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Can I really save money by joining Costco?

I'm a single man with a good appetite and I visited Costco recently to consider a membership and to view the operation first hand. Having spent some time there viewing the products, _quantities_ and comparing prices, I'm now at a crossroads as to whether or not either the $55.00 basic membership or the $100.00 Executive (2% rebate on all purchases) would really be a smart investment.

What do you think

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  1. It's pretty simple to decide on the basic or executive level... if you plan on spending at least 2500 dollars in a year there, then go with the Executive and the extra cost of the Executive membership will be subsidized by the 2 percent back. Keep in mind if you don't use it enough to reach the equal point, they'll refund the difference between the Executive membership and how much you got back from the 2 percent. Since you're a single man, unless you do all of your shopping at Costco you likely won't hit it unless you're planning to buy something like a big-screen TV or computer, which is exactly what I did.

    4 Replies
    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

      If you want to be anal retentive, the breakeven point is $2250.00 ($45/0.02).

      That being said, I'm not frugalfilth. I have a Costo card because I love their meats, some of their baked goods, OTC meds, books, DVDs, occasionally electronics, and cheap hot dogs.

      1. re: filth

        I forgot to mention the Pharmacy......all the prescription drugs are cheaper as well.

        While I am at it, the Optical Center as well......I purchase all my sunglasses there....you know the ones you sit on when you get in the car.

        1. re: fourunder

          to be picky - you can use the optical and the pharmacy without membership.

          1. re: jeanmarieok


            25-25/50 on your info... here in NJ specific, you do not have to be a member to use the pharmacy,,,,,but at the Optical center, you do not need membership to use the doctor's services as he/she are independents.....however, you need to be a member to purchase the eyewear.

    2. It depends on how much you would shop there. I'm also single, and joined Costco because I thought I'd buy supplies for dinner parties, etc., there. I found out that unless you're having a group of 8 or more, you aren't saving all that much over what you would spend at a local market. Instead of the upgraded membership, I got the basic and got the Costco American Express card, which also gives you a rebate on purchases. I'm not trying to advertise the card, but I got a double use out of it rather than just spend more on a Costco membership.

      1 Reply
      1. re: brendastarlet

        I got this card too and the rebate turns out to be one of the only times we shop at Costco. We live in a small apartment and just don't have storage room for a case of paper towels or a case of pita chips or whatever. The other problem is the food there is really not what we would buy. There are very few low fat or reduced fat versions of things (for example, cheese) and it's all very commercial stuff. If we buy eggs at the grocery, we buy Eggland's for example, but they don't sell Egglands. And though we use a lot of lemons, you can't buy just a few, you have to buy a whole BAG and they rot before you can use them. The prices on wine are nearly EXACTLY the same as at the grocery store. The only things we use them for is if we have a non-covered prescription as they are usually lower than anyone, the eye care center and we usually make one big purchase with the rebate each year; last year we bought a digital camera.

      2. I was skeptical when we joined. It's just my wife and I so I wasn't sure is we were going to save or over purchase with the larger packaging. I bought the executive membership. Costco garuntees to refund the price difference if you don't use your membership enough to justify the price difference between the executive and basic membership. With the executive they also give you a free American Express card so you get 3% back on all of your purchases. If you travel or use some of the other services they offer there are extra perks for executive members only that can nearly pay for your membership in one transaction. We easilly save 4-6k a year. Tires here include free rotation and balancing and they will special order what you want. I saved $275 over my best price last year!
        Regular food items I like;
        Olive Oil, Estate Olive Oil, Shimp (U-15 $9.99#), King crab at an average of $12 a pound, Farm raised salmon $6 #. I'm not a big fan of their beef because the cuts are so big and on the whole tenderloins or strips for home I often get a better price when they are on sale at a local grocery. I find the chicken and pork to be good buys especially with the rebates. We also save big on TP, paper towels, laundry soap etc.
        I hope this helps but for me it's a no brainer to get the Executive as you have absolutly nothing to loose. Enjoy! :)

        1. I think the savings are debateable for smaller families. The main reason I have a Costco card is because of their prices on the tires I was looking for for my truck. The money I saved over their nearest competition payed for the membership, and then some. Some of the packaging sizes are too big for smaller families. With the above said, I do like going to Costco, and always end up spending around $100 on each visit. I do not buy their beef, or pork products, I have a local butcher who is superior in quality and service so no need to change. King Crab legs & dungeness crabs are a good deal, also whole chickens, and chicken breasts, as well as diapers, and a few other items.

          1. Yes, in my case anyway. If you have room to store non-perishables you can save paper goods, canned goods, etc. If you have room in your freezer you can stock up as well. They also have good deals on line that you don't see in the store. I can justify the cost of my membership on what I've saved on rental cars alone (pretty good rates through Alamo using their codes).

