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Pembroke_Corgi
02-24-2007, 01:41 PM
Does anyone have a membership to Costco? Are they worthwhile?

I've never been in one, but my curiosity has always run wild with the idea of walls filled with over-sized rolls of toilet paper, rows and rows of electronics, and candles bigger than your head. I almost want to buy a membership just to get to step inside.

What are they really like? Are they worth the $50/year membership?

Karen
02-24-2007, 01:46 PM
Sometimes, depending on what brands you prefer. But you have to be careful, because sometimes, for example, paper towel is cheaper at the supermarket, sometimes it's cheaper at Costco. And of course, buying the big quantities only works for non-perishables, or for big familes, or people with large freezers.

We had a membership back before I became allergic to Sucralose - as Fruit2O was cheaper by the case ther than by the 6-pack at the gracery store. But we let it lapse because I cannot drink Fruit2) any more, and water is something that you just have to watch the prices, and buy a bunch when it's cheapest.

Twisterdog
02-24-2007, 02:49 PM
When I used to live in Colorado, I had a Costco membership and shopped there all the time. The savings in dog food alone more than paid for the membership fee ... at the time anyway - this was a decade ago. I have no idea if their prices have changed since then.

There was only my son and I at the time, but I still thought it was well worth it. I bought cases of the things we ate a lot of ... canned goods, ramen noodles, juice drinks. We also got really, really good deals on office supplies, like computer disks, printer paper, etc. And sometimes amazing deals on toys and clothes ... I remember once I bought a coat for $30 (can't remember the brand now) that I had been wanting at a sporting goods store, but wouldn't pay the $200 price there.

They do sell mostly brand names, however. And sometimes the brand name version, even at Costco, is more expensive than the generic version at the grocery store. Just kind of depends if you prefer brand names or not.

GreyhoundGirl
02-24-2007, 03:14 PM
We had one for a while, but found we didn't use it as much as we hoped. Same with any membership really. Probably mainly because there is no local costco. The closest one is Ottawa. But when we were in Ottawa we always liked to stop and load up on some stuff. :D

Sophist
02-24-2007, 03:43 PM
It's a good place, but where I live there is a Winco closer, with very comparable prices and products (since I never used Costco for anything but groceries), and no membership fees.

So, I think it can be worth it (you know your families needs and preferences better than we do) but it is also worth it to explore your other options a bit.

CathyBogart
02-24-2007, 04:00 PM
We use ours a lot, but you do have to be careful buying in bulk, it's easy to go overboard.

Sophist
02-24-2007, 04:08 PM
We use ours a lot, but you do have to be careful buying in bulk, it's easy to go overboard.

Nuh-uh! I NEEDED ten gallons of dijon mustard! REALLY! :rolleyes: :D

Lori Jordan
02-24-2007, 04:20 PM
I have one and love it,i buy all bulk,they have the best quality in meat around here,I do tend too spend more but it lasts,I get my laundry detergetent,Shampoos and school snacks,I Love it i shop there on a weekly basis.

areias
02-24-2007, 04:50 PM
I'm pretty sure you can stop in without a membership, you just can't buy anything. Go in and take a look before deciding. :) We used to have one to Sam's when I was little...I never paid attention to grocery prices, but the electronics, books, clothes, pet supplies always seemed pretty cheap.

Pembroke_Corgi
02-24-2007, 05:39 PM
Thanks for the input everyone!


I'm pretty sure you can stop in without a membership, you just can't buy anything. Go in and take a look before deciding. :) We used to have one to Sam's when I was little...I never paid attention to grocery prices, but the electronics, books, clothes, pet supplies always seemed pretty cheap.
Yeah, we stopped by today and I saw a lot of things I might like, especially the bulk diet pepsi (I am an addict :o ). I decided not to get a membership today, though because the lines were HUGE!!!!! I mean, at least 10 people long in each line, and everyone had a cart full of stuff. I don't know if it's just that particular Costco, or all of them, but I will probably check out a different one in the the area tomorrow, and see if they are a little less busy. I don't want to save a little money but then have to wait 45 minutes to get through the line.

Vela
02-24-2007, 07:05 PM
We usually try not to go on Saturdays hehe, the lines do get long, you can wait 25 minutes sometimes, but we have saved a LOT of money and their return policy can't be beat. I bought a surround sound system there 2 years ago and it broke recently, which wasn't Costco's fault, it was a Sony. In any event, I had the recipt, took it back, and they gave me my money and I was able to get another, nicer set for only 50 dollars more. If you save your receipts and something breaks, you can almost always return it (computers are the exception). I just bought a big screen tv that I priced out, with stand at 2850. I got the whole thing for 1500 dollars. We have a premium membership, 100 a year, but we get 2% back on everything we buy and it more than pays for the membership fee and we get more money back besides. We buy all comptuer programs there, lot of christmas gifts for others, etc. We bought our front loading washer and dryer there and saved over 800 dollars from buying the exact thing from another store. Buy our shampoo conditioner etc., lot of kitchen utensils and items, dog beds for 20 bucks, toys and dog treats for super cheap, and same ones you get at petco and petsmart. There are some items I won't buy there, cereal is cheaper at the grocery story on sale. They have great produce and meat, depending on how much you use etc. I don't buy everything there, but I go there every few weeks. We buy as many things there as possible as far as big ticket items, because if it breaks you just take it back. I LOVE my Costco membership.

