A few years ago we had a Costco membership. We bought it so we could get snow tires for our Camry at a reasonable price and very quickly. We let it lapse, though, because I wasn’t finding enough cost savings to justify the annual membership fee. Earlier this spring, however, Costco made me a membership offer I couldn’t refuse….
How Did I Get This Membership Offer from Costco?
I’m not quite sure why we received this special offer from Costco. It arrived in the mail and was personally addressed to my husband. They may have pulled his old contact information from their files. Or they may have targeted this type of advertising to every non-member in our neighbourhood. I’m not sure.
What Kind of Deal Did Costco Offer Us to Join?
The mailed out offer included 3 perqs if we applied for a regular $55 membership. If we did so during the time limit set by the ad, we would receive by mail:
- a coupon for a roasted chicken, worth $7.99
- a coupon for a family-sized Caesar salad, worth $9.99
- a coupon worth $10 off a purchase
That’s $27.98 off the $55 membership cost. And I could use all three items.
I gave in.
I re-joined Costco.
Have I Regretted Re-joining Costco?
No. So far, it’s working out ok.
The chicken from our local store was quite good. We’ve bought some on other occasions.
The Caesar salad was a miss. We didn’t actually finish it as the lettuce was tough and dry.
The coupon was spent easily on reasonably-priced groceries.
Do I Like Shopping for Groceries at Costco?
As I mentioned before, I don’t find the prices for most grocery items at Costco save me any money. I also find they don’t have many brands that I prefer which makes it difficult for me to do most of my shopping there. In fact, I often won’t bother to go to Costco unless I know they specifically stock an item I want.
The over-sized packaging also doesn’t suit our family well. For example, only one member of my family likes a certain fairly-nutritious dried cold cereal. If we buy that type at Costco, we are stuck with two huge bags, which last a very long time, and no box that can be used to hold one bag and pour out a bowl of cereal. So we have to put the cereal into another empty box or into a storage container which seems silly.
The larger packaging also causes another behaviour change in our eating habits: If we buy a dried fruit, like Craisins, I’ve noticed everyone eats more each time they add them to a salad or hot cereal because the Costco bag is so large. When we use a smaller bag from Walmart, people use fewer. The perception that we are close to “running out” seems to reduce our serving sizes. Since we don’t need to over-eat high calorie ‘fun’ foods like Craisins, it’s better to get a smaller bag. If we bought chips, I imagine this problem would be even worse, but we don’t regularly buy them so I’m not sure.
Have I Saved Enough at Costco To Fully Refund My Membership Fee?
To my pleased surprise, yes, we have.
We aren’t changing our tires seasonally ourselves right now—we are paying someone else to do it. When I checked the Costco price this spring, I discovered it is very cheap to get the tires changed if they are on rims like ours are. Just doing one seasonal changeover saved us enough to cover the rest of the annual membership fee.
The roasted chickens are also a good deal. Most grocery stores near here charge $11 or more for a comparable-sized chicken. At under $8 Costco is saving us money when we buy from them.
Aren’t Costco Gasoline and Propane Prices Big Cost Savers?
Probably. We don’t have a gas bar at our local Costco so I don’t know what their price is or how much it could save us. And we haven’t used our bbq in several years so we aren’t buying any propane. I think these two items, though, might be a big cost saver for some families.
Would I Recommend Others Join Costco?
I think you would need to compare their prices and products with your usual shopping preferences. I’m sure some families save a lot shopping at Costco. I’m equally sure that some families barely save back their membership costs.
The crazy parking lot and long checkout lines at our local Costco still keep me from visiting very often. Hopefully other locations don’t suffer from the same problems.
We’ll keep our membership for this year but when the renewal comes due, I’ll have to do some math before I decide if it’s still worth it.
If you belong to Costco, where do you save the most money to payout your membership fee? Or do you belong just so you can browse and nibble your way through a lazy Saturday afternoon? Please share your views with a comment.