            1. As a single man, it is probably ridiculous to many to join Costco or any other membership buying club.......the amount you have to purchase can be viewed as overkill.....but I would disagree. Depending on what you actually purchase......savings can be realized very easily. One could also take the position that you are buying twice as much...but you are paying half....or the same as a single item in a traditional supermarket. If you are not loyal to specific brands and you can shop in a traditional supermarket.... purchase only sale items listed in the weekly fliers.....then a membership in Costco is not necessary.

              However, there are many items that are worthy, and a good reason to join:

              Chickens are .79 everyday, in packs of two(About $7-8 for both)
              Milk is cheaper
              Heavy Cream is half .....for your coffee
              Frozen Fish.... is individually frozen
              Progresso Chicken soups are about 1.20 as oppose to 2.00 and
              Spare ribs are always 1.99 in two packs
              If you are willing to freeze meats...it's an excellent source. With a little research, ther are many other items each individual would find worthy....and reason to join. I suggest you give it a try......any one can walk in for a one day pass.....purchases are surcharged 15%, I believe, but the surcharge amount is refunded if you ultimately decide to join.

              Costco by rule charges 8-10% over their cost. When an electronics store has a sale, you may be able to purchase a television cheaper....but beat in mind it is usually a discontinued model.....Costco offerings are the newest current model.

              Shopping during the holidays for food would save you the membership fee alone if you are in charge of the food purchases.......and buying items for gifts would also do the same.

              Let's not forget $1.50 hot dogs and soda.......and the 4.99 Rotisserie Chickens.

              1. There is very little at Costco that I cannot find for less at other places. I have tried to justify it on several occasions but it just does not make a lot of sense for me as I do not generally buy large quantities of the items they sell. Also, I can generaly get better electronics prices all around Chicago.

                On the otehr hand, membership is only $55 and it might be worth the cost for the entertainment value.

                1. Yes, I think you can save money. We are a household of two, and we save more money than I thought we would. I have compared prices and I know we have saved money on beer, wine, cheese, meat, seafood, water, laundry detergent, and pain relievers. However, I don't consider Costco to be a one stop shop. I still go to the grocery store to buy other necessary items like produce because the quantities at Costco are usually too much for the two of us. I also disagree with the person who said if you are having a dinner party you won't save any money. I know the last time we had people over for dinner we saved at least $5/lb. on the lamb alone. If you entertain a lot the Executive membership might be a better choice for you. Plus if you check the right box, they will send you coupons for free items that will offset the amount for the basic membership over the course of the year.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: lizzy

                    We are also a household of two and I still buy produce there. A 16 oz box of mixed salad greens is the same price as an 8 oz box at Publix, romaine hearts come 6 to a bag at the same price as two or three. I can buy a bag of 6 red peppers for what I would pay for 2. If I can't use it all before it spoils - I can throw it out and not feel bad, but usually it just means we eat more vegetables. Plus I only have to vegetable shop every two weeks instead of twice a week.

                    1. re: lizzy

                      To all,

                      Two notes:

                      At least in New Jersey, you DO NOT have to be a member to purchase alcohol or gas by law.....

                      To purchase gas....they do not accept cash.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        But do they give you the same discount? Anyone could gas up there in South Carolina as well, but they charged non-members "market" prices.

                        1. re: Suzy Q

                          I'll have to defer to others on this one....as the only Costco in Northern New Jersey(Clifton) that sells gas is not my regular location to shop.....

                          but in general by rule, they have to sell the gas at an established price for a 24 hour period before they change it up or down.......there are fines if the requirement is not adhered to........

                          If pressed for an answer....I would say the price is the same to all. This is one area, and maybe the only one where The State of New Jersey protects all consumers equally.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            I lived in NJ for 43 years before escaping last year. The state has many antiquated laws on the books involving gasoline retailing, including no self service is allowed, gas cannot be discounted for members, and no purchase is necessary to participate in give-aways. Thus if you pull into a BJ's, Costco, etc. they are obligated by law to give you the member price for gasoline.

                            These laws and pizza are the only thing I miss about Jersey.

                            1. re: yankee_fan_0

                              Come on .......you have to miss the Crusty Italian Bread too. What about Taylor Ham?

