Monday, October 20, 2008

Costco: A Relationship on the Rocks

Saving Money with CostcoWhen Costco came to Anchorage in the 1980s it was received like manna from heaven. My parents had a foreign exchange student from the Soviet Union staying with them and they told me how, when they took Zanna to Costco, she walked between the aisles staring in stupor at the mountains of goods that stood as a tribute to American consumerism.

What's not to love about the place? You can get killer deals on cheese and meat, buy diapers and formula at a great discount and come Christmas time you can get half of the stuff on your shopping list from the toys they carry. Everyone I know has a membership and if you go to the warehouse at any point on a Saturday you're pretty much taking your life into your own hands because unless you're packing water and supplies you won't make it through the checkout lines before starvation and dehydration hit you--it's that long of a wait. Though now that I think about it, it's probably all part of their plan, to have you wait so long in the lines that you'll buy their pizza and hot dogs, no questions asked (oh how I love their pizza).

So why am I writing about Costco? Because I have this love-hate relationship. I love it for the reasons I've just described above, somehow their marketing department has managed to convince me that if I don't have a membership I'm really missing out on something good. Deals on DVDs (though I don't buy them--ever), deals on socks (have I ever bought Costco socks?) and eggs and orange juice, deals on just stuff. You know . . . stuff.

However, I've come to the conclusion that unless you're a small business owner--say a restaurateur or espresso-shack operator, maybe an office manager--that Costco is pretty much the biggest scam ever put over on the American public.

I feel nervous about putting that in print, it's kind of like saying "Children shouldn't be taught to read" or "I hate puppies" and is sure to bring me gobs of fan mail but maybe after I give you my three big reasons you'll think twice about that shrine you've held in your heart for America's favorite warehouse. Not that I'm trying to get you to drop your membership--I still have one myself--but maybe it'll give you a different view of what's happening on your weekly pilgrimage to the Mecca of Bulk Buying.

Membership Ain't Cheap
I don't know if this is standard across the country but here a basic, cheap-o membership is $50. If you upgrade to the Executive Membership it's $100--but with the lure of potentially getting 2% of your money spent back at the end of the year--but this is a completely bogus fee set down to cover, what? The costs of supplying oxygen to the building? It's a trick set out to cover their prices--they can make them slightly lower to lure you in then charge you a whopping fee for the privilege of strolling through their store and you still think you're getting a deal.

But let's just examine this a little closer. Most staples such as bread and milk are at Costco about the same price as you find in other places--last week milk at Fred Meyer was $3.50 a gallon, bread $2.50. At Costco you'll pay $6.84 for two gallons which works out to be $3.42 per gallon and bread comes in at $4.85 for two loaves, making it $2.42 per loaf. For our family that means if I buy my weekly six gallons of milk and four loaves of bread at Costco instead of Fred Meyer I save a total of $.80. Wow.

Even if I bought my milk and bread there every week for a year I only save $41 which might not sound too shabby but after you figure in the gas it takes for 52 extra trips to get over there--that's like, what? $5000 in gas alone?--and the time spent in lines the savings is diminished significantly.

You might argue there are lots of other things that save you more money--say baby formula and diapers, prescription drugs or automotive items, things I rarely buy--but in general, for my every day, weekly shopping list items the prices I'm seeing on things like cold cereal, apples, rotisserie chickens, butter or pasta sauce really aren't great. This is mostly because Costco tends to offer higher-end brands over generic. Sure, you'll get the Kirkland Signature brand on some things but take, for example, the issue of canned tomatoes.

I can buy a 28-ounce can of tomatoes at Fred Meyer for $1.39 because I can get the Fred Meyer generic brand but at Costco the only brand they carry is S&W which is always more expensive--even at Costco. I'm paying more for tomatoes but my mind gets twisted into thinking that I'm saving money because I'm buying a brand name product for less than I'd buy a brand name product at other places. Problem is, the brand name products are rarely better, they're just brand name. I don't need Gucci tomatoes folks.

Fewer generic brands and fewer choices. If I want to buy pasta I have two, maybe three choices at Costco and all of them are fancier than the generics. If I want a fancy brand then buying it at Costco saves me money but if I'm trying to feed my family as cheaply as possible (and trust me, I've got a 12 year-old son who has never been heard to utter the phrase "I'm full." I am trying to go as cheaply as possible) then Costco doesn't necessarily make it work for me--especially with that large yearly membership fee hanging over my head every February.

The only time I've heard anyone making the cost of membership work for them is with my sister and sister-in-law who go halves on an Executive Membership. They each pay $50, get their joint cards and then with two families buying groceries on the account the 2% they get back isn't too shabby--it more than pays for the costs of membership plus some. But unfortunately I have a finite number of siblings and they've already got their operation running, without a partner like that the savings, for me, is minimal.

Buying Bulk Means More Waste
Then, add to the questionable savings the fact that at Costco I tend to buy more than we can use. We really only use about 5 1/2 gallons of milk a week but I can't buy half gallons at Costco so that extra half gallon tends to go to waste. The expiration dates on Costco's milk are pretty pathetic and I'm lucky if I can get them to last the week as it is so leftovers often get tossed.

And in case you think I've got a thing against milk it happens with other stuff as well. Those huge #10 cans of pineapple or sliced peaches? Even with six hungry mouths at our table it's hard not to have food going to waste when it's bought in such enormous amounts without eating so many peaches we start to turn slightly orange. Sure, I can buy a gallon-sized jar of artichoke hearts and save a fair amount but there's pretty much no way on earth this crew would tolerate that many artichokes being served. It would be mutiny.

Costco Invented the Impulse Buy
Which brings me to the last gripe which is really the heart of the matter--at Costco I buy too darn much. I started my membership with the idea that I'd buy in bulk, stocking up on items like juice boxes and lunch treats, 5-pound blocks of mozzarella and mangoes and that by alternating which items I buy in bulk each week I could stretch my food budget overall.

Oh how wrong I was. I have a pretty strict list of rules when I go shopping: don't go hungry, go with a list, stick to the plan but it doesn't matter--every time I go to Costco I end up buying something that I wouldn't have normally bought. Maybe it's a bag of limes (because I need 10 pounds of limes in my life) maybe it's a box of sausage breakfast biscuits (because trans fats are fun) or a jar of kalamata olives (they sounded good at the time) or whatever but they don't set those sample ladies out for no reason folks, they're there to get you to buy and they're earning their pay I'd say.

