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Spending too much at Costco
Old 02-28-2015, 11:57 AM   #1
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Spending too much at Costco

Last year we spent $3,500 at Costco. That included a couple of one-off things like an artificial Christmas tree and shelves for the garage but is still a lot of money. That doesn't include any Costco gas. This is for two adults no kids. We go every 2-4 weeks.

Most commonly the things we buy are fresh foods (fruit, steak, fish, vegetables), wine ($10-15/bottle), paper towels, toilet paper, soap (laundry, dishwasher), 24-pack carbonated waters, coffee beans, maple syrup, mixed nuts, cereal, oatmeal, toothpaste, floss...what am I forgetting?

Where available we get the Kirkland brand products. I look at the unit price for something like coffee beans or maple syrup and it's way cheaper than at the grocery store. Yet it doesn't feel like we're saving any money, quite the opposite.


Here is today's receipt. We're buying foods for a party tomorrow so there was some additional stuff on here we don't usually buy.
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Old 02-28-2015, 12:07 PM   #2
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You need to be a little more specific, as in what do the rest of your grocery and household items cost..

and how much is the liquor budget, the items you listed are normal household expenses that everyone has....also do you buy as needed or stockpile. We shop at Sam's since we don't have a Costco and tend to always have a pretty good stockpile of items in the house, since we live 15 miles from the nearest grocery store.
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Old 02-28-2015, 12:32 PM   #3
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Looks like the makings for a great party!

We go about once a month and I just checked my AMEX year-end summary to see how much we spent. Total of $2800, of which about $400 was for gas, so $2400 on other stuff, so about $200/visit. There's just 2 of us, and I'm pretty focused about what I buy to avoid waste.

I usually buy a case of wine (selections that I can't get at our grocery store, most bottles under $10), a rack of lamb, some fresh fish, some produce, and a bunch of flowers on each visit. The rest of what I buy is mostly what we are out of from this list:
- Kleenex
- TP
- Paper towels
- Paper napkins
- Laundry detergent
- Dishwasher detergent
- Contact lens solution
- Bar soap
- Prosciutto (double pack - put one in the freezer and use the other first)
- Ham steaks (they are not water added like the grocery variety; keep them in the freezer for quick dinners)
- Frozen boneless chicken parts
- Frozen turkey meatballs
- Frozen stir-fry veggies
- Frozen Alexia sweet potato fries

I have developed my list over the years based on, quality of products, lower unit prices, and convenience (I hate running out of paper goods and hate buying them one at a time even more.)

Thanks for the post as I had wondered if I was spending too much and based on this, I'm not.
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Old 02-28-2015, 12:39 PM   #4
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Heck, we spent over $300 on every visit... and sometimes a lot more than that...

With 4 people in the house, we spend over $1,000 per month just on food... buying fresh costs money... buying fruit costs even more... buying meat... WOW.... I get into it with DW when I cook steak and she wants to have DS eat TWO... heck, it is not just steak... it includes fish.... I do not care how much chicken or pork he eats since it is much cheaper.... She also buys the expensive lunch meat and cheeses from the deli....
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Old 02-28-2015, 01:03 PM   #5
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With 4 kids my Costco bill has been rather impressive for many years. It is finally starting to come down a bit but going to be awhile before I get anywhere near 3500 /yr.
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Old 02-28-2015, 01:08 PM   #6
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We got a little carried away on a few early visits to Costco when we first joined. But we've learned what to buy at Costco (and not), and I go with a list and resist impulse buys except when I stumble onto a cost saving no-brainer (with added markdowns in yellow more often than not). Net result, our grocery/liquor/personal item $ budgets haven't changed, and quality has improved somewhat.

I had no idea, but I just looked and we spent $3449 at Costco last year, though there was a laptop in there.
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Old 02-28-2015, 01:17 PM   #7
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Depending on the sizes, you might have got some bargains. I know the berries and seafood we buy there is amazingly priced.

Hard to say what is "too much" unless you can find better value somewhere else, or you thing you are buying too much food in general.
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Old 02-28-2015, 01:47 PM   #8
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We're also spending between $3000 & $3500 a year at Costco for two. I think in the long run we're saving money by buying just the bulk items we eat a lot at Costco. I think its best to go in and just buy what you need and avoid browsing too much. But I do get tempted walking by the big screen T.V.'s that they conveniently place up front!
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Old 02-28-2015, 01:53 PM   #9
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Healthy food costs money. Blueberries, asparagus...sheesh, that's rich people food! :-) (Just teasing). Apples and bananas, the fruits of choice for those of lesser means, are what I ate every day as a kid.

Our grocery bills actually went down for years after we switched to buying mostly at BJs instead of the regular grocery store. We found ways to save money by buying in bulk, freezing extra food, etc. Grocery bills started climbing when food costs and stealth inflation took over in the mid-2000's. Our grocery bills have gone up around 8% a year since 2009.

Whatever the case, all the grocery store rules apply. Build a list based on menu planning, and stick with the list; don't be drawn by tempting seasonal displays. Eat something before you go; it really helps prevent the food on sale from looking so good.

I can't see how anyone can spend too much on gas, unless they are filling jerrycans and stockpiling the stuff, or driving Hummers and Lamborghinis. Vehicles eat what they eat.

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Old 02-28-2015, 02:44 PM   #10
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Great timing: a friend just posted today on FaceBook: "Starting today, February 28, 2015, my wife is hereby BANNED from Costco. That is all."

