I love to cook and bake. No surprise, right? It’s a good thing I have a large family so I have a lot of people to experiment on, I mean, cook for, but it can get costly. This meant that years ago, especially when we still had a baby in diapers (cloth) we needed to learn how to trim our grocery bill. One of our best investments in cutting our food costs? A CostCo membership.
Bulk-shopping at big stores like this often gets a bad rap. In reality, the problem lies with the shopper. Just like shopping at any other store, you need to have restraint and be able to keep to your list if you’re concerned about spending extra money. You also need to have some flexibility, take some time to get used to the lay of the store and the prices, and you’ll find yourself saving money if you do it right.
I won’t repeat what I wrote in this post about saving money at CostCo, but there are some no-brainers. We are always going to need toilet paper, so yes, buying a 30-roll package IS a good thing as long as we can store and have the cash/credit at our disposal to pay for it upfront. That’s one less thing to not have to worry about for a while. Same with paper towels and napkins, both of which are cheaper for better quality if we buy them at CostCo. Milk, cheese, sugar, flour, deli meat (the good kind without hormones and additives), no high-fructose corn syrup maple syrup, Nutella double-packages, etc., these are all things I’m going to buy regardless, so buying them in bulk at CostCo, as they don’t spoil before we use them, are smart purchases.
Having a CostCo membership isn’t even costly if you use it. Our Executive Membership is about $115 per year, but you get a percentage back from each purchase and you’ll receive it once-per-year in check form. What we do each year is turn that check right back around, literally handing it to the cashier at checkout when the membership is up for renewal, and we pay less than $15 per year after that first year. It’s basically free!
In addition, we use the CostCo True Earnings AMEX card. At CostCo, they have limitations on how you can pay for your purchases. If you decide you need to get a TV this week and don’t have the cash, you can’t just hand over any regular credit card, you’ll need an AMEX. The good thing about the AMEX is that you then can accrue rewards dollars from all the purchases you make on it, even when not purchasing things at CostCo. (You can visit their website for complete details, this is just a summary.) Because we buy CostCo gas for our vehicles, that’s 3% back for each purchase. Last month, we received the rewards check for our first six months, and it was $150! That’s separate from the check we get from CostCo for using the card. Pretty cool, right? Not only do we get quality items at better-than-other-store prices, but we get rewards and more money.
We also enjoy CostCo’s concierge service, no hassle return policy and extra warranty. I won’t buy my cellphones anywhere else! We buy our TVs there, laptops and many other big-ticket items. They also sell tires. If you have prescriptions, you can’t beat their prices. Years ago, my daughter’s anti-seizure medications were running close to $800 for a bottle WITH insurance at a store pharmacy. Obviously, you can’t go without the medicine but that cost is ridiculous, so we called around. Got it to about half that at another pharmacy. (Do your homework if you have an expensive medication – there are no ‘normal’ rates and you may get a big discount if you call. It’s just like car shopping, unfortunately.) Called CostCo, and the pharmacy technician spent a lot of time helping us. She got the cost down to $187! Still high, yes, but $600 cheaper than our first quote and $200+ cheaper than the next best cost. CostCo’s optometry department is another score.
My kids love shopping at CostCo. My youngest calls it “the sample store.” He loves getting different surprises at the end of each aisle as he shops with dad, and if we’re in a hurry, we sometimes splurge on the inexpensive fast-food. $1.50 for a dog and soda! $1.50 pizza! $.69 sodas…you get the idea, but it’s all good stuff, not typical fast-food fare.
Each month, my husband shops at CostCo probably two times; we keep a list, follow it, and rarely deviate. From time to time, we’ll find something we’ve been wanting or something that’s just too good to pass up, but those things happen anywhere. If you want to save money, keep your pantry stocked and have good quality food and household items on hand, you can’t go wrong at CostCo!
**No, I don’t work for CostCo, nor does anyone I know. I just wanted to share some good information about how to save money.**