I've never been to Costco where, when the cashier announced my total, I was pleasantly surprised. It is always more than I meant to buy--sometimes by only $5 or $10 but there have been times I get to the grand finale and I nearly faint. "Did I really buy that much?"

I start thinking, wondering if somehow the computer didn't add the items incorrectly. How can I have spent $150? But sure enough, all it takes is 15 or so things in my cart and suddenly I've spent nearly all of my grocery bill without making that much progress in my list of things we need for the week. Fifteen things--that's like the number of items you can take through the express lane. Fifteen items goes by pretty fast and suddenly 15 has turned into 150.

So this past month I came to a bit of a decision: I think I'm going to drop my Costco membership. With economic times such as they are I'm looking for ways to cut costs and the hard numbers don't lie--if I buy all of my groceries at Fred Meyer, I can keep a firm control on what the costs are going to be but as soon as I give in to the dream of "buying in bulk" I'm consistently over budget.

I saw a news report on the subject several years ago where a reporter went through the check-out lines at Costco asking people if they'd bought more than they had planned on buying and every one of them said yes. Of course they said it with a gleam in their eye because they were convinced they were saving money but after watching our budget I'm just not sure that there is any savings.

At any rate, it's worth a bit of a test. I'll let you know how it goes--though I might go into withdrawal when I can't get my Costco pizza fix. That's going to be the hardest part.

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Technorati tags: Costco, frugal living, money

96 comments:

MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

i live in greece, where supermarket shopping is quite different to the us, but the underlying scam is also there in most chains. i also have a love-hate relationship with supermarkets for the same reason

Michemily said...

Costco. My dad practically lives there, but he owns a small food distribution company, so it works for him. He knows all the employees by name and he gets people thinking he works there all the time. They ask where the winter coats are ("In my closet") or they take his milk. Ha ha. I don't think it would ever be worth it for me to get a membership, so I just pay him back for stuff.

Anonymous said...

We stopped shopping at WalMart for groceries and now buy in town. The drive was killing and our local store is really happy to have our business. They are willing to order stuff for special diets and organics if we ask. A huge savings is the meal out we were having every week, as the four hour ordeal is now one hour. One. A week. Savings include $15 in gas and $30 for lunch and ~3 hours of our time. And our local chain grocer doesn't sell DVDs or thumb drives or tupperware or what have you. No impulse tchochkies even available. And the likelihood of seeing neighbors puts the brakes on any impulse to buy Capn Crunch or champagne.

Mrs C said...

In France, the land of the bottled water, it was proven that high priced bottles were coming from the same water source as the really cheap stuff.

Evian is indeed spelled "Naive" backwards.

And tomotoes? Hoolah. They're probably all coming from China. Scared yet?

Duke, Kathryn, & Seamus said...

I know what you mean about Costco. I don't think I could live without it...but there are some things that I have recently stopped buying there. Milk would top the list. It's the same price everywhere and the new Costco containers drip - no matter how I pour! I do love going there though. When I was pregnant, my Husband would take me to Costco for "exercise" and I was ALWAYS willing to walk the aisles. (Is it rediculous that dish soap and paper napkins are repeatedly intersting??) Anyway, the prescription benefits more than pay for my membership. My meds are $340 at Fred Meyer for 3 month supply and they are $190 at Costco. That's 4x per year for a total savings of $600 per year. If it wasn't for the meds though, I don't know that even the cheaper meat prices and everything else would make up for the gas, time, etc! I'm interested to see how it goes and what your savings are. Impulse buys are killer!

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

We had a free membership to Sams. I did a price comparison to Aldi and there were several areas where Sam's saved us cash. I really didn't have a problem with waste or buying items that weren't on the list, but even so I've decided to not renew our membership. ($40)
The farther drive and time spent was worthwhile when our membership was free. Not so much when I'm paying for it. Maybe I'll be able to land another free membership! :)

Flea said...

Congratulations! We have Sam's here - WalMart's version of Costco. We had a membership till this year, but the fee jumped from 30 to 40 dollars. I chose not to renew in January for all the reasons you stated. It's just far too expensive.

My husband took the kids to Sam's this week to see if it was worth the membership, calling to tell me what prices were on things like milk and meat. Knowing what I pay at Aldi, it just doesn't make sense to waste money at the bulk stores.

Jolanthe @ No Ordinary Moments said...

ooooo. I love Costco. I do shop only with a list there. Well, generally, but the milk and eggs are almost a dollar cheaper there for us than the grocery store, and ours apparently has a much longer shelf life than yours - like 3 weeks at least.

We do have the executive membership and the biggest reason in stepping up our membership was for the auto and homeowners insurance. We saved an incredible amount of money - enough to pay the difference and then quite a bit more. And we're getting 2% back on our premiums. And you have to like that.

Our rebate check each year generally pays for at least half of our membership cost renewal fee, and that helps out too.

Our local costco also got gas, so since we're there every week or so to pick up stuff, it's convenient to pay less for gas.

But our costco is close by - no different than walmart, so for us it's a good fit. :)

Edi said...

Quite a few yrs ago we had a free trial membership. We had either no kids at the time and I just didn't see the need for us buying huge amounts of stuff - and all of it name brand. There are only a few name brand items I can't live w/out - the rest I buy generic and find Aldi combined with another discount grocery store to supply my needs.

Perhaps if the store was close by instead of about a 1/2 hour drive I would reconsider, but with only being a family of four in a small home I just don't think it would work out for us.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

Oh nooooo! ;)

My husband just bought a Costco membership. He's a small business owner (he has 7 employees). I can see already that I will become addicted to them, but I'm with you...I'm not sure it's the most economical option. We are in Nashville and we have WalMart and Aldi, both of which are awesome for savings on "normal" staples.

However, I do think where it will help us is on stocking up on things we use a lot of, like bottled water, "squeezey" yogurt for my girls, etc. Also the quality of their meat seems to be amazing.

One of my co-workers has a Costco membership and she also told me last week that the downside was the tendency to overspend at Costco.

Joanna said...

We have had a Costco membership for just over a year, and our strategy is to NOT do regular grocery shopping there- we don't buy milk & bread & eggs in such large quantities because there's just 2 of us. What we have discovered (and how we justified the membership) is that the generic medicines are SO much cheaper. My husband takes a daily allergy medicine that we can get a year's supply at Costco for the cost of a month's supply elsewhere, saving us over $100 a year, at least.
So, we continue to shop there, infrequently, with a very limited list. My biggest complaint is, as you mentioned, impulse buys at Costco set me back $10-$15 while it would be $2-$3 elsewhere.

