3 Reasons You Might Not Always Save Money At Costco

Shopping at Costco is pretty cheap, at least when you consider unit pricing. But over at Helium.com, writer Suzanne Rose has come up with a handful of things to think about before clearing out the back of your minivan in preparation for a trip to the warehouse store.

1. You may buy more than you want and some will go to waste:
Generally speaking the best unit price deals at places like Costco come when you’re buying in bulk. But Rose points out that you could be throwing good money away if you’ll never use the entire carton/crate/pallet. “This will be especially true if the item is perishable and you literally end up throwing it out because it goes bad or goes beyond its expiration date,” she writes. “Even if you still use it but do not enjoy it as much because it is not as fresh, then that can be a problem.”

2. They are not cheaper on everything:
“Although Costco is cheaper than other stores in many different things, they are not cheaper in everything,” writes Rose. If you’re truly after says, she says, you’ll have to do some comparison shopping, both with other bricks-and-mortar stores and with online outlets.

3. They do not accept a lot of coupons:
Explains Rose, “Costco accepts their own coupons but not much more.” She says that you can sometimes save more cash by shopping at a store that accepts more coupons, so keep that in mind before you head out to Costco.

Why Costco doesn’t always save you money [Helium.com]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. TheSpatulaOfLove says:

    Unit price is the key here. I have found that Costco isn’t cheaper on a many things compared to Meijer even without coupons. Add coupons to the mix, and many times Meijer trumps Costco by a long shot.

    Costco is great for some things, but honestly I get frustrated with the ever-shrinking selection of foodstuffs in the stores so they can cram more coffins, trampolines, crap computers, etc under one roof…

    • DanRydell says:

      The food section at my Costco hasn’t gotten smaller since I started shopping there 7 years ago.

    • jerry101 says:

      I, on the other hand, am thrilled by the increase in the space devoted to coffins.

      I buy all my coffins at CostCo now, and it saves me a mint!

    • bigTrue says:

      Please provide a list of things you’ve found that to be true of. I live north of Detroit and we have a CostCo and Meijer’s literally within a mile of each other I use. Meijer’s pricing is almost never the best around. Also in that mile circle is a Target with an expanded food section. I find Target has the best daily price on things I can get there, then Meijer if it happens to be on sale (like chicken breasts for 1.99/lb) but generally CostCo wins on the things I buy the most of. Here’s my list that wins without sales or coupons (I rarely, if ever, use coupons)

      Kitty Litter (fresh step)
      cat food (kirkland)
      Toilet Paper (kirkland)
      Paper Towels (kirkland)
      “Clorox” wipes (kirkland)
      Coke Zero (unless target/meijer’s is doing a crazy sale for a holiday)
      Milk
      Butter
      Frozen Pizza
      Frozen Strawberries
      Deoderant (degree in a four pack)
      Canned Chili
      Premade Chicken salad – they use the rotisserie chickens that don’t sell and it’s better then any of the “gourmet” market stuff around.

    • merkidemis says:

      Good place to buy bulk items, but many of their “normal” stuff is more expensive. The blu-rays are typically more expensive then even Best Buy, and many of the appliances can be found far cheaper online.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      It all depends. Some of their stuff is cheap enough that you can waste half of it and still come out ahead when compared to the corner grocery. Also, some of their stuff is remarkably better quality and fresher than the corner grocery.

      It all depends on the particular product.

  2. SOhp101 says:

    #1 is so true. You have to be especially careful with their produce… they are horrible at rotating stock.

    • lilyHaze says:

      I’ve found their produce to be very fresh. I love their fruit selection. (I normally don’t buy produce there as I only shop for 2.)

      • bhr says:

        I mentioned this the other day, but I prefer BJ’s to Costco for veggies and fruits. I go through one of those bags of sweet red/yellow peppers every week or so, plus tomatoes, grapes and strawberries.

        Costco is good for chicken breast though, much cheaper then Giant, and since I freeze em its not much of a concern w/ spoilage.

        I also get things like granola bars and single serving snack items in bulk.

      • cozynite says:

        Every time I try to buy apples from there, they go bad from the inside out in a matter of days. I’ve since given up. Their artichokes are pretty fresh though.

