11.02.2009

WHO NEEDS YA?

Ready for some crazy talk?

Over a year ago, I lamented the expiration of my Costco membership. I was torn. Do I pay the $50 and continue on like everyone else or abandon my membership? I chose the latter and it has turned out better than I could have ever imagined.

Costco's wholesale prices were costing me a lot in the long run, mostly because I found myself throwing away a lot of food. A small family of four (like ours) does not need 3 pound bags of lettuce and giant loaves of cheese.

This is the crazy talk part: I shop at cheap and scary grocery stores now. Vallarta and Winco are extremely cheap. (Contrary to what you might believe, you don't need to speak Spanish to function in Vallarta.) They have great prices on not just Mexican food, but also meat, dairy and produce. Winco is often cheaper than Costco when it comes to canned goods, bread, cheese and butter.

Paper goods at Smart and Final are just as cheap as Costco. Also, since I usually use cash for everything, the change I collect during the month is exchanged for an Amazon gift certificate at a Coinstar machine. I then use that gift certificate to purchase diapers on sale. Now that I don't shop at Costco anymore, I am actually coming in below our food budget. Who would have thought that avoiding the "cheap" prices would be so beneficial?

I told you, this is crazy talk.

17 comments:

  1. funny, we're in the same debate right now. hmmm.

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  2. I figured out that buying in bulk was inflating my food budget years ago. Cost per item was actually cheaper if I didn't buy a whole case and shopped somewhere else.

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  3. Even on the grocery store shelves, the larger quantity of the same item is sometimes more expensive. Just watch the cost per ounce, piece, etc, on the price sticker. The breakpoint for bulk must be somewhere in the 6-7 person family category, because sometimes I wonder if I am saving any money. But I know that when Chad comes home from his mission it will be benificial to shop there, until he leaves for school. He's always been the one with the appetite!
    :~D

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  4. I only buy certain things at Costco for the same reason. I am a meat snob though and will not buy my meat anywhere else. I can even admit that I am cheap enosugh to shop Wal-Mart even though it's popular to pretend you DON'T shop there.

    Winco just opened near our house and I got some great deals there.

    The biggest problem I have at Costco is when I take my husband. He went with me the other night and totally blew the food budget for me. I have no trouble believing you are saving money by NOT shopping at Costco.

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  5. We totally found the same thing. I never left costco without going way over budget. Plus, when I really started doing the math, my local grocery store had just as good as deals and was a lot closer to home. Now, if I ever REALLY need anything from Costco, I just go with a friend and "borrow" their membership.

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  6. interesting food for thought...

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  7. I go to Costco once a month and during the month, I make a list of what I need. For example, blocks of cheese, sour cream, butter, canned corn, detergent... I just have my staple things I get there every month because we always need those and they don't go bad faster than a month. I never buy produce there because I have been very disappointed and it would go bad faster than we would eat it. Also because I am a food snob, and I get a discount, I buy at the local Health Food Store.

    But Cristin, you will buy from cheap grocery stores with who knows what they put into their food to make it last and to make it so cheap, but yet you have issues when someone puts a stamp on food and you refuse to even think about eating it past that date. Interesting!

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  8. I am so glad that you tested the hypothesis that most of us dread and can't imagine doing without. . . although it should be no surprise to any of us what you found. Of course we involuntarily gave up our Costco membership when we moved overseas, but when we do visit the States we get to visit the shopping mecca and always think about how much food must actually be wasted and not eaten when it is coming out in such huge quantities - okay, maybe unless you have a family with six children or something!

    Jacob and I also question how environmental friendly such a place is, given all of the huge, hard plastic wrap they use that you know most Americans are just chucking in the garbage and not recycling.

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  9. You are sooo good at finding the deals and cutting costs! You should really write a book on cutting costs when where and how to do it.. I would definitely buy it!

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  10. I'm debating about not renewing my Costco membership when it expires. There are only certain things I like to get there, and the savings doesn't add up to $50/yr. I price compare everything I buy there, and usually it's cheaper to buy smaller quantities elsewhere.
    I just love their dino chicken nuggets that you can't get anywhere else! That's what keeps me renewing each year :)

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  11. We renewed our Costco membership last year and I think we have only been there about five times since. I totally agree! We have Winco here and it has low prices, great produce, and I don;t have to throw out all that food we never eat!

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  12. First off - if it weren't for pallets of Dr. Pepper purchased at Costco, I don't believe I would have survived college...

    Second off - Jeanine couldn't figure out who was leaving comments on our blog about our exploding subaru - how shocked was I when I pulled up your page to find an ex-Genevoise. Not sure how to converse via comments but we should catch up...

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  13. Yeah... hmmm if you wrote a book, I don't think I would read it, cause I barely read your blog. Now make a picture book and then I would look at it. Yeah only rich people shop at costco so what does that tell you? You have to be rich to shop there. They buy for convenince. They know its not cheaper its just easier than trying to pack that much stuff at the grocery store in your cart.

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  14. Once I stopped the Costco trips, I don't go way over on my budget. I'm more careful about what I buy and I don't waste so much food. The only thing I use my Costco card for is huge Relief Society purchases for parties. :)

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  15. Have you tried Grocery Outlet? I seriously cut my grocery budget by shopping there. Love it.

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  16. Well, I'm going to go against the grain here and say I LOVE Costco. I definitely save AT LEAST $50 a year there, especially with gas prices.

    That said, I do not buy everything at Costco. I am a general food snob, so I'm always looking for the best deal with the freshest food. Plus, we buy baby clothes (easily half the price of anywhere else) and coats and shoes and socks at Costco as well as detergent. And, the produce at our Costco can't be beat!

    I am way into buying in bulk and freezing things. I have saved SO much money through that.

    BUT, glad to hear you discovered a way to trim your budget! That's always a nice/necessary thing!

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  17. I'm actually with Brittanie on this one, we only buy certain things at Costco but the things we do buy save us a lot of money! We buy only non-perishable things (diapers, wipes, facewash, razors, etc) frozen foods, and the staple foods that we go through really fast (especially since Chandler is a really picky eater and eats the same foods every day!) But if we tried to buy produce or things that spoiled quickly then I know it definitely wouldn't be worth it... plus I can't count the number of times I would go eat costco pizza/samples for lunch or dinner as a poor college student ü But whatever it takes to save money, Costco or non-costco, I say go for it!!

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