I found out recently — thanks to our friends Ryan and Melissa — that our kids LOVE seaweed (go figure!). We were having a picnic together and their family had brought tuna salad with seaweed. They offered some to our kids and they tried it and fell in love.
And then they promptly begged us to buy some. Jesse looked at Whole Foods to buy it and it was some ridiculous price per package. So Melissa offered to pick some up for us at Costco.
You guys! This entire HUGE package of 10 packages of organic seaweed (each package has 5 servings) was $8.99!!!!
Help Me Out! I Want Your Honest Opinion!
I’ve always said that a Costco membership just wasn’t worth it for our family because I could beat almost all of the prices by shopping markdowns, coupons, and deals.
But I’m wondering if now that my kids are older and we eat somewhat differently (and a lot more!) than we did five years ago, if I should re-think that stance.
So I’d love to hear some honest feedback on this from you all. Do you think a Costco membership is something I should consider? Do you feel like you can often beat the prices I pay for things by shopping at Costco? I’d love for you to give me your honest thoughts and input.
By the way, you should know that we don’t have a Costco nearby our house (I actually don’t even know where the Costco is here!), so it would mean a little out-of-the-way trip to shop there. But if you think I could spend our $70 per week more wisely by shopping at Costco, I’d love to hear. Convince me!
Because of my family’s dietary restrictions, I appreciate Costco. I know that I can always get almonds, almond flour, maple syrup and frozen chicken at cheaper prices than the everyday price at the supermarket. I don’t live in an area with many grocery stores or great coupon deals (we have no Aldi, walmart, etc. for 500+ miles). For feminine hygiene, I have found that Costco is cheaper than sale+coupon at kroger.
I think a membership is a good idea, but there is no way you can stay on a $70/wk budget. Every item is *on average* $10, so that is 7 items. 🙂 That being said, for our family it is a good deal and we easily cover the cost of the executive membership. but, we have 7 small children (oldest is just turning 15) and costco is only 2 miles away. We only have a smallish walmart, a safeway, and a qfc (kroger), and a healthy local store. the deals at the regular stores aren’t worth the time to find them and take the time to go to another store with littles in tow. that’s just our season.
BUT, I do know, that if there are items you like from Costco, you can have a member-friend get a Costco cash card for you, and you can use it without being a member. SCORE!! That is a win-win i think for your situation!!!
Crystal Paine says
Have you been following the Friday-Saturday deals at Kroger? You can get up to 5 of each item each weekend and they’ve been having some GREAT deals! I follow KrogerKrazy.com for the heads up on the best deals.
Thanks so much for your great input!
Robert Goodman says
For our family of seven who like to eat healthy and keep cost down, I found costco to be mostly things like Oreos, Pizza, Poptarts, (NOT HEALTH FOODs)Additionally I hate the idea of paying a store for the privledge to shop at that store.
I got a Costco membership just so I could take my son’s glasses prescription and buy contacts and get glasses for considerably cheaper than his eye docs office.
When I had littles in diapers, I drove 70 miles to buy diapers from Costco each month because I saved so much money buying them from Costco.
I would highly recommend Costco! You can return anything for any reason! Costco sells much more than groceries too.
We have an executive membership which costs $110 (I think?). We get a 2% rebate and have always received a check for at least $110.
Where we live, these are some of the everyday prices:
Banana 3lb. 1.44
6 heads romaine 3.79
1 lb organic spinach 3.99
5 lb organic baby carrots 4.99
Rotisserie chicken 4.99
10 lb frozen chicken breast 21.99
4 lb butter 10.99 (it will get lower)
5 lb frozen blueberries
2 lb cheddar 4.79
2 lb mozzeralla 4.19
72 oz chocolate chips 8.99
3 lb almond 12.99
Case of 40 water bottles 2.99
It might be tricky to stay under $70 a week, especially if you can’t go weekly. It may be worth it to go once a month to stock up on some items.
Each month, Costco offers great deals with their own coupons. I always buy contigo thermos there for much less than on Amazon!
You are in the prime season for Costco. Maybe shop with a friend for a while and see if you like it. Okay, you will like it. What’s not to like?! You can see if it is worth your while.
My son is leaving for college and I am coming to the sad realization that we probably don’t need a Costco membership for food. We still buy tires, produce and other things at Costco, but we will need to see if it still makes sense in this new season.
I have done a price comparison in Southern Cal, and Costo is not cheaper for most items. I can almost always find paper towels, toilet paper, vitamins, milk, meat, eggs, produce, cleaning supplies, gasoline, etc cheaper if I shop sales and look for discounted items.
We keep our Costco membership for the discount we get on eye glasses. With 5 members of our family wearing glasses, the $55 annual membership is worth it to save on frames and lenses. The last pair of eye glasses we purchased at Costco was $70 (after insurance). The last pair of eye glasses my husband purchased at his eye doctor’s office was $200 (after insurance).
The other items that are usually cheaper at Costco are cheese, chicken nuggets, nuts, frozen fruit, and spices. But if you are looking to spend just $70 a week by looking for deals, you would probably do better doing what you are already doing and not using Costco.
I LOVE Costco. They have the best prices on sugar, brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, cheese, brown rice, vitamin supplements, OTC allergy meds, dish washing detergent, dish soap, toilet paper, LED light bulbs, yeast, bulk spices, pinto beans and trash bags; at least in my area. Costco also has the best prices for granola bars, Goldfish crackers, and cheese sticks that I buy for my kids’ sack lunches for school. I store the flour and sugar I buy in 5 gallon buckets with gamma seal lids on my pantry floor. Some of the bulk foods I only have to buy once a year.
Costco has a nice selection of toys and Christmas decorations during November and December better priced than other stores. We bought some of our furniture at Costco. Just the savings of buying one piece of furniture will pay for your membership. Costco has new release books cheaper than the cover price.
I also sometimes buy the rotisserie chicken for an easy meal. I use the bones to make broth, saving me several dollars if I had bought the same amount in cans. My family likes to stop at the food court before heading to a museum, the zoo, an amusement park, or fair. We can all eat pizza or hot dogs for what it would cost for one of us to eat at one of those places.
I don’t know if your $70 plan would work at Costco. I spend about $100 for our family of six whenever I go, but overall I save money buying the stuff that is cheaper than the grocery store. I usually make one trip a month. I think it would be worth driving a ways to shop at Costco once a month if you don’t live near one. The employees at my store are always friendly and helpful.
Costco desserts and paper plates are great if you are having a party or taking something to a potluck type party.
I find it is cheaper to buy some things like peanut butter and yogurt at Kroger when it is on sale. Bread is cheaper at the bread outlet or the store brand from Kroger. Overall I am grateful to live near a Costco and would recommend it to everyone.
Oh, and always buy a 10 pound bag of Tyson chicken breasts at Costco. It’s $2 a pound and lasts our family for a month.
I’m a reluctant Costco shopper. I really dislike just being at Costco, the employees have been rude to me, and ours isn’t conveniently located for us, nor does it have hours that work well for me. My husband often does the Costco trip 🙂
That said, we used a Groupon deal, tried it, and have kept it. I’d say we go 1 – 2 x/ month. I kept a spreadsheet for the first year to see if we were really saving enough to justify the membership. I may check in again next year and make sure that’s still true.
For us, the big money savers are in the big blocks of cheese, almonds, walnuts, their rotisserie chicken (it’s the best in town, and $5), Cheerios, spices, yeast, chocolate chips, apple cider in the fall, milk, and eggs. We usually buy produce when we go- it isn’t always a win, but it’s almost never a loss.