And don't get me started on the merits of Costco over Sam's Club. Business practices alone make me want to support Costco over Sam's Club & Walmart.

karen said...

Frustrated by shopping that left me more drained than walking Disney World (only without breaks for fun rides), I dropped our Costco membership in 2004 and haven't missed it! Like yours, our grocery store isn't that much more expensive on staples and we also found that buying in bulk merely created bulky waste. Our grocery also features a section they call "Club Packs" so I can still get a flat of 216 rolls of toilet paper or a box of Cheerios big enough to house a family of three, when the mood strikes. Plus, if everyone you know has a membership, you can always ask to be taken as a guest if you're going to need a gallon of artichoke hearts...

gretchen from lifenut said...

We have a Costco executive membership and just got our "check"---we got an $80 rebate, meaning we'll only pay $20 for our membership for the next year. That isn't too bad...

One huge advantage Costco has is the gas station. I paid $2.60 per gallon when I filled the Suburban a few days ago, as opposed to $2.95 at the nearest regular gas station. The gas savings are HUGE and worth the membership to us. It is always the least expensive place to get gas, by far.

Summer said...

I've never had a Costco membership for the reasons you've mentioned. I'm very lucky to have an ALDI nearby and we get almost all of our dry and canned goods there. As for toiletries I get everything at CVS or Walgreens because I can almost always get shampoo/deodorant/toothpaste, etc. free or insanely cheap due to their rewards program combined with coupons.
Anything else we need we get at our local cheap grocer which also does double and triple coupon days on occasion.

I started figuring out the drugstore and grocery games about 4 months ago and we I wish I had been doing it sooner. I am amazed at how much we've saved.

Patricia said...

I've gone over the whole Costco thing in my mind a lot too. I had a regular membership-- upgraded it one day while in line-- didn't make my money back so I got a refund that basically paid for my membership renewal-- let my membership expire-- then got a basic membership when my 3rd was born in Feb. With the regular membership I do make my money back on milk (it's $1 cheaper per gallon compared to our grocery stores) and gas which is regularly at least 10 cents cheaper per gallon. Incidentally, gas purchases don't count toward your 2% back on the upgraded membership.

calicobebop said...

Years ago I had a membership to Sam's but, as a single person, I didn't see any savings. I would spend too much on things that would ultimately be wasted. Even with a child I can't see how I could possibly consume that much!

Now I have the benefit of shopping at the Commissary and I'm grateful.

Awesome Mom said...

My first year with a Costco membership I was like a kid in a candy store. Then I wised up and got pretty strict about how much I spent and how often I went. I now only go once a month to stock up on things we use a lot of. Other than that I go to a regular grocery store.

Erin said...

Didn't you know Costco's "Other Name" is the 100 dollar store? You can't walk out of there without spending at least 100 dollars. Ridiculously, I still have a membership, but I suppose thank goodness it is 45 minutes away, so I only get there about once a month. Even so, I spend 1/4 of my grocery budget there, so the rest of the month we are scrimping on other foods because I bought so darn much cheese while at Costco!

Lucy said...

It works for business' and large families. Very large. Single people it doesn't work at all unless you go for a certain thing. I like the paper products so I do keep the membership. But I agree with all of your points. One thing I don't understand is Trader Joe's. For a yuppie grocery store which I love, why are dairy products there so much less than any other grocery store. So I do that place for dairy. Crazy.

kadusey said...

The milk at our local Costco (AZ) is significantly cheaper than it is at the grocery stores, and the expiration date isn't too bad.

Inkling said...

I jumped at the chance to get a Costco membership, mainly because I'd heard how cheap their photo processing was compared to our local stores, and I was lured by the bulk packages of scrapbooking paper and the hope of finding Cinnamon Orbit gum. Of course, I also thought I'd be saving on things like household goods and groceries. And I liked the idea that there was a Costco on both sides of the border, though I planned on using the USA one to save at least 6% on taxes. But I'm not saving anything.

They don't carry that flavor of Orbit gum, which is the only flavor I like. And how often do I really print out photos or drag out my scrapbooking supplies? Then there's the groceries....at our Canadian Superstore, I can get a bunch of "no name" generic items for cheap, especially if I wait for case sales. And our farmer's market gets me cheap produce that is either grown on his farm or somewhere nearby. Plus, we've started getting picky about where our meat and eggs come from, and Costco doesn't offer the same thing. Then there's the little detail about Canadian milk being sweeter and yummier than USA milk (no ideas why, it just is). Finally, I've become too cheap to buy books or clothing items there, always thinking I should wait until I really need it, which won't happen for many moons.

Before our membership runs out, I'm going to buy the dried mango my husband adores, and then I'm going to let my card expire without renewing it. It seems like a crazy risk and I'm certain that part of me will feel like I'm missing out on something huge that the rest of the world is enjoying. But our bank account will thank me, and so will our local stores.

a Tonggu Momma said...

I refuse to join wholesale clubs. I know I would save money if I did it, but there is just something inherently wrong with having to pay to shop in someone's store. Forget about the savings, y'all... doesn't that just seem wrong?!?!

Anjali said...

Great post. I refuse to join them as well. People get great deals but spend far more money overall. You save more, in my opinion, by just sticking to a grocery list and not buying more than you need.

Janet said...

When I first moved to Kentucky, the college gave us membership in Sam's Club. Since the closest Sam's Club was 3 hours away in Lexington, we didn't go very often. I mainly bought things like olive oil in gallon jugs (for the same price as a pint in the grocery store) and toilet paper. After a couple of years the college dropped the program and I didn't renew it. I haven't missed it. I use Walmart for pet food and paper products (especially diapers) but the grocery store for food, primarily because as you say they have the generic brands which don't taste any different. Except the instant oatmeal. Gotta stick with Quaker.

Tammy said...

So true! The only time we've found that our membership was worth the money was when we lived pretty close to a Costco that had a gas station as well. The savings definitely came in buying gas.

However, we don't currently live close enough to a Costco with a gas station to go there for gas, and when our current membership was up for renewal, we let it go. We just found that buying for the two of us, we weren't saving any money and we weren't shopping there very often either!

Can you use coupons at Sam's Club/Costco? I don't think so, and I know that for those who coupon they can save way more money at regular grocery stores.

Munchkins and Music said...

(No problem. I was just wondering if the car seat was a forward facing one or not. I will need an upgrade to a different forward facing car seat for N soon. Thanks for letting me know!)