                      2. re: lizzy

                        The lamb chops are an an absolute steal at Costco. About half the price of meat markets here. Has any one tried the chicken wings that they sell by the rotissere chickens? YUMMMMM

                        1. re: lizzy

                          My sister and her boyfriend have a membership.They buy porkchops and other things,and will cook abunch of it up,then freeze theend results. When dinner time comes,they just reheat the pork chops or chicken in the microwave, add a salad,and dinner's ready since they both work.They also buy lettuce and other things and share with their friends Tony and Joan.They also use their membership for other things.Jessica and Ross still go to the grocery store for other things.
                          I'm single too, and the only way it would pay for me maybe is with buying cat food. I work two jobs,so I really don't have time to cook,since I work 7days a week,at a full time and partt ime retail job.
                          I may see if they have a get in for free pass,and look around again ,but still not sure on membership.

                        2. No one has mentioned clothes, yet... As a male in a business casual work environment who doesn't really care that much about style and generally doesn't like to shop for clothes, I buy at least 75% of my work attire at Costco. If you're not picky, you can usually come across good deals; $20 for a pair of name-brand khakis seems to be the norm.

                          My wife doesn't buy any of her clothes at Costco, but hey.

                          1. If you happen to live in a state where Costco can sell liquor (I don't), you can get pretty good deals on basic mid-range alcohol. I have also found that the wine prices are generally lower overall. Yes, I might find a sale price elsewhere but I know that Costco will always have a dependable price that is lower than most. Note that each store has it's own buyers so the range and quality will vary from store to store.

                            That said, I don't have an Exec membership since until I had a baby (diapers, diapers, diapers), I didn't spend enough. And it seemed dumb to upgrade for a short period of time.

                            1. As a side note on memebership,

                              I have the Executive Business Card, A Business card any one can use, family members and their spouses all on my plan.....I think I pay about $250 per year for everything.....

                              If not anything else, collectively, all the purchases made by everyone covers the membership fees each year and everybody is happy.

                              1. Can you save money - absolutely. Is it the way to save the most money, probably not. I don't want to spend my saturday afternoon going thru the sale ads and clipping coupons. I don't want to drive to three different markets to do my weekly shopping. I know that if I did, and I planned my meals around that I could save a fair amount of money. It doesn't happen to be the way I live. I know that at Costco I am likely to get a fairly good deal on most items. I don't mind buying a tray of meat and freezing most of it to eat over the next couple of weeks. I have space to store bricks of canned goods, and paper products. And I find that even if I end up tossing out part of a bag of baby spinach or salad greens, it is still cheaper than the supermarket packs. I also buy a fair amount of my casual clothing there.

                                Give it a try for a year, see how it works out for you. At worst I imagine you will end up breaking even unless you are a really thrifty shopper. More likely you will save money.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                  I agree with Kaimuki's sentiment. You could probably be more frugal elsewhere if the absolute lowest cost in life is your main goal. However, I have a costco card (just for myself) and I feel like it's extremely worth the price. I go once a week (if nothing else for filling up gas and buying some fruits). The massive amount of the packages (especially toilet paper/tissues/etc) is a hassle sometimes, but I tend to shove it all in a closet.

                                  For me, I find that I save most with gas, produce ($1.50 for a pineapple, $2 for a massive bundle of bananas), and meats. However, for meats, you must be willing to freeze them if you don't live with a lot of people. I'm okay with that; I know some people aren't. And any year in which you need to buy a large item (tires, TV, etc) you'll probably have made back the cost of membership right there.

                                  1. re: Wangus


                                    Maybe your closer to where pineapples grow so you get it for much less or the volume in your store allows for a lower retail price but here in Canada the large pineapple at Costco was almost $3.00. Hardly a bargain by your standards.

                                    1. re: fruglescot

                                      Did not think about that. Although I never considered Maryland to be a large pineapple state, your point has definite merit.

                                      1. re: fruglescot

                                        That's quite funny. Last week at the Costco near London (in the UK!) the Dole Hawaiian pineapples were £1.99, so just under $4.

                                        1. re: nanette

                                          What do you consider a fair price for a pineapple would be at your Costco store UK? How long has Costco been operating there and what item at what price price do you purchase regularly , if you don't mind me asking?

                                          1. re: fruglescot

                                            I consider £2 to be about fair, though I would pay more knowing the distance that they have travelled and that the quality Costco offers is much greater than those in the supermarket.

                                            I'm not sure how long Costco has been here, but I've been going often during the last three years I've lived here.

                                            Some of the things I buy at Costco simply come down to quality rather than price. One cannot buy the same quality of beef at the supermarket. Some things are much more expensive when compared to the US, but others like bread and cheese are cheaper with milk and eggs being an equivelent sort of price.

                                            Regularly I pick up: steak, cheese, wine, eggs, laundry detergent, maple syrup (which is a bargin!), salsa, and fruit.

                                            It isn't as good as American Costco, but it is good. They have finally started carrying PNW wines after my many requests, now I just need chocolate frozen yogurt in the food court.

