If you’re anything like I was a few years ago, you may have considered a membership with a big box store like Costco but then thought, “Why should I pay an annual fee to buy groceries?”
Your next thought, like mine, might be, “Besides, most people who have these memberships buy stuff they don’t need and end up spending more than if they shopped at a regular grocery store.”
Those were my initial thoughts, but over the last two years, I’ve discovered just how wrong I was about Costco. In fact, shopping at Costco saves me hundreds of dollars every year.
The Many Bargains Found at Costco
Here are just a few of the items we buy at Costco and save:
I have to take a thyroid pill that I was paying $12 a month for at a regular pharmacy. Just recently, I checked at Costco’s pharmacy and discovered I would have to pay $9 for a 3 month supply! I’m transferring over my prescription as soon as this month’s is finished. I’ll be saving $108 a year on this one prescription alone!
If you want to buy more organic foods but are concerned about the high prices, Costco is a winner here, too. I buy a 3 lb. tub of organic baby spinach for less than $5. A 10 lb. bag of organic carrots is less than $7.
While most of Costco’s produce is conventional, they’re adding more and more organic items. They also have organic frozen berries, green beans, peas, and mixed veggies, to name a few. The frozen vegetables cost less than $1.30 a pound.
Gluten Free Foods.
If you’re gluten free, you’ll love Costco. I used to buy a small package of Udi’s gluten free bread for $5 a loaf at our local store! I just recently discovered I can buy a package of Udi’s bread that is at least double the size for less than $8 at Costco.
Almost everyone in our family has a dairy intolerance, so we drink soy and rice milk. A quart of this milk can cost $2 to $4 at a conventional store. At Costco, I can buy a box of 12 quarts for $13. That is a little more than $1 a quart. This savings alone is enough to cover my annual Costco membership.
Spices and Baking Goods.
Does it drive you crazy to pay up to $7 for a little bottle of spice at the store? If so, you’ll love Costco’s spices. We eat a lot of Mexican food and go through cumin quickly. I buy a 14 oz. container for less than $5, and it lasts us forever. Other spices we buy there include black pepper, dried onions, oregano, parsley, and salt.
If you like to make homemade bread, don’t buy those tiny little 3 pack packages of yeast at the grocery store. Instead, buy a huge block of yeast at Costco that will likely last you a year even if you make bread every week. It will cost less than the price of the small 3 pack!
Costco’s gas is always much less than what you’ll find at nearby stations. I usually find Costco’s gas to be as much as 30 cents less a gallon than other gas stations. Over the course of a year, this really adds up. The trade off is that if you try to fill up during prime time, you may have to wait in line. I try to go early in the morning to avoid the rush.
Of course, this is just my experience saving at Costco. Many other people enjoy buying the family size bag of chips for less than $5 or the rotisserie chickens at $5 or the meat at rates far less than what you find at the grocery store. Don’t forget the bulk size toilet paper and the reasonably priced cleaning supplies.
Is An Executive Membership Worthwhile?
For most consumers, there are two Costco memberships to choose from.
Costco Gold Membership.
This membership is at the basic level and costs $55 per year. This is the membership I originally bought, but I soon upgraded to the Executive Membership.
This membership costs $110 a year. Why pay even more for membership? If you discover your family will shop at Costco regularly, this option might actually save you money. For every qualifying purchase that you make, you will earn 2% back. (Keep in mind not all purchases like gas qualify.)
That 2% is saved for you, and when it’s time to renew your Costco membership, you’ll get a check in the mail for your 2% rebate. Last year my rebate check was $107. I cashed it out and paid my Costco membership with it, meaning I only had to pay $3 out of pocket. This option is not available with the Gold Membership.
What If You’re Single?
You may think a Costco membership isn’t right for you if you’re single or there are only two of you. However, you can still benefit from buying non-perishables and gas as well as prescriptions at Costco. You could always find someone else who would split bulk food purchases with you.
Of course, you need to decide if Costco is right for you, but for our family, buying a Costco membership has been one of the smartest things we’ve done.
Do you shop at Costco? If so, do you find it worth the initial expense?
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