores sale or coupon price, I can know that I've got something that wont make me sick and is completely returnable.
Which brings me to my final and most concrete argument in this Club vs. Chain argument... The Return Policy and Warranty System. I will gladly pay 50 - 100 dollars for the Costco Return Policy and the Extended TWO YEAR Warranty on all the Electronics. I don't know if its pure genius or pure stupidity but EVERYTHING is returnable at Costco, with practically no limit other than a few electronic items. I'll give you an example: Recently I stupidly bought a 400 dollar laptop from Best Buy. It broke after a month. I took it back to Best Buy and they said they would fix it because it was still under the manufacturer warranty but it would take a few days and I (the angry customer) would have to call Toshiba for the system restore discs. Apparently they don't give them to you when you buy the machine anymore. All free of charge of course -- except for the 25 dollars of shipping :( -- and who knows when the actual disc would arrive? I'd have to take the discs to Best Buy and have them installed by their geek squad or it wouldn't be covered under warranty anymore. Long story short, this ended up taking over seven months to get my computer back. And it wasn't even mine... I ended up having to send my computer to Toshiba, they lost it. I could not get a hold of anyone on the phone at the company. Then, when they finally did call me and tell me it was lost, they sent me a new computer, which was in turn stolen from my porch because they didn't require a signature. They had to send me another computer only after I (the REALLY angry customer) went to the police station filed a theft report and faxed it to them.
Now I realize that is not something that happens to everyone BUT had it been Costco and not Best Buy all I would have had to do was take the computer in, return it, and buy a new one. Exactly the same with food, health and beauty products, flooring, tires, pharmacuticals, anything they sell. So If you really believe that you could do better in the long run without a Costco membership I think you should take a second look.

P.S. The last points you made about the fees and the stressfulness of crowded shopping should not even be points. If your fee is not recouped because for some reason you do not shop there enough. The difference is given back to you on your annual 2% back check, that is easily cashable right at the store.
Crowds are everywhere. Any grocery store never has enough lanes open. Never has enough space. A great way to avoid this at Costco is to avoid shopping at the beginning and end of coupon periods, and generally mon-thurs are the slowest, practically dead nights at Costco. Avoid weekends and you can pretty much get in and out of any grocery store in record time.

Guest's picture
Ami

We definitely save money at Costco.

I have found the following items to be a savings our family of four:
real vanilla extract
real maple syrup
baker's yeast
organic salsa
various cheeses
sugar in the raw
unbleached flour
organic brown rice
organic olive oil
organic quinoa
old-fashioned oats
honey
frozen strawberries
organic frozen vegetables (corn, green beans, broccoli)
raw almonds
spices
organic spinach/salad mix
organic baby carrots
whole grain English muffins
Greek yogurt
butter
organic milk
ground turkey
Hebrew National hotdogs

I make a menu (to ensure that food isn't going to get wasted) and go to Costco once/month. I spend 3/4 of my grocery budget on this visit (and save the rest to buy bread/fresh produce for the rest of the month). It is a hard trip (a lot of work!), but it's so worth it. I can feed my family better (more natural/organic) for a little bit less when we go to Costco instead of the regular grocery store.

Guest's picture
Guest

it depends on how we shop mostly. We get all our meats at Costco and some veggies. We supplement our veggies and organic products from either our local or asian grocery stores. Combined with the Costco Executive membership, we actually get a couple of hundred dollars back every year.

I think most of it is planning. It's the convenience vs cost saving model. Is it worth saving some time/ fighting crowds vs saving some extra money. There's no wrong answers, it's just how we would like to budget our time. I love clipping coupons, looking at sunday salespaper, and dealing with crowds. I love to involve my kid in coupon clipping and going to the Costco. It instills money saving habits but at the same time, and more importantly, teaches them the importance of interacting with our community. Teaching our kids to interact with everyone is a basic function.
Sorry, got off the tangent alittle.

Guest's picture

A single male, I dropped my membership back when Costco was 25 0r 35 dollars a year. The price differential was hardly enough to cover the membership fee and the impulse buying , in bulk no less, meant that I was buying more and saving less. These days the membership fees were at last check over $50.00 and it's even harder to save anything. I found the same items could be bought for less money at the local supermarkets when they were on sale. Costco sells boneless, skinless chicken breast for nearly $2.00 a pound. I can by them for half that when on sale at Giant foods or Girshbecks, a smaller store in the Baltimore area. Aldi Foods has been another asset to the area. They handle only store brands, but how many companies can evaporated milk, or soup, or package bran flakes? The quality over several years, has proved to be excellent, as good or better than the offerings at the chain grocery stores.

Guest's picture
Victor

For me, just the gasoline I buy more than pays for the membership, now, adding the savings from the many other items we buy (which we know are cheaper than in regular stores), make my savings and membership really worth it.

Gasoline alone is about 5% cheaper than nearby Gasoline Stations, at about $2000 of gasoline/year, that means I save $100, but using the Amex gives me an extra 3% in gasoline savings, so you do the math.

Guest's picture
Tiffany

Well, I totally agree with this post. I think shopping in a warehouse or a wholesale is so crowded and stressful. It makes me tired after shopping hours. Besides, warehouse is not the best price and maybe bulk goods we buy can be damage for use time.

Guest's picture
flyingfish

While the shopping carts are larger the aisles are significantly wider. I find my aded stress is mental in trying to recall prices and calculate price differentials. They are certainly not as convenient as a local supermarket and the time is a little longer in store. I found I wasn't saving any money even before I added on the membership fee and my choices were limited. I could not buy old fashioned oats at BJs, the only stocked quick oats. Not much difference but the texture is different. I always used pork loin as a measure of meat prices. I can meet or beat the club price at Giant Foods, Super Fresh, if you can find one, Shopright, Shoppers Food or Safeway. Did I miss any?
Fact is you're using your head and thinking, and that's never bad