    • FigNinja says:

      I think my local Costco has trouble with storing things correctly. I’ve given up on buying lettuce there because it’s always bad several days before its expiry.

    • cyberpenguin says:

      If you think Costco is bad, try Sam’s. They’re absolutely horrific.

      Sam’s must have a policy that requires all produce to sit out on a warm dock in our Southwestern summer sun for a few hours before they bring it in.

  3. smo0 says:

    I usually went for stuff like TP, paper towels, plates…. condiments… stuff that wouldn’t go bad this century. :D

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Buying only non-perishables alone will save you the membership fee over a year.

    • Murph1908 says:

      If you have a baby, bulk stores are your friend. Diapers, wipes, genie rings, formula. We saved a ton on that stuff, and BJs accepted every manufacturer coupon we presented on them.

    • mac-phisto says:

      costco paper towels & TP are the bee’s knees. not only are they cheap, but the TP is actually softer & thicker than what you can get at most stores. my only complaint is that they recently switched from individual roll sub-packaging (inside the trunk-sized package) to 6 rolls/sub-package. it makes it a lot more difficult for me to squeeze them under my itsy bathroom vanity.

    • dangermike says:

      when I was in college, my roommates and I went in on a drop freezer together. I think it was around 20 cubic feet. Then Costco made a lot of sense. For about the price of 3-4 meals from a restaurant or delivery, I’d have groceries for a week or two. Plus, their generics brand (Kirkland) actually puts out some quality products. Almost almost always better than big brand names, and almost as good as Stater Brothers.

      Another benefit to the freezer came at the end of the year when we were packing up to get out of town: The frost scraped up from the sides of the freezer made a nice apple-sized snowball that literally left our neighbor stammering at loss for words after being pelted with it (this was mid June in coastal central California, mind you)

  4. blinky says:

    “You should shop around” is news?

    I go to costco because the stores are pleasant and the stuff it has is pretty good quality. Okay, I go for the samples. I never figured it as the low price leader.

    • James says:

      Not to sound like a pompous urbanite but I’ve never considered a cement floored warehouse and having to walk three city blocks to make a grocery run as pleasant.

      • sufreak says:

        We don’t all have to walk 3 blocks. Take your personal tragedy out of it. Its actually a great experience.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        Sounds more “lazy whiner” than “pompous urbanite.” Being a pompous bastard myself, I think you’d have to have something like “I just can’t be bothered to walk past things I don’t want or to be close to families who’ve brought their spawn along” or something like that to qualify for “pompous.” ;)

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    The rule is that if you buy perishables in bulk, some of it might end up going to waste. This is why you find friends or family who also enjoy bananas and give them half of your 10-pound haul. If you don’t do this, don’t buy 10 pounds of bananas unless you really, really love banana bread.

    Costco/BJs is not cheaper on everything, but I find that for some things, buying in bulk is overall cheaper than buying in bulk whenever a certain item goes on sale. I buy a specific can of crushed tomatoes and it’s rarely on sale in the regular grocery store. When I buy it in bulk at the warehouse store, it’s cheaper than the regular price, but maybe just a little more expensive (10 cents maybe) than the usual sale price. It’s a happy medium between either having to buy a can at full price or loading up when it’s on sale only to find that when I run out, it’s at regular price.

    It’s true that warehouse stores tend to only accept their own coupons, but I find that the warehouse store coupons are equivalent to the sizes being offered – manufacturers coupons might offer 50 cents off a bag of ravioli over 16 oz, but the warehouse stores only offer 5-pound bags. 50 cents off a 5-pound bag isn’t much, but the warehouse stores are aware that they charge more for higher quantities, so maybe the warehouse coupon will be $1 or $1.50.

    • Emperor Norton I says:

      Bananas are sold in 4 lb. bags at Costco.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      I usually peel and freeze bananas as they start to get too spotty and brown, they’re great in smoothies. But costco bananas are often pretty brusied compared to the local grocery store bunches; we don’t often get them there for that reason.

