Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Costco... Money Saver or Malarky?

Recently a friend of mine asked me if a Costco membership was worth the membership fee and the time it takes to shop there. So, sitting down to do the math compelled me to blog this for you...

A Costco Membership is $50. a year... let's break that down into the 12 months since you would probably go only once a month or so!
That means you are paying about $4.16 a month to use their services. In order to make this worth the time and money spent shopping there you would have to save MORE than $4.16 a month.
As I have figured previously you can buy diapers and wipes at comparable prices, or even cheaper from other stores. (however I must say, the actual quality of the items is considerably better at Costco!)
Gasoline fill ups are the main thing we do at Costco so I will use that as the baseline for my figuring here! We fill our tank which is a 15 gallon tank 3 or sometimes 4 times per month. As I mentioned before they are at least 2-4 cents cheaper than Arco or any other station around and have no ATM fee. so I save $1.35 on average each month by filling up at Costco. (the high end of this figure is $2.04, with the ATM fee added) If gas is the only thing you buy there, obviously NO it's not worth the money, but we buy Aaron's jeans at Costco. Another store would sell the same jeans for around $40.00, but at Costco they are about $17.00. This $23.00 difference added to the gasoline for the year almost pays for the membership. If you add in major purchases such as furniture, electronics, tires, etc. then YES it more than pays for itself!

What about pictures? I like to get my Photo Christmas Cards from Costco.com. They are $27.00 for 1oo cards and envelopes that I can pick up the next day in store. A comparable online photo website charges $45 for the cards, and another $15.oo for shipping. That's $60.00 total, or I can pick them up in store dropping my total to $50.00. If I buy them from Costco, that's a $23.00 savings!

Lest you be deceived that I'm saying Costco is the end-all-be-all of money saving, I'm not. I'm only saying be savy on what you purchase there. If you can get quality 2-ply toilet paper at WalMart for less than 45 cents a roll, and that's the only thing you ever buy at Costco, please, don't waste your money paying them to shop in their big warehouse where you buy things in 50lb. bags!

So I guess the real question is not is a membership worth it, but what would you buy at Costco????

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