Alysser
02-24-2007, 07:49 PM
I have a, or my parents rather, have a Costco membership. I really don't know the prices of the membership per year, but the deals in there are FANTASTIC. I go ALL the time my parents go, mainly for the free sample. Alot of products are in larger portions, and they cost less.

Cookiebaker
02-24-2007, 08:56 PM
No, we don't have a membership because I can't stand that place. We had a 6 month trial membership and everytime I went I bought all this stuff I really didn't need. And everything is so expensive!

For example, pasta. I don't cook pasta that often maybe 2 times a month. At costco they have these HUGE boxes of pasta (10 1-pound packages) for $10. That would last me 5 months. At my local Market Basket, they sell pasta for $.33 for a one pound box. I would much rather spend $.33 and keep the $9.67 in my pocket for the next 5 months. :rolleyes:

Maybe if I had a family I would feel differently. But I don't see an advantage at spending all kinds of money for stuff that is going to sit on a shelf.

Vela
02-24-2007, 10:00 PM
It's not Costco's fault you bought a large quantity of something you don't use much hehe. You don't HAVE to buy something in bulk if you don't use it much. It is a good place to shop for larger ticket items like TVs or vacuums, appliances, etc., that's where the real savings is, and their return policy.

Scooter's Mom
02-24-2007, 11:11 PM
I don't have a Costco membership but do have a Sam's Club membership... My husband and I love it! We stop there about every other week or so. It's just us, but we always have something we want to stock up on. Water, canned goods, etc.

I think they're a good deal if you shop wisely!

caseysmom
02-24-2007, 11:14 PM
We have costco and sam's club memberships, mostly for our business but I do most of the shopping for home there also.

I love there meat and produce and I love not worrying about getting things on sale at the grocery store, I always feel like costco has fair prices and I love their dog food, I feel like it is comparable to california natural at a fraction of the price. I get my gas there also.

I get a box of contacts for 15.99, my optometrist sells them for 35.00.

Catlady711
02-24-2007, 11:51 PM
It's kinda funny this thread should come up today, since this afternoon my mom & I went to Sam's Club (like a costco) and renewed our membership card for the year ($40).

Every week I set aside about $25-30 in an envelope just for Sam's Club. We go about once every 3 months. I usually spend about $200 each time. A few tips for going to a warehouse place...

1) Start a grocery price book. Just a simple notebook you divide into sections like Dairy, Sauces, Frozen, Health & Beauty etc. Keep a pencil and calculator with it (I bought a cheap datebook organizer for mine) Everytime you go to a store (grocerystore, or a wally's world, Target or whatever), find the normal products and brands you buy at each store, write down a code for the store (K = kroger, W = wal-mart, SC = sam's club, M = mompopstore etc), date, name of product, size, price, and PRICE PER UNIT (whether that is oz, gal, per piece, whatever works for that item). The IMPORTANT part is the PRICE PER UNIT.

Once you have a reasonably decent idea of what you normally pay for the items per unit, and it's more common sale prices, then when you go to a warehouse store you'll know if buying that jumbo sized box of Splenda is really the bargian they want you to think of it as. The more items you can get into your price book, the better it will help you with supposed 'sale prices' from store to store, and with different sized items.

For example here is an example of an entry in my price book....


Paper/Plastic

K - 7/06 - Kroger brand Gallon Zip bags - 30 ct - $3.49 - .11 per bag
W - 7-06 -Ziplock brand Gallon Freezer bags - 30 ct - $3.18 - .10 per bag
S C - 2/07 - Ziplock brand Gallon Freezer bags - 152 ct - $9.68 - .06 per bag

As you can clearly see, the price for the OFF BRAND zip bags were the highest price per unit, the Wal-mart price Ziplock BRAND better and the cheapest overall cost even over off brand, and the Sam's club price the best per unit cost!

This is not always the case....

Snacks/goodies

W - 8/06 - Poptarts - 8 ct - $1.67 - .20 per tart
W - 8/06 - Poptarts - 12 ct - $2.18 - .18 per tart
M - Poptarts - 8 ct - $1.26 *sale price - .16 per tart
S C - 8/06 - Poptarts - 36 ct - $6.43 - .17 per tart

As you can see the sale price at my local store is cheaper than Sam's club, about comparable with regular Wal-mart prices for a more reasonable size. It also shows you whether buying the 8 ct or 12 ct saves money or not.