      We buy a lot in bulk from Costco, but there are few items where it’s definitely a good idea to get elsewhere. The sale price is often applied to a limited number of the product too–like “max 5″ or something like that. :/

  6. nbs2 says:

    It makes me sad that someone had to write an article about using common sense. It makes me sadder that someone will find this article novel.

    Nevertheless, it can pay to pay a little extra or go a little overboard in buying from Costco because of the other benefits that you obtain from shopping there. If you are an Executive Member, a 2% premium at Costco over couponed regular store is a net wash. If you are buying something novel, you can return it without hassle if it turns out not to be what you expect. Mfr warranties for electronics are extended an additional year (which is the same as your AmEx would net you, but less hassle).

  7. coren says:

    “Oh man, this toilet paper is expired?”

  8. stanner says:

    Of course I’m going to eat my way through that 3 gallons of mayonnaise!

  9. falc says:

    #3 is NOT true at BJ’s Wholesale! They do a great job with the coupons. They send out monthly mailers with standard coupons. Have always bought our diapers with $4 or $5 off coupons. Plus they accept all manufacturer coupons. Even if the quantity or weight is not exactly the same, they give u the benefit of the doubt.

    • BigGrant says:

      I love BJ’s just for this reason. I used to be a member at Sam’s Club but moved to an area without a Sams and a BJ’s and was blown away when I got coupons.

    • suez says:

      Yep, I’ve never had a coupon rejected.

      • womynist says:

        I’ve only ever had one issue with a BJ’s coupon. I buy the 60 count box of Nature Valley Granola Bars, and when I got the BJ’s coupons in the mail for that month, there was a $5 off coupon for them. However, even though the picture on the coupon was of the box of 60, the coupon said $5 off a 30 count box.

        Well, I went to BJ’s to find that they had no 30 count boxes, and the 60 count boxes are labled on the shelf as 30 count. The self check-out register rejected the coupon, and when the 17-year old employee came over and explained to me why I couldn’t use the coupon, I explained back to him that they don’t even sell a 30 count-even if they did, I was purchasing the equivalent of 2-30 count boxes. He knew I wasn’t going to back down so he let me use the coupon and I got a $9 box of 60 granola bars for $4. That’s a win in my book!

  10. nova3930 says:

    Thats why I don’t buy perishables at Costco for the most part. A gallon of milk being the exception if I happen to be buying other things at the time.

    I really only buy things like

    TP
    Paper Towels
    Dog/Cat food
    Cat litter
    canned goods
    PUR filters
    etc

    • nbs2 says:

      Even then, you need to track commodities. In the last year, we’ve seen Costco milk prices significantly undercut by the local megamart. We don’t get our milk from either now, so I haven’t tracked them lately, but I suspect that they may be getting undercut again.

  11. Anonymously says:

    #4: Eating in proportion to the amount available.

    I might consume ice cream more quickly from a 5 gallon barrel than a 1 gallon carton because “there’s still a ton left for later”.

  12. Starfury says:

    We will buy produce there if we’re having family over and it will get eaten mostly in one sitting. We’ll also buy cheese, hamburger, eggs and a few other perishable items that will either be eaten or re-packed and frozen. We rarely buy meat other than hamburger because it’s cheaper at the regular stores and I don’t have to buy as much.

    One thing we love: Kirkland Vanilla Ice Cream.

  13. mebaman says:

    I primarily use Costco for stocking my bathroom, laundry room, and freezer (toilet paper has no expiration date, and I don’t have time for complicated cooking requiring much preparation). Also, when called for, I go there for party supplies (napkins, plates, plasticware, and large quantities of food, drink, and alcohol). Sometimes I find a decent deal on electronics there, but selection is limited and shopping around occasionally will reveal a cheaper price.

    One of the problems that I note with Costco (other than limited selection) is that the specialty items they sell will be overfeatured. For example, if they’re selling a lawnmower, they’ll sell one with a lot of features you may not want, and though the price for a lawnmower with those features is good, you would have really been just as happy (and saved a bit of money) with a lesser model at a cheaper price purchased from a local hardware store. Same thing goes for all of those bikes, ceiling fans, deluxe mattresses etc. that they sell.

    They do have some good coupons though on big ticket items – so if you’re making a big purchase, check the monthlies.

