Is Your Costco Membership Worth It?
Today’s probably going to be a shorter article than most, because a) it’s based on a question that’s easily answered with a “yes” or “no”, and b), I just got back from living it up in Vegas for my spring break!
Yes, being a teacher has it’s advantages. Time off? Fantastic! Incredibly low pay and barrage of attitude from the generation that puts more time into determining their snapchat filter than the right answer on my tests? Not so great.
But anywho, I digress. Saving money, for the most part, is a pretty simple process. After all, you just find out what you want, find the cheapest place to purchase it, maybe haggle a little bit if you’re comfortable with that sort of thing, and pull the trigger.
But it’s easy to see why that sort of “analysis” isn’t as easy when it comes to shopping at the giant wholesaler stores. It’s just not that easy to price compare by walking around a HUGE warehouse and then spend hours at your local grocery stores to compare.
So I’m going to give you the process that I went through in my head when I signed my girlfriend and I up for our Costco membership.
Question the first: Why are two DINKs getting a Costco membership?
I love the thought of saving some cash, and I hate the thought of not having something I need when I’m about to cook. Actually, I don’t know if there is anything I hate more than missing one fucking ingredient for a recipe I’m trying to make. Well, except maybe car salesmen; I REALLY don’t like them…
So I like having enough to only have to go a couple times a month. And I like the fact that when I buy something there, I normally don’t buy it for at least another two weeks.
Secondly, there are some things that you can get at Costco that you just can’t get anywhere else. Things like cheap gas, lawn furniture, (what seems like) great deals on TVs, office supplies, all at one store. Me likey the thought of one stop shop.
3rd, BOOZE! Ok, this really isn’t a “reason” per say, but tell me where else I can buy Apothic Red for $7.99 a bottle? Oh, no where, you say? Yeah, I know.
Question the second: Executive or standard membership?
With a standard membership at $55, and an executive membership at $110, the question was, “Are the benefits of being an executive member going to outweigh the additional $55?”
One of the primary benefits of being an executive member is the fact that at the end of the year, you get a 2% bonus check on all your purchases, an amount which tops out at $750. So, being the math teacher I am, I wanted to know how much we’d have to spend in order to make it worth it. In order to make up for the $55 increase in price, we’d have to spend more than…
$55 / 2% = $2,750
Spread over the course of 12 months, that means we’d need to hit a monthly expenditure of $229.17.
Between gas, food, wine, and an unfortunate tire situation we encountered because some fucktard left a razor in the parking lot, we’re very much on track to hit this number. So far, so good.
Question the third: Do the actual products really offer that much in savings?
Well, this really depends on the kind of shopper you are. First, and this is a huge point, if you’re really keen on being frugal, then you have to realize that the store brand of a product is often (like 95% of the time) the EXACT SAME THING AS THE SPECIAL BRAND, JUST PUT IN A DIFFERENT GODDAMN BOX!
No, you can’t taste the difference. No, it’s not higher quality. “Frosted Flakes” are the exact same thing as “Powdered Flaky Corn Clusters”. In fact, stores like Target and Walmart, pay companies like General Mills to give them these products so they have a store brand to sell.
I HIGHLY encourage you to argue this with me in the comments below.
So, if you’re willing to buy the store brand of Costco for certain products, then you’re ABSOLUTELY going to save yourself some cash. For example, I save between $3 and $5 dollars every time I buy toilet paper or paper towels. Which makes sense: I’m not spending a ton of money on the things I use to wipe… various surfaces. Which literally end up in the trash 30 seconds later.
The other side of it is if, for some reason, you’re the kind of person that, for example, NEEDS to have the Philadelphia brand cream cheese instead of the store brand from Walmart, then you’re going to find savings on those products at Costco. And the only reason is pretty much going to be that you’re buying 3 pounds of cream cheese at a time.
WITH ALL THAT BEING SAID, there are still LOTS of items that I will never buy at Costco because they are ridiculously more expensive than if I just went down to the local Walmart/Target, and bought them there. Things like: eggs, milk, some meats (though this really isn’t a thing any more), some pastas, etc.
The last thing you need to keep in mind is that the selection at Costco really isn’t comparable to that of other grocery retailers. For example, at my local store, there’s only one or two brands of spaghetti, and one of them is the Organic froo froo hippie shit brand. So if I want to buy bulk spaghetti, I’m pretty damn limited. Most of the time, it’s worth going somewhere else just to get the $0.99 box of wheat pasta and be done with it.
Question the fourth: OK, so is it actually worth it?
In my experience, I would have to say yes. The fact that I save roughly $0.15 per gallon every time we fill up (which is easily $1-3, every single time) is great. There’s also lots of other savings that I get just by buying the store brand from CostCo. I love that I don’t have to shop every single weekend if I plan it out correctly. And I’m really excited to get a check for $50-$60 at the end of this year!
And keep in mind, this is just for a couple. I’m sure that once your household involved a troop of ravenous teens, that the savings and the convenience become infinitely more valuable.
Is Your Costco Membership Worth It? – The Wrap Up
So like a lot of decisions in life, whether or not a Costco membership is worth the money is going to be up to you. After all, situations change, and while buying 10 pounds of ground beef at once might not make a ton of sense when you’re single and 23, it might make a whole lot more sense when you’ve got 3 hungry teenagers opening the fridge every 17 seconds.
So what do you think? Are wholesalers just another way marketers have found to pull some $$$ out of poor unsuspecting souls (like me)? Or do you think they actually provide some value by the time you’re buying for more than just yourself? Comment below!
For more from The Code To Riches, check out:
- The Seven Steps to Avoid Being a Money Moron
- The 7 Vegetarian Meals That Are Saving My Budget
- How Much Is Half A Million Dollars?
- The 10 Best Finance Books Money Can Buy
- 9 Credit Score Hacks You Must Know
- Why I Never Want To Retire
- The Laziest Way to Riches – Investing In Index Funds
- Budgeting Basics – Allocating $$$ Like A Boss
- Fuck You, Frugality
- Why A Million Budgeting Tips Will Never Be Enough
Keep trying to crack the code,
Paul AndrewsFollow me on social media!