Before I got my own Costco Card, I used to visit the store with a friend of mine that had a Costco Card. I was pretty impressed with the store so I dropped the $50 to get my own membership. I thought I would save alot of money by buying in bulk.

I have been a Costco member for over 2 years but I've decided that I will not be renewing my membership for another year. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy myself every time I go to Costco. I usually go when I'm hungry so I can sample all of the food displays. By the time I leave the store, I'd usually be full of free samples. If there were not enough samples to fill up on, I usually hit the snack bar for hot dog and drink for $1.50.

I like Costco and I do save a little money but to me, it's not worth the $50 membership fee. Here is why I'm not renewing my membership:
  • I spend too much. I always find something that I had not planned to purchase. It's usually an electronic item that has a good price and I can't find anywhere else or something else that I think I need. It happens every time I go no matter how much I tell myself I won't do it. This will usually negate any money I saved.
  • Limited Bulk Needs. I live alone and don't cook so there is not much that I need to buy in bulk.

  • Limited Brands. I am very brand loyal. Most brands of the everyday items I use (toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, shaving cream), they don't carry. If I can't buy these items in bulk, I'm really not saving any money. I've tried to switch to the brands they use but they don't have the desired effect.

I will still visit Costco; only I'll probably only go once or twice a year with my friend. He goes all the time anyway so it won't be a big deal if I tag along. I offered to drop a few bucks towards his membership fees but being the great buddy he is, he refused my offer.

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18 comments

  1. Philip // March 31, 2008 at 9:48 AM  

    I don't go to Costco, but to Sam's Club. As a single guy I can't agree more, I will occaisionaly go there and try to stock up on stuff that I will use regularly. However there is not enough to justify the cost of membership. However, my dad's business account allows a free second holder so I am included there, that way even if I don't use it often, it is free to me.

  2. tAnYeTTa // March 31, 2008 at 12:56 PM  

    I never understood spending $50 to 'save' money. I stop by Costco for the pizza slices when I'm in the area. And we don't need a card for that :)

  3. Anonymous // March 31, 2008 at 3:48 PM  

    I have found timing the sales at my local grocery store to much more frugal and far less dehumanizing than shopping at a cavernous Costco.
    Smart move!

  4. jpdaigle // March 31, 2008 at 6:39 PM  

    If you're like me and drink only the espresso from Illy beans, however, note that Costco in Ottawa sells 250g (8.8oz) Illy cans individually for 11$ each, while coffee shops always sell the same cans for 15$ each.

    Going through a can of Illy's espresso roast a month will make you break-even on the membership cost.

  5. TrishaAllen.com // March 31, 2008 at 10:45 PM  

    I definitely always spent more than I saved--not because buying in bulk was more expensive, but because I did a lot of "oh, I could definitely use 20 lbs of pickles!" kind of thing. So, for that reason, I let my Sam's Club membership expire. I also don't collect coupons, since they'll make me overspend, too. I know buying in bulk and coupons work for lots of people--I'm just not one of them.

  6. "Future Millionaire" // April 1, 2008 at 9:09 AM  

    I concur with the rest of the commenters -- whenever I go there I always end up over spending. And living by myself there's nothing I need in bulk nor do I really have the storage for it.

    I went to Costco about a year ago and stocked up on Paper Towel, TP, and frozen chicken and am still using them up.

  7. Clean ClutterFree Simple // April 1, 2008 at 12:21 PM  

    I keep my Costco membership because it saves me money in more than the obvious ways. I love to grocery shop, so much so that I do it too often. And, I'm one of those people overwhelmed by variety. I love that Costco has so few choices. If I want grated cheddar cheese, I can buy Tillamook or I can buy Tillamook. At the grocery store, there are easily five choices for that same item. Plus, their return policy is stellar.

  8. Tired of being broke // April 1, 2008 at 6:05 PM  

    I am right there with you on not being able to justify the cost. My uncle has a membership so I usually go when he goes and I need something, which is maybe twice per year.