  14. Ovular says:

    Pizza is cheaper at regular grocery stores than at Costco/Sam’s. However, you can go to law school at Costco, so it’s mostly a matter of convenience.

  15. annabelle327 says:

    We have a normal size family and have found that simply having a freezer can help save a ton of money by shopping at costco. We buy things like butter and milk and Their meat selection is pretty awesome and the consumer products like ink cartridges and itunes gift cards pays for the membership. I also have to say that buying that stuff online with your membership is awesome (free shipping on ink cartridges). I love my local Costco, and go there at least 1x a week to pick up basics.

    • SnowQueen says:

      Yes, exactly. We save a lot of money on larger packages of “perishables” by freezing the excess for later. For instance, we buy a package of steaks (great quality, Choice grade meat instead of the Select meat sold by most of our local supermarkets) and divide them up into zip-top bags and freeze them. Same with bread (leave one loaf out, freeze the other) and butter, both of which freeze and thaw really well.

  16. VOIDMunashii says:

    I look at buying produce from Costco (and Sam’s Club) like this. If I use more of it than an equally priced smaller container from another store then I came out ahead. I can buy a big container of Spring Mix there for around $4, a much smaller package of this (same brand even sometimes) costs about the same price, so if I use more of that big container than all of the small one I call that a win for me.

    • SnowQueen says:

      I feel the same way. While I hate to waste food, it’s often the case that the larger package at Costco is CHEAPER than a smaller package at our local supermarket. I can sometimes buy a huge package of fresh mushrooms at Costco for less than I’d pay for a few ounces at Safeway. And it doesn’t always go to waste. For instance, if I buy a 2-pound container of fresh blueberries at Costco and can’t use them all before they’ll go bad, I just throw the excess in a zip-top bag and freeze it for later.

  17. sallysassypants says:

    The only things I buy at Costco are TP, paper towels, and dish detergent. I used to buy clothes detergent there, but then I discovered that my local supermarket runs this crazy buy 1 get 3 free deal every 6 months. Way cheaper than Costco!

    The thing is, every time I go in that darn store I get so into all the little gotcha items, all of which seem to cost 10 bucks, that I can’t get out of there for under $200.

  18. dreamfish says:

    Do as the photo suggests and buy bulk quantities of SPAM®. It lasts for ages and you’ll eat like a king!

    However, I don’t know if you would get a good deal on it from Costco.

  19. Blious says:

    #1 is key

    I live next to a Costcos and enjoy it but only for certain things AND if used correctly

    Some of their meats are nowhere near as good/fresh and other small stores (while other meat is excellent) and many of their usually things are in high bulk amount.

    Just understand where you are going

  20. Thumbmaster says:

    Very true. Costco has awesome prices on cold cuts but unless you finish 3 lbs of cold cuts within a week, the rest goes to waste. And they’re definitely not cheaper on soda. Many local supermarkets have sales that end up costing about half as much as Costco. Also, a lot of supermarkets now offer double (or sometimes triple) coupon deals that make certain items virutally free. Otherwise, Costco is great for stuff like Vitamin Water and steaks (if you’re having a family BBQ).

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Cold cuts definitely last longer than a whole week. We buy cold cuts from the warehouse store because we take sandwiches to work.

      • spinceoli says:

        Cold cuts freeze perfectly fine as well. It’s not that hard to buy the costco size and portion it out when you get home and freeze the rest.

        When you start to run low, grab a bag from the freezer and just let it defrost in the fridge.

  21. James says:

    I do go there with my Mom when in Michigan. The people are friendly, I’ve bought some of those casual dress shirts for work – but generally amused at the difference between my crowded city markets where I go 3-4 times a week versus the overloaded shopping carts the Costco crowd uses.

    I saw a lighted “open” sign there once in the business owners area. Now every time I see one in a small business I think “Hey they bought that at Costco”

  22. jimstoic says:

    Their prices on electronics are not great. We have a Best Buy across the parking lot from our Costco, and the prices at Best Buy are often better. Costco has a better return policy, though.

