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Old 03-01-2015, 08:56 PM   #61
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Well, you might be correct in your assessment about most grocery products, though there are many bulk grocery items that one might only find at Costco and cheaper than other places. For example, I haven't found a place that carries bulk frozen Edamame, Carr's Lemon Crème Cookies, or oversized bags of Starbucks or Seattle's Best Coffee cheaper than Costco's. And Costco's beats most places for TVs, tires, office equipment, luggage, and travel car rentals and cruises. The return policy on goods is incredible, even if it started limiting the period to return TVs and electronics. I have returned a coffee machine 4 years later, a TV 3 years later (before it changed the policy), and a case of wine.

One thing I have also noticed is that Costco's occasionally offers exceptional items you don't easily find other places: Briggs & Riley luggage (a few times), Little Giant Ladders, and Vitamix processors bundled with other items.

Just one thing about the membership fee: there are several ways this is easily absorbed by having a Costco-American Express Card (where American Express essentially pays for the membership fee through rebates) and if you're an Executive Member you also get generous rebates from Costco.
Walmart has froze shelled edamame for very cheap but we weren't that impressed with it versus in-shell edamame at TJ's for 2-3x as much $.

The other stuff I don't really buy, but I could see how if they have exactly what you buy it might save money over Sam's or regular stores. I go with the store brand on so much stuff at aldi's or walmart that it's hard to beat those prices even if I were to buy in megabulk sizes.

The other consumer goods I rarely buy. My tires are dirt cheap with stacked promos, rebates, discounts, and tax free with free shipping at discounttiredirect. Like $25-60 per tire (small honda's with 14-15" tires).

Any electronics I snap up at half off from some online deal that comes along. I've seen costco deals and they are pretty good if you just want to grab something off the shelf and skip comparison shopping. Kinda like Sam's club I guess.

The cruises caught my attention though. How much better are they than the rest of the internet? There seems to be a floor on most of the prices and cruisecompete is a great way to find that floor (or many other cruise search engines).

I already get 2% cash back on my credit card, so using costco's card would negate the 2% back.
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Old 03-01-2015, 09:34 PM   #62
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It's well known that there are times when Costco's prices can be beat. As has been said, cokes are not cheap. Sometimes meat can be beat (did that on purpose) but not consistently. They have excellent ribeyes for consistantly good prices. And even though Walmart can beat their boneless chicken breasts and thighs by a little, I like the separate portions packaging. I like the big packages of grape tomatoes. Buying that many in a regular grocery or Walmart would be much more expensive. Same with bell peppers, but iceberg lettuce is cheaper (and better quality) in grocery stores.

My point is that you can save a lot of money shopping for the right foods and products at Costco (and BJs and Sams), but you have to know your prices and have to only buy what works there. Personally, between the gas prices and cash back rewards the membership cost is covered. Also we share the membership with DW and her family. So the food savings are a bonus.
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Old 03-01-2015, 09:44 PM   #63
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A new Costco opened within a mile of us last November. Routinely, its gas prices are higher by a few cents than the local Walmart (Murphy Oil supplied) and H.E.B., a Texas grocer. Generally, most Valero stations are less expensive than Costco in the area also.

We haven't checked out the store since we have a Sam's Club membership and only two of us are at home now. DW prefers Walmart for groceries and when I shop, I go to H.E.B.
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Old 03-01-2015, 10:06 PM   #64
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A new Costco opened within a mile of us last November. Routinely, its gas prices are higher by a few cents than the local Walmart (Murphy Oil supplied) and H.E.B., a Texas grocer. Generally, most Valero stations are less expensive than Costco in the area also.

We haven't checked out the store since we have a Sam's Club membership and only two of us are at home now. DW prefers Walmart for groceries and when I shop, I go to H.E.B.
Interesting. Our Costco is consistently under the local Murphy, HEB and Valero/Stripes, sometimes by as much as 15 cents. The Sams nearby will sometimes match them.
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Old 03-01-2015, 10:12 PM   #65
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HEB has good prices on produce, but for the specific things they carry, our Costco will always beat them, and their produce is usually better handled. The only exception has been the citrus that is locally supplied, and is often outrageously low-priced in season.