I had to laugh. DH and I got a membership late last year so he could get hearing aids and he's thrilled with them and I'm thrilled with the price. I am VERY careful about not making impulse purchases and not buying items such as produce that might go to waste since there's just the 2 of us. Still... we're now buying all our vitamins and supplements there- in mass quantities. We have a baby granddaughter so every time we see her we bring a case of Huggies. In some cases we'll buy food or other items at Costco and donate them to charities (making sure they're items on their Wish List) instead of donating cash. I keep coming out of Costco and saying, "How did I spend that much?" Getting 2% back from our Executive membership and another 2% back from our Fidelity Amex helps.
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Old 02-28-2015, 03:57 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by soupcxan View Post
Last year we spent $3,500 at Costco. That included a couple of one-off things like an artificial Christmas tree and shelves for the garage but is still a lot of money. That doesn't include any Costco gas. This is for two adults no kids. We go every 2-4 weeks.

Most commonly the things we buy are fresh foods (fruit, steak, fish, vegetables), wine ($10-15/bottle), paper towels, toilet paper, soap (laundry, dishwasher), 24-pack carbonated waters, coffee beans, maple syrup, mixed nuts, cereal, oatmeal, toothpaste, floss...what am I forgetting?

Where available we get the Kirkland brand products. I look at the unit price for something like coffee beans or maple syrup and it's way cheaper than at the grocery store. Yet it doesn't feel like we're saving any money, quite the opposite.
I'm not sure how you measure "too much". Maybe you mean -
You buy so much that you end up throwing food out?
You get good prices for what you buy, but you're buying more expensive foods than you would otherwise?
You feel like other priorities are getting ignored because your food bill is just too large a percent of your total budget?

Otherwise, what you buy is what you buy. Enjoy.

FWIW, the average "older" couple spends about $4,300 per year on "food at home", another $330 on household cleaning supplies, and $375 on personal care products. You could compare to these numbers.
Or not, there's no particular reason why you "should" be average.
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Old 02-28-2015, 04:02 PM   #12
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soupcxan, that doesn't look out of line to me. I spent $164 at the grocery store today and there are only the two of us.
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Old 02-28-2015, 04:13 PM   #13
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Our last visit to Costco saw us buy a ten-pack of dried mashed potatoes because we felt sorry for the sample lady and convinced ourselves it will be really nice to have on hand the next time we need dried mashed potatoes (which interestingly will also be the first time we have ever needed dried mashed potatoes, which we have never bought before). But I am sure they were a bargain. It was a very funny day.
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Old 02-28-2015, 04:50 PM   #14
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I do most of our shopping at costco. We're a household of 4 - including 2 teens. My costco bill is huge - last year it was just over $10k. But it was 95% of my grocery budget... and included TP, some clothes, booze, computer paper, etc. (I don't break out the costco receipts except gas vs store... and store is classified as groceries.)

So... 3500/year doesn't sound like too much to me.
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Old 02-28-2015, 04:57 PM   #15
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Well, you made me look. Last year at Costco = $9,704. We usually gas three vehicles at Costco, so that's probably a third of the money. No big purchases and less than $100 in liquor. Family of four for most of the year, but had son leave the military, return home (making us five), and get into weight lifting. For four months of the year, he ate as much as the rest of us combined. So no, I don't think $3,500/year is outrageous.
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Old 02-28-2015, 05:04 PM   #16
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We visit once a month and spend between $300 and $400 for 2-3 of us (son still is home from college about half the time).

Mostly we buy food: cheese, nuts, berries, lettuce, once or twice a year a big bag of rice.

We spend a lot on meat and fish. We basically buy all our meat from Costco, the quality is excellent. A couple packages of steaks, a bag or two of frozen chicken. Pork chops and pork tenderloins. A couple of bags of frozen fish. That adds up quickly.

We always buy a few bottles of wine.

Paper goods as needed. All our tp, paper towels, and napkins come from Costco.

And then there is miscellaneous. Batteries as needed. I bought my eye glasses there. Tires are a pretty good deal, though that's not a monthly expense!

YMMV
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Old 02-28-2015, 05:38 PM   #17
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We spend on average $150 a visit once or twice a month, for 2. We buy paper towels, TP, canned cat food, cat litter, rib eye steaks, beef stew meat (much better than the grocery stores), frozen chicken breasts, coffee beans, Kirkland vodka, one or 2 bottles of wine, contact lens solution, canned tomatoes, and applewood smoked bacon. At 2 lbs, that is way more bacon than can be used, so I separated them into 1/2 lb portions and freeze them. No more wasted meat.
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Old 02-28-2015, 06:04 PM   #18
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I don't shop at Costco though I just saw the pic of the receipt.

I can't tell if those are good prices or not since those blueberries could be a gallon or more. That price better not be for less than a half-gallon though.

$10 of toothpaste would last me a year when I buy at Wal-mart. Teach everyone to use "pea-size" dab. Asparagus is in season, so all stores are practically giving it away before it spoils. That has to be a Baker's dozen of bagels, right?

Isn't the Bunker Hill neighborhood where the GW Bush's live?

Houston tip: Get your blueberries in season at Moorhead's Blueberry Farm | M o o r h e a d 's B l u e b e r r y F a r m $2.50 per pound.
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Old 02-28-2015, 06:06 PM   #19
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Have not been a Costco for a few yrs. now. There is only 3 of us in the household. When we did go, we had a hard time not buying unneeded stuff (food etc..). Also, I always got real hungry shopping there.
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Old 02-28-2015, 06:42 PM   #20
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Hmm. $8193 for us two at Costco last year, but that includes about 98% of the gas for the cars. It also includes booze, some gift cards for the niece and nephew and a certain amount of Christmas gifties for all and sundry. We can buy cheap food from a number of places, but Costco rarely makes me feel I didn't get good value and great quality. Bet we average twice/week trips.
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