  23. oldgraygeek says:

    We are pretty good at getting the maximum benefit out of Costco, and buying certain items on sale elsewhere (paper towels, etc.) at lower prices.
    However, Costco has some items that simply can’t be matched, for price or quality, anywhere else. For example, Kirkland’s Solid White Tuna in Water is about a buck per (7 oz!) can, and looks & tastes better than the best national brand. The Kirkland natural raisin bran tastes way better than either Post (who makes the Kirkland product) or Kellogg’s.
    I pay $100 per year for my business membership, and save $120 on my business Web hosting plus at least $60 on my credit card processing, so we’re ahead even if we don’t set foot in the Costco all year long.

  24. NarcolepticGirl says:

    Are you able to take a look at your local Costco’s/Sam’s Club before signing up? Like a guest pass for a day?

    I’m still undecided on buying a membership to Costco’s (I don’t even know if we have one here) or Sam’s Club.

    We don’t have a lot of room at our place and there’s just the two of us.
    I’m also heavily into coupons and buying produce at the farmers market (even though it’s a rip off). I’m (currently) not consuming stuff like Mac n Cheese, Ricearoni, canned produce, etc

    But last night I realized we still had our economy sized box of Glad trashbags we bought for $8.00 at Target 5 months ago. But really, a $40-60 membership for some trashbags and toilet paper? I can buy ‘em other places for no extra cost than the product themselves.

    My boyfriend said when he had his membership, he wasted so much money on stuff he never would’ve bought in the first place that never got used or passed its expiration.
    I remember doing the same thing about 10 years ago. I used my BJs card a total of two times and ended up not finding anything to buy except for some books & Laffy Taffy.

    I guess it would be good for buying beverages in bulk. I only drink water and tea right now (dieting) but my boyfriend consumes more drinks than I’ve ever seen.

    I don’t know. I guess I’m still on the fence.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Go to the website and see if they have online sign up forms. In our area, there are mailers that have guest passes.

      I find that couples without kids or urbanites are best off using warehouse stores to stock non-perishables. It’s okay to have 10 cans of beans because they won’t go bad.

      Just analyze your eating habits. If you don’t utilize your kitchen for much more than heating up an instant meal of some kind and you don’t cook a lot, you don’t need Costco. Warehouse stores are good for pantry staples that don’t go bad (like pasta) and for ingredients you need in bulk.

    • nobomojo says:

      yes, go to the customer service desk and ask for a guest pass. I did this before I bought my Costco membership.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      I don’t know about Costco but our Sam’s club focuses mostly on processed foods, so if you are not into that you might want to avoid Sam’s club. About half of the store is frozen, processed foods and these make up about 75% of the food selection other than meats and produce. There are some healthy items in there if you read the packages but some people aren’t into processed foods. Another thing I heard is that Costco has organics, which would be a huge bonus again if you are into that but Sam’s here does not have organics.

      Both Sam’s and Costco’s return policies are NOT what they used to be, so I would definitely not buy electronics there. Almost every week I see someone returning a TV to my Sam’s, in most cases more than 1 TV. The reason I wouldn’t buy electronics there is you can usually get electronics much cheaper online and since the return policy is not as good with electronics I would just go for the online store that is the cheapest. I also find that Sam’s electronics are outdated, if I want a digital camera I can usually go to Amazon and find an updated version of what Sam’s is selling for less money, for example. You have to watch out for that.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      You don’t have to be a member of these big clubs to buy alcohol or use the pharmacy, so if you were just going to scope it out, I’d imagine that work work fine. I also remember seeing something on Consumerist about not needing a membership to use a Costco gift card?

      I got a Sam’s Club membership about two months ago and after two months of never using it, got a full refund. I’m sure Costco has some kind of policy about that, too.

      • SenorBob says:

        That depends on the state. In California, the booze is sold inside the store, so you do need a membership. In Texas, it’s sold in a separate store, where they may or may not ask for your card. (I honestly don’t remember. I haven’t bought liquor in many years.)

    • roguemarvel says:

      My sister and split our costco membership and my mom does the same with a close friend of hers. It’s like an extra $10 (I think, my sister handles the membership since its in her name)to add another person so its pretty cheep to split it with a friend.