Although I love Costco for their good deals (like kid’s pajamas) I do agree with you. I bought some pretzels there last year and finally ended up throwing them out last month because they got stale before my kids could eat them.

Lara said...

I dropped my membership a year ago, after living 45 minutes away (when I used to live a block away) and realizing it was totally not worth it. You can't get out of there for less than 100 dollars, it's like some sort of rule, and I have found my grocery budget stretches much further without it.

Also, my parents just found out the hard way that the cheap Costco gas is hard on your car, because they don't put the engine cleaners in it that other gas companies do. So, they've had to pay for a lot of repairs (twice, before they found out the real problem) for only saving a few cents on gas each time.

Margie said...

Costco was a life saver (still is) when we lived in Juneau, and now with Walmart that has helped with the outrageous cost of living in Southeast Alaska. My biggest disappointment was that they don't offer the home/auto insurance like they do in the "states", when I asked on that I was told AK blocks them from bringing that in here. There are some big savings there!

tjhirst said...

I find it funny that you posted this today. I posted on The Pantry Principle today about how I shop. I do buy a lot when I shop - not really bulk packages but quantity. But I only do a big shopping trip once per month. Then I buy just perishables in between. And, I don't shop Costco because I would have to add the cost of a two hour trip to all the things you listed and it just doesn't make it worth it.

Anonymous said...

There was a HUGE difference on the cost of my son's monthly medication. Costco had it for 37 dollars (compared to 80-100 dollars at Wal-Mart, Fred Meyer's and the local pharmacy.) So we save at least 43 dollars a month. For us that is worth it. And if we phone to renew it, we can walk in and get the meds then leave. Saves impulse buying!

Amy said...

We only have a Sam's Club and the memberships are cheaper, but I preferred my service & the wine list at Costco a lot more.

If you do a lot of baking though, buying the yeast, flour, bread flour, and sugar in bulk can be a huge savings. I pay for my membership with one trip buying my baking supplies.

When we are done with diapers, I think I still will stick with it just for the baking supplies & the cheap frozen chicken ;)

Ironically, great minds think alike and I blogged about wholesale clubs today too. We are really in sync today :)

Carinne said...

I have it down to a science of what I do and do not buy at Costco. I buy cheese (I never buy it at Fred Meyer. THe difference in the price of cheese alone is almost worth the membership), NOT milk, some cereal, chicken (a huge savings), snack foods and foods for lunches (crackers, fruit snacks, applesauce cups, etc - also a huge savings), some of their cheap clothes, DVD (if/when I buy them) bananas, spinach, other misc fruits depending on the season, batteries, dish soap, trash bags, etc, canned fruit (I buy the HUGE cans for a huge savings off the price of little cans. My kids live off of canned fruit), etc. I never buy butter, canned tomates, milk and rarely bread - although I buy their buns and tortillas. YES, I do make impulse buys, but I'd do that at Fred Meyer and I try to keep my impulse buys to once or twice a trip - if at all. I come with a list (NEVER go to Costoc with a list, its equal to financial suicide) and I stick pretty closely to it. LIke I said, some things like meat and cheese save us enough money that its worth it.

The Source said...

I go to Sam's Club for the lunch box junk about once every other month...stock up on drinks and chips and cookies that won't go bad. Otherwise, I split between Wal-Mart for basics (spaghetti sauce and noodles and such) and the local market for fresh meat and veggies. During good months we hit the Farmer's Market just about every weekend!

Nicole said...

Oh, I love Costco. Although I don't fault you for giving up your membership forgive me for not giving up mine. Costco is only about a 3 minute longer drive than my grocery store. I have 2 in diapers (had 3 in diapers for awhile there) and my kids go through milk like it's free, and it is actually significantly cheaper at Costco here. I buy 4 gallons at a time and have never had to pour a single drop down the drain. I share a membership with my sister and we get back more than what our membership costs. I used to buy my glasses at America's Best, thinking I was getting a good deal. Got my glasses at Costco this time and saved $200! And the husband really appreciates that he can get 18 (high quality) roses for 15 bucks. Really helps his "I'm sorry" budget stretch further. :)

chelle said...

Here Costco sell milk $2.00 cheaper than other stores ... That alone pays for my membership! But you are so right about the over buying there!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I'm too cheap to have a Costco membership. I also live in a condo, so those huge packages of paper towels or whatever would seriously be a problem for me.

I have needed to go once in awhile, to get something that was a lot cheaper there, or if we're having a party and large amounts are worth the effort. I beg one of my Costco card carrying family members to take me, but only if they're going anyway. That works well, and if they're feeling put out, I buy them a hot dog. ;)

We don't have Fred Meyer around here...the closest thing we have is Target. I went there for groceries when I was in Anchorage in February, and I must admit, I liked it.

Tiff said...

The only thing i have bought at the membership places is a vanity for our bathroom. I don't buy in bulk because frankly I don't have the room. But the Vanity was an extremely awesome deal so we snatched it up.

fairytalesandmargaritas said...

I've thought about cancelling too, but it's like a security blanket for me. Although I definitely save enough each year on eyeglasses and contacts to make it worth my while. And I do go every 2-3 months and stock up on meat for the deep freeze.

heather.pnr said...

We don't have a Costco membership for a lot of those same reasons.

We do shop at Costco maybe two times/year to stock up on a few things which are good deals, like the frozen berries or meat. If a member buys you a gift card, you can use it to shop for a day without a membership.

Bobbie in AK said...

I LOVE Costco. I shop there without fail once a week. Luckily I live less than five minutes away. It is the first place I shop on weekends, always right at opening to avoid the crowds. I go to Carrs afterwards to pick up anything I didn't get a Costco, mostly produce and things I need smaller quantities of.

But, I always price compare. Sometimes Carrs will get the bulk of my business for the week. Not too often though.

I shop strictly by a list and hardly ever deviate from it. I do have an executive membership and it always pays for itself.

I do agree that the selection on some items has been less than usual. If there is something that I need a Costco that I can't find, I'll have my Mom look/pick up for me at Sams. Overall, Costco saves me a ton of money.

planetnomad said...

We had a membership to Costco through my husband's work for several years, but rarely used it. I just found it too overwhelming to go there. Like you said, you don't save money on basics, and you end up with too much stuff. Of course I'm overseas now, but when I'm home I can always visit with a friend and get just a few items (like I am KICKING myself for forgetting to get a bottle of their vanilla--how could I have forgotten to bring vanilla? Sigh...) I don't think you will regret dropping your membership, except for the fun free samples. And I love Freddy's myself.