                                            1. re: fruglescot

                                              Costco entered the UK market in 1993.

                                    2. Do you have a friend who could split stuff with you? I only live in a household of 2 and I have a friend with a household of 3. We will split things like the meat (pork loin is 1.99 a pound compared with 7-8 at the grocery store) so we will buy it and split it because neitehr of us wants a whole one.

                                      The Kirkland Brand dishwasher detergent is good and is only $5 or 6 for a 2 pack. I also save on Paper towels, toilet paper, canned beans and tomatoes, lettuce.

                                      1. When we were members in Chicago, it was horrible to lug the big stuff up a 3 story walk up.
                                        You should get the jr. membership unless you plan on getting big items there - TV's, tires, electronics, lots of booze, etc.
                                        I got my passport pics there for $5. Everywhere else was $12-$15.

                                        1. I think it also depends on your lifestyle. I'm pretty much a "go-to-the-store-whenever-I-need-to" kind of person, but my husbann -- even when he was a bachelor -- had a Costco membership (in Calif.) because he'd rather go once and stock up on TP, dishwashing liquid, etc.

                                          On the whole, it seems to be a savings -- sodas, basic block cheeses, chicken stock, plus at least at our location, the food court is inside (it wasn't when we lived in So Cal) so you have to have a membership to get a slice and a soda (not that that justifies the membership cost on its own).

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: kivarita

                                            We are a family of 4 in the Chicago suburbs, and I've gone with neighbors to visit the Costco, and was impressed with the pricing of electronics and home goods, but didn't think the groceries were a good value. You can do just as well at Meijer or other stores sale prices, have a better selection, and not have to buy ketchup in the gallon size.

                                            1. re: Hensley

                                              I understand the sentiment, but I always see it as thus: you can still go to the grocery store. It's still free to walk into, and it won't be upset if you stopped at Costco that day as well. If I need a potato to make a clam chowder soup, I'll head over to my superfresh or wegman's and happily buy it. But if I'm cooking with family or friends and need a massive amount of potatoes for mashing or baking or whatever I get to go to Costco and buy 20pounds of russets for 7 dollars. I just saved $13! Woo!

                                          2. I don't know if they've changed the rules on the Executive but there used to be restrictions, like you have to spend xxx per month and it's not a cumulative thing. I don't remember the details but we decided against it at the time. We do have a Costco American Express card and we get a Costco rebate (I think it's 2%) of what we spend there and, I think, 1% elsewhere, no annual fee. We use that instead of our Costco card to get in.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: chowser

                                              The annual membership fee is automatically charged to the AmEx card. The scan your membership number off the card (i.e., you can't just walk in and try to pay with any AmEx-they need a membership number)

                                              Rebate is 1.5% on everything charged on the card for the year if you pay on time and 2% if you carry a balance.

                                              Executive also gives you 2% back on purchases at Costco only (but there is fine print- no rebate on gasoline bought with Costco Amex...so you have to pay for fuel by buying a gift card if you also want the 2% back...if you want to get around that clause)

                                              1. re: Cathy

                                                I meant there is no annual membership fee for the American Express card but should have specified that there is one for Costco.

                                              2. re: chowser

                                                No restrictions on the executive membership. IIR you should get 2% from costco executive membership and 1% from AMX on Costco purchases but AMX offeres extra % on some other puracheses outside of Costco. Bonus for charging travel, eating out etc. I stopped off today and with a coupon picked up four whole chickens (18#+) for $7! Gas was .18 less today to boot. Does any one else buy the Boudin Sourdough? Love that bread.

                                              3. You get two cards, find someone to split it with. They can be in different states even. Then you only need to save $25 bucks to break even. 25 hot dog/drink combo at $1.50 will do that.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: ML8000

                                                  "Then you only need to save $25 bucks to break even. 25 hot dog/drink combo at $1.50 will do that."



                                                  Not to quibble, but at 1.50 you would only need about 17 orders to break even.

                                                2. One thing to note about Costco: In some nonperishable food categories -- the kind of things a single guy might buy -- the selection at Costco is not that great; it's inferior to that at BJs. Two such categories are cereal and canned fruits and veggies.

                                                  We belong to both, actually. BJ's has half-price greeting cards too.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Bob W

                                                    Re: greeting cards, I got a set of 30 gorgeous Christmas cards for $18 at Costco this year. Ours does not have greeting cards year round like BJ's does, though.