      For my half, its just my husband and I and we buy toilet paper, paper towels vitamins and soda once a month and go enjoy some cheep all beef hotdogs and free samples. When we lived in CA we used to buy alcohol, but since we now live in Collin county texas and they can’t sell spirits we don’t do that much anymore. They also have a few chose frozen food items that we like to pick up and sometime pick up some canned goods. For Christmas we had family over and got a really great deal on folding tables and chairs as well as party supplies. We pull out the tables and chairs all the time for get together and have people borrow them from us for parties.

      So yeah, it can be good for two people, but you might want to find a friend to split the cost

    • spinceoli says:

      The alternative is to have a friend buy gift cards, which essentially function as day passes. Then just cover the rest with cash or debit cards.

  25. suez says:

    I have to supplement my diet with protein bars. Buying a 24-count box from The Vitamine Shoppe or similar stores typically runs around $40 and up, but I can get the same box at BJ’s Club for $30. This savings alone makes the membership worth it, but I also stock up on paper towel, tissues, TP, etc. Granted, I’m craming them into corners in my closet because I’ve got a small condo, but I don’t have to buy it again for 6 months and it doesn’t go bad. And if you do host dinner parties or otherwise are cooking for a group (camping), it’s a good deal.

    • suez says:

      Also forgot to mention that there are individual food items you can buy, like normal size bottles of wine and a single watermelon, etc., that are significantly cheaper than the exact same thing at the local grocery store. BJ’s whole watermelon = $4, Harris Teeter = $6; Bj’s bottle of Barefoot Muscato wine = $4, Harris Teeter = $7.

      I realize that Harris Teeter isn’t exactly the cheapest place to shop, but I can walk across the street to shop, so I’m factoring in time (I live inside the DC Beltway and traffic is always congested), gas and convenience as well. BJ’s is 1 mile away.

  26. JoeTaxpayer says:

    1- absolutely – bag-o-salad – a few days. Buy it when company is coming tonight. Common sense has to prevail, Jar of pickles? They’ll last. Fruit? Not so much.
    2 – I’ve never bought TP, or paper towels there. Even pasta on sale at supermarket is cheaper. No sale, Costco wins. Lesson? Know your prices.
    3 – No coupons? Bummer. But that needs to get taken into account for #2.

  27. KPS2010 says:

    terrible reasons…was hoping it would convince my wife and I to shop less at Costco.

  28. BoredOOMM says:

    How did she know I drive a Mini-van?

  29. nycdesigner says:

    I’m against paying to get a discount. So many times I’ve leeched off my dad’s membership and found the pricing to be too similar to many other sources of bulk, namely Amazon!

    But I would never buy a membership for Costco, BJs, Sam’s Club, or any other pay-to-shop-here type of model. I even hate that my mother pays Barnes&Noble to save 10% off retail when everything is 30% on Amazon. Ridiculous!

  30. jessjj347 says:

    The cheapest way to buy groceries is to use coupons on the smallest size available. A lot of things end up being free that way, when they are on sale.

  31. jerrycomo says:

    They sell blackberries at my Costco and I shamelessly open one to serve myself right there and eat as much as I want.

  32. YdoUthinkURright says:

    This is one of the really ridiculous common sense articles/post that I hate seeing. Duhhh…don’t get more than you use, especially fruits or vegetables. This is also why I am beginning to hate the t.v. news because it’s all about filling the air time with either bad news or fluff like this.

  33. Big Mama Pain says:

    If you have all kinds of money tied up in your home inventory stock of things that take forever to use up, you’re wasting money. The “value” of one dollar is constantly on the decline, so the longer it stays in your house, the less money you’ve saved on it. Plus, it’s money that is not in your bank account, possibly earning interest-not to mention it’s money that is not in your bank account if you really needed it. Having a year’s supply of laundry detergent isn’t going to help you if you’re $50 shy of making it through to the next paycheck.

  34. TheGreySpectre says:

    costco tortellini and ravioli is delicious and much much cheaper then my local supermarket, same goes with juice and a number of other things I buy quite often.

  35. CookieJ says:

    Also remember that the Kirkland quality is superb. Their trail mix is hard to beat.