Blog O' Beth said...

This is the key to Costco savings - non-perishables. I stock up on kleenex, toilet paper, ziploc bags, diapers, toothpaste, etc -- all the stuff I KNOW we'll use and can last really long. This is definitely worth the savings. We also do a lot of entertaining at our house and then you can't entertain a small family function (which for us means 15 people) for less. Also, fresh meat. The meat counter guy will cut the meat into smaller portions and freezer pack it for you. No worries.

Pamela said...

I hate puppies, too.

Org Junkie said...

I think I should feel blessed that the nearest Costco is an eight hour drive away :)

luckyzmom said...

Buyer beware. There are products at Costco that cost much less and products that cost the same and products that cost more. No matter where I shop, I only buy products that are a value to me. And, yes, like anywhere else, I occassionally make an impulse purchase. I've always been able to squeeze a nickel til the buffalo poops:)

Killlashandra said...

Interesting post. I'm a Costo member and with a family of 5 and often feeding the stray other family members that appear at our house several nights a week buying in bulk works for us.

For me it's like shopping anywhere else, somethings are more expensive than others. It's a grocery market scam all the way around. WalMart carries something things at half the price of Albertsons but then the reverse could be true of something else.

Personally I think for large families Costco is a good thing. I don't like the meat in WalMart and that's the only place to get it at where I live unless you butcher your own. Whereas the quality of meat at Costco is pretty good.

Anyway just some rambling thoughts.

Poetic Mama said...

I totally know what you mean about the love hate relationship. I can't shop at Costco and save... that middle second is too much of a temptation. Thanks for the post!

alotalot said...

AMEN!

Go with your sister and sis-in-law to get a slice of pizza...or have them bring one home for you so you aren't lured into the Den of Temptation.

SAH in Suburbia said...

We call Costco the 100$ store because we CAN NOT get out of there without spending at least 100$.

I have a membership and I won't give it up because it's great for shopping with small children (but not on a Saturday). I can put 3 kids in the cart and groceries underneath...the aisles are wide so when the kids get out they don't bother other people. There are samples everywhere which keep my children entertained....

I agree with your points completely, but I'll pay the 50$ simply because my children find grocery shopping FUN when we go to Costco. That's worth the moolah in my crazy world! :-)

miriama said...

It's nice to see someone else who agrees with me about Costco. I am a coupon shopper and I watch my weekly ads. And a BIG fan of Fred Meyer as well. I rarely see anything at Costco that will save me money.

Barb said...

And...factor in the expense of having a spare refrigerator/freezer in the garage to handle the overload that the one in your kitchen can't handle.

Then factor in the cost of the materials your husband bought at Home Depot to build shelving in the garage to handle the toilet paper and paper towels it's going to take you six months to use.

I'm with you. We don't have Costco here. We have Sam's. Same thing.

I no longer shop there. It just freaks me out way too much to spend NEVER less than $300 when I go there. And I don't buy the DVD's and books either. Just basic food and paper stuff.

Wow. This post is an eye opener. I've had this exact same feeling for a long time now, but couldn't quite put it into words.

Biggest thing for me? Since my own budget became so tight, I'm a huge believer in generics. And Sam's does not carry generics. OK, there's "Sam's Choice." But it's not cheaper than where I now shop. Wal-Mart.

And here's the kicker. Sam's and Wal-Mart are the same company - seriously, they're the same company.

Richelle said...

I agree. We have Sam's Club, but its the same. Ever since I started more seriously couponing and comparing prices, I have found I can get things cheaper that way then in bulk at Sams. Even diapers. There are still a few things that I like to get there, though. We got our membership through an Aunt who has a business membership, so it is a bit cheaper, so I think it is still worth it. I can't take my husband, though. We always end up spending too much!

Patois said...

At Costco, I save about $1.25 per loaf of the type of bread I buy. There are other brands, but the kids really only like the one brand. I go to Costco every week for four loaves of bread. That savings pays for the membership and then some.

I've learned to never bring the kids so there are no impulse buys. Just our "basics" for lunches and meats. I just wish there was a Fred Meyer near me.

Looking forward to hearing how you go through your Costco withdrawal.

Lisa said...

What a hot topic today!
I think that you are wise to analyze the benefits of a membership for your family. A few years ago I came to the same conclusion about a Sam's membership, and assumed that Costco was just more of the same. When I visited a Costco with my mom a couple of years ago, I found that that particular membership served our family well. I don't do all my grocery shopping there, I only purchase a few items from a prepared list, and am very careful about the impulse items. If I think I really want to buy something that's not on my list, I wait until my next visit. The store I go to is only about 1 mile off my normal shopping route. Milk, cream, cheese, and butter are about half the price of area grocery stores. The coffee beans we love and the olive oil I use are also about half price. We save our membership fee in a little over a month's time.

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

I have stopped going to Costco years ago. Reason #2 is my biggest thing. I have a family of 4. Buying bulk promoted wastefulness. I guess Costco is a good idea if bulk buying works for your family, but it didn't for mine.

Motherhood for Dummies said...

I agree... I don't go to Costco to buy my food... certain things, for us, are worth the membership fee. What we save on formula and diapers is worth the $50! Buying formula at the store can run you $150 - $200 a month, but at costco for us it was only $40. But now that Lucy isn't on formula... we don't need it as much.

Angela Fehr said...

We don't have a Costco...but we do have a Walmart. I actually wrote them a "Dear John" letter back in August http://hangingoutthewash.blogspot.com/2008/08/kicking-it-to-curb.html
Of course, I still end up shopping there but am trying to go less often - in our small town the options are limited, but it's the impulse buys that get me every time.

CINDY BOKMA said...

What a fabulous essay, Michelle. You make excellent points.

We try to buy only the paper goods or things that we will actually use before the expiration date rolls around.

Im trying to shop around and save money which amounts to going to three different stores for all my groceries.

I have yet to check out prices at the new Super Target.

xoxoxo

Ally said...

I love Costco. I can't help it and I totally agree with everything you said. I was raised in Washington and told since Costco opened that if you can't find it there, you don't need it. I purchase most of our large (meaning expensive) purchases there due to their phenomenal return policy, but not so much on the groceries. It hurts though when I see that bill and it is over $300....

Jolene said...