For the quality of meat/seafood they carry, I've never been able to buy cheaper.

These are the reasons my grocery bill dropped so much.
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Old 03-01-2015, 10:20 PM   #66
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Interesting. Our Costco is consistently under the local Murphy, HEB and Valero/Stripes, sometimes by as much as 15 cents. The Sams nearby will sometimes match them.
I think there is just too much competition around here and prices are in a tight range. Even diesel is as low as $2.41 gallon at select locations.

Looking at Gas Buddy for our area, of the ten lowest stations selling RUG, the range is $2.01 - $2.09 with Sam's and Costco at $2.05. Once you get over $2.09, there are a dozen or so stations (branded) that are around $2.15.
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Old 03-01-2015, 10:24 PM   #67
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HEB has good prices on produce, but for the specific things they carry, our Costco will always beat them, and their produce is usually better handled. The only exception has been the citrus that is locally supplied, and is often outrageously low-priced in season.

For the quality of meat/seafood they carry, I've never been able to buy cheaper.

These are the reasons my grocery bill dropped so much.
Once the crowds settle out at the new Costco and there are open parking spots (they undersized the lot to make room for a new Mercedes dealer next door), DW and I will go in for a look.
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Old 03-01-2015, 10:30 PM   #68
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I worked on our preliminary expense report for 2014 a couple weeks ago, and I think we spent close to $2,400 at Costco last year for 2 people. We spent about $8,400 last year on groceries, eating out, alcohol, coffee shops, personal care items, household goods, vitamins, and OTC medicine at Costco, Aldi, HyVee, Trader Joes, and other places. I make sure what I buy at Costco is a good deal, otherwise I buy it at Aldi. If neither Aldi or Costco sell it, I usually buy it at HyVee or another grocery store. Costco has good prices on alcohol, coffee, organic foods, spices, and good quality pet food. Aldi is very competitive though....if you are lucky enough to have them in your area.

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Old 03-01-2015, 10:40 PM   #69
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$297 today, about average. Very disappointed to find no canned beef in broth, it's usually by the canned tuna and chicken. Talked to a official looking girl up front and she explained that it was probably seasonal.?? When is beef season?
Found it on Costco's online shopping network (what, they have online shopping) ordered the only option 24 12oz cans for $99. But wait there's more, free shipping.
Crisis averted.
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Old 03-01-2015, 11:28 PM   #70
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Went in to get a replacement garbage disposal at Costco today - was unhappy to discover a broken flail. Drat - they didn't have it. Customer service looked back through my receipts and quickly determined I had bought the unit up in Oregon for $80 on 8/31/2011 (after applying a $20 coupon). No garbage disposals for sale in the store, but they OKed a full refund when I pull the unit. Amazon will sell the desired replacement for $125 with Prime two day shipping. Costco online would sell the same unit with free shipping for $140, but include an easier mounting option. I'll probably get the Amazon unit, because $15 and I'm pulling the sink flange anyway, but I sure love dealing with Costco.
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Old 03-02-2015, 08:07 AM   #71
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One other product/service we plan to get from Costco: DH needs a new eyeglass prescription but is perfectly happy with the frames he's got. They told him the exam will be $65 and each new pair of lenses replaced into his existing frames will be $90. Wow.


Last time we bought eyeglasses we had a "discount" plan from my employer that included the cost of an annual exam and supposedly lower costs on glasses, but they walked you right over to the wall displaying Diane von Furstenburg, Coach and Kate Spade frames, then loaded on a charge for every single feature- gradient lenses, dark coating for sunglasses, scratch-resistant coating, etc. They even added an extra charge to one pair of mine because the lenses were small and narrow and it was a little trickier to do the gradient lenses. I'd end up paying $200-$300 for a pair of glasses. That was OK when we had a "use-it-or-lose-it" Flexible Spending Account, but not now. I'll be going to Costco when I need a new prescription, too.
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Old 03-02-2015, 09:15 AM   #72
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I don't think the discussion/argument is if you can beat Costco. Sure on sale items at local store you can get better prices at certain times. To me the advantage to Costco is they have good quality products at consistent fair prices. My wife really likes the meat dep't, dog food, and we buy a lot of household supplies and food there for bulk items that don't have expiration. Not always the best, but for convenience and knowing the prices are reasonably good all the time, it is a winner in my perspective.