  9. Leslie Raymond // April 1, 2008 at 8:31 PM  

    I made the same decision as you -- after being a member for several years, I find that there's really not a lot of things I need to buy in bulk that are the brands Costco carries. I've got 2 kids under 3, and diapers and wipes were always on my costco list, but half the time they were out of the sizes I needed or the wipes I wanted making the trip to the store somewhat useless. I find that I can get most of what I need by watching the sales and cutting coupons from my local groceries, and also hitting Smart and Final once every few weeks as well. I admit, I miss the free food samples and occasionally tag along when my Mother-in-Law goes ... or better yet, I just ask her to pick up stuff for me.

    You're right about the hot dog and drink deal for $1.50, it's the best part of the store!

  10. frugalbabe.com // April 2, 2008 at 7:25 PM  

    We've had a Costco membership for about four years, and love it. It's one of our favorite places to shop, and I love how much organic food they offer. We got the Costco American Express last year (no fee if you have a Costco membership) and the cash back we'll get this year will cover the cost of our membership to Costco (we only use the AmEx at Costco). My one gripe with Costco is how often they change products. You can't get too attached to something there, because you never know when they'll stop carrying it. I've been hunting for my organic frozen raspberries the last three times I've been in and they're nowhere to be found :(

  11. Mark // April 3, 2008 at 12:19 AM  

    We are members of Bj's. Gas is usually $0.15 cents cheaper than all the other stations in the area. If we're really careful in the store we can save money buying bulk. Although with only me and my wife at home. Large quantities usually don't work for us.

  12. Penelope @ Our Fourpence Worth // April 3, 2008 at 9:39 PM  

    We haven't renewed our Costco membership since 2004, but we still use it to shop online on their website, which has the best prices - which includes shipping and handling - on office products (printer paper, packing tape, folders, envelopes, etc.) I always end up buying office products for my business there after looking around and not finding better deals. They also ship really fast and we always receive our orders in 2 days (sometimes next day).

    If we didn't live so far from the nearest warehouse, we'd definitely still shop there. And I love their Caesar salads and chicken bake things ... Mmm ...

  13. cathie // April 6, 2008 at 2:15 PM  

    I am the "free" addition on my mom's Sam's Club card. I make a very specific list when I go, which is about once a month. It definitely is the place to buy certain products, if you can keep blinders on to all the rest. I only buy milk, eggs, cheese, coffee, splenda, boca burgers, and the occasional book or DVD. And the price of cheese varies; sometimes it's cheaper on sale at the grocery store.

  14. calgirlfinance // April 6, 2008 at 10:32 PM  

    I love Costco. We are the second "free" card on the membership, but we did end up renewing the membership one year when we needed to renew in order to buy the stuff that day.

    I typically buy chicken, ground beef, veggies, tp, paper towels, and drinks. Occasionally we'll buy some small appliances, but that is pretty rare. It's also a good place for my husband to pick up some clothes. He's gotten 2 pairs of swimming trunks (in 4 years), some dress shirts, and underwear.

    We used to limit the amount we spent by only using cash, but we just got an Amex, but we have good habits ingrained.

  15. Lisa // April 7, 2008 at 10:23 PM  

    We limit our trips to Costco to once or twice a year, but we buy our gas there and save at least ten cents a gallon when we do. We are lucky to have a Costco about a mile from our house, so we don't have to drive out of the way to get gas. Liquor there is cheaper too. TIP: in Michigan at least, by law they can't limit liquor sales to members.

  16. Living Almost Large // April 8, 2008 at 6:39 PM  

    I am a diehard fan. I buy most foods from there. I used to buy gas and that was the BEST deal there. Seriously, over $300/year easily on gas alone.

    But consider splitting costco with a bud if you want to still be a member.

  17. Anonymous // April 9, 2008 at 2:26 PM  

    Another tip: if you oly shop every month (or 2-3). Time it so you go right before the membership expires and then wait until time for your next visit to renew.

  18. Anonymous // April 16, 2008 at 1:05 PM  

    We have also decided not to renew our Costco membership. It expires in May so I am going tomorrow for one last time because I will need gas and it's usually cheaper there also I received a coupon book in the mail that expires on Sunday.

    A new grocery store with pretty cheap prices was just built across the street from our house so we will probably just go there more and stock up and not go to Costco after the membership expires. We should be able to save some gas this way also which is always good.