                                                  2. We're a household of two and LOVE our Costco membership. The quality of the merchandise (including the produce) is extremely high. Even if I can get things cheaper at another store, the quality is usually lower. There are a couple of threads floating around about the meat-- it's good quality stuff, at least choice graded-- and if the supplier can't provide enough choice product, they fill the order with prime meat. Now that's a bargain.
                                                    Also, we have dogs, and we buy most of our pet supplies there-- dog food, dog beds, dog treats. Quality stuff at a fair price.
                                                    And around the holidays they bring in cases of CocaCola from Mexico (cane sugar sweetened in glass bottles). Woohoo!

                                                    1. Oh- and one more thing-- when Mr. Chococat was a bachelor, he used his membership all the time. His logic was that for $3 at the local grocery, he could get 4 bananas. For $3 at Costco, he could get 15. So he'd buy 15 and take 10 to work to share.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: chococat

                                                        You were a good hearted guy then for sharing, Mr.Chococat, but what store would be selling only 4 bananas for $3.00? I often can get a bunch (5 or 6) for $1.50 up here in banana country............. Canada
                                                        Btw, how long did you work there at the local ZOO ? lol

                                                      2. If you take Glucosamine, the Kirkland Signature brand rated highest in Consumer Reports testing of actual amount of ingredients. They say you save more than the membership fee just buying that. I do. Higher end liquor is easily 20% cheaper than anywhere else. One time and soon to be discontinued items can be ridiculously cheap.
                                                        Here they were selling out cases of Fruit 2'0 water for 3.00 a case. Reeds Ginger beer, 4 - 750ml bottles for 2.79. I enjoy just going there and looking around for whatever the next new things are every couple of weeks. Sad, I know, but it's winter in Iowa.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Bobfrmia


                                                          Surprised with Iowa's Liquor Control you'd see that much savings on booze.

                                                          1. re: jwagnerdsm

                                                            It is strange, but really shows which stores rely on liquor sales for survival.
                                                            Obviously, the liquor stores themselves are probably getting killed. Ingersoll Wine and Spirits keeps raising prices on everything. I doubt that they will last. I bought a bottle of El Mayor tequila there a couple weeks ago, went across the street to Dahls, only to see it 5 dollars cheaper.
                                                            Patron Silver is at least 10.00 less than anywhere else at Costco, other than Sam's Club.
                                                            I had a liquor dept. manager ay one Hy Vee tell me he see's wine at Costco selling for a quarter a bottle over his cost.
                                                            Tough to compete with that.

                                                        2. Get the membership.....

                                                          The meats are worth it. Learn to organize your storage and you'll make out great. I know if I buy a bottle of Beringer's White Zin in the pacage store it's 9.99 and if I buy it at Costco, I get two bottles for $10.99, I'd say that was quite a savings.

                                                          The rotisserie chickens, the stuffed lamb, ceaser salads with chicken, great lunches, and who doesn't like a good hot dog.

                                                          Pharmacy price for Paxil....26.00 compared to 96.99 at Rite Aid.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: othervoice

                                                            Yes, if anyone lives in a state where their Costco can sell wine/beer, then I think it's almost a no brainer. Stupid Maryland laws.

                                                            Unless you don't drink ... then I guess the point is moot.

                                                          2. i think it is a good idea to have the caard, but you will not necessarily save money. in fact it will probably cost you more. Many items are in large quantity. Perishables for a single individaul will spoil before you use many of them if you are not careful. Non-perishables (paper goods, detergent , etc.) are good prices but you can do as well as in with sales and coupons. Great barbecued chickens at a great price, good meats but you must repack them into smaller servings, phenominal spinach salad. good prices for eyeglasses. Interesting place to shop but you will probably not save unless you haev tremendous self discipline.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: linsue

                                                              I would agree--I make a Costco run about every six weeks for mostly paper goods, but I also buy organic ground beef (half the price of WF for the same brand, 3 lbs wrapped in 1lb portions so easy to freeze), cheese, Garden Fresh salsa (4-5 times the amount for about the same price as grocery store, and we eat a lot of salsa!), and other various staples. I have my list of "things to buy at Costco" and (mostly!) limit myself to that.

                                                              You probably could watch for sales and use coupons in grocery stores and save a bit over Costco, but for me it is much easier to buy a pack of paper towels or bag of nuts and be done with it for a few months. My time has some value, I'm not going to spend it going from store to store. Plus it's a bit of a treasure hunt--you never know what they'll have from visit to visit.

                                                            2. Being a single woman, in a smallish Condo, I was hesitant joining.

                                                              But, my fears were put to rest, when most times a friend will join me and we split some of the fresh produce.