Plus the outstanding customer service, you can return almost anything without hassles.

There are things where Costco excels, some of their service programs like the eyeglasses and tires/batteries. Can you get better, maybe, but it may not have the same brands and service back-up.

Speaking of all this about Costco, reinforces why I should buy some Costco stock! I was going to do it, but delayed and now it is too high for me!
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Old 03-02-2015, 09:21 AM   #73
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We bought eight golf cart batteries for our motorhome in 2013. It was a great bargain compared to what it would have cost otherwise. And they had palettes of them at the time. Probably for all those Winter Texan RVers.
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Old 03-02-2015, 09:30 AM   #74
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Walmart has froze shelled edamame for very cheap but we weren't that impressed with it versus in-shell edamame at TJ's for 2-3x as much $.

The other stuff I don't really buy, but I could see how if they have exactly what you buy it might save money over Sam's or regular stores. I go with the store brand on so much stuff at aldi's or walmart that it's hard to beat those prices even if I were to buy in megabulk sizes.

The other consumer goods I rarely buy. My tires are dirt cheap with stacked promos, rebates, discounts, and tax free with free shipping at discounttiredirect. Like $25-60 per tire (small honda's with 14-15" tires).

Any electronics I snap up at half off from some online deal that comes along. I've seen costco deals and they are pretty good if you just want to grab something off the shelf and skip comparison shopping. Kinda like Sam's club I guess.

The cruises caught my attention though. How much better are they than the rest of the internet? There seems to be a floor on most of the prices and cruisecompete is a great way to find that floor (or many other cruise search engines).

I already get 2% cash back on my credit card, so using costco's card would negate the 2% back.
I'm not the edamame eater in our family, but my wife swears by the stuff we get at Costco's and she claims that nothing comes close to it in quality and price from TJ's or Walmarts -- and it's frozen in-shell, 10 item bulk packages. You're probably right about getting generic tires cheaper, on-line, but you can't get them mounted or rotated, with warranty coverage from any Costco in the states, online, can you? And have you been able to get Michelin brand tires online at a steep discount?

On the cruises, it has been reported in CruiseCritic forums that Costco has good deals, better than the bulk purchasers like Vacations-to-Go. I haven't used Costco's for cruises, but I used BJ's once and found it to be the cheapest deal around back then. In retirement, I've been looking at last minute cruise deals posted by the cruise line or using a travel agent (for River Cruises in Europe or Asia).
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Old 03-02-2015, 10:14 AM   #75
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I'm not the edamame eater in our family, but my wife swears by the stuff we get at Costco's and she claims that nothing comes close to it in quality and price from TJ's or Walmarts -- and it's frozen in-shell, 10 item bulk packages. You're probably right about getting generic tires cheaper, on-line, but you can't get them mounted or rotated, with warranty coverage from any Costco in the states, online, can you? And have you been able to get Michelin brand tires online at a steep discount?
I can't say I've ever bought Michelin's before. I usually go for whatever is relatively cheap toward the middle of the pack. Kumho's or hankooks with decent 60-80k mileage "warranties" lately.

Checking prices, discounttiredirect sells a set of my size michelin defenders for $359 delivered. Costco is $380.

The michelin Ice-x winter tires are $406 at costco, $347 at discount tire plus another $50 off if you buy with their credit card. The other advantage is discounttire offers a couple dozen tires from very low end to the high end michelins. Maybe you don't want to buy michelins but that's the cheapest thing costco offers. I prefer to have a range of options, evaluate what makes sense for my particular circumstances and go with that. Which is why I'd pay closer to $100-150 for a set of mid-range tires instead of $380 at costco.

Installation is about the same - $15 at both places IIRC. I ship my tires then drive to the local discount tire (or you could ship straight to the store) and they rotate, balance, patch etc for free all over the country. Way more discount tires than costcos from my experience though YMMV.

