Sunday, January 15, 2017

Asking The Readers: Do You Use Costco (or Sams or BJs?)

One of my goals for 2017 is to eat well while cooking less (and hopefully not spending more).  A second goal is to generally streamline my life-in terms of time more than stuff. I want to spend less time on busy work and "to do" items and more time on home pursuits (sewing, reading, general down and family time) and outside the house priorities like volunteering, knitting. book groups and challenging fun stuff.  

This has made the frugal retiree consider returning to the stocking up and buying bulk lifestyle that she had when there were multiple teenagers and teenage friends, a husband with a hollow leg, and many very hungry dogs. I mean, I certainly don't want to buy things I won't use, nor do I want my home to look like an episode of Extreme Couponers. I just would rather purchase things that I use regularly on a multi month basis instead of every week, couple of weeks or even month.

In case you haven't guessed, I hate shopping and doing errands. I make an exception in the case of fabric and crafting supplies, but usually get those in large amounts online. I know folks who use errands for exercise, getting out of the house or socialization. That is not me.

Which leads me to  the topic of those warehouse clubs or Amazon subscription service. In addition to the non shopping issue, we have some very different dietary needs and eating times in this house on occasion. I have a college student with high cholesterol who should only eat lean meat and goes to school full time and works forty hours. His dinner time, when he is home is often at  midnight. I can eat all the meat and fat I want within reason, but cannot eat carbs. The person who shares this house has her own quirks. We have a working baby boomer, a retired baby boomer, an  a twenty something college student.

So on some level my goal I suppose is to have easy options for different people as well as shopping in bulk. My recollection from previous warehouse clubs is that, for example, you can get large packages of chicken breasts with each individually wrapped.  Yes, I could buy many pounds and repackage, but the chance of my doing it is slim to one.

Since I never said goodbye to my large chest freezer, my plan is to start buying large amounts of stuff one at a time each week, until I am where I need to be. In other words I am not liable to walk out of a warehouse club with five hundred dollars worth of items.

Since I would not be buying large amounts of everything, I'm trying to decide if the membership does in fact "pay for itself", in convenience, if not in money.  

Yesterday my son quipped that I should probably call this year the "year of convenience" or the year of "let someone else do it".  Yes, and no.  I am still the Frugal Retiree. I cut coupons, I clean my own house. I make my own gifts. But I did promise myself that I would spend as much time as possible on those things that bring value and as little time as possible on those things that don't bring value-busy work if you will.

Now, I have a friend who loves to shop and hates to clean her house. Her idea of streamlining will different. Right now I am happy to limit going into stores, cut down on cooking, and take advantage of the occasional fluff and fold service.

Meanwhile, talk to me. Have you ever belonged to a warehouse club? Do you now?  If so what do you buy? Have you ever ordered from Amazon subscribe and save (for say, something like large bags of dog food). What was your experience. Do you think it saved money or time? Both? Neither? Let me have it!

20 comments:

  1. I do shop at Sam's Club and we buy mainly meat...frozen shrimp, boneless skinless chicken breasts, salmon filets, bulk pork chops, grd beef, etc. I do repackage in portions for hubby and I. We buy a few miscellaneous things there as well.
    I'm not sure it saves money (at least if I buy at the supermarket when on sale) but I do find it more convenient. I also think it gives me a jumpstart on weekly meal planning.

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    1. Thanks Marilyn. I dont mind if it doesnt save money, as long as it doesn't drastically increase my cost.

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  2. We have had a Costco membership for many years even though there are just the two of us and we are now retired on a fixed income. I absolutely hate shopping and that is what I like the most about Costco. Our membership allows us to reduce the number of times we must go out shopping and helps to keep those trips less expensive and shorter.

    Other than meat, we don't buy that much food at Costco. But we both prefer their meat over the grocery store. It is a much better quality meat and the price is not bad. We do stock up on all paper goods (toilet paper, paper towels, etc.). We also buy almost all of our over the counter medications and vitamins there at a substantial savings. We like their brand products and they are much lower priced. We have recently started also buying some of our cleaning products there such as dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent and such. We have a small house but the paper goods and cleaning supplies I stock up on can be stored in our basement. Costco does have sales and we try to get the items we know we will use when on sale for extra savings.