  36. Dustbunny says:

    I used to have a Costco membership & always spent too much on every trip there. Plus, even though the quality of their meat & fresh produce was awesome, the package sizes are waaay too big for a single person. Now I live in a place with very little storage, so I don’t have room for those ginormous packages of TP any more. I haz a sad :(

  37. liz.lemonade says:

    Sis got me a Costco membership for Christmas. I’ve saved a ton of money buying my contact lenses there — they’re consistently $5-10 less per box than anywhere else (and this for a cheapie brand). But I just don’t buy enough other things there to make the membership worthwhile, since I live alone and don’t have the *storage* space to buy in bulk.

  38. PixDawg says:

    Or:

    “How to get a story from obvious things any idiot knows anyway”

  39. outoftheblew says:

    All their products are name brands. If you buy generic for certain things, it’s still cheaper to get the smaller sizes from the grocery store than the bulk sizes of the name brand.

  40. Jimmy37 says:

    WELL, DUH! And all these reasons are new?? This has been reported about every warehouse store. Warehouse stores don’t have variety – you’re stuck with their generic stuff and one or two different companies for each product. Sometimes, not even that. Sometimes, the generic product is nothing more than a private label version of the company stuff being sold. In my store, the produce looks good and can be twice as expensive.

  41. mythago says:

    Corollaries:

    1) split purchases with friends

    2) if you have the Executive Membership, you get 2% back

  42. XTREME TOW says:

    Another thing Costco may not save you: TIME!
    Unless you opt to pay $50 more for an “Executive Membership”. (I did!)
    While I may only shop there at the most 20 times a year, the extra cost of getting ‘in’ one hour earlier is definitely a very good return on my investment, considering the value of my “Personal Time”. Here in Southern California, Costco is so popular, it is not unusual to see the “Regular Members” (Peaseants?) queing up 90 minutes early on the weekends, and sometimes that much during the week. The wait to gain entry on the weekends is about 30+ minutes well into the afternoon/early evening. Many Costcos’ here have seperate “Executive Members Only” lines that take you to the same associate checking the Regular members. When they are done with one Regular, they will take care of you.
    I consider an hours worth of my time to be worth more than the $2.50/per visit this is costing me.
    WARNING: If your local Costco offers these ‘perks’, you must be mentally prepared for a stream of: Gasps, “What the…” comments, Loud Sighs, Eye Rolling, Head Shaking, Foot Stomping, Sideways Leaning and Staring (aka Gawking), and General Arm Flailings from “The Peaseants” as you walk right past them on your way inside! Do not insult or antagonize these Commoners. If your only there for a few items, they might still be standing there (in the hot sun!) when you leave 45 minutes later!
    Ladies: If you have any difficulty ‘selling’ your hubby on the idea of upgrading your membership, here are two words that will cinch the deal: “Football Season”. It Doeth Approacheth!

    • SenorBob says:

      I’m in LA and have yet to see these magical checkout lines! I do love the fact that I can get in to the store an hour before everyone else, though. Even better? Costco Business Centers on Saturday mornings. They cater to businesses, so no clothes, books, electronics, etc, but they do sell restaurant supplies for dirt cheap. AND they’re completely empty on Saturdays!

  43. ShreeThunderbird says:

    I have been a Costco member since it was Price Club. It didn’t take long to realize that a person would only save money if they made a list of items wanted/needed before going to the store. Then DO NOT deviate from the list.

  44. lawgirl502 says:

    I love to eat my way through the store when they give out samples! Plus, what about those cheap hot dogs, ice cream, pizzas at their “cafe”… Whew hoo!

  45. Scuba Steve says:

    As a single guy who doesn’t eat much, I really don’t have any incentive to go to Costco for everyday groceries.

  46. webweazel says:

    I never understood the reasoning here. You PAY a membership fee to get into these clubs so they keep the prices low, buying in BULK is supposed to be cheaper by far, so a double shot there. Stuff’s moved around on pallets, so they’re not paying workers to fill shelves. A whole lot of the time, they are NOT cheaper than the local supermarket. How exactly does this compute?