Things I wish were a deal there, but aren’t (for us): yogurt, applesauce, meat, pasta, rice. It depends on what you want and how you shop, of course. I want giant tubs of whole-milk plain yogurt, for instance, not little cups, and they don’t have that at a reasonable price.
If I had a chest freezer, I’d buy their frozen berries and veggies. I just can’t get those 5lb bags of large-cut veggies in my regular freezer.
They often have organic pantry items for the same price as I would get conventional pantry items (canned tomatoes or black beans, for example) at a place like Target. That’s not a big sell for me, but may be for some.
Also, we’ve gotten savings on big ticket items like a vacuum. They had the best price in the first place, and then when it went on sale next month, they gave us $50 off to “price match” their own sale price.
I *think* you can get a refund of your membership if you go once or twice and don’t think the prices are good enough. I got a friend to let me tag along on her shopping trip once so I could take some notes.
If I had an Aldi, I wouldn’t bother though. Oh, I wish we had an Aldi. I miss Aldi.
I would say no. I like Costco for their “fun” finds, but not for saving money. Costco strives to be the cheapest/lb or unit, so their sizes are even bigger than Sam’s club. What this means is that as a general rule, nothing is less than $10-$15. So that means you could by 5-7 items per visit. If you have that willpower, than great…..my family most certainly doesn’t. It’s hard to spend under $200/visit, which is why we didn’t renew. I also hated how large the shopping carts were, and how crowded it gets. After the checkout line, there’s another line just to leave the store. I do love their products and the produce, that they pay their employees well, the great return policy,etc. So if you like to shop for fun, then go for it, but I doubt that most families actually save money overall by having a Costco membership. You’ve got to be incredibly disciplined
I share our executive membership with my sister in law. it pays for itself every time. It’s been 4 years. We love the rotisserie chicken, cereal and toilet paper prices. Their sales on chips and school snacks are good when you see $3 off. We do a big haul before camping and stuff like vbs. We use it for gas also. So it works very well for us. But it is across the street from us so that helps.
We used to live in an area where we had Fred Meyer (which is Kroger), and I would go “treasure hunting” like you do, looking for the WooHoo stickers. I saved SO much money shopping there! But then we moved to the middle of nowhere, where the only normal grocery store is Albertsons, which is CRAZY expensive. So I broke down and joined Costco. Seriously, every time I go there I think how I would NEVER shop there if I had a Kroger store nearby. Kroger is way, way better. The Costco prices for dairy, produce, bread and meat are ok, but not nearly as good as Kroger markdowns or even sales. And you have Aldi too! You live in a grocery store WONDERLAND! I don’t think you’ll save any money at Costco. You should really go into Costco and walk around (which they will let you do), and take your time comparing prices on things you would buy regularly. You’ll definitely have to think of your budget as $280/month rather than $70/week because you’ll go way over $70 every time you go there, just because everything is huge. Check Costco out, but I think you’re better off with Kroger and Aldi.
We don’t have gas at our store, just the one on the other side of town (I miss that!) We paid for the membership with milk savings alone since it’s a $1 cheaper a gallon and we go through 2 gallons a week.
Crystal – just so you know, the Costco is in Cool Springs on Seaboard Lane (sort of behind where Barnes & Noble is). The Sam’s is on Mallory Lane between Jim ‘n Nick’s and Walmart.
I don’t have a card for either one. I have a friend who lets me use hers. Saves me money when I need to go (don’t have to pay the membership fee), and helps her out with her rewards. Win-win. I’m single, so I really only need to go occasionally for certain items.
I have had a Costco membership for over 20 years and am always evaluating it. We recently moved to NC from the west. Our Costco was 30 min away. After comparing prices of regular items bought I found that it was a wash. Add in travelling time and gas. The only savings were in brand name vs store brand purchases. I didn’t renew this year and there are only a few times I’ve “missed” it. Trying to leave Costco under $200 a trip (I’d go only once a month) is a challenge. Savings do differ region to region. It really comes down to what will you buy. Does that save money or add frustration because if it’s location? Will Costco cause you to change other financial goals?
I will say they have a fabulous return policy. Now that alone can be worth it for buying non food items. I returned a vacuum after a year because the hose cracked near an attachment point. No problems. They stand behind quality and customer service.
While we do buy food items at Costco, we actually use it to buy our bigger ticket items because Costco has a very liberal return policy. Any problems at all and they take majority of items back without blinking an eye. There are a few items that have limited return, like phones. You can’t return a phone 2 years after you bought it so you can have the cash to buy a newer model. But you could do this with sooooo many other things.
I think that if you love the way you currently shop (e.g. running in during school runs) then Costco is not for you.
I love Costco because I can consistently get good prices (not always great, but usually good) on what we eat on a regular basis with only one stop. As a homeschool mom, I use Trader Joe’s and Costco on alternating weeks with occasional trips to Whole Foods or the grocery store to fill in the blanks. I went through seasons (four kids four years and under) where my entire menu was around what I could buy at Costco. I pushed a cart and pulled a cart with my four children strapped in.
If I had more time than money, and if we didn’t have food restrictions, I’d totally do the coupons. I’d save more money. I don’t have a lot of time to deal with grocery shopping, and family dynamics make it hard to make a bunch of stops.
So Costco works for us:
**gas price is always better than most other places and it’s easy to get in and out of
**I have the store layout memorized. Even when we’re in different cities (I drive past five each week just in my regular comings and goings for things already on our calendar) I can easily find what I need.
**They have good prices on meats, veggies (watch for spoilage this time of year!) and other staples our family eats regularly
**Our check more than pays for the membership each year. We usually get a smallish weekly shopping cart alongside the membership payment.
**When we lived rurally, the gas and other things were always cheaper.
It is just my daughter and I, so I don’t regularly shop at Costco. However, it is totally worth the membership for:
2. An outing to window-shop and get free samples
3. Christmas presents
4. Parties-food to bring or for hosting
5. Premade meals in the deli for busy weeks or when you have guests
And MOST important of all
6. Costco cakes-we always have one for work parties, too.
Give it a try!
I have a BJ’s membership in NY, and it’s just me and my husband. I like it because the BJ’s near me has a great produce section – the kale and salad greens alone save me around $10 a shopping trip. I’ve also had a lot of luck in their seasonal section – a couple years ago my husband bought a Tommy Bahama beach umbrella on Amazon for like $60 (ugh!)…we wanted a second umbrella (we like to spread out at the beach, and occasionally go with friends) – I found a nicer Tommy Bahama model for $20.
If you’re patient, you can wait for a Groupon for Costco – they occasionally have deals where you pay $25 for a year membership at Costco (and they usually throw in freebies or gift cards, so the membership ends up being cheaper or even free).
If you have a friend who has a Costco membership, maybe ask to go shopping with her a couple times? (You can shop under her account if you’re together.) After a couple trips, you’ll have a better idea of the prices and items they offer and if it’s worth it for you. Or, when her renewal comes around, offer to split the memebership and you can always go shopping together. (This would require coordinating schedules, not sure if the 1/2 price savings over a year would be worth it for you.)
Costco also sells discounted gift cards to restaurants and local attractions. For my sons birthday we bought 100$ gift hard to Buca di Beppo and pod 70$. Just there was already a 30$ saving. Gift cards also make great teacher gifts!
We don’t buy that much at Costco and this is our first year of having a membership. I go maybe once a month for a couple of things, always check the monthly deals first.
