Working Moms

Explain Costco to me

I've taken over our household budget from DH and trying to find ways to both save money and time. Warehouse shopping never appealed to me, but I don't know anything about it except most people I know love Costco. Do you really save a lot of money by shopping there? Can it be a substitute for, say, Target? In other words, can I get all the major brands at Costco for beauty/care products and household items in addition to groceries. What about baby supplies?
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Re: Explain Costco to me

  • We don't have a membership, but my mother does.  That's the first thing.  You have to pay to shop there, so if you don't purchase enough/get enough savings from shopping there, then it won't help your budget simply for that reason.  That being said, if you're family is large enough/goes through bulk things quick enough, then it's worth considering.  We get our baby wipes there (mom gets them for us), but with just 3 of us in our house, we can't go through the size of things they have quickly enough to make it worth it.  We'll do a trip once ever quarter or so for non-perishable things, but it doesn't help us for other items. DH does love their salsa for some reason, though.
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  • So, you're going to get some mixed reviews I imagine.  I go back and forth on whether thinking our membership is worth it.  Some days I think YES i love Costco the bargains are amazing.  Other days we buy too much sh** and it's a waste. 

    I imagine if you have a really big family it's totally worth it.  We have 2 small girls under the age of 3 so we're not buying much food here but some meat.  What we do buy is:

     

    Diaper wipes

    butt wipes

    booze

    cheese

    meats 

    big salads for parties

    granola bars

    I have now learned that supposedly you don't have to be a member to buy alcohol or pharmacy stuff.  You should check on that.  The membership is like $55 for a regular one or $110 for a better one where you get cash back or something.

    Eh i'm not a HUGE Costco lover but it's got some good prices and good stuff.  We just end up buying too much crap when we go and spend hundreds of dollars.  So not sure it's really doing much for our family at this point in time.  

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  • You might get some different answers to this one. Here are my thoughts on the subject.

     We got our membership when I was pregnant, thinking we would get diapers and wipes there mostly, with a few other things here and there. Now we almost never buy baby stuff there. They have formula as well, but I am still breast feeding, so have never had a need for that. The diapers are all Huggies. There is a Costco Kirkland brand of diapers, but they are essentially Huggies as well. We are not huge fans of Huggies in any form. I do like the Huggies Natural Care wipes that they have there, so have bought those a few times. As for savings on other types of items, you just have to know what you pay for things. Sometimes you get a killer deal, sometimes you don't. Also, they only have one variety of most things, so if you are brand loyal, or like a particular type of something, you may not find it there. Here is an example, my DH loves this one kind of Lubriderm lotion. He gets the one with SPF in it. Costco had his Lubriderm lotion, but not the kind with the SPF in it. We bought it there once, but he still prefers that we get his favorite from Target.

    I do like buying vitamins there. The packages are huge so you don't have to go back and get more very often. This does save you some money in most instances. I save a TON on bread when I buy it there, but I do have to freeze one loaf because we don't go through that much that quickly. We saved quite a bit on AC filters last month. I buy milk there sometimes too, but that is not saving much money. If it is on a good sale at the grocery store, it is cheaper than it is at Costco.

    So really it just depends on your needs and knowing what you pay for things at your usual shopping locations. I am still glad we have our membership, but we only go once every couple of months and get very specific items.

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  • When I was pregnant, I compared Costco and Sams Club and ended up with a Sams membership for a few reasons. Costco has more variety of items, but they weren't that big of savings. Sams is cheaper for the brands that they have, and they had more of what I buy anyway. The Sams is also close to our house and near where I am frequently anyway.

    Before I bought a membership, I went through with a friend under her membership (to both places), and wrote down prices of all the things that we buy on a regular basis, then compared it to the grocery store or Target. Some things were cheaper, some were not. Things I regularly buy at Sams that are cheaper: diapers, wipes, cottonelle wipes, coffee, vitamins, granola bars, and some frozen foods (pizza, chicken patties). The hard part for diapers is that the packs are so big, you have to be confident baby will be in that size long enough to go through the whole pack. I think it can save you money if you use it wisely.

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  • We originally became members when I was pregnant, but found we didn't use it enough to warrant having a membership so we let it lapse.  We recently renewed it and I find that, even with a family of 3, I am usually there almost every week!  Wipes/diapers, toilet paper, paper towel, laundry detergent, almond milk and chicken (I love how they package their chicken) is what I find I am buying on a regular basis there.  I have recently taken advantage of their photo center and was happy with that.  And we pick up a rotisserie chicken from there on a somewhat regular basis (my child...who typically eats like a bird...can nearly polish off about a half of one of those birds).
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  • Thanks for the thoughts so far.