    We always buy tires for our cars at Costco as my husband likes Michelin tires and their prices and warranty are good. Just recently my computer went out and I didn't think I would be able to afford a replacement but we found a good deal on one with a monitor at Costco online.

    I would say if you are looking to get the best price you do need to comparison shop for some items because not everything is cheaper at warehouse stores. Overall we feel we do very good there because we shop their sales and we do compare prices on larger items before buying.

    I would like to add that anyone can buy prescription medications at any warehouse store without a membership due to prescription laws. I used to work in a medical office and we found the warehouse stores usually had the best prescription prices. Many people don't know this and with drug costs so high now it can help!

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    1. Thanks Bonnie. I had not even figured prescriptions or glasses (regular and sunglass bifocals) into the picture. As I said to Marilyn, I don't need it to be the cheapest price, as long s it is not drastically more expensive. I think I will be making a trip soon.

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  3. We belong to SAMS and will let it go at the end of this cycle.
    My daughter belongs to COSTCO.
    She purchases about six things there every month. She also does prescriptions and glasses. Fresh fruit, in the winter, is purchased there. Otherwise it is at the farmer's market. More expensive, but you know where it is from.
    One thing I love is their rental car prices. They cannot be beat. I go to Phoenix often, and that price helps to keep my budget in check.
    We don't buy meat at big box, I do not know where it comes from and am unwilling to take chances. I buy meat, in bulk, from a local butcher. Don't know where to find a butcher? My son has found one through farmer's markets everywhere he has lived.
    Personally, I don't buy in big can bulk, and find their small cans of little interest. When there is a sale on something I use often at the grocery, I buy five or six.

    We shop the grocery at 7 am. We used to shop at 10 pm. Both times the stores are empty and we are done in a short time.

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    1. Interesting, Janette, thanks. We have always found their meat to be good quality, so Ihave never been concerned so far. I think I would buy more than six things but I do need to decide now many, and if it will be worth it. I think a guest tour may be in order.

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  4. We're Costco people. We've belonged for years but shop there less frequently since there are only two of us now. We like their chicken, salmon, cereals, the little French breads. We get our paper goods there as well as some other basics. And ... I love those free samples!

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    1. Yea, I do remember the samples........

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  5. Love Sam's! We have been members for many years. We buy clothes (jeans, shorts), meat, fresh produce, and other groceries there. Great prices on spices and walnuts. Large tub of spinach for $5. Household cleaners and paper products are cheaper and better there. Computers. I guess you can see that we love Sam's! I did get a Costco membership this year to try it out, but I don't find as many things there that I like so will probably not renew it next year.

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  6. We shy away from warehouse meats too. Wild caught frozen fish can be a bargain. But we've let memberships lapse. I dislike most shopping and have converted to almost 100% online: Amazon, Zappos, Josh and Main, Harney's Tea, Crate and Barrel, Chewy. Gone forever are the massive waste-of-time hunts in stores with bad sales help. Why deal with that when I can read hundreds of reviews of something before deciding?
    Most of the sellers make returns easy and I have been surprised at how good most of the packaging/shipping/customer service has been. One big negative: folding cardboard for recycling.

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  7. I do use Amazon's subscription service for my dogs canned food and Greenies as they have the best price. Once we move and I see how convenient buying some other things will be I may add more items. You get to change the delivery date, cancel, etc. each month before they ship so if you guessed the amounts incorrectly it is easy to adjust.

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  8. We are Costco folks, too. Our joke is that we use it mainly for cheaper gas (price difference can be as much as 25 cents per gallon) and to refill ink cartridges. Don't buy a lot of meat, though we like the Angus cheeseburgers and some of the fish. Mostly, I get detergents, OTC allergy meds and the like, some paper products and canned goods, occasionally some produce. They have the best price we've found on maple syrup and olive oil.