Since no one seems to have mentioned it, Costco has a great pharmacy program and you can find over the counter medications in bulk discounts. That area alone has saved us the price of our yearly membership. Depending on what you are buying, you can order some items online and have them delivered if the drive is inconvenient.
I can get a year’s worth of Kirkland brand “Claritin” for about $15.00. Also, great deals on contact lenses, furniture, mattresses, patio furniture, clothing. It’s not all bulk groceries. I easily save enough in a year to pay for the executive membership. The Kirkland brands are excellent. The avocado oil and olive oil are better deals than what I can get at Aldi.
Mary H says
You do not have to be a Costco member to use the pharmacy (at least not in Washington state). Just tell the person at the door you are going to the pharmacy. The down side is that you can’t buy anything else but for me, being single and living in a small apartment, buying in bulk is just not practical.
Mary Jo says
I understand you do not need a Costco membership to use their pharmacy. Just tell the people when they ask for a membership card that you are going to the pharmacy. At least that is what I read.
We go to Costco once a month and have our staple items that I know I get a better price than the store at such as eggs, milk, butter, some of their produce, ground turkey, string cheese, coffee. I’ve found several good household items there as well, like a stand up desk that was the BEST price after I had researched for months. I also like to garden and the plants there are good quality. Plus, we really like going to Costco, and you can’t beat the cheap pizza!
I was at the local Asian food market today and saw similarly packaged seaweed snacks for $6.87 – even better than Costco. Do you have an Asian market near you?
I was going to say the same thing about Asian markets. We always buy our rice there (I happen to prefer Asian sticky rice) and things like soy sauce, sesame oil, etc (including seaweed) are always way cheaper there. If you have one nearby, definitely check it out. Ours is a fun experience just because too. The fresh live fish and unusual foods and veggies are fun! Ours is a good size in Houston but I am typically the only Caucasian in there.
Not necessarily organic, but at small Chinese grocery shops where I am in San Francisco, 6 of those seaweed packs go for like TWO DOLLARS! 8.99 seems way expensive!
Just to mention the rotisserie chicken….they are huge and not fed with any hormones. The ones at the grocery store look sick, and they cost more.
I also like all the GF products at Costco that are way better priced than anywhere else.
If you buy Costco gas alone, you could probably pay for your membership. OR if you buy one large ticket item, i.e. grill, canopy, furniture, that will also more than pay for a membership. We go there every other week for basics, flour, milk, nitrate free bacon, tortillas, chips, and rotisserie chicken (better than anywhere else).
One trick I learned is that even if you don’t have a Costco card, you can still shop there with a Costco gift card; give a friend or family member with a membership a couple hundred dollars and they can fill a card for you and then you can shop whenever you want (until your card runs out! they are picky that you can’t over-spend you gift card if you don’t have a membership!) I did this for the last six months and it allowed me to “shop” for a few months to see if I wanted a Costco membership and if it would save us money. (And yes, it does save us money in some areas; they run great monthly specials and also have great prices on dairy and fruit/veggies for our area.)
Lee Anne says
I definitely think a Costco membership is worth it.
There are products that will save you a lot of money. They have large size pure maple syrup and honey that are way less than any of the grocery stores.
I live in the Nashville area (Cool Springs is close to me). Their milk prices are much less. Grocery prices have been running $2.69-2.99 per gallon. Costco was $1.89 last time I went.
Their gas is much less as well. It has been running 50 cents less a gallon.
I also love their Kirkland Signature brand products. They are high quality. Some even better than the national brands. I especially love their garbage bags, paper towels, detergent and baby wipes.
They run sales every month on select products, so, if you plan around that, you can stock up on your favorites when they are even lower prices.
I also love Costco Travel. The have really good discounts on rental cars and it always includes a second driver free.
There is so much good about Costco. They are a great company. They treat their employees well. They have excellent return policies.
I have never regretted having a membership there.
NICOLE NAWROCKI says
Simple Truth @ Kroger has it and my kids love it. 1.00 pack all the time and this last week they had 2.00 of 10 packs so it was 8.00 for 10 🙂
Kelly Hess says
Every family is different so I think you need to try it for yourselves for a year. For our family of 5 it works because it is close so we save a lot just on gas alone. Plus if you are making major purchases such as electronics, tires, etc, it is definitely worth it. We have the executive membership so we always get at least double back and then about the same amount because we use the credit card.
We just finished our first year of membership at Costco after friends raving about it. I joined with a Groupon deal, so that made it cheaper to upgrade to the executive membership. Because of the guarantee, we decided to try it. After a year, our 2% bonus check did not pay enough for the upgrade, so they refunded the difference. I decided to get a Gold (regular) membership when I renewed because the rewards on the Costco credit card add up for us. (4% on gas and restaurants, 2% at Costco, etc). Here’s what I learned:
1. I also made a price list and compared it to Aldi where I do most of my shopping, and a local grocery store where I shop the loss leaders. Most of the items I routinely buy are more expensive at Costco, but there are a few things I can only get at Costco or are cheaper.
2. It’s hard to leave Costco without spending $100 because of buying in bulk. You can buy just 10 items and be over.
3. Unlike many other commenters, the gas at our Costco is the SAME PRICE as about 6 gas stations that surround it (I live in WI). Thus the gas savings aren’t there for me. YMMV. However, when we travel, we use GasBuddy to find Costco stations to fill up, which does help. And with the Costco credit card you always get 4% at ALL gas stations. So most of our credit card reward is from gas we are already buying.
4. We often get a large pizza from the food court for dinner, $10 and feeds our family of 8 without leftovers. This is also an economical choice on road trips.
5. Their sheet cakes are THE BEST!!! $18.99 for a HUGE cake, decorated to order by the next day, filled with 2 lbs of cheesecake mousse. This is a WAY better deal than local bakeries or the grocery store. It’s really good. And I’m not a cake person.
6. They always have free samples, sometimes enough for a light lunch!
Because of these reasons, we decided to try just the Gold membership this year and then reevaluate.
I will say I don’t like that the rewards from the executive membership and the credit card can only be used at Costco. So if you cancel your membership, you forfeit those rewards. The credit card reward always goes out around February, so I’d suggest having your membership year coincide closely with that. Ours is in August, so if we decide not to rejoin, we will have to stop using the credit card months beforehand in order to not forfeit those rewards.
Jessica- you don’t have to use the rewards at Costco… you can take the check to customer service and they will give you cash instead.
That’s interesting about the gas. We also live in Wisconsin and we definitely save on gas at Costco. At least 15-20 cents cheaper per gallon than every other station in the area. I’ve never found it cheaper. We’re in the Milwaukee suburbs.
Our Costco, for the last year or two, gives us back 25 cents (of store credit) for every dollar spent on gas. (So for gas at $3 a gallon, I am saving 75 cents per gallon.) On the bottom of the receipt, it will print out the savings. Bring that in the store, and the cashier will deduct that amount off the total bill. With just that promotion alone, it pays for us to have a membership just for the gas 🙂
You can cash out rewards checks at the membership desk. We have done it before
Seaweed…with brown rice and avocado are a standard fave in our family! My only Costco input….anyone can get costco products via instacart (maybe does not help with money saving as much).
I have the executive membership which is $120 a year. I Do share the membership with my daughter so everything we both purchase gets credited to our membership. At the end of the year a check is sent to us and it usually covers the cost of the membership. So it works out for us. The only down side is it’s in my name and daughter’s name so husbands can’t just run in. Your $70 a week would probably not do well there. You would have to change your shopping stragedy.