    Yes, we have a club membership, and we do use it for some things which I find are good values. But, I have done specific price comparisons with many common supermarket/club products, and the price savings are underwhelming, to say the least. You can save on some items, but mostly only by a few cents per unit price. Then you have to consider storage issues, how quickly you will use something up, etc. You have to learn to compare apples to apples, and work local sales to your advantage.

  47. Mike H says:

    I have memberships at both Sam’s Club and Costco and I have to say that, generally, Sam’s is cheaper only because much of the Costco grocery stuff is organic and you will pay extra for that rating. Also, the Sam’s meat is fresher and cheaper – especially hamburger, pork loin, ribs which I buy in bulk, breakup and freeze.

  48. photogonfire says:

    “Welcome to Costco… I love you.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8zNsUTWsOc

  49. miss_chevious says:

    I’m a single person living alone, and I love Costco. If you have the storage space, like a pantry and freezer, you can easily make back your membership fee for an Executive Membership. I admit that sometimes I don’t make it through the whole flat of oranges or all five heads of lettuce before they go bad, but the nonperishables are excellent.

    Also, there seems to be this myth about only being able to get things in 5 gallon tubs going around whenever people talk about Costco or BJs or Sam’s, but the truth is (at my Costco at least) that they almost always have “normal” sized versions of the products, too. So I can get a 5 gallon tub of mayo, but I can also get a package of three 24 oz bottles of mayo for significantly less than grocery store prices (and the expiration date on unopened mayo is pretty far out there).

    • SenorBob says:

      Exactly! There are only 2 of us, and we buy most of our groceries at Costco. Their store brand laundry detergent, paper towels, and toilet paper are fabulous and way cheaper than a regular grocery store (even with coupons). If you’re short on space, the tp and paper towels might be difficult to store, but the jugs of laundry detergent don’t really take up much more space than a regular size bottle. We sprang for a vacuum sealer, so we buy all of our meat there, split them up in to smaller packages and freeze. It’s actually higher quality than what I’ve purchased at Ralph’s (Kroger) and/or Albertsons.

      Canned tomatoes are a pantry staple for us, and we buy them by the case there, for cheaper than the grocery store. I also love their store brand coffee beans – 2 lbs for $10. Most of our produce comes from a CSA, but we still buy giant bags of onions (they last forever), bananas (sold in 2 lb packages) and asparagus (again in 2 lb packages) at Costco.

      The savings on cat litter alone covers the cost of my Executive Membership, but the biggest money saver is the OTC drugs. 1000 ibuprofen for $6. 1 year supply (365 pills) of generic Zyrtec $16. 10 month supply of generic Claritin (300 pills) for $17.

  50. mrbofus says:

    “If you’re truly after says, she says, you’ll have to do some comparison shopping””

    What?

  51. Galium says:

    I absolutely refuse to shop at any store that charges me to shop there and then treats me like a crook every time I leave the store. I will pay the 2 cents more per can etc. I always wondered what would happen to a person who just went into cosco or sam’s to use the bathroom and came out with no slip to be checked. Any thoughts?

    • HenryES says:

      They wouldn’t say anything as long as you weren’t carrying any merchandise. I work near one, and sometimes grab lunch at the snack bar without shopping.

    • SenorBob says:

      Generally speaking, you can’t get in to the store without a membership card, so that’s not gonna happen. Of course, there have been a few times I left the store without buying something (like dropping off a prescription at the pharmacy). If you walk out empty handed, they don’t stop you.

      I for one love the fact that they check receipts at the door. One time they noticed that I was charged for something that wasn’t in my basket (turns out I left it at the register). On a separate occasion, the receipt checker saved me a return trip to the store. With gift certificates, movie tickets and such, you take a giant piece of cardboard to the register to pay, then trade it in at a window up front for the actual card/tickets/whatever. I had purchased an Xbox live card and the receipt checker noticed that I forgot to pick up the card.

  52. HenryES says:

    I bought the 1″ boxes of baby spinach a couple of times, but it wasn’t too fresh right from the store, so I quit buying it. Most of the other produce is more than I’d want to buy at one time, except for the 5″ bags of limes that I can squeeze and freeze part of the juice for later.