2) Any product you use alot, and that will keep (paper/plastic products, canned goods etc) you can store in your home, and is worth the seemingly higher prices for a better PER UNIT cost. I have quite a set of racks in my basement. I could be snowbound for 3 months and still have cleaning products, toilet paper and canned goods! lol

3) If possible share a memebership with a parent or sibling. If a parishable product is too large for either of you to use up before it goes bad, you can split the cost of it and share it, and still get the benefits of the lower per unit cost. Today my mom and I split the costs of a case of baked beans and campbells soup. So we each got an amount of both we could actually use, but didn't have to pay as much.

4) Be prepared to spend a great deal more time for a while when you're starting your price book, and updating it. However once you've got the basics, it gets much faster, with only calculating new price per unit's at other stores, or figuring out if your local 'sale' is really a deal compared to another store.

If you're willing to spend the extra time doing all that, then it does save you money to belong to a warehouse store. We've cut our grocery bill in half between the price book and the Sam's Club membership. With Sam's club we can log in online to check prices and things before we shop, but their website is a PAIN to navigate, it's usually faster to just go to the store. But if we wanted to deal with the website, we could have our items shipped to us, or have them ready and waiting at the store for pick up.

Trust me, a price book is the way to go, whether you ever get a membership to a warehouse club or not.

Catlady711
02-24-2007, 11:58 PM
I decided not to get a membership today, though because the lines were HUGE!!!!! I mean, at least 10 people long in each line, and everyone had a cart full of stuff. I don't know if it's just that particular Costco, or all of them, but I will probably check out a different one in the the area tomorrow, and see if they are a little less busy. I don't want to save a little money but then have to wait 45 minutes to get through the line.

Don't necessarily be intimidated by long lines. At Sam's club today (which is a very busy day for them) the lines were like 7-10 ppl long, but they have many cashiers, and some have a hand held scanner, and while one person is ringing up someone, the one with the hand held scanner is scanning the cart of the person 3rd in line, keeps things moving very quickly! We only waited about 10 minutes to check out mine AND my mom's stuff. Plus Sam's club has a website like I mentioned above. Not sure if Costco has same benefits as a Sam's Club though.

joycenalex
02-25-2007, 07:05 AM
catlady, will you come to the store with me, pretty please? you have skills!

smokey the elder
02-25-2007, 07:29 AM
My area has BJ's Wholesale Clubs. They have a large variety of good stuff, very good meat, produce and heat and eat meals. Their house coffee brand is really good! ;) My only nitpick is that they are understaffed, but they did recently put in self-checkout stations, which makes it better. Just don't go on a Friday after work before a snow storm!

borzoimom
02-25-2007, 07:31 AM
When I owned my store, it was great to get what I needed in large bulk. That way I didn't have to go to the store all the time.
Since then however- with just the two of us, although it would be nice, the fact is its just worth storing such bulky items. If I had a small child/teenager, it would be worth the 50 dollars a year for snacks and drinks etc. At this point in my life- its not.

catnapper
02-25-2007, 08:11 AM
Wa have a Sams Club membership. We also have a Costco by us and had an introductory membership but prefered Sams Club.

Once I get money back in line, I intend to go and buy my replacement diamond wedding band from them -- their jewelry is beautiful at a far better price than elsewhere for the same quality.

I buy anything from new mattresses, to my computer ($500 less than both Best Buy and Circuit City for the same thing) to gallons of iced tea. I also buy diapers, femine hygene products, deoderant, etc. I typically don't buy the 100 rolls of toilet paper or gallons of ketchupo (but considering how much ketchup my family goes through I might have to rethink that! :D) Oh -- I also bought my glasses there! Of course they screwed up and had to remake them, but I liked them once they were fixed.... plus I saved well over $100 on them.

Catlady711
02-25-2007, 02:28 PM
catlady, will you come to the store with me, pretty please? you have skills!


ROFL

It's not skills so much as just plain legwork. It's not hard to get a price book going, it's just a pain taking the extra time writing all that stuff down. You can always figure out your unit costs at home if you're just getting your price book started and not actually comparing prices yet. Although I don't recommend taking any small impatient children OR husbands with you when doing this. Impatience ends up costing money with hasty purchases or costing you your sanity with someone who 'just wants to get out of here'.

I learned about the price book method from this website about frugal living. I don't by any means do all the frugal things mentioned in their website, I do many of them when I can. I balance things out between how much I'll save vs. the time/trouble it is to save a few pennies. If I can spare the time/trouble I'll do it. There are some tips they have that are outright ridiculous, but most tips are really helpful. You have to use your own judgment when evaluating them.

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