Sarah Pinault says
We have a Sam’s membership, because it’s closer than Costco. The membership cost is made up in savings on what we spend on blocks of cheese alone ($2 cheaper a block than I can usually buy). And so everything else is a win. I also picked up five packages of swim diapers for .88 a few years back and only now need swim diapers again. The occasional clearance item will always make it a win.
This doesn’t necessarily answer your question, Crystal, but I have to add that I’m a Sam’s Club fan, too. I’ve recently had both Sam’s Club and Costco memberships.
Because I have a business membership, I can get in Sam’s at 7 a.m. on weekdays and Saturdays. Doors open for those with a regular membership at 10 a.m. on weekdays, just like at Costco. I can check out through an app on my phone. Or I can use their Click ‘n Pull service and have the items waiting for me after choosing them online. The last straw for me with Costco was when they weren’t open at all on all three summer holidays. Sam’s Club is open on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, but they close early. Any chance there is a Sam’s Club closer to you than a Costco?
Depends on what you want to buy there. If you want to focus on organic, then yes, they are definitely cheaper on all organic products. Meat/poultry is cheaper. I bought 16 8 oz. lobster tails caught and processed in USA for around $116. Definitely a better price than what I’d pay at the grocery store.
I don’t care for most their produce. The strawberries and blueberries are good. That’s usually all I’ll buy there.
My husband loves Zone bars but they are ridicously expensive. Usually twice a year Costco issues a coupon for them. I can get 24 bars for around $12.oo. I’ll buy 10 boxes or more at a time. In a regular grocery store I’d pay $12-$15 for 12 bars. Significant savings just in that one product. I could not get Zone bars for the same price using coupons, easily.
Every month they issue coupons.
Some Costcos have gas. Gas is usually 10 cents cheaper. Anyone can buy gas there–you do not need to be a member.
You can easily cancel your membership. I think it’s only $59 a year for the basic membership. I’m not sure if they prorate the fee if you cancel early. You can get a guest membership to check it out.
Don’t bother shopping there on weekends. It is CRAZY busy!
It’s easy to buy what you don’t need there so be wary. I’m no longer a regular customer. I got tired of the gigantic products and the crowded store. I only go occassionally now.
We are a family of two, and find that getting the membership every other year through Groupon works best, as I go less than monthly. The other benefits such as tires, gas and travel make it well worth it. Plus, ibuprofen for .9 cents each and prescriptions. As has been said, getting a membership from Groupon with coupons for freebies brings it down to $10 per year. And being able to return anything is huge. I doubt you could get the variety you currently purchase at Kroger for $70 a month. I do not live near an Aldi or a Trader Joe’s, but I do drive to Trader Joe’s every 3 months. My teenager can also get “full” from eating samples and then getting the $1.50 hotdog meal and feels that we went out to eat.
We have a Costco membership and the closest one to use is about an hour away but I’m still thankful we have the membership. I agree with what everyone else has said above. The one thing I LOVE about Costco is that I KNOW I am getting the best quality of items. They really do their homework before they sell something in their stores. We may not save a TON of money by having a Costco card but we certainly do not lose any money over it. We buy lots of non-food items there and save a ton. They always have great prices on NAME BRAND shoes and boots. I have bought a few pairs of Hunter rain boots there for about $85 when they are upwards of $150 other places and Sorel winter boots much cheaper as well! We got a very good price on a storage building last year and also a jungle gym type thing for our kids.
I feel that overall I can get my regular groceries cheaper at a grocery store, but with that being said, I love my Costco membership. I find that I save a lot of money on lots of other things besides their groceries. We have a dog with allergies that needs a special type of food- to buy it at PetSmart is $80 for a 25 pound bag, we can get it at Costco for $32 for a 35 pound bag. We buy good quality name brand tennis shoes, hiking shoes, and slides/flip flops for $20 or less a pair. I just replaced my vacuum for about $100 less than I could find it anywhere else. The list goes on and on. Plus I do buy some groceries, most of them listed above, for great prices. And as long as I am in there, you cant leave Costco without at least one rotisserie chicken- I cant buy it much less cook it for the that price!! LOL
Try it! Give a friend some cash and have them buy you a Costco gift card. You can use a gift card without a membership so it’s a great way to see for yourself if it can save you $.
If you shop GF or paleo, it is a great way to save…
Not sure why my comments don’t post but did leave one on this subject.
We used to have a free membership every year through my husband’s employer but now that he can no longer work that went away so we go into Sam’s on a one day pass a few days a year and since we are in SC we do not pay an up-charge. We go when we are out of bread flour and stock up on that and yeast since we bake all our bread. When we had the free membership we hardly ever used it because we can not use the large quantities of produce as a household of two and I can do better with sales at the grocery store on most things. We were also bad about picking up things like the huge boxes of ice cream treats on the rare occasion that we shopped there. We do have a surplus grocery where I get awesome deals. I have found that some of the products that I thought I could only get a good deal on at the club stores are just as easy to find at great prices on Amazon. By law a membership is not required to shop at either club store for prescriptions.
Not sure if anyone mentioned, but if you do purchase something that ends up on sale within the next 30 days, they will refund the amount to you so that you don’t have to worry about missing out on the lower price.
We use Zyrtec and flonase every day and their store brands are so much cheaper and work the same. I agree with gas and other things noted above. You just have to learn what is preferred for you and what you won’t waste if you buy in bulk vs. need to buy in a smaller quantity. If it goes bad (produce) then of course you aren’t saving money.
We haven’t had to pay for our membership the last few years with the executive membership so it hasn’t been any loss for us.
Well, I haven’t been a huge fan of Costco mainly due to their meat prices – they are WAY more expensive than Sam’s – BUT their snack prices (especially with coupons) are amazing, and I will say their Kirkland’s brand diapers are FANTASTIC. We were gifted two boxes when we took in two foster babies a few months ago, and the quality FAR surpasses Walmart’s Parents Choice brand (and that is PAINFUL for me to say because, as someone who has been changing diapers for almost 13 years, those were my favorites!). Their quality is so much better I had friends with a Costco membership order me a few more boxes!
Melissa Studeny says
The prices at Costco are not always lower than other stores but if you are not someone who will drive around to different stores each week to grab those deals, they will save money over the grocery store closest to me. I do think they have great prices on clothing and shop there frequently for things like clothing, sports equipment such as tennis balls and for liquor/wine. Their wine and Kirkland liquor is definitely cheaper than the grocery store or liquor store. They tend to have some unique items which I love. Oh, and their markdowns are a great price too since they will clear out items as supply dwindles or the seasons change. I have scored gloves in March for about a dollar that would have been $20 regular price.
Our closest Costco is an hour away, and it’s still worth it for us. We drive through this city fairly regularly, so it’s very rare that I have to make an exclusive Costco run. We just tie it in when we’re nearby. We have a Sam’s in our town, but they don’t have the same quality of products.
The top things I buy there are:
coffee (quality, whole bean, $5/lb)
frozen organic fruit (smoothies)
oils (coconut, olive)
parmesan reggiano (the real stuff)
organic strawberry jam (pbjs everyday)
nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios)
toilet paper (hate trying to figure out bargains on this)
I always get a rotisserie chicken. They are huge and I can get many meals out of it (including making bone broth). We’ve bought several pairs of glasses and contacts. They often have great clothing (the best wool socks). We even purchased our last car through Costco!
