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Thread: Costco membership, is it worth it?

  1. #1
    Mochajava Mochajava's Avatar
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    My boyfriend and I were considering getting a Costco membership but we aren't really sure if it is worth the money. The closest Costco is about an hour away which isn't bad. We would probably only make trips a few times a month to stock up on stuff. I haven't been to Costco in years. Are the savings really worth the membership fee?
    This thread is currently associated with: Costco
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    Smart Canuck mulock's Avatar
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    If you have to ask, it's likely not a good deal for you as it means there's some doubt in your mind if it would save you money. Keep in mind that driving an hour costs you in gas and time.

    For me (single person household), I live less then a 10 minute drive from 2 Costco locations here in the Halifax NS area. I used to have a Costco Membership (2013-2016) and then I let it expire because I found I was buying items that I normally wouldn't (like those pre-cooked whole chickens, too many 4L milk jugs, store prepared foods, bananas that go bad before I could eat them all, and snacks). My only staple items were Yoplait yogurt, Kirkland dog food, propane, paper towel, and toilet paper. When I began redeeming my Shoppers Optimum Points for just toilet paper and paper towel at SDM, that meant I was now only buying dog food and yogurt at Costco. Of course every week some grocery store has yogurt on sale, so buying it at Costco wasn't ssaving me any money anymore so I let my membership expire. Then of course Costco raised the cost of their memberships....another factor that convinced me to end it.

    So now, here's what I do: I redeem Aeroplan points for Costco Cash Cards, which you don't need a membership for to use in a Costco store...you simply go to the Customer Service desk and they issue you a day-pass to shop and use the card. Other times I will ask colleagues/friends if I can go with them and no one ever says no.

    In the end, have a clear idea of what you figure your savings will be, and whether the $60+tax membership fee is worth it to you.
    Last edited by mulock; Sat, Sep 9th, 2017 at 02:03 PM.
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  3. #3
    CaLoonie
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    I think you have to take a close look at what you're likely to buy. Recently, friends told me that after price-shopping, they saved over $500 on a package of appliances. Obviously, that easily offset the cost of multiple years' membership fees.

    Otoh, other people have told me they save on various food and household items. Basically, I've found that whether and how much they save depends on which stores they use for their comparisons as well as whether they use other stores regular or sale prices / deals. So for example, toilet paper costs a fair bit less per roll if they compare against regular prices at a chain like Loblaws, but less (and sometimes nothing) if they compare against a budget chain like No Frills.

    Even when the cost per unit is lower at Costco, if you have to buy more (like larger packages) it's a personal matter as to how much you need to save to make it worth buying how much more.

    How much you coupon can matter too. For instance, if you can use multiple coupons to buy small packages, the net cost can be lower than using only one coupon to buy a larger package.

    In your case, another question is how much you value the time it would take to drive to Costco and back multiple times per month, and that's before factoring in the cost of gas or the less obvious cost of additional wear on your vehicle.

    Another possible consideration is that comparisons aren't always straightforward. For instance, think about the cooked chicken that mulock mentioned. When he would have bought a higher-priced cooked chicken somewhere else instead, he saved money. But when he bought it instead of having a lower-cost meal (not necessarily chicken), did he save or spend more?

    So, to reiterate what mulock said, the important question isn't whether membership is worth it, but rather whether it's worth it **for you**, because there's a range of possible answers from definitely worth it for some people all the way to a waste of money for others.
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    Last edited by Shwa Girl; Sat, Sep 9th, 2017 at 06:34 PM.
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  5. #5
    Mastermind Anna Michele's Avatar
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    I don't shop there often but i did buy backpacks there this year i usually just but sugar and gas and once a year a few jugs of oil and big bags of flour. My last visit they tried to convince me to upgrade my membership she said let me go see if you spent enough to make it worth it
    She said i spent 2600 there this year i was like wow how the neck did i do that so it must factor in gas as well. She said yeah it would be good for you think about it.
    So i did. The upgrade would have been (don't quote me on these next few numbers) $150 I believe she said you get 2% back in cash so that would be $50 no where near the cost of the upgrade so I will not be upgrading. I will continue with my membership for my monthly back of sugar lol and few trips out for gas it's about 20mins drive across the mountain
    Many people spend hundreds every visit i see overflowing carts of stuff they can get better prices elsewhere. Maybe its convenience for them big shops less often. I prefer small shops more often. Like others have said its it's really specific to you and your needs.
    But 1 hour is a long way to go in the heat with milk or yogurt

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    Smart Canuck GeorgiaK's Avatar
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    Whether it is worth it or not will depend on what you buy. We buy our cheeses and back to school items there - the snow suits, lunch bags and backpacks are an amazing price and great quality! I also get my eye glasses there and they are easily half the cost of anywhere else with much better quality and service. Most other household and grocery items I can get cheaper elsewhere with sales and coupons and/or points.