We did not re-new our Costco membership this year for the same reasons you mentioned. I'm only sad that it took me so many years to finally give it up. I call it the $100 store - kind of like the dollar store only 10 times as expensive!

illahee said...

i hear ya, but here it's more of a 'get american things for a reasonable (!) price.' though that is changing, too. i just have to be really really good at not buying things i don't need. heh.

patty w said...

yep... I know where you're coming from ! For us, it's Sam's Club. I always think I won't renew the membership but always do!

Love it, hate it, leave it...but keep going back!

JENNIFER said...

62 comments?? Oh well I must not let that deter me.... I must comment also:)

I have never believed in Costco for all the reasons you stated but strangely the lack of cheap grocery stores in MA has made me a believer. And I said I would NEVER be one.....funny how that happens :)

Janelle said...

Where I live, I have the benefit of choosing whether I want to go with Costco, BJ's, or Sam's Club for my big-box needs. Last year when we were up for renewal, we researched the pricing on each of them. Costco was $50, BJ's was $45, and Sam's Club (which we already had) was $40 a year. We stayed with Sam's Club (even though it was a little farther away for us to drive) because it was the lowest annual fee, has a tire center that rotates for free when you get your tired put on there, and has DISCOUNT GAS! The Costco near us just put in a gas station a month or so ago, but I think we'll probably still end up sticking with Sam's Club. There's only two of us (plus a baby), and we only go about once avery 3 weeks.

Nicole said...

I have come to the same conclusion. Its supposed to work, buying bulk, but somehow I've been saving a TON of money shopping sales and using coupons. And the whole Costco AmEx rebate thing gets me in trouble every time! I never seem to remember to pay that darn Costco trip bill and it adds up and up! Good post. I totally agree.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, you can still buy Costco pizza without a membership.

Heidi Ashworth said...

Way too lazy to see if someone said this or not but this is how we do Costco: we go once a quarter as in, every three or even four months. We stock up on things that we know are absolute deals, like butter, batteries, cheese, baby wipes (back when we had a baby)and other things that we have identified as being worth the price of belonging. This really limits the impulse shopping and when we need to buy a big ticket item for less, we have already paid our membership. We freeze the butter (cheese keeps a long time) and other things that need to be frozen (we have a small extra freezer in the garage) and count it as food storage as a bonus. We might not be saving a ton of money but we feel good about having essentials on hand. Once a week at Costco is not a good idea for the reasons you stated. That would never work for us.

Mary Alice said...

Amen to everything you said. I will add that I feel the same way about coupons. I stopped using them when I realized that most of the things that had coupons, I wouldn't buy ordinarily. Therefore, when buying them with the coupon I had a perception that I was saving money, but really wasn't because without the coupon I never would have bought the product in the first place. It is rare that you find coupons for the staples of homecooking. Flour, eggs, potatoes, rice, oatmeal etc. Most of the products associated with coupons are processed foods.

cndymkr / jean said...

Stop peeking in my windows! I just got the renewal notice for my membership and I have decided not to renew it. It's not that there aren't some good buys but my husband can not leave there without a full cart. I now have enough cereal to last a year. He buys his vitamins there but other than that we don't need to go there. And face it, vitamins can be bought anywhere.
Now as far as the never ending hunger of the 12 year males? My son is eating me out of house and home lately. He's like a bottomless pit. I think he'd eat cardboard if I heat it up and put soy sauce on it. (kidding, but not by much)

nellbe said...

Interesting post... thanks for the thoughts. As we don't have wholesale clubs in Australia, I am very excited that we are getting a Costco in my home town early next year. We have Aldi as well so I will be keeping an eye on the costs too. Aldi is my budget saviour! I was hoping Costco would be too.

It will certainly be interesting to see what it will be like.

Lisa said...

I have had the same feelings about dumping the membership only because I can't eat 15 cantelopes before they are all bad....

But my husband works in a business that sells to them and he says their mark up on their products is the lowest around. If you are looking for furniture, you will get better for less. Promise.

april said...

This fits Sam's Club to a "T" as well.

My husband and I (no kids yet) used to spend about $70 a week on groceries when we had a Sam's Club membership (and that's not including the yearly fee!).

Now we mostly shop at an indoor farmer's market (for fresh produce and meats) and at Aldi (for the rest). Our weekly bill is now about $40.

It's amazing, really. I thought I was saving so much money buying in bulk, but you're right...not only was it not much (or at all) cheaper, but a lot of it would go to waste. Now we get enough for each week (sometimes two) and it suits us just fine.

(Plus more money to buy clothes with, now!) :D

Kirby3131 said...

My husband and I had a membership to Sams Club when we owned a small retail space and had a little convenience store set up. It was then that I noticed some of what you have talked about.

We don't have children so bulk buying isn't really part of vocabulary, but paper products are always a draw for me. When we had that membership we had no room for anything in the closets because I had a near lifetime supply of paper towels.

That's when I learned that my storage space in my house is worth money and I don't need to fill it with a roll of paper.

My neighbor shops at Costco and he took me with him one day. He's an 89 year old man who lives alone. I teased him that he didn't need 20# of hamburger, but he mostly goes for cheap prescriptions and nibbles of food. And of course, everyone in the store knows him. It's social for him.

Great post - I'm applauding you.

Kristin

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I made the mistake of going to Costco, with my kids, on the Saturday morning before Mother's Day. It was so traumatic that I haven't ever been back. I do go to Sam's club. The other problem these bulk sale clubs cause is over eating. If I buy a regular size box of Wheat Thins at the store I only eat one box. But if I buy a 4 box equivalent size at Sam's I eat 4 boxes worth. Not good for the waistline even if I'm theoretically saving money.

Damselfly said...

Wait -- you hate puppies?

:)

We have a membership to Sam's Club, which is similar to Costco. We joined when friends insisted we absolutely had to when our baby was born. Funny thing is, I don't buy baby stuff there. Mainly, we buy beverages for crowds, and once in a while my husband goes and brings home a container of cookies, or a movie, or some fruit. That's it. So, yeah, we're paying for the privilege to shop in a giant, poorly lit warehouse and then wait in an infernally long line. Gah!

Abby said...

Here here! I completely agree with you and its the reason we don't have a membership.

Kristen M. said...

I don't shop at Costco for the same reasons. For those of us shopping on a budget it is hard to justify sending $150 on 15 items that you probably didn't even need in the first place. It's a great "deal" until you realize that every box you pick up is between $6 and $12. That adds up fast! If I had a limitless grocery budget I would shop there. But since I don't, I will continue to save money purchasing items on sale at the local grocery store.

Becky said...