Costco is also a great place to stop when you’re on the road for a cheap lunch. We can feed our family of 4 for under $10.
I would recommend going with your friend. That’s how I decided on if a membership would be worth it for us.
These seaweed are Korean condiments. Check at the price at Asian market. They all have them.
Not sure how nobody has listed Chobani yogert. Much better than normal grocery prices, unless I snag a clearance deal. We do a good deal of our produce shopping at Costco – our kids eat a ton of fruit! Sometimes it’s better than grocery store, sometimes not. You just have to pay attention. My OTC allergy meds alone make the membership worth it. We have as also used them for car shopping, rental cars, etc. We find it’s useful for our family, but it really depends on your shopping habits.
LeaDawn Grant says
This is a great question, and I think it depends. I think the hardest thing with Costco is that it is soooo easy to spend too much. There are definitely items that save you money, but you have to stay focused and not fall for the “sale” items and convenience foods that are not really a great deal.
I don’t think you will have too much of a problem there. Spending just $70 a week, you would probably spend the whole $70 there once a month. We have a Costco just 15 minutes away, and I try to only go once a month. It is too easy to buy more than I need, and if I go more often I seam to spend too much. We have a few items that we get at costco that we LOVE and are way cheaper than Kroger (which is my go to grocery store). I also love that I can buy some of these items without spending so much time with coupons, though I do watch mark downs and deals at my local Kroger too.
Rotisserie chicken – I love this chicken, and I use it to make broth. One $5 chicken makes 3-4 meals for our family of 6 (young kids).
Cheese – There every day price on cheddar cheese and shredded motzerella is so much cheaper than the grocery store.
Tortiallas – I love Tortialla land refrigerated tortillas, they are much cheaper here.
romaine Lettuce, brocolli, and spinach – There prices on these are fantastic. They also have a few pre-made salad kits that are a great price for their size. If I am taking a salad to a gathering or to take a family dinner I will often get one.
Medicine – They have great prices on my husbands allergy medicine.
Eggs – We go through a lot of eggs, and we can get them here for $1 per dozen.
Milk – The milk here is $0.20 or more cheaper than in the store
Dishsoap, laundry detergent – I watch for coupons and buy these on sale.
Gifts – The clothing and other items at costco are typically a great quality, and can make great gifts.
Those are my favorites. Good luck! We got an executive membership. It only pays for itself if you spend quite a bit, but we decided to try it out. If we don’t get back the $60 difference Costco will reimburse us.
It is just myself and my daughter and I don’t do my regular shopping there, but it is still VERY worth it for:
2. A fun outing to browse and do the samples
3. Christmas gifts!
4. The occasional electronic purchase
5. Party food
Mrs S says
The fringe benefits (travel, tires, optical, etc) save my family hundreds. Costco online sells a variety of discount gift cards and destination experience. Living a few hours away in a very high food cost area, we make a monthly trip to Costco for paper products, shampoo, OTC medications, shelf stable foods, etc. all significantly less expensive than purchasing at the smaller local markets. Also, Socks, underwear and things like track pants that are difficult to find (in good condition) at thrift stores. Holiday deals are HUGE for our family, things like turkey, cranberry sauce, Christmas candy, etc are all cheaper than even sale prices locally. That being said, if I had a selection of coupon accepting chain stores locally, I think my only benefits would be travel & tire, we’d still save money.
I LOVE Costco and regularly shop there every two weeks. We have a family of seven and I spend about $500/month at Costco. But that includes diapers, protein powders, vitamins, and dog food. We can get a bigger bang for our buck there, especially when it comes to buying organic foods. Not everything is a better deal though. The seaweed snacks used to be a better price, and now that they are about $1/pack I won’t buy them. I did find them 3/$1 for an organic brand at the Grocery Outlet, though! With that being said, Costco is no place for a tiny budget. You can spend $70 down the first aisle easily. It’ll last you longer, but you won’t have much of a variety. The one exception to that is the produce section because you can get so much more for basically the same price the grocery store charges. They don’t take manufacturer coupons, but they do have their own warehouse coupons which are great, and they offer the same discounts pretty regularly so you can figure out when the best time to buy something is. For example – my orgain protein powder is normally $30 for 2.74lbs which is a better deal than most stores (same price at amazon) – BUT I try to only buy it when it’s on sale for $23. I stock up, so I spend more in one instance – but I save $7/canister which is worth it in the long run. So, in conclusion, lol… while I definitely love Costco and buying in bulk, it’s not for everyone, and may not be worth it for you to make the trip if it’s far away.
We are a family of 5 and I finally caved a few years ago and got an executive membership. We have always gotten several hundred dollars back at renewal time which has paid for our membership and then some. We are extremely frugal. My mom jokes that I stretch a dollar so thin it’s see-through. Ha ha. We don’t buy everything there, but we do buy a large quantity of our groceries there. We also eat gf and organic for health reasons. Sales there are where it’s at. Example. Right now Victoria maranara sauce (2/10 oz jars) is $5.99. It’s awesome and super expensive elsewhere. We buy our banana and carrots there. Meat, frozen organic veggies, EVOO, jam, rice, quinoa, canned goods (sardines, canned salmon), etc. I still shop elsewhere for a majority of our produce (Sprouts, mainly) and some things like eggs I can get waaayyy cheaper at Natural Grocers. My family eats a lot and it’s totally worth it for us. I have to be careful when my husband goes with me. He’s an impulse buyer and I am constantly reminding him to stick to the list. ? Also, gas and tires! We don’t buy those anywhere else. You will likely spend more initially because if the quantity, but it lasts for weeks and weeks.
We let our Costco membership go. You do get great prices, however, you have to buy so much of one item that you don’t get much variety. We got tired of eating the same things and the same brands. Also, Costco takes time. It takes time to get through the store and through the checkout, but if you are buying meat (which is high quality and reasonably priced) you have to break down the bulk packages into meal sized portions once home. From what I read on your site, you find better deals than you would at Costco and you’re always able to switch up meals.
I live 40 mins away from the nearest Costco and try to go once a month or less and stock up. Just like above mentioned I share the cost of membership with another household. I love their diapers and wipes (not that you need them ?) granola bars, Vitamins, beef sticks and produce. I live in rural MN so my grocery store options are pretty limited near my house so I might be better off driving 40 mins to a different store and save some money but I love having big quantities of stuff on hand with 3 growing boys and I have never been disappointed in quality of any product.
Thanks for the gas tip can not believe I have not noticed that before.
I am a single, empty nester. I find great value in having a membership.
I try to eat pretty clean and simple. The Almond Butter has only 1 ingredient. Aidells Chicken Apple Sausage quantity and price is great. It is near my work so when I get off work (7:30 pm) I can make a focused, quick less than $100 trip before it closes or get gas. I always run into people I know. I never run out of toilet paper. Wine.
(My parent’s had me on their business membership since 1989 and when they retired, I had to get my own. Being cut off hurt 😉 )
I honestly don’t know that Costco would be worth it. Where we live, the gas is only about 2-3 cents per gallon cheaper. There are some things there that definitely are cheaper, but when you have to buy in bulk, it can throw your budget off. For example, the syrup is a great deal, but I don’t always have $8 in my budget for syrup, with all the other food I need to buy. I have just started buying a lot of produce there, and it is comparable to my local grocery store. Because things are in bulk, it can go bad before it is eaten, so it becomes wasteful. It is very hard for me to get out of Costco for under $100. I would recommend getting a gift card and trying it out for a few weeks. You might find those 5-6 items that work well for you all and continue using the gift card. I would think you have the whole ibotta/coupons, etc down that Costco would cost you more money.