If I was tire shopping, I'd wait till discount tire had the $100 off promo and pay $259 for those tires (or more likely $100-150 for a set of mid range tires). In my experience, costco costs more unfortunately. I get pretty good service at discount tire and they don't sell too hard to me (15 year old cars = I look poor). They also offer $30 extra discount if you get their credit card but I'm not getting an extra card for a mere $30 discount.

I think this is another case of "costco gets you 90% of the way to paying the cheapest prices, but you can always save more by shopping around". Nothing wrong with going the easy way at costco, I just find it worth the while to save another chunk of change by literally going across the street to discount tire.


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On the cruises, it has been reported in CruiseCritic forums that Costco has good deals, better than the bulk purchasers like Vacations-to-Go. I haven't used Costco's for cruises, but I used BJ's once and found it to be the cheapest deal around back then. In retirement, I've been looking at last minute cruise deals posted by the cruise line or using a travel agent (for River Cruises in Europe or Asia).
I'll have to borrow a costco # and check it out some time. I hope to spend massive amounts on cruises over the next five or six decades.

We do last minutes cruises too, and they tend to be bottom of the barrel pricing already. I've talked to a number of travel agents and they really can't offer any further discounts or on board credit because there's no fluff left in the prices and the pricing category is already heavily discounted.
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Old 03-02-2015, 10:18 AM   #76
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There was a whole Seinfeld episode on Kramer buying too much stuff at a warehouse store called Price Club (which later merged with Costco):

We were Price Club members starting back in 1980, when we got married. Have been members of Price Club then Costco since.

We used to shop for consumables quite a bit at Costco, but not as much anymore since becoming empty nesters. While we use the Amex Card enough to get close to $300 back each year, that includes a lot of gasoline for RV travel.

So, this thread makes me look and I found that I spent about $2500 for consumables and sundries at Costco. The above number is about right, as we now shop more at Sprouts and Fresh-n-Easy as they have smaller packages of food.

Costco's prices may not beat loss-leaders in other stores when they put them on sales. But when I do not care to shop around, buying at Costco usually means that I will not overpay for it. It may not beat bargain sales elsewhere, but I have yet to experience cases where I later felt getting "ripped off".

Another thing to consider is the quality of the products. When comparing prices, we need to look at the quality too. Costco's merchandise may not be top-notch, but usually not the lousy stuff. Overall, I have found Costco a very reliable vendor.
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:19 PM   #77
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We had Price Club before the merger with Costco. It was much the same but Price Club had more building materials. I miss that.

Love Costco for most stuff but tires, glasses, hearing aids are great deals with great service although for tires it seems to have become too popular and getting in for appointments fall and spring can be problematic.
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:40 PM   #78
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Just got back from the 4th level of hell Costco in Naples FL. I was taking an elderly neighbor to the doctor, so I thought I'd combine errands. And DW didn't come with me. What a zoo, though. There was one woman who had a flat cart she could barely handle. Twice that I saw she left it sitting perpendicular to the aisle, blocking all traffic while she perused an item. It took me 30 minutes to shop, and 25 minutes to check out. Next time I'm not going until after dark, when all the vision and reflex challenged old people have retreated to their condos.

I had a list, and I only bought one thing that wasn't on the list (pineapple spears for my shish kabob). Still spent $150, but I probably saved $100 by going alone. Woohoo!
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:41 PM   #79
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On sales and soft drinks those of you with smart phones might want to use the Wal-mart savings catcher app,it matches all sale prices at stores within a certain radius of your zip code. If you see your favorite brand on sale some where that you never shop, buy it at Wal-mart, scan the receipt and in a few days you will get a Walmart store credit for the sale prices. Works for all brand name items that Walmart sells.
I've been using the Savings Catcher app since around Christmas and have saved a good bit of money! I think I currently have a little over $10 to be credited to a gift card and I scanned another receipt on Saturday (takes a few days to find out how much was "returned" on each receipt). So, I'll go to Wal-Mart except for good deli items (Publix) and stuff we just like from Costco.
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:43 PM   #80
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We spend about 18k a year in Costco.

That includes about 6k spend on Red Wine

That includes: 90% of food, Tires, Glasses, Contacts, TVs, iPads etc etc.

We do not want to waste time on the weekend going from store to store.
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