    I also use Amazon's subscription service. I buy cat food -- the brand is only sold at a couple of stores, and the big bags from Amazon are ultimately cheaper. Also buy TP. It's a brand we use, and it meets my target price. (Got very tired of trying to figure out prices/deals with all the double-triple-mega rolls). I also buy the refills for the (on the faucet) water filter. Can't find those in any of the big-box stores now.

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  9. Every three or so months we make a stock up trip to the capital (get to visit with our youngest as well). During that trip we go to Michael's, Fabricland (fabric store), London Drugs, Home Depot, and Costco.

    My usual spend in Costco is around the $550.00 mark, but I buy enough meat, laundry detergent, dish soap, coffee, cleaning supplies, and some canned goods to last me those 3 months without having to purchase it here at a higher cost.

    This works for us.

    God bless.

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  10. I do belong to Costco, but not for the usual reason. We don't have a large freezer or second refrigerator, so the bulk quantities that make up most of their products don't work for us.

    However, the gas prices are at least 10-15 cents a gallon cheaper and their prescription drug department is up to 20% cheaper than Walgreens, CVS, or even Walmart. Along with occasional books, clothes, or gifts for the grandkids, the gas and drug savings make membership worth the cost.

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  11. Live on my own these days but still get a few things from Costco that cannot be beaten elsewhere. eg. Their brand toilet paper, Nescafe, real maple syrup, individual portion frozen salmon, paper goods, honey, big electric use appliances, big jars of nuts, hot baked chicken, glasses. They also have the best hot dog lunch in the world.

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  12. We tried the Costco membership and found it very worthwhile, especially on organic items which they now have in abundance; however, we have gone back to BJs because I like the selection better. As two retired folks, we shop there about every three months and realize substantial savings. I particularly like their individually wrapped and frozen chicken options. We live in the "boonies" in North Carolina,so Amazon Prime is a miracle for us as I hate wasting time driving to shop.

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  13. I have a Costco membership that I use mainly for meat, coffee, paper products, bread and fuel. I live 2 hrs away from the nearest Costco; I don't make a trip just to shop but take advantage of the opportunity when I'm in the area. I have the storage space so I can buy some items in bulk. It is important to know the prices; some items are less expensive locally when on sale than at Costco. I like the gluten-free selections there. I will be checking the price of prescription glasses soon. I like buying "in bulk". I can avoid stores for a week or more and that certainly curbs the temptation to buy extras. I'm a big proponent of shopping at home because of this, using what I have rather than going out to buy more.
    My 20-something cousin is living with me for a year while completing a practicum in the area. Menu planning has been key with an extra person in the house. Planning for 3 dishes usually gets us through the week as she usually goes home on the weekends. Each week I aim for a meatless dish, a soup/sandwich night, and a "fridge fallout" (leftovers) night. For example, last week was quinoa-sweet potato-spinach casserole, broccoli soup, and fish pie. This week is penne with feta, tomatoes & olives, bean soup and Greek salad with wings.

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  14. I get the pups food from Chewy.com. Usually cheaper or the same price as anywhere else (Purina One, nothing fancy), its delivered so I don't have to load, unload, load, unload. I can set it up on Auto Ship and not think about it and/or change it when necessary without having to input all my info every order.

    Amazon S&S - the Auto Ship is convenient but you HAVE to watch the prices because they will change them without letting you know.

    Costco - As said by others (and I work next door to one) I use it mainly for fuel, meats (the chicken thighs and BSCB are prepackaged in smaller quantities), paper goods and supplements, cleaning (Swiffer stuff) and laundry soap. They do have a coupon booklet monthly that really has awesome coupons on a 3-4 month cycle so I try and wait for a coupon for an exceptional deal.

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  15. Anyone can buy prescriptions at Costco no memebership needed..Here in Washington state they pay their employees so well few if anyone quits and to get fired you would have to be a big loser, they enhance our city a lot..Our taxes here are almost 9 cents on the dollar many run to Oregon to evade the taxes but gasoline is almost $2.59 a gallon and going up not at Costco..I would consider if you can afford the membership card it isn't cheap but one can get what one needs and not have to shop all the time, their meats, poultry and other fresh foods organic at that are wonderful but in my opinion large sizes indeedy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  16. You could be qualified to receive a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

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