I love Costco! I mainly shop at Costco, Aldi, and Kroger. Costco has the best prices on several things. I shop every two weeks and here are the things I get that I feel are a better deal than Aldi or Kroger.
Organic romaine lettuce
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and grapes-sometimes Aldi may have been a tad cheaper, but I prefer the quality of our Costco
Eggs (I can’t say enough good things about their eggs and we use so many)
Tp (I will compare some of the Amazon deals you post and I think their brand is better priced a lot of the time-and good quality-my hubby is picky lol)
Smarty Pants vitamins for my kiddos and myself
Organic tortilla chips
I also buy their ground beef and freeze what I’m not using.
Costco is great about returning items and their gas is a great price as well.
We have been Costco members almost from the start…at least when they came to the area we lived in…back in the 1990’s. We are older and no kids at home and living in a very small place…with tiny fridge. So our shopping has changed a lot…also some of that is due to allergies. We do get most all our gas here…basically because hubby feels it is better quality (if your car pings some…tis not good gas!!) Also, because of our meds. All but one at least, is a fair amount cheaper at Costco…do check around however as for one of ours, with insurance it is $75 at Costco…and the nasty insurance company howls if you are there one day too early to pick it up etc…and we can get it at Walmart for $25, no questions asked, without insurance. We do not buy bakery goods now…though we surely did when our kids were home. We do not buy produce…often it is not that good there for some reason. We do buy nuts (YES much cheaper), turkey uncured bacon (which is far better than any other brand we know of), granola bars, nut bars, things like that, books (oh my don’t look when you don’t really want to buy…so tempting), some clothes for our kin at times (they tend not to carry fat people clothes). We have gotten some gift cards for Taco Time a whole lot of times which saves you 20% and it is something we have at times given to street people…never give money…but cards for food, yes. They have holiday stuff like the special smoked salmon, etc etc etc that are nice for giving. We also get quite a few canned items plus some spices (love their dried red onions, garlic, white onions in particular). We do buy computer paper, and some other needed things like outside lights beside the garage for daughter (only $25 each). Furniture tends to be very reasonable…though we have yet to buy that. Worth taking a tour however to see how you think…the frozen stuff is quite good…but again, we have no place to store that. We got back $300 in the yearly rebate this year (our membership is $100 or so). We use our Costco credit card many other places…which helps us get more in rebate too.
Cat Darwent says
We JUST caved and got a membership through a groupon deal, with freebie coupons and discounts upon enrollment we broke even so I figured try it for a year. We are price comparison pros in our house and found several of our staples ARE CHEAPER or match the usual rock bottom grocery price we pay. So while some items are definitely a rip off if you can stock up on your pantry staples and not get blind sided by the fun items it may be great! We plan to go once every three months as it is an hour away.
We love Costco and with our family of 5 we certainly get our membership back especially on the staples like gas, batteries, coffee, maple syrup, baking yeast, milk, 1/2 and 1/2. The produce is sometimes better price than Aldi but its always better quality!
One idea is to share your membership with another household. This works by one member of each household (so yourself and the female of the other household) share the membership rather than you and Jesse. This way you split the cost with the other household and the only downside is that Jesse couldn’t go without you to Costco as you are the member but in your house this wouldn’t be a problem! My sister and a friend did this for several years and it worked out great because their husbands never went to Costco anyways.
We were Costco members in the past, and now are at Sam’s. Sam’s membership is cheaper! And they sell basically the same stuff. Only difference is that for some reason saying “I’m making a Sam’s run” doesn’t have the same cachet as saying “I’m making a Costco run.” At least in my area.
Whether either is worth it or not really depends on your personal shopping preferences. Just gotta go check it out first.
We live 1/2 mile from Sam’s and about 15 miles from Costco. We get our car insurance through Costco and it cut our rates in GA by several hundred dollars every 6 months. That alone makes the membership worth it for us. Costco has a better selection of organic foods and they have a larger selection of frozen fruits/veggies than Sam’s.
Elizabeth Edelen says
I have bought Costco membership deals from Living Social and Groupon in the past– typically you get a cash card and a few coupons for free products with your sign up bringing the cost of membership to less than $10 for the year. There isn’t one currently available but it’s worth watching for.
I don’t think you’d be able to spend only $70 and get all the things you need for a week there because of the higher prices you pay because of the greater quantities. If you were very selective about what you bought and spread out your purchases well over the year, you could probably spend $140 every two weeks with one trip to Costco and another trip somewhere else to pick up odds and ends.
Although prices will be different in different states, I find this list super helpful in getting an idea of the cost of items at Costco.
We love Costco, for many of the reasons others have already listed. We are fortunate that there is one 10 minutes away from our house as well!
I echo everyone else in that for the gas alone, the membership is worth it but then again, I live less than 10 minutes from one and not all Costco locations have gas stations. Even though it’s super close, we shop at Costco just once a month and set a budget before we go so we don’t blow our entire grocery budget by accident! It always seems to be so busy no matter when we go but my kids beg to go when they have samples. Lunchtime and weekends! We almost always buy olive oil (2-liter for 12.89), maple syrup, honey, and frozen chicken tenderloins and then whatever is on special that month that suits our family. They change their specials monthly and you can get good some really steep discounts then. About twice a year we buy dishwasher tabs and trash bags because they are the best price but there are just so many, it takes us that long to use them up! We also buy discounted movie tickets when we need them. Our Costco sells both AMC and Regal for $8 per ticket and you can use them anytime; I’m sure it depends on where you live but that’s cheaper than buying them at the theater for us, unless it’s a $5 matinee. They sell discounted gift cards in bulk that we usually purchase around the holidays for teachers’ gifts and big family gifts. Lots of reasons to love Costco!
We save plenty of money and it’s just 2 of us. They carry a LOT of organic products. When Farmer’s Market is closed in cold months, I buy nearly all our fresh fruits/veggies there.
Organic EVOO as well as organic chicken, ground turkey and ground beef and wild caught pacific fish.
I buy my organic ECOS laundry detergent and regular dishwasher tabs there.
Paper products are cheaper elsewhere so you do have to know your prices.
Pita chips are half the price of the grocery store and a bigger bag!
I also buy several of our supplements there (Nature Made) as well as pain relievers.
We also like the Premier protein shake as an emergency backup meal and they are super cheap there compared to the grocery store.
Something no one mentioned is clothing items. I love when I go through there and see a good price on a package of socks with a rebate. I have 4 kids so we go through socks like crazy. Every time I’m there they have different clothes. Most of the time I don’t buy them but I love when I see a deal on something I like – Head gloves, pjs when the kids were younger, sport logos….This is not a place I do all my shopping. I have a set list of things I buy there. Always pay attention to the sales booklet. It has been worth it for me.
michelle casias says
We live 4 hours from Costco so we use the gift card method to stock up when traveling through the big city. Prices can be high but quality is very high. Seaweed specifically is a good price as my kids LOVE it-dollar stores sometimes carry seaweed 3 packs/$1 but not sure it’s organic quality. Also Groupon offer $40 memberships- with freebies- split that with another family n you pay $20 w free stuff.