    So we eat very little meat (me none at all), barely drink alcohol (still nursing, too tired), don't take vitamins and very few prescriptions. I am somewhat brand loyal (particularly picky about my face products and sunscreens. All this points to perhaps Costco wouldn't be worth it for us. That said, looks like an annual membership is $55 so perhaps we'll try it for a year.

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  • We do save money at Costco, but we have to be vigilant about only buying what's on our list. We go every couple months for things we use regularly: Ground Turkey and Chicken; Contact solution; Asprin/vitamins; Olive Oil; toilet paper; paper towels; tabasco; ketchup. Some of the things are WAY cheaper than grocery stores- but they just don't fit in my cupboards- stuff like other condiments, baking supplies, canned tomatoes, etc. If I had a huge chef's kitchen I'd buy most of my items from Costco. The olive oil I store under my sink- it is so much cheaper than the grocery store that I have to get it there. We did love Costco diapers and wipes, too. Some things like shampoo and conditioner I could get there, but I prefer to change brands more frequently than those huge bottles. We get our glasses/contacts there and they are WAY cheaper. Tires, should you ever need them, will save you the cost of membership. Booze is much, much cheaper, too.

    I will say during Christmas their toy selection is incredible- for e.g., a Hot Wheels set at Target would be 19.99- at Costco it would be 29.99 but would be 6 times bigger and have every bell and whistle you could imagine. Again, really only a good idea if you have a large house!

  • Nicb13Nicb13
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
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    image mexicolombiana:

     

    I imagine if you have a really big family it's totally worth it.  We have 2 small girls under the age of 3 so we're not buying much food here but some meat.  What we do buy is:

     

    Diaper wipes

    butt wipes

    booze

    cheese

    meats 

    big salads for parties

    granola bars

     

    This is pretty much what we buy too as well as big cases of refried beans and Organic applesauce pouches for DS. They don't have many healthy foods and you have to buy a ton of anything you want.

    We go to Costco in addition to the grocery store where we can get individual items. I absolutely love Costco though and save a ton on the few items we buy there.

     

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  • We don't have cosco membership but wanted to say if you are mainly Looking for diapers and wipes, check out amazon prime. It's 79/yr for free shipping and 20 off diapers.
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  • We belong to Costco.  We mostly use it for toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels.  But we will also pick up the granola bars we both really like (and I eat every day as a mid-morning snack) and bottles of water (which I carry around with me all the time now).  We've also used it for parties and when I'm hosting events.  But we don't stock up on a lot of food items from there.
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  • image MirandaHobbes:

    Booze is much, much cheaper, too.

    I will say during Christmas their toy selection is incredible- for e.g., a Hot Wheels set at Target would be 19.99- at Costco it would be 29.99 but would be 6 times bigger and have every bell and whistle you could imagine. Again, really only a good idea if you have a large house!

    These are the 2 reasons I have a membership. Also not sure if you have family nearby but my mom and I split one membership so its less than 30/yr that way.

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  • image DCMerged:
    Thanks for the thoughts so far. So we eat very little meat me none at all, barely drink alcohol still nursing, too tired, don't take vitamins and very few prescriptions. I am somewhat brand loyal particularly picky about my face products and sunscreens. All this points to perhaps Costco wouldn't be worth it for us. That said, looks like an annual membership is 55 so perhaps we'll try it for a year.


    I think trying it is the only way you will know. I used to buy a lot of meat there and freeze it, but we have moved and eat much less meat now anyway so I don't bother. My mom is a Costco loyalist, though. Just depends on your shopping habits. I will say, it is insane there on Saturdays. Just insane.
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  • SoMoNYSoMoNY
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    LOVE Costco, have the black card that earns us reward check each year.

    Use Costco for diapers and to get my allergy meds for $5.75 instead of 19.99 a 15-pack.

    Got DS's swing set there for 1/3rd of what the places by us were charging.

    Love their food and selection of kids toys and books.  

    Their organic milk is MUCH cheaper than Stop & Shop and 3 pounds of bananas are like $1.5 versus 99 A pound at Stop & Shop.

     

  • I've been thinking about renewing my membership. I always found milk to be cheaper there and since DS will be on WCM soon that would make a difference. I would buy the two packs of bread and put one in the freezer.

    I always liked that they had a big selection of organic foods. You can buy their meat and seafood and divide it up in the freezer and it's a good deal.

    I wouldn't buy veggies there because we'd waste them, but fruits maybe. DS can go through a lot of fruit.

    I might renew my membership just for DS' birthday party. LOL

  • We don't get there often as it's not super convenient, but we have a membership anyway. Not sure we're saving money. We keep the membership for certain items we really like, and for "special occasion" type needs. We consistently buy:

    baby wipes. The Kirkland wipes are THE BEST WIPES. I don't like to use others now.

