Should I join Costco?

When I lived back east and was a homeowner, I had a membership to BJ’s Wholesale (a Costco equivalent). At the time, it seemed worth it - I would buy all my toiletries there, stock up on paper towels, toilet paper… things I’d use eventually but also had room to store them in. I’m pretty sure it ended up being a net savings. Some time later, I sold my house, and we eventually moved to the northwest, where we’ve been renting ever since.

At first, we lived in an apartment, so we didn’t really have room to store things, but for the past year, and for the foreseeable future, we are renting a house, and have a basement where we can easily store things, so I’m wondering whether it would be worth it to pay the $50 per year membership cost to Costco, primarily to buy the types of things mentioned above.

I know people think highly of Costco, and I am aware that you can get some great deals on appliances, electronics and other household items, but I’d like for the membership to be worth just on the every day types of things I need alone, and everything else just being a “bonus”.

Are we likely to save money in the long run by shopping for household type products at Costco and stocking up, rather than buying it all at Target (which is where I get it all now)? Costco’s website has not been particularly helpful as far as doing price comparisons, so I am hoping for some first hand experience… and I’m pretty sure there are a fair amount of Costco shoppers here. ;)


It really depends on whether you need to buy larger quantities or want to “stock up” on things like food and stuff like you mention. You can save some money if you are buying for a family or using their other services but it’s pretty marginal if it’s not your primary retailer, IMHO.

Yes. If for nothing else then the fact you can get Tillamock Extra Sharp Cheddar for $4-5 cheaper than a grocery store. Your Super Bowl nachos will thank you for using a cheese with an actual flavor and kick versus some crappy medium or mild orange colored block.

It depends how close you are to your costco. If you’re close enough to use them for groceries and have a freezer in your basement, you can’t beat costco.

Otherwise, well, it’s only fifty bucks and it’s nice to only have to buy staples like paper towels, olive oil, and TP once or twice a year. They’re all high-quality products, too. Costco isn’t cheap K-mart crap.

If your local Costco has gas and you drive a lot, then yes. The only issue is make sure to fuel early in the morning, because hitting Costco gas during the rush times is tedious.

I’d say yes and go so far as to say get their black card membership. You get money back at the end of the year and if you spend enough money the card will pay for itself.

Yes - Gas, pop, toliet paper/paper towels, and frozen goods make it worth while to shop at Costco. Great customer service and return policies (“Oh we dropped the price on that item $200 since you bought it last month? We’ll go ahead and credit that to your account”).

The only thing I don’t like about Costco is the perishable items that come in bulk - awesome deals, but we always end up throwing half of it away after it goes bad (that’s a me problem, not a Costco problem though)

The closest Costco to us is about 6 miles away, so it’s not that far, though I don’t know if it does gas or not, as I’ve not been there yet (it’s the one in Kirkland). To be fair though, we don’t use a lot of gas. We have one car, we live near downtown Bellevue, and my husband works in downtown Bellevue, so I probably only fill up the tank once every three and a half weeks, if that. We’re pretty much homebodies, to be honest, so we don’t put a lot of miles on our car.

It’s just the two of us, no kids, so we wouldn’t be stocking up for a family or anything, and we don’t have a freezer in the basement (though I miss the one I used to have in my old house). That said, I do like stocking up on things that won’t spoil, because I kind of hate shopping in general, and the less I have to buy during my weekly Safeway run, the happier I am. ;)

Heck, if they sell Dr. Pepper (do they?), which my husband drinks by the gallon, I’d probably make back our $50 membership in the first two months. Dr. P is ridiculously expensive at normal grocery stores, and I stock up on it when it’s on sale, but even the sale price tends to be really high.

I’m sure if we did join, we would end up using many of their other services, including buying small appliances (I’m in the market for a food processor!) as well as other household stuff. I’d just like it to be not a total waste of money, even though $50 for an entire year isn’t really that much.

They’re all high-quality products, too. Costco isn’t cheap K-mart crap.

Yeah, I’ve heard that. Costco does exist in the northeast (giving BJs a run for its money) and I remember my former boss used to practically live at Costco. He was always going on about getting this, that or the other thing at Costco.

If for nothing else then the fact you can get Tillamock Extra Sharp Cheddar for $4-5 cheaper than a grocery store.