I would also compare Sam’s (not as nice, obviously), but you can order everything online and just drive through and pick it up. If you want to go in, you can use the click and pull and scan all your items and avoid the checkout. Also, with a Sam’s Plus membership, you can get in at 7 am and be in and out QUICKLY, plus they give you free coffee and granola bars. https://www.samsclub.com/sams/homepage.jsp You can look at all their prices on the website for your local store and compare. If you have Sam’s and Costco, the prices are pretty similar. It just depends on how fast you can eat the quantities of food and how much storage you have. My parents pay for their membership just with prescriptions, which are very cheap with the Plus membership. I would just watch for a Groupon deal or a day where they let anyone in and check it out.
I meant to say scan and go, where you scan it, click and pull is where they pull it for you.
You do not need a membership to get your prescriptions at either club store.
It’s worth it for us, but I have 3 boys ages 11-15. They are always eating! Our grocery budget is way bigger than $70/week, so I don’t know if I’d be able to stay under that by shopping at Costco. I did a price comparison on all the things I typically buy between Costco, Aldi, and Target, so I know what to buy where. Costco isn’t always the cheapest, but they are on many things. I always fill up my tank when I’m there because gas has been 20-60 cents cheaper per gallon. Some items I buy (like saline, tissues, and Dawn) go on sale regularly which makes them even cheaper, so I stock up enough on those to get me to the next sale cycle. Totally worth the membership for us!
Yes, Yes, Yes!!!!!! My husband’s office is across the street, he’s there once a week! Organic prices can’t be beat! Not just food, they offer such get prices on non food items too! And their return policy is Amazing!!!!!
We love Costco, but only buy certain things there. Not everything is a bargain. We get seaweed (yum), the uncooked tortillas, maple syrup, almond butter, raisins, nature’s bakery fig bars, frozen fruit, batteries, and tillamook cheese.
But, we do use their credit card and pay it off every month (I know that probably goes against your rules) It gives us 3% cashback on tons of purchases that we make every year and we usually get a check for around $800+ once a year. To us, it’s totally worth it just for that.
It might be tough on your budget. When I first started shopping at Costco, it was a big up front cost, because you’re stocking up for the first time. Now, I spend a normal amount there since I’m just replenishing what runs out. Their sales make for some AMAZING deals. We buy furniture and electronics and household items and lots of food there. We can generally pay for our entire executive membership with the cash back check we get each year. BUT, that might not be the case for you if you’re not buying as much there, specifically the big-ticket items like furniture and electronics. Their meats are high quality and a great price. Some things we buy: butter, cheese, fresh broccoli, meats (pork chops, grass-fed need), paper products, snacks (especially when on sale), SPICES, gasoline, organic eggs and milk, and lots more. Their return policy is UNMATCHED.
I’d recommend giving your friend some cash to buy you a gift card. You can shop without a membership if you have a gift card. Then, you can go check out prices yourself and see whether it would be worth it.
I LOVE COSTCO!
Pam b says
I might be the odd one out but I don’t think Costco is worth it. The prices are generally cheaper at aldi and Trader Joe’s for what we buy. I bought a membership because a car rental through Costco was saving us $300 (month long rental) so if you rent cars a lot, it might be worth it! Almond butter is a great deal there and their organic chicken breasts are 4.99 a pound which is a good price.
Would your perspective change if you only had an Aldi nearby and no Trader Joe’s? I’m also trying to decide if it is worth it for me. And sadly the only TJ is 3.5 hours away! But still happy to have Aldi! And even Costco is pretty new to our area.
Yes it would definitely change my mind! Trader Joe’s and Costco are both significantly cheaper than our local grocery chain (giant eagle). I used to do 99% of my shopping at tjs but we moved closer to a Costco recently and so I started shopping there some and I’m pretty sure I’m spending more money than I was. I have 3 little kids so I can’t manage to go to multiple stores! If we didn’t have tjs, I’d probably do a mix of aldi and Costco
We have a Costco membership but I don’t think it saves us any money (probably causes us to spend more)! I can get better deals on most things at other stores.
There are a few things I actually save on , but mostly it is the convenience of buying in bulk things we use regularly. Their meat is very high quality and is one of the items I feel I truly save on. You just really have to be careful, it is so easy to rack up $300 without trying!!
You can shop at Costco with a Costco gift card. You could ask a friend to pick up one for $25 for you and you could go and get your seaweed (my kiddos like it too) and check out the prices. I did this and wrote down all the prices of things I was interested in buying then compared the unit prices to the grocery store stock up prices.
We live less than 10 minutes from a Costco but the savings in buying gas there pays for the membership. It’s usually anywhere from $0.15-$0.50 cheaper per gallon.
Salad mixes are much cheaper there but the produce prices aren’t usually cheaper if there’s a sale at grocery store. Meat is more as well unless you’re used to buying all really high quality meat then it’s a savings. Frozen fruit and frozen vegetables are a great price (and organic) cheese and yogurt are good prices too! I also save on applesauce pouches, vitamins and over the counter medicines (such as allergy medicine).
I forgot to mention I am able to shop there on a budget. I budget $100 per month at Costco for my family of 5. Sometimes I will go over if the coupon mailer deals are really good on an item we buy there then I just adjust my grocery store budget (which is about $60 per week). Both budget includes vitamins, OTC, household and health and beauty as well as groceries. We also have food allergies and I would say eat pretty healthy…so I think it’s totally doable to shop there on a tighter budget you just have to be disciplined (which you are!) otherwise a lot of things will go in your cart.
You actually don’t need a membership to shop there if you have a Costco gift (cash) card. If you think you will only buy a few items there (like seaweed) you can gain access to the store (and purchase the items) with a gift card without paying for a full membership. Just have your friends buy one for you the next time they are there and then you can check out Costco for yourself to see if the prices are worth it.
We love Costco, for the reasons that others already mentioned (but let me say, GASOLINE, once more!) As long as you have room to store the large quantities, and are already good at making sure you put up and rotate and actually USE said quantities, you really are going to save money. Now, you have to be careful because there are a lot of impulse buys – and if you go on the weekend, you can practically have a meal on the free samples – and it’s really helpful to know your “rock bottom” prices because not everything is going to be a deal. But overall, it saves us a lot of both money and time.
We don’t use Costco very often because we are impulse buyers and it is better to stay out of a store like that for us. Why we have kept our Costco membership for years:
1. Super low gas prices at 2 different locations near us
2. Great prices on some items we use when entertaining (the Christmas beef tenderloin, dessert, wines)
3. Great prices on spices in bulk — we go through a lot of chili powder and cumin
4. Great prices on tires. When our car needs new tires, this is the place we go
5. Glasses/contact (4 our of 5 family members in glasses/contacts): kids glasses prescription is under $100, adults prices are not that much more. I saved almost $100 on my year supply of daily contacts that last 2 years.
6. some household items can be found seasonally. I’ve found bathmats that I needed, towels, pillows
7. books — I haven’t bought books there in a couple of years because I’m addicted to my Kindle, but I used to find their book prices very competitive, especially for some kids books to be used as gifts.
What I don’t buy there: cleaning supplies — they are close to the other stores near me, but can’t quite beat the price.
For about five years, we lived close enough to a Costco that it was our “convenience” store. We are further away from one now, but we still use it for all of our staples. We do Sprouts for most of our produce, but when we lived somewhere that had no Sprouts, we used Costco for all our produce, too… even when there was an Aldi nearby. Between Sprouts and Costco, we get all of our shopping done and really only make it to a typical grocery store once every other month or so. But, as with everything, you have to be smart and on top of things when purchasing at Costco because impulse buys or miscalculations end up costing you a whole lot more. 🙂
Oh, one other thought, you can’t really use iBotta there. Even though theoretically there are lots of deals that you can get at Costco with iBotta, the sizes usually don’t match up.