    Napkins--I like the nice ones, not those thin tissue cheapies that dissolve into nothing.

    Kitchen trash bags.

    I got hooked on this Chicago mix popcorn that is horrible for us but now we can't stop buying it. 

    Other than that, we usually OVERspend on random specialty items, but it's kind of fun to go see what they have since we don't get there often. They have some interesting products. I do like it if we have parties--can get specialty deli, bakery, etc.

    I don't think their prices are necessarily that great. I'd price compare if you want to seriously save money. For example, pasta on sale at the regular store can be cheaper or the same as the multi-pack at Costco. 

    They actually have decent, cheap pizza if you want a take-out dinner.

    I've found decent deals on kids' clothing several times. I also think the housewares type stuff can be good. I got a really nice down blanket, too. 

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  • ebp913ebp913
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    I'm not totally sure on Costco but we save a lot of time and money by doing subscribe and save on Amazon for anything we can.  I get all of our toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, wipes, air filters, cleaning supplies, toiletries, etc from Amazon.  When you have 5 or more items in one month, you save an additional 20%.  It's so much easier and cheaper than buying in a regular store.  I haven't done a price comparison to Costco though.  We also like it because we just don't have the storage to keep Costco sized quantities in our home so Amazon works out better for us.  
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  • Add me to the I love Costco camp. I do agree with most of the negatives posted but they are not enough for me to not love Costco. I don't think that Costco would replace Target. BFing didn't work out for us so getting formula at Costco when DS was small was a huge savings for us. Now I go every 6-8 weeks. I always get paper towels, toilet paper, tissues, dishwasher detergent and Clorox wipes there. Beyond that it rotates what we are looking for. DS has been in a cheese phase and they have the big bags of mini baby belles for like $9, where as the grocery store is $4.50 for 1/4 the number of cheeses. 

    When we host large gtgs (DS birthday party, Thanksgiving, etc.) I always go. They have great deals on most things we need.

    They also usually carry Carters for LOs and I love that. DS's whole wardrobe comes from Costco usually. For under $100 I can get 10-12 Carters outfits, enough for the season.

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  • We really like Costco and go there a lot. However, I really don't think buying a membership there is a good way to trim your monthly budget. I think we save slightly more than the 55 membership fee over the course of a year.

    If you are currently buying health and beauty brand name products at Target I'd suggest looking online for some sites that give you sale and coupon deals. When the brand you use is really cheap you can usually print multiple coupons and stock up.
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  • Costco definitely won't replace Target for your smaller items, especially if you're particular.

    I'm not too picky - I get my shampoo/conditioner there (Kirkland brand), whatever face wash is on sale, and Oil of Olay lotions. Makeup and what not, I try elsewhere.

    We buy ALL our toilet paper, cleaning products, laundry and dish detergent there. The prices are great and I'm not running to the store every few weeks for more. That alone is enough to make me happy.

    For diapers, we prefer pampers, so those are being bought on Amazon. Everyone I know says that once you're in size 4, Huggies are just as good as Pampers, and I've heard great things about Kirkland diapers for larger kiddos.

    And the staples that our house can't live with out. Booze, meat, milk, and produce. And yes, in that order. You really can't beat their prices on those items.  

     

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  • aeh72aeh72
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    image DCMerged:

    Thanks for the thoughts so far.

    So we eat very little meat (me none at all), barely drink alcohol (still nursing, too tired), don't take vitamins and very few prescriptions. I am somewhat brand loyal (particularly picky about my face products and sunscreens. All this points to perhaps Costco wouldn't be worth it for us. That said, looks like an annual membership is $55 so perhaps we'll try it for a year.

    Yeah, you definitely can't be picky about brands. That's a big downside to CostCo.  But, in diaper wipes, paper products, water, sodas, and other household items (e.g., handsoap soap, ziplock bags, dishwasher detergent), it has made membership worth it for us. And, we've gotten some great meat there at good prices - but, you have to buy it in bulk so, for us, it's usually for parties, or we have to make sure we have enough freezer room.  The other key - besides not being picky about brands - is stay out of the middle aisles! It's where they have the fun stuff - clothes for DS, books, toys, outdoor stuff.  You can get great deals but it's usually not stuff I would have thought we needed if I wasn't in my CostCo haze of shopping!  Basically, I'm usually proud of myself when I escape a shopping trip having spent less than $200.

    Oh, and for booze - my husband does all the booze shopping and he says Total Wine is definitely cheaper; not by much, but enough that he goes there for beer and wine instead.