This made me chuckle, because we use loads of that cheese (the white cheddar). I probably spend a fortune on it at Safeway. Pretty much if a meal calls for cheese, I get out the Tillamok cheddar. ;)

Nope, no gas at the one in Kirkland, but the one in Issaquah does and it’s much nicer anyway.

Heck, if they sell Dr. Pepper (do they?), which my husband drinks by the gallon, I’d probably make back our $50 membership in the first two months. Dr. P is ridiculously expensive at normal grocery stores, and I stock up on it when it’s on sale, but even the sale price tends to be really high.

They always have it when I’m there. The only thing that they’ve been having problems keeping in stock is Coke Zero (at least the ones in Renton/Kirkland/Issaquah). They also tend to have Mexican Coke and (rarely) Mexican Pepsi.

Tim? Is that you?

This is way too much analysis for a $50 decision that is easily testable.

Well, the Issaquah one is the Flagship, after all :)

I got my Wii from Costco on launch day, so I have a soft spot for them because of that.

My wife and I use Costco fair amount, but it’s really all about knowing what you’re actually going to use. You also need to compare prices against Target and other retailers - sometimes Costco is not as good of a deal.

One of our first purchaes was a giant block of frozen hamburgers for a barbecue - and we still have half of those patties in the freezer a year later. We’ve been burned a few times because we thought we would get more use out of something than we actually did, but learned our lesson rather quick.

On the other hand, the giant box of garbage bags we got last year is still going strong. Paper towels, toilet paper and batteries are also pretty solid deals there.

And on the off chance you’re going to Hawaii, the Costco on the big island has the cheapest gas on the island by 50 cents or so. During our vacation there, I think we probably saved enough to cover the cost of the membership for the year.

If you’re at all curious, I’d say just take the plunge. For the $50 or so, you can’t go too far wrong.

Ha! I did think while I was posting that someone was going to come along and say “just go and see for yourself!” ;)

I admit, I tend to overanalyze things. But while we’re one the subject, I know BJs used to do a “free one day” pass thing where you could ship without being a member, you just had to pay cash, and couldn’t use checks or credit/debit. Does Costco do something similar?

If you know someone with a membership they can buy you a gift card.

But really it’s fifty bucks. You might be putting too much thought into this.

I find the “it’s just $50, spend it!” attitude incoherent. If you don’t care about the $50 cost of membership, then fuck it, Costco’s not for you, I say. It’s only for people who need to worry about saving $2 on a gallon of toilet paper or whatever, and by definition those people aren’t just blowing $50 for the hell of it.

Me, I say it’s not worth it, because I’d have to save more than $50 over the course of the year just to break even, and how much stuff could I even buy there? I maybe spend what, $100 a year on things like laundry detergent and toilet paper, and Costco is probably within 5% of regular store prices, if not more expensive when you factor in sales at Target or whatever, and that’s not going to come close to earning out the membership.

But I know people who buy all of their groceries and books and whatever else at Sam’s Club/Costco, so if you’re going to do that, you’re probably fine. Strikes me as odd, but whatever.

Not “it’s just $50, spend it!”

But rather “it’s just $50, test it!”

People often make threads instead of taking action. Internet discussion will not help analysis paralysis. It only feeds it.

$50 isn’t throw away money for everyone. It may be for Hansey, but unless you are the type of person who buys full-price games all the time on a whim, $50 is signficant. And just looking at it as “testing” isn’t a cheap way to go either.

I’d suggest seeing if someone you know has a membership and just tag along with them and see what you think. If you like what you see you can spend the $50 right there and use it.

The Costco AmEx card can be an excellent deal. $50/year, which covers both the cost of Costco membership and the AmEx fees. 3% cash back for restaurants and gas, 1% for everything else.

If you cook a lot, you can easily save money buying meat, cheese, and the like at Costco. If you mostly eat out, probably not so much.

Walk up to the door and say your wife/husband went in first. They’ll let you in. I do this all the time when I drop my wife off on rainy days. You won’t be able to buy anything, but take the tour and eat some free samples.

The other thing to keep in mind about Costco is their excellent return policy. It gives me a lot of peace of mind on buying certain items.

I also love the rotisserie chickens and I have a soft spot for the evil food court hot dogs.

If I recall correctly, Costco membership is refundable if you decide it wasn’t worth it.