I’ve compared Costco many times with Aldi to see if I’d save money for our family of 4. I don’t think I’d save much (if any). I think at most I would break even with the membership fee. I shop at Aldi and after comparing the prices for things we normally buy, it was a pretty close tie, and that was before the $55 membership fee. I also don’t want bulk fruit and vegetables, because we wouldn’t be able to eat everything before it went bad. Since you routinely shop deals and especially Aldi, I think you’re already saving over going to Costco. Hope this helps you!
So I think ALDI prices and mark downs will 90% of the time be cheaper. However, if you eat super clean or have food allergies, then you will be able to buy some of that healthier food cheaper than you would be able to at like Whole Foods or Sprouts.
Ex) I bought a huge 20 box of Lars bars for $9
There rotisserie chicken is hormone feee and it’s $4-$5 depending on size
Half and Half is cheap
Their produce is delicious but typically more expensive than ALDI except for their big bad salads.
Their sugar free peanut butter is a better deal than ALDI.
When they have things on sale and you stock up then it’s definitely saving, but once you factor in membership fee… I don’t know ??♀️
We join bc we have food allergies and Costco is one of the easiest places to find stuff like soy free mayo, cheap gluten free bread etc
I have a friend buy me honey and maple syrup and yeast there. It wouldn’t be worth the 70 dollars for me.
I do the same as you, Diane! In fact I have my friend buy the same items for me that you mentioned with the addition of tissues.
We have had a membership for a couple years now (we are a family of 7). I have a friend who shops with me to get a few things for her family of 4. I would say go with a friend and start there or just get a costco giftcard like others mentioned and go by yourself. If you find the items, sizes and prices are good for your family then sign up for a membership. In my friend’s case she only buys a few things like chicken nuggets, tp, and cheese. We mostly have the membership for the organic food. It’s much much cheaper than whole foods, aldi and the like. Although, whole foods does give amazon prime members discounts in the store it’s hit or miss if it’s anything spectacular or not. We actually moved about an hour and half away from costco but it’s still worth it. Since we live in the boonies (cornfields) now I just do all my shopping twice a month or so and shop the stores around costco like trader joe’s, aldi, target, dollar tree, lowe’s, etc. all in the same trip. The stores up here are way too pricey and have no local/organic foods. We do have a large garden and raise chickens which helps. Planning is key.
My fav thing is their return policy. I just returned a crockpot cause the liner cracked… I was super gentle with it, too. They also have tons of food samples to try if you are into that. We found their organic milk doesn’t go nasty as fast as aldi organic milk. I agree with others and wait for the laundry soap, cleaners and sponges type things to go on sale (about every 2 months or so). A ginormous vinegar bottle is only 2.99 here if I remember right.. I just bought some last night. We go through a lot of it with a HE washer and its the only thing I use for general cleaning. If you are buying organic bread loaves from aldi you will love the costco ones.. not only are they cheaper, they are bigger and won’t get stuck in the toaster! (meaning they won’t shrink to nothing and you won’t have to fish them out.)
The costco gas here is usually a lot less but yesterday it was only 4 cents less than regular stations so it’s hit or miss.
Organic coconut oil at costco is way cheaper than trader joe’s. Aldi has best price for organic ketchup. Since aldi raised their prices on tissues I switched to buying Scotty’s at dollar tree which is still cheaper than costco. I buy organic yogurt at aldi also cause costco only carries bulk organic greek yogurt and my family hates it. They have organic yogurt tubes for kids but those are not a good deal. We buy organic granola at aldi, too. Organic pumpkin flax granola cereal is actually on sale at costco right now. I usually make granola but I am very pregnant at the moment. I order a 50# bag of organic oats at whole foods and that lasts a long time. Let us know in the coming months what you choose.. it’s always interesting seeing what works for families and what doesn’t. Btw, we love your italian breadsticks recipe.. our fav.. been making it ever since you posted the recipe.. i use it for everything.. pizza/calzones/pigs in blanket/etc… thanks again for all you do!
Brandette W. says
I 100% think Costco is worth it for our family of 3. We love Costco! (I even have a free membership for Sam’s Club since my brother works for them…yes, I shop both)
Here are my reasons Costco rocks:
1) GAS! We buy all of our gas at Costco. We have the Costco credit card, so in addition to the always LOW LOW gas prices, we get 4% back on each fill up. We earn it in a Costco check that I can cash in-store or use towards paying at checkout there.
2) Their prices on fresh veggies and fruits can not be beat. Even with sales at Aldi which I shop, Costco’s produce is much better quality and for a cheap overall price. Some of the things I constantly buy are the huge bags of prechopped, washed broccoli florets, sweet corn on the cob, peaches/nectarines, bananas, organic salad mix, english cucumbers, red bell peppers. Seriously, if your family eats lots of fresh veggies, fruits or salads….Costco is so worth it in this area. I stock up on fresh produce their each week for a fraction of what I could spend at Aldi per lb.
3) Spices. Very large containers of high quality spices that keep fresh for very very long. I buy extras of the things we routinely use and store them in our basement storage. When I need more, I walked down to our basement to restock my kitchen. Dirt cheap compared to buying spices at the market, and much better quality than the .99 spices at Aldi.
4) MEATS! Their meats are super high quality for a very good price. The 10 lb bags of frozen chicken breasts. Their 5 lb packages of lean ground beef. Steaks. Thick boneless pork chops. In all the years I have shopped Costco, I have never had a meat purchase I was disappointed in.
5) Rotisserie chickens. Hugely popular.
6) School / Office Supplies
7) Vitamins, Ibuprofen, over the counter meds, Emergen-C. Seriously great prices. I couldn’t beat the Costco prices on any of these even when using coupons and Walgreens sales.
8) No questions asked return policy. They will accept returns on almost everything (restrictions on diamonds, computers) indefinitely.
9) No risk membership. If you sign up and find it isn’t working for your family for whatever reason, you can call and cancel. The will refund you, no problem.
10) If you are like our family and like to purchase things in large quantities that you use daily for a low price, Costco is very economical. Think things like toilet paper, tissue, paper towel, dish soap, laundry soap, etc.
On the return policy, we had friends move to Europe from the US. Costco let them return a very expensive Dyson because they had purchased it less than a year ago at their store.
Bobbie-Jo Riehle says
I agree with the first two comments. Even though many times my local HEB can beat produce prices, it never can on some things like spinach and mixed greens. And also their bags of frozen chicken breasts are always $2 a pound. The key with pantry items/paper goods/cleaning supplies is to wait until they go on sale at Costco and then stock up! My membership is always paid for because of how much I spend (Executive member) – but I do have a family of 10 🙂 (Also as a disclaimer…I do not have an Aldi’s near me)
I really recommend Costco. Here are some reasons why:
1- gas. Ours is almost always 20 cents cheaper per gallon than any other gas station. This about pays for a membership for us
2- fruit and veggies. We go through a ton and it is often a great price for seasonal products
3-executive membership. Costco guarantees you make back at least the difference in membership cost if you upgrade. So there really is no downside to the executive and it gives you extra discounts, such as travel
4-frozen fruit. Good quality and cheap for smoothies. Same for frozen spinach.
5-food court. Cheap and yummy, such as the hot dog and drink deal for $1.50. Quarter pound hot dog!
Crystal Paine says
Thank you so much for this list — super helpful!