If you’ve ever wondered if it’s worth joining Costco then read on!
(Not an ad or a sponsored post in case you’re wondering)
In case you’re unsure, Costco is a membership only shop (more of a warehouse really) that sells things in bulk for what they call ‘deeply discounted’ prices. I joined recently in the hope of saving some money on our grocery shopping and after a couple of visits, I thought I’d share my thoughts…
How to join Costco
You pay an annual membership fee which varies depending on whether it’s an individual membership or a trade membership…
There are requirements to join so not everyone will be eligible – I paid £33.60 to join as an individual membership and all I needed to join was my driving license and my works access badge to prove that I worked for the company I work for. It took two minutes to sign up in-store and as a quick warning to those of you who may go shopping looking scruffy, they take a photo at the time of signing up and print your membership card out straight away. I had my hair in a super messy bun with no make-up on so for the next year, I’ll be reminded of that every time I visit. 😉
If you are eligible and you do sign up, then you’ll be able to shop as many times as you want for 12 months taking up to three guests with you each time. If you have a friend who’s also interested in joining then you could even split the cost as you can get a second card included in your membership.
I’ve been twice now and to me, it was absolutely worth joining Costco although I’m really having to be careful that I only buy what I need as there are so many great prices on things that it’s really easy to pick up things that I don’t need because they’re a good deal. Does that make sense? 🙂
What can you buy in Costco?
Costco is the equivalent of about ten different shops in one – it’s like a giant warehouse with things piled high on shelves from floor to ceiling.
In our local store, you walk in and the first area that you see is an electronics section selling everything from TVs and fridge freezers to Fitbits and phones with everything else in between. I haven’t looked at these things in detail but I did have a wander around and I wasn’t struck by amazing deals in this section although if I was in the market for something and looked at a bit more detail then I might notice some savings compared to what I’d pay elsewhere.
You then move on to the section filled with aisles for anything you could need at home and in the garden where you’ll find great prices on big boxes of Nespresso, small kitchen appliances, mugs, stationery, car stuff and some kids toys. Literally, anything you could need around the house is in his section. There are some bargains to be found but equally some things where the prices were definitely underwhelming.
I bought a pack of these Ziploc bags for £17 as opposed to £26 on Amazon:
Next up, there are some handbags and jewellery bargains although the ‘bargain’ prices are high as they’re designer goods in this section. These bags might be almost £200 but they’d be way more in the Coach store.
There are also some clothes bargains with some good brands available including Calvin Klein, DKNY, North Face, Superdry, Champion, Tommy Hilfiger and Levis are a few that I can remember. We bought two Champion tops that were £8.99 in store but on the Champion website were £35.
There’s a health and beauty section too which has lots of multipacks and huge bottles of your favourite brands all the ones I looked at were definitely good deals but I didn’t need anything so I didn’t really focus on comparing prices.
Then there are the food and grocery sections which are the main event as far as I’m concerned.
A lot of the things in this section are definitely more for businesses who need to buy things on a larger scale with pallets of toilet roll, tins of chopped tomatoes the size of my dog and mayo in a bucket. There are tubes of vanilla essence so big that I could re-use as a flower vase and multipacks of super noodles that would keep my two happy for a lifetime. Tubs of houmous that would literally feed 500 and pizzas that would never even fit in my oven. But in amongst all that there are some amazing deals that you can buy in bulk on a smaller scale and save money throughout the month.
It’s quite hard to describe the scale of these sections – there are multipacks and giant supersize versions of all your favourite products and some products that you didn’t know you needed until you see them.
These giant spice tubs, for example, are definite money savers for us as we do use them quite often so I stocked up on Cajun and fajita seasoning…
And this huge packet of giant pancake mix which I mentioned in last month’s frugal fails post. It was about £6 and will make around 240 pancakes so whilst it’s a time saver and not too expensive, it’s definitely one of those things that I didn’t know I needed (and probably really didn’t need) until I spotted it.
Also, I don’t think this photo really shows the scale of this bag!
My two are partial to Nutella every now and again (frequently) and we were all out so we bought the 1kg jar from Costco for £3.89 which is £5.70 in Tesco. That will last us forever and means the smaller jars aren’t going to be on my regular shopping list anytime soon. I normally buy the 200g jar which is £1.70 so this 1kg jar is just over what I would pay for 400g but is 2 and a half times the size.
We also stocked up on another favourite of the kids, Nesquick chocolate milkshake powder which is something I buy every now and again as it takes them a while to use up a tub but they do enjoy it every now and again. I paid £3.39 for a 1kg tub which is less than half the price of the 1kg tubs on Amazon. The 300g tub is usually about £1.50 so if I was buying them in smaller tubs that would cost around £10.
Remember Mr Frugal’s unhealthy love of Monster Energy Drinks? He usually buys a four pack for around £4 but at Costco last week he paid £6.99 for 12 which means, as unhealthy as they still are for him, it’s a lot healthier for our bank account.
The key to bulk buying like this is to make sure that the bulk buy sizes are going to be used within their shelf life. These things will save me plenty over time but only because I know they won’t spoil before we could use them. I couldn’t buy the giant tub of mayo or the big pots of beans because I know they would spoil before we go anywhere near finishing them.
There’s also a fresh food section with baked goods but the majority of these are in larger sizes or big bulk packs so no good for us. I know that if I had a party of a buffet to cater for then I’d be right there though. I had a few samples of their cakes a few weeks ago when I was at the Flea Retreat and honestly, they were amazing. This was the carrot cake I had…
A freshly made cake costs £10 and feeds about 16 people which is great value if you have a buffet or a party to cater for – not so much for a family of four though. There’s carrot cake, red velvet cake, chocolate cake and I *think* there’s just plain old Victoria sponge.
I keep thinking of other things I want to tell you about but in the interests of not waffling on for too much longer, I’ll just share one more thing. Gift cards.
They have discounts on gift cards so if you know you’re going out for a cheeky Nandos then buy these gift cards and save around 15% on the cost of your meal. They had others too but Nandos are the ones that caught my eye as we love a good Nandos but they do work out quite expensive so it’s a rare treat for us.
Is it worth joining Costco?
So, is it worth paying your money and joining Costco?
In my opinion, yes!
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