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  • we do some Costco shopping - but end up buying a lot at target, and we got a credit card so we get %5 off every purchase there now. 
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  • JJ_13JJ_13
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    we love it, but i'm not sure I actually save money. As a PP said, I end up buying stuff I probably wouldn't otherwise (although I do love that stuff). Here's what we buy there - some of these are one-time purchases, others are monthly purchases:

    - our dyson vacuum

    - electronics

    - bread (freeze 1 loaf) and sandwich rounds

    - wine sometimes

    - cheese

    - chicken

    - fish

    - paper towel

    - toilet paper

    - bottled water

    - laundry detergent

    - dishwasher detergent

    - dog food

    - cat food

    - some produce: this weekend I got asparagus and Brussels sprouts - we just have to eat a lot of them before they go bad

    - hummus (and other dips if needed)

    - frozen prepared food: pizza, veggie sausage, veggie burgers, bags of mixed berries, etc

    - olive oil

    - canned tuna

    - some toiletries

    - some baby clothes

     

  • skyejoskyejo
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    Love love LOVE Costco! I totally disagree about not having healthy items.  It's the complete opposite--tons of organic products at amazing prices.  Organic chicken and beef, fresh organic spinach and carrots, frozen organic corn, mixed veggies, peas.  I could go on forever. I've saved so much money on organic versus Whole Foods and even Meijer.

    Another perk for me is all the natural foods and those with very few ingredients--pouches, dried fruits, 100% juice popsicles--seriously, I buy everything from Costco.  And around Christmas the toy selection is the best.

    We max out our benefits by using the Costco AMEX which gives you 2% cash back.  You can only use debit cards unless you have their AMEX.

  • You know what you might want to do is take a field trip there and just going up and down the aisles seeing what they have available and compare costs...that probably is the best way to determine whether it would be worth it to you.
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  • SoMoNYSoMoNY
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    Can't believe no one mentioned COSTCO GAS!

    I love hitting Costco Gas stations when we do our trips off Long Island.

     

  • Things we buy that are MUCH cheaper there:

    Egg whites (Those are like $4 at the grocery store.  At Costco you get 6 cartons for $9)

    Produce is MUCH cheaper

    Coffee

    Freeze dried fruit (no sugar etc) for my 2 YO 

    Hot dogs

    Lunch Meat 

    Some frozen food: fish, pizza

    Special K breakfast sandwiches

    Etc, etc.  There are plenty of things I won't buy anywhere else.

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  • image skyejo:

    Love love LOVE Costco! I totally disagree about not having healthy items.  It's the complete opposite--tons of organic products at amazing prices.  Organic chicken and beef, fresh organic spinach and carrots, frozen organic corn, mixed veggies, peas.  I could go on forever. I've saved so much money on organic versus Whole Foods and even Meijer.

    Another perk for me is all the natural foods and those with very few ingredients--pouches, dried fruits, 100% juice popsicles--seriously, I buy everything from Costco.  And around Christmas the toy selection is the best.

    We max out our benefits by using the Costco AMEX which gives you 2% cash back.  You can only use debit cards unless you have their AMEX.

     

    I also wanted to ditto this and add that while other mentioned diapers, the Target brand is actually cheaper.

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  • We use Costco a lot and if you are not brand picky it is great. 

    Big items lately are:

    Gas (at least 5 cents cheaper than everywhere else) 

    Laundry soap, dishwasher soap

    Trail mix, granola bars

    We do a lot of meat (Panko chicken stripes, hamburger, Salmon)

    I get more in my rebate checks from AMEX and Costco than my membership plus the savings each time we go so it works for my family.  I go about once a month. 

    My parents are Costco snobs for certain items like milk which does drive me crazy.

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  • We don't shop at Costco.  We simply don't go through enough to make paying for a membership and fighting the traffic/crowds there worth it.  I have been before with others though that love it.  They do have almost everything you need, but more limited selections on a specific product and you have to buy in bulk. 

    We do have Amazon Prime though and buy a lot of household items in bulk (TP, paper towels, diapers, wipes, etc) through the subscribe and save program.  Prime is about the same price as a Costco membership and we get free 2 day shipping on tons of things and free movies, e-books, etc. The major perk is not having to deal with Costco crowds.

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  • We don't buy any baby stuff there, because as pp mentioned, they don't carry any Pampers products.  Having said that, we do load up on things like paper towels, toilet paper, garbage bags, organic meats and chicken, frozen fish, soups, cleaning products, cereal, coffee, fruit, sparkling and regular water, other canned foods, and personal products. Oh, and their printer ink is cheaper too. I also purchased a DVD player there and got a pretty good deal.
     
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