I am fortunate to have two Costcos in less than five miles. (The perk of actually living in KIRKLAND.) So, distance is not an issue. Like others comments, I save money on the generic medications, especially allergy. There are only four of us, but the other three are allergic to dairy and one of them is also allergic to soy. I save my membership cost when I buy soy milk and rice milk. Plus a case of them is easier to carry and store than when I have to buy them one at a time at a different store.

I, however, am not an impulse shopper so I only spend about $75 to $100 each month. And $25 of that is the two types of milk. I know they don't accept coupons, but I do like the ones they send. I saved $12.50 on a $57 purchase yesterday. And it was for things I would normally buy.

I do understand why others have a love/hate relationship, but it works great for my family.

Laurel Nelson said...

I only buy certain things there in bulk - I don't do bulk milk there, and when I did I only did the organic, which was cheaper than FM. But hubby said it tasted funny so no more. I don't do the bulk yogurt - expiration is too short, or eggs - we rarely eat them. But I do get the laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and other non perishable things, as well as enormous boxes of fruit snacks, granola bars and other assorted snack items because even with only 3 people in the house eating them, they're so dang TASTY we go through them like THAT. I do love Costco's prices on baby, toddler and little kid clothes - they are cheaper there than at other stores so I do buy things there, and other random things that I know are cheaper there, or even if they're not they last a long time so I don't mind.

The Novakovichs said...

Blasphemy! I love Costco - for the exact reasons I shouldn't . . . Every time I walk in I feel like Zanna.

Cursing Mama said...

I must live in Costco Nirvana. Milk at my branch was $2.49/gallon last week - about $2 less than SuperTarget. I can buy in single gallon quantities and the expiration dates are always good.

I actually have a "comparison shopping" spreadsheet I put together (and I update) so I know what is a deal & what isn't - AND I do really well only buying from my list.

Stephanie said...

Fascinating article. I'd like to see even more "cost comparisons" on the products. I've always wondered if buying items there was really worth the drive and the extra time.

One nice thing about Costco is variety. That's probably our #1 reason for shopping there. Costco offers DIFFERENT foods than our neighborhood grocery store so sometimes it's nice to go just to spice up our menu a little bit. Oh, and they're produce is usually pretty good too. Especially when blueberries are in season...

MileHighMommy said...

You made some really good points. My family spends a ridiculous amoung of money at Costco and your absolutely right about the impulse buy there! Not to mention blowing almost $200 dollars there and still needing to go to another store to finish the weekly list with another $50-$100. I've been number crunching with our budget lately, and I'm just in awe of how much goes to Costco!!

I think I'll do a little experiment to see if I can cut the bills down by avoiding Costco for a month or two...

thediaperdiaries said...

Well let me sing the praises of Costco briefly. And I am not on the payroll :)

Here the cost of milk and meat is significantly cheaper at Costco than at the cheapest grocery store. And milk is a gallon so no waste.

Also the cost of an executive membership with the cash back. Well here the difference between the $50 extra and your rebate is refunded if you don't break even.

We just got a flat screen TV for a steal. I have never seen anywhere near that price anywhere else.

Finally, if your Costco has a gas station at it, gas is typically around 10 cents less a gallon. That saves us a ton.

I don't think any of these mean much if your Costco is across town. I have had to learn not to buy everything I sample and just stick to a list.

Oooh, one final point. have you tried their cake or chicken pot pie. Yum!!

Anonymous said...

I live in Alaska as well and I can tell you I do miss my Costco membership. We used to live about 20 minutes outside of Anchorage so we would buy our gas on the way out of town at Costco, along with non-perishables. It really did save us money on any perscription as well as photos. And you have to admit the 1.00 or was it 1.50 hotdog deal with a drink was awesome (let's not get into the health consequences from eating those).

We don't have a membership now, but went traveling through with our old card the other day to check out the differences. I am soooo tired of shopping at CARRS (Safeway) and Fred Meyer (Kroger) for food and really those are the only competitors... until now. WalMart just opened up to be Super Walmart (or whatever it is called) and Target FINALLY opened up here just a few weeks ago. They are not a true Super Target as there is no produce, but I can handle that. I am very excited to have all this competition to drive prices down... after a few more months of comparing, I will see where I will shop more often. Fred Meyers buys the produce from Costco if they run out - which explains the rotten fruit I get whenever I buy at Fred Meyer (Costco's goes bad quickly as well). Therefore, when winter hits, the Farmer's Markets close their doors and we are stuck with buying from the grocery store. I choose CARRS for produce. I hate to waste money, time, and my sanity on buying rotten produce!

Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said...

I completely agree with you. We had the same feeling about Sam's Club a while back so never even got a Costco membership when they opened here. Not that I haven't been tempted from time to time - but then I just remember the large amounts of food that went to waste and I get over it. :)

Melissa Markham said...

We don't have a Costcos where we are, but we have a Sam's. We have been members for 18 years. It's the same deal though, you have to watch the prices and buy the good deals and skip the rest. Even so, it is easy to pick up something you weren't even looking for. I have cut my Sam's shop down to where I can go just once a month, sometimes twice. At one point I was going weekly (diaper days).

The things that I find are a substantial savings at Sam's are milk (about 1.00 a gallon cheaper), chips (2.44/bag instead of 2.99 or more), chicken nuggets (5 pounds for the same amount as less than 4 pounds a the grocery store), and during baking season, it's the place to go for chocolate chips and nuts. There are other things for good prices, but many things that aren't and you do have to be aare and careful. And I do best if I only go once a month.

CoconutKate said...

I know I'm late to this party so this may never be read, but here we have a costco membership just for the savings at the pump. Costco's gas tends to be 10 to 50 cents less per gallon than anywhere else. That's a big deal when you are filling up 21 gallons. Plus with milk being close to $8/gallon in the grocery stores, Costco looks like a saint. However you are so right on the impulse buying. Its hard to walk out of there without spending our life savings on needless Stuff!

macksinak said...

I read in ConsumerReports that Costco allows you to buy your medications without a Costco membership. I have a membership, so I have never really tried it.

Keep your expired Costco card and 'flash' it to the front door clerk on your way to buy some pizza, smoothie, hot dog, etc. They don't ask to see your card at the deli. I have done that at Sam's Club a few times.
I live in Anchorage too and do wish we had more grocery options. I miss ALDI (when I lived in the midwest) and Winco (in the northwest). We really only have Safeway/Carrs and Fred Meyer. I save much more at Fred Meyer on their sales. Their gasoline is a 10 cent/gallon discount with the Fred Meyer card, which is much cheaper than Costco or anywhere else in town.
I must admit I am impressed with our Dimond Blvd. Costco's photo shop. They have always had great service and great printing results.