                                                              Here are some of my favorite things to get:

                                                              I'll limit my raving to only five, so I won't bore you. ;)

                                                              1. Rottissarie (sp?) chicken (of course), but I get about 4 chicken caeser salads for my lunches, and then put the carcass in water for chicken soup/stock.
                                                              2. Kirkland three cheese frozen pre-cooked ravioili, these are heavenly. Resealable bag, goes in the freezer, and they cook in 4 minutes, light and airy. yum.
                                                              3. I "never" buy premade soup, but I do now, only one though. Comes in the refrigerator section, and it's Chicken Corn Chowder. This stuff is good enough for company! It comes in two containers, and I get four meals for 7.99! Everyone I tell to try this soup to, loves it. I can't believe how good it is.
                                                              4. Their fresh mango, that is pre-cut. Mango is expensive, and when I cut it, I lose a lot of flesh, it's a pain. This gives me enough mango for salad all week long.
                                                              5. Deli fresh salsa, it's amazing....

                                                              And am I driving around with bulk sizes of paper towels and toilet paper in my trunk, because I don't have storeage in my Condo? You bet cha... lol.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: mcel215

                                                                LOL My late father did the same thing. He was a big Costco fan but he always overbought, a la Kramer.

                                                              2. If you're just going to buy food, it's not worth it as a single, if you have choices like Trader Joe's, Latin supermarkets, Target, etc. The packaging sizes are just too big.

                                                                If you're also going to buy electronics, computer stuff, clothing, tires, home improvement stuff it MAY be worthwhile. Provided you like what they carry, because there is almost zero choice. Also getting thru the checkout lines is a big hassle at a lot of stores.

                                                                I had a Costco membership for a while and even though it's very close to my home, I let it lapse. If I was in the market for something like tires or a camera I might rejoin.

                                                                1. Almost definitely makes sense if you entertain once a month or more. Probably makes sense if you cook 5+ meals a week at home. Do you normally shop at a full-price grocery store (vs Trader Joes or Aldi, etc)? If not, then no.

                                                                  I wouldn't say you'd save a bundle, but it's convenient. Don't get the executive membership.

                                                                  1. At the beginning of the year, I stocked up on supplies at Costco. Later that day, I went to the neighborhood grocery store to buy some more items and decided to do a price check on the items I had purchased earlier at Costco. While I bought over 20 things at Costco, I only was able to price check 10 items. On those 10 items, I saved about $90 by shopping at Costco! I say it's definitely worth it.

                                                                    1. It really depends on your purchasing habits. I only occasionally buy at Costco. I have a small family (3 of us) and we plan our Costco purchases according to the budget we have. We buy our cat litter, toilet paper and paper towels, bulk meats and cheese, milk and eggs there. Also any snacks that my family tends to eat a lot of, and if there is a big party coming up I stock up there. The problem comes with storing all that you have bought. Unless you have a way to store the bulk foods and rafts of toilet paper, it's not going to make much sense for you.

                                                                      1. Which is a better deal Costco or BJs?

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Soup

                                                                          Apples and oranges for quality. The items are similar, so you cannot compare prices concretely or definitively. My take on both is the quality is very good at both, but the Customer Service is far superior at Costco.

                                                                          I purchased for resale and i was a member at three buying clubs in New Jersey.....Costco, BJ's and Pace. Pace was purchased by BJ's I believe, at least here in NJ. I joined all three, because I saved money by having access to all three stores and saved me on time and travel expenses.

                                                                          BJ's CS was rude and I gave up my membership as the only reason. Costco also opened two stores near the BJ's locations, so my concerns were addressed for convenience.

                                                                          If you have both in your area and can only join one, see which product labels you prefer to make you decision.

                                                                          1. re: fourunder

                                                                            Our membership to Costco just expired and we took a look at BJs (which we used to be a member of). We decided to rejoin BJs. The prices were identical on most items. The real thing is that for the every day items that we need the selection at BJs was better. As my husband said, for our normal usage BJs is what we need but Costco is better for Christmas presents. I do agree with the previous poster that you should just take a look at the two and then make your decision. Also, at the one BJs the customer service was not so hot but at the one closest to our new house it is the same as at Costco. Just my two cents

                                                                            1. re: emmyru

                                                                              We have maintained memberships at both BJs and Costco for a few years now. Costco is closer to us, but BJs has things that Costco lacks -- much better selection of cereal, for example.

                                                                              Costco has Marcona almonds, BJs doesn't. BJs has bags of Mauna Loa macadamia nuts, Costco doesn't. Costco has better prices on tubs of Breakstone cottage cheese, while BJs has tubs of Friendship California style cottage cheese and more varieties of string cheese. And so on. So we contribute to the bottom line of both stores.