    So it depends on your personal situation, what and how much you buy, and whether or not you coupon. You need to know also, your per unit prices; sometimes buying bulk is not worth it.
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  7. #7
    Must Coupon, Must Save :) SassyAshley's Avatar
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    I believe it all depends on what you are looking to buy. We are a household of 2 and it is worth it for us.

    My Mom works in the same plaza as Costco and only buys gas there (Costco being an hour away not an option)
    I buy most of our over the the counter medications there. Both of us take allergy pills, my Mom has been told by the doctor to take 2 so that is 3 a day, I get 200 pills for $20. Recently they were out and to compare other brands even at Costco were close to $50 for 126 to 150 pills. As well my Mom takes Robax regularly we get 80 for $7.99 and I take Advil Cold and Sinus regularly I get 96 for $8.99 (although right now they do not have any but I am told they are coming back). I also take probiotics I ge t60 pills for $18.99 and you only have to take 1 a day and they do not need to be refrigerated (actually my whole family takes these and now that 2 out of 3 sibs have moved out they still get my step mom to get them probiotics at Costco due to the price).

    I always watch the weekly flyers (I get them emailed to me) and items like Downy, Paper Towel, Toilet Paper which have gotten expense we buy there when on sale.

    Another huge factor for me is I travel quite often for work so at times I miss sales cause I leave on a Monday come back Friday and rarely get out on the weekends so if I cannot find an item on sale Costco is usually my best bet for certain items like:
    Paper Towel
    Toilet Paper
    Peanut Butter

    Items I always buy at Costco cause they have the best price are:
    Honey
    Chia Seed
    Almond Butter
    Worstershire Sauce

    It really depends on what you are looking to buy.
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    Canadian Genius
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    I knew someone that bought the membership just so they could stop there with their family of 5 on way to events to get the hotdog deal lol
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    Mastermind Shwa Girl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frugalbigmama View Post
    I knew someone that bought the membership just so they could stop there with their family of 5 on way to events to get the hotdog deal lol
    They did not need a Costco membership to buy the food court hot dogs. Anybody can buy these.
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  10. #10
    no more door to door! :) walkonby's Avatar
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    Well @Mochajava I have never had a Costco membership so I am no authority at all. However, imho if it is only you and your boyfriend ( 2 people ) that you are shopping for and you need to drive a full hour to get there...I say it is not worth it.
    Unless....( and I have no idea where you are situated ) the stores that are nearer to you are terribly high end grocery stores. Otherwise most of the other discount grocery stores offer decent enough deals to rival Costco.
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    marnwa
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    Costco often has a deal if you sign up with free food, a $10.00 gift card back, and such. Wait for this if you want to test the waters before you pay full price. I'm retired and live alone but still buy a lot there, such as kids clothing which can be really inexpensive. Kids brand name snowsuits were $29.99 for the 2 pieces 2 months ago. I also got a lawnmower, tomato plants, and a compressor there this year. Toilets and flooring last year. You can return anything easily. You do live an hour away so hard to say but I like it including the $1.50 hotdog and drink.
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    Smart Canuck GeorgiaK's Avatar
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    Forgot to mention that they have killer prices on prescription eye glasses and we got an amazing deal for my husbands cell phone and plan this month.
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  13. #13
    Mochajava Mochajava's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgiaK View Post
    Forgot to mention that they have killer prices on prescription eye glasses and we got an amazing deal for my husbands cell phone and plan this month.
    This may have just convinced me to get a membership lol. So I have a somewhat unrelated question now, do I need to see an eye doctor first or do they have someone there to check my eyes and give me a prescription?
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  14. #14
    Smart Canuck
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mochajava View Post
    This may have just convinced me to get a membership lol. So I have a somewhat unrelated question now, do I need to see an eye doctor first or do they have someone there to check my eyes and give me a prescription?
    Call ahead to see if they can check your vision as not all locations have that. Also, if you get glasses and don't like them - they will give you a refund. Contact lenses are much cheaper at Costco as well as prescriptions. I stock up on my generic Claritin $13.99 for 125 tablets.
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