My trick at Costco is to go with a list an zoom and get those things and then go to the liquor register. I don't buy liquor, but the line is always shorter there.

Another way I have been saving money is using the 'Dave Ramsey' method of cash only and a strict budget on food. I get tempted to buy things, but then realize if I spend too much, I might not have enough for the essentials later in the month.

macksinak said...

I read in ConsumerReports that Costco allows you to buy your medications without a Costco membership. I have a membership, so I have never really tried it.

Keep your expired Costco card and 'flash' it to the front door clerk on your way to buy some pizza, smoothie, hot dog, etc. They don't ask to see your card at the deli. I have done that at Sam's Club a few times.
I live in Anchorage too and do wish we had more grocery options. I miss ALDI (when I lived in the midwest) and Winco (in the northwest). We really only have Safeway/Carrs and Fred Meyer. I save much more at Fred Meyer on their sales. Their gasoline is a 10 cent/gallon discount with the Fred Meyer card, which is much cheaper than Costco or anywhere else in town.
I must admit I am impressed with our Dimond Blvd. Costco's photo shop. They have always had great service and great printing results.

My trick at Costco is to go with a list an zoom and get those things and then go to the liquor register. I don't buy liquor, but the line is always shorter there.

Another way I have been saving money is using the 'Dave Ramsey' method of cash only and a strict budget on food. I get tempted to buy things, but then realize if I spend too much, I might not have enough for the essentials later in the month.

Rose said...

We only ever go to Costco with a very firm list in mind and we do our best to stick to the list. That said, if we weren't buying diapers and wipes I'm not sure we'd keep the membership. It helps me to know that they make their money on the impulse buys and the one time deals. I'm more wary of it all.
As for the food we get there we stick to items that can be frozen, such as chicken, ravioli, and salmon.
I'm saving money by not shopping at Target, because list or no list I have NO willpower when I walk into that place.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. We're dropping our membership in 6 months when our baby is done with formula--the ONLY reason Costco saves anybody anything!

Leah S said...

I'm somebody who's been able to make Costco work out very well for us. I have been going since I was 6 years old in 1989 with my parents.

Point #1 - I don't pay for my membership, my parents cover that for me. Not a moocher child or anything, but more like a gift they generously give me every year.

Point #2 - I buy Costco stuff BECAUSE they come in bulk. I've searched the 100 mile radius for good deals, and Costco wins a lot. Bulk yeast, flour, spices, oatmeal, butter, cheese, meats. A deep chest freezer ensures that I don't have waste. I usually don't buy fresh fruits and veggies because I can't use them up in a timely manner.

Point # 3 - Impulse buy is not an issue for me. Half of the times I come in under budget.

Yes, it might be the $100 store - but that's ok with me, as I only go ever 2 or 3 months if I can help it. Costco is 80 miles away from me, so I have to make my trip worthwhile. I can't just "swing by" for a forgotten item or two.

I'm deaf, and I need hearing aid batteries. The amount of money I save in hearing aid batteries alone per year makes up for the membership cost (moot point, cuz I don't pay for it). The batteries don't go on sale at normal stores, don't have coupons and can corrode if I try to stock up on them.

Another place where I have huge savings is in contact solution. $8 buys me 48oz of Kirkland stuff, whereas before I could be paying $18 for 32oz. No brainer there!

Olive oil is another big savings for us. Can you tell that we cook a lot? ;) I go through a Costco packet of yeast a year, 75 pounds of their bread flour a year, and quite fond of their vanilla at $7 for 16oz.

If I see something that I really want, I'll write it down on my list with the price and debate about getting it at my next trip. Usually I don't, and therefore I avoid impulse buying and give myself time to really figure out if I need XYZ in my life. Other things I want I'll put it on my birthday or Christmas list. I'm still waiting on some Shearling boots, but did enjoy the Adobe Photoshop 6 nearly half off, thanks to a Costco coupon and not pay for it thanks to a Christmas Costco gift card.

That's the other thing I try to do, time my shopping trips when I get those coupon booklets in the mail. Again, I only use the coupons for stuff that we use. I plan my Costco trips with care and a full shopping list.

There's only my husband and I in our household (in an apartment to be exact), but Costco works out very well for us. Different strokes for different people. :)

Funny about Money said...

Please don't throw out the milk just because it reaches the expiration date. That date doesn't mean it's the time the product is expected to spoil! It's the date by which the store is asked to take it off the shelf. If milk has been kept cold, it's perfectly good for quite some time after this arbitrary date. Same is true for most other products.

Personally, I would not live in a town that did not have a Costco. Why?
* The savings in gasoline alone more than pay for the membership.
* A gallon of fresh-squeezed orange juice costs way less, per unit, than a half-gallon of my favorite packaged grapefruit juice (the only drinkable citrus juice in a grocery store, IMHO). Fresh-squeezed OJ at Safeway sells for exactly twice what Costco charges, for the same brand.
* Meat's not cheap, but it's easily twice as good as grocery-store meat -- quality matters to me where food is concerned.
* Costco carries the only brand of bluejeans I've found in years that actually fit a grown woman.
* It's a real luxury to have enough paper towels and toilet paper stored in the garage not to have to run to the store to get that stuff (at exorbitant prices) every time I turn around.

One could go on and on.

There's an easy way to get the $200-per-trip phenomenon under control: write a shopping list, remember to take it with you, and no matter what the temptation, don't deviate from it.

aswewalk.com said...

I recently ended my love affair with Costco. Now that we're almost all out of diapers (save the dog, LOL), and the kids have grown up enough to be trusted walking "free" in a grocery store, we've been avoiding our $400 (!!!) trips. I still send dh for meats, because I'm just spoiled now. I don't like grocery store meats. But soon we'll move to local butcher meats, so we'll eventually write Costco out of our lives. I will miss those amazingly cheap dozens of roses. Ah, the price of a break-up.

Heffalump said...

Costco works for us, although we do overspend. We live in a small town, so no Walmart, Target, etc. We have a Fred Meyer and a Costco. Safeway is about 8 miles away if we want to go that far. Our Costco and Fred Meyer are next door to each other and are less than two miles away. I don't shop for milk, or pasta. I do get cheese, diapers and snack foods for the kids there. Plus gas is MUCH cheaper there than anywhere else around.