                                                                        2. Yesterday I picked up Photoshop Elements 6.0 for $50 (with a $30 Costco coupon). MSRP is $100; good retail price is usually around $85. A few months ago I purchased "Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volumes 1 and 2" in hardcover, packaged together for $26. The cheapest I could find those two books online would have cost me $45. Prices on name brand printer cartridges are less than I've found elsewhere. Several times a year I will buy sub-primal cuts of beef at Costco which I take home, trim and fabricate in to steaks before vacuum sealing most for the freezer. Much cheaper and higher quality (choice vs. select) than at the local supermarket. Costco's prefabricated cuts leave a bit to be desired in the proper trimming and uniform thickness categories IMO. They have large bags of raw nuts at a price much cheaper than buying similar quantities at the grocery store. All in all, if you average around $100 a week, the executive membership pays for itself. The trick is not to purchase perishables in quantities that you can't use before they spoil (i.e., don't buy the #10 cans of nacho-cheese sauce unless you REALLY like nachos!) They also usually have good deals on seasonal fruits at various times throughout the year.

                                                                          1. I am not convinced that overall Costco food is cheaper. But I have a card because I am a huge reader and love to buy books for others and their prices can not be beat. Also got 2 pairs of glasses for less than one at my previous optician.

                                                                            I think the be determining factor maybe how much storage space you have because many of the items come in 3 or 4 pack lots. So it may take you 6 months use an item up. If you have a big freezer, the big packs of meat are often a good deal.

                                                                            My ex swore that Costco tires were the best deal and they did install for free.

                                                                            1. In CA a great deal, at the Executive level, is the dental insurance plan through Delta Dental. $180 a year for our family of three. Also about 35% of the wine I buy is from Costco. The tires are a great deal. However that said you can almost always find Pepsi and Coke cheaper in stores. There are some other products you also have to really compare to Target, etc. such as toliet paper and paper dolls.

                                                                              1. I cook big, so I shop big... between the food, gas, clothing, and household items I purchase at Costco, I save hundreds and hundreds of dollars every year - and get enough in rebates to more than pay for each years membership fee. PS - we also order all our contacts and checks from them.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Patrincia

                                                                                  i have shopped at costco,s the last 4 yrs,,, and this is my impressing...gas is usually cheaper , sometimes not much, and then at times quite a bit difference.. a couple of the items that i liked at costcos has been disscontinued, and i have complained. did no good.. it was the danish blue cheese and harveitta cheese. one other item , gallons of campels port and beans,, no longer available either. i have thought about sams club, they do have the danish blue cheese, but do you like the horrible service at sams club,,, anything to do with wallmart is horible service. with costcos, i wish they would add new items...in the food department, but it seems hard to get new things added...seems like the same stuff year after year.. also , the refreshment stand, you can only eat some many hot dogs and pizza , same kind,,till you get tired of em.... i am single..but you save money at costco,s and i freeze some things to keep em.. being honest, i have compared my food purchases at costcos vs frys, and i save 50% yearly... i can get 32oz of yeast at costcos for 3.50,,,,that would cost $50 at frys... i live in phoenix, no bj,s there... i wish they would come to phoenix, would like to see how they are... but for now, its costcos, for me,,,, and no sams club here,,,,

                                                                                    1. re: monkuboy

                                                                                      It is a grocery store in AZ

                                                                                      I remember the Frys in San DIego used the be an Incredible Universe store and had a McDonald's in it and that area is still a kind of coffee shop now...and they sell cases of caffienated everything. Even water.

                                                                                      1. re: Cathy

                                                                                        Thanks. I think of Fry's Electronics when someone mentions that name.

                                                                                2. The gas at Coscto is .22 cheaper than the "regular" gas stations in my area this week.

                                                                                  Gas remains in and of itself enough reason to keep my Costco membership!

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Suzy Q

                                                                                    Gas usually runs between 8 and 10 cents cheaper than the next best place here, plus I get 3% back when I use my Costco AmEx. The pumps are super clean, and they fill you up fast (there was recently an article in the Costco Connection about the speed of their pumps). Come to think of it... I don't recall smelling yucky gas fumes when I fill-up at Costco either.

                                                                                    1. re: Suzy Q

                                                                                      Our Sams membership will end in a few months but we went ahead & joined Costco now largely for the gas. The Sams gas prices are often the same or a pinch higher than the ones across the street.

                                                                                      The Costco here is cleaner, friendlier, less crowded than the Sams.

                                                                                    2. We never heard whether you joined, fruglescot. If you do, and don't like it, the membership is refundable, and their refund desk cheerily takes back anything (except computers) for a long time. I'm single, and look forward to going there every two or three weeks.
                                                                                      e mail me if you want to guest shop, or need a ride (when my foot gets better!)

                                                                                      1. Since Costco is a year by year membership, I say go for it. If you don't feel you got your monies worth at the end of the year, you can walk.

