For the first few years of our marriage, Johnny and I were gifted a Costco membership each year. And when something is given to you for free, it’s a no-brainer to take full advantage of it. But about a year ago, the time came when we no longer had the luxury of a free Costco membership. And so we had to decide whether it was worth paying a store to let us come buy stuff from them. When I put it that way, it sounds like a pretty terrible idea, right? But, after weighing the pros and cons, the pros won out and we decided to purchase our own Costco membership.
Before we could stand against the wall and let them take a barely recognizable black-and-white photo of us, we first had to decide which kind of membership was the best fit for us. There were three options: Gold Star Membership, Business Membership, and Executive Membership.
- Gold Star Membership ($55): This is the standard membership for individuals and households.
- Business Membership ($55 per person): This membership is geared toward business owners, with each person added to the plan costing an additional $55.
- Executive Membership ($110): This membership gives back 2% on all of your purchases. At the end of the year, Costco will send you a check for the cash back you’ve accumulated. If the amount on the check isn’t at least $55 (the cost of a standard Gold Star membership), their customer service counter will give you the difference.
Based on the one with the most robust description, can you tell which membership we chose? That’s right: the Executive Membership. Thanks to the money-back guarantee, it won’t end up costing us more than the Gold Star Membership. And shoot, we might even make a little extra money off of it! Since Johnny and I are all about maximizing our rewards, it seemed like the best fit.
But when it came down to it, Costco was still going to cost us $55/year. So what made us certain that we’d get at least that much in savings over the course of that time? Well, to help make our decision, we made a list of all the items that we save money on by buying from Costco. Here are a few of our regular purchases with their prices and respective savings*:
- Paper Towels and Toilet Paper: 12 rolls for $14.99 and 30 rolls for $14.99 (25% savings)
- Ground Beef: 88% lean beef for $3.19/pound (25% savings)
- Frozen Chicken Breasts: 6.5 pounds for $18.49 (25% savings)
- Milk: 2 gallons for $4.76 (50% savings)
- Eggs: 2 dozen for $2.69 (30% savings)
- Strawberries (Sal’s favorite): 2 pounds of strawberries for $3.49 (40% savings)
- Spring Lettuce Mix: 1 pound for $3.99 (50% savings)
- Bread: 1 premium loaf for $1.99 (30% savings)
- Butter: 4 pounds for $10.59 (5% savings)
- Footy Pajamas for Sally: $7.49 each (50% savings)
- Kirkland Contact Solution: (3) 16oz. bottles for $8.99 (40% savings)
- Dove Shampoo: (1) 40oz. bottle for $6.99 (35% savings)
- Dove Body Wash: (3) 24 oz. bottles for $12.99 (35% savings)
*These savings reflect average costs at our local grocery stores and will vary by store and location.
We’ve also found deals on other everyday items such as wipes, baking ingredients, certain cereals, and snack foods. We really like that Costco gives us the ability to buy high-quality goods at a fraction of their usual price. Another factor that played into our decision to purchasing a Costco card is that we have a Costco just 6 minutes down the street (traffic prevailing). I may or may not have timed it once. That proximity allows us to cash in on their great gas prices, too.
Despite our obvious zeal for everything Costco has to offer, we don’t just go hog wild each time we enter the store (although I can’t speak for Sally when she gets near the free samples). We’ve set up a couple of basic rules that we stick to so Costco doesn’t become just another way to overspend.
Our Costco Rules:
Stick to the list!
Just like with our regular grocery shopping, we always make a list before going to Costco. And with all the additional temptations awaiting you down every aisle at Costco (big screen TVs, 20-person tents, 11lb. jars of Nutella [!!!]), I think this rule is even more important at that blessed store.
Take advantage of sales!
I had to go pick up some milk and a few other basics a few days ago. But there were a few items I held back on purchasing since I knew they’d be going on sale later that week. We always scour the little Costco mailers to see if any of our regular purchases will be discounted in the near future.
So that’s why we Costco. It’s a fairly easy way to save some money on our basic groceries and everyday items. So now we want to know: do you Costco? Why or why not?