                                                                                        I've had my Costco membership from the day "Price Club" opened doors. The membership has gone up over the years but I still maintain my business membership. As already mentioned, there is the food, clothing, electronics, eye wear, tire center, jewelry, Christmas deals, ink cartridges, books, CD's, coffee, cleaning products, wine, meats and prepared foods, baked good and party platters to learn all about BUT don't forget the services offered beyond the store. There is travel club discounts, bedding, home services, insurance, financial...all offered to members...and a coupon booklet if you want one.

                                                                                        For the past 10 years our company has given Costco memberships away as gifts. Not one complaint yet!

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                          Yesterday as I was in line at Costco one of their employees was offering us a free pizza and case of water if we got a friend to sign up. I said I don't know anyone who isn't already a Costco member! Their selection, prices and way they conduct business makes it my favorite store. It's the only place I really like to browse because there's always something interesting, especially their food items.

                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                            Very good idea. Try it a year and if you don't find it worth it, just let the membership lapse. The pharmacy is a good deal and if you use disposable AA batteries the Kirkland brand is very highly rated. I recall consumer's guide took some batteries apart and (this is several years back, though) and it appeared the Kirklands were sourced from Duracell. The Kirklands had a bit more oomph (than the Duracells) and they reasoned it was the rapid turnover lead to fresher batteries for sale. Kirkland named goods tend to be very high quality like their paper towels and their own cold cereals are good and unique blends. Since Costco is based in Washington they often get excellent apples. They had some Galas not too long ago that were really nice and big too. Ask them about their "return policy" for electronic items. I've never used it but I've heard Costco is about the most liberal on that matter. What I don't like is on the weekends and just before holidays it is truly packed with people. Since my days off is on the weekend that's a real pain.

                                                                                          2. We have a basic membership. We don't even try to justify it. If we save $55 / year, great. But we enjoy the hot dogs and classify the whole experience as Entertainment.

                                                                                            1. I'm a single guy, and I've had a Costco membership for years. Although I rarely buy perishable items there, I buy a lot of my nonperishable goods there (there are some areas I wish they had a better selection in) and ocasional frozen foods and meats as well. They also have really good prices on clothing (I tend to stick to the basics with my wardrobe) and other household goods as well. I find that I usually don't spend enough to break even on the executive membership, but if I went in and figured things out I'd probably find that overall I would probably save a good bit of money over buying in the grocery store on the stuff I do get there.

                                                                                              The place is also good for a cheap lunch ($1.50 hot dog and soda or $2 pizza) or a really cheap lunch (just go in and eat the free samples.)

                                                                                              1. In SoCal a Costco Amex Executive membership gets you 5% rebate on gasoline. Between just my wife and myself we are spending $150 every 10 days on gas. Besides having the lowest regular gas prices in the area (we save $.04 to $.10 a gallon, depending on when we fill up) the gas rebate alone will get us $250 back as long as prices stay this high (looks like forever). And that's WITHOUT the 2% on purchases, never mind what we feel we save on merchandise there.

                                                                                                1. I am a single woman with 3 large dogs. I shop at Costco once every 6-8 weeks, or whenever the kibble runs out. No one seems to have mentioned pet food. I originally joined Costco when my hobby was raising and showing pedigreed cats. A well-informed friend in the cat fancy told me that the Kirkland pet foods were formulated to replicate Science Diet. Thereafter, my cats and my 3 greyhounds got Kirkland kibble as their main food. It maintains glossy coats and good weight, at half the price of Science Diet or Iams. Among my current Costco shopping list items are pig ear dog chews, kibble, and dog bedding. For the last, stock varies, but on occasion they have 4"thick 36x42" foam dog beds for $20. It helps to have storage space, but I don't usually buy huge packs of bulky items. The things I always get there are fantastic roasted garlic bread from the instore bakery (2 loaves but I freeze one), ground beef,
                                                                                                  croutons, walnuts and pecans for baking, vitamins, shampoo, batteries, cleaning supplies.

                                                                                                  1. If you buy food for a couple big parties a year it is worth having a membership. The salmon is gorgeous, the booze is cheaper than the local liquor store and you can buy things like whipping cream in larger containers than the supermarket.

                                                                                                    I also bought a lot of things like Gatoraide and bottled water when I had my membership.

                                                                                                    As many people have said, gas is a good value, as are flowers. They have really beautiful bunches of roses and mixed seasonal flowers (much nicer than typical supermarket flowers) for significantly less than you would pay at a florist.

                                                                                                    1. You can save even more if your friend gets a membership and brings you along to shop. That's what I did. ;)

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: The Engineer

                                                                                                        I agree with monkeyboy. Costco is one of my favorite stores. Always enjoy their walk around buffet. Great grazing at Costco!