Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
My personal Costco Effect
Old 11-29-2012, 10:33 AM   #1
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
audreyh1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Rio Grande Valley
Posts: 16,473
My personal Costco Effect

I was looking through our YTD expenses lately, and I noticed something interesting - our dining out budget had dropped quite a bit. We are eating out only about half as often compared to last year.

Now normally, when we don't eat out much, our grocery bill increases noticeably, but that hadn't happened either. In fact, it dropped slightly.

I realized that this was a "Costco Effect". Costco opened in Pharr TX in March of 2012. We had friends who were diehard Costco fans, so it didn't take long for us to "get with the program". It turns out, that because Costco sells larger quantities of the high-quality groceries (which means the prices are so attractive), we were staying home to eat up the "more food" we were buying. Yet because of the discounts, our grocery bill still was slightly lower. We were going to our regular grocery store half as often and not buying as much. We seem to be spending about $100 less a month on average on groceries.

DH and I are serious foodies. Some might even call us food snobs (fair enough). We've really been delighted at high quality of the produce, fruit, greens, seafood, meat etc., available and yet many a true bargain. It's hard to find a one pound box of organic salad greens for $3.99 most places. The fruit has been amazing.

We don't have a stringent food budget. We enjoy good food and wine, and so this is an area we are allowed to "splurge" for quality of life reasons . So, I have been quite surprised that our expenses have dropped so much. That is our personal "Costco Effect".
__________________

__________________
Well, I thought I was retired. But it seems that now I'm working as a travel agent instead!
audreyh1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 11-29-2012, 10:54 AM   #2
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Midpack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 11,977
Wow, that would be a 21% reduction in our actual YTD grocery expenses. We've looked at Costco several times, but never joined - yet.

We're foodies too, though we 'restrict' ourselves to dinner out twice/week on average, plus the occasional breakfast, brunch/lunch. May be TMI, but our grocery expenses are only 24% more than dining out expenses.
__________________

__________________
No one agrees with other people's opinions; they merely agree with their own opinions -- expressed by somebody else. Sydney Tremayne
Retired Jun 2011 at age 57

Target AA: 60% equity funds / 35% bond funds / 5% cash
Target WR: Approx 2.5% Approx 20% SI (secure income, SS only)
Midpack is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:03 AM   #3
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 7,530
We experience the same thing. Except we're a little less foodie and more low brow. It's called the "Aldi Effect". Dirt cheap produce and vegs that are generally of very good quality. It makes eating healthier easier.

I know what you mean - we try to eat up whatever is in the fridge, so we rarely have a time when the fridge is nearly empty and we say "there's nothing to eat, let's go out". I also like Aldi over Costco because you can buy in small portions usually. Allows more variety without waste or the feeling of delicious food fatigue ("ugg we are only 1/4 the way through this three pound tub of delicious hummus").
__________________
Retired in 2013 at age 33. Keeping busy reading, blogging, relaxing, gaming, and enjoying the outdoors with my wife and 3 kids (5, 11, and 12).
FUEGO is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:06 AM   #4
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
audreyh1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Rio Grande Valley
Posts: 16,473
Quote:
Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
Wow, that would be a 21% reduction in our actual YTD grocery expenses. We've looked at Costco several times, but never joined - yet.

We're foodies too, though we 'restrict' ourselves to dinner out twice/week on average, plus the occasional breakfast, brunch/lunch. May be TMI, but our grocery expenses are only 24% more than dining out expenses.
I got their AMEX reward card, and when I first used it, I got a credit that matched the Costco annual fee. Was that by design? I have no idea. Still - this year's shopping is membership fee free.

I am not a "warehouse shopper" by nature, but I find the Costco environment just fine - especially now that I know where everything is. It's good to avoid on the weekends though. Excellent, excellent, excellent butcher shop.

Get a buddy that has a membership to take you in and see. And you can pay for stuff yourself (AMEX, debit card or cash) on your friend's membership card. That's why they let my cousins do.
__________________
Well, I thought I was retired. But it seems that now I'm working as a travel agent instead!
audreyh1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:13 AM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Midpack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 11,977
Quote:
Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
I got their AMEX reward card, and when I first used it, I got a credit that matched the Costco annual fee. Was that by design? I have no idea. Still - this year's shopping is membership fee free.

I am not a "warehouse shopper" by nature, but I find the Costco environment just fine - especially now that I know where everything is. It's good to avoid on the weekends though. Excellent, excellent, excellent butcher shop.

Get a buddy that has a membership to take you in and see. And you can pay for stuff yourself (AMEX, debit card or cash) on your friend's membership card. That's why they let my cousins do.
We've been several times, they allow visitors (you have to listen to a spiel, but I have no problem with 'no, thanks') and DW has a Costco card thru work, though it's not supposed to be used for personal (and we don't, even though we could). Our local Costco is nice enough, but the quantities are just HUGE for 2 people. I can certainly see how it would be even more appealing for a (large) family.

They also have a reasonable selection of wines at ours, that surprised me. Maybe one day. We've always thought we'd join when we have a major purchase and can make back the upfront fee ($50-100 IIRC) with our first purchase, but we haven't found a major item there we'd actually buy otherwise -yet. Thanks...
__________________
No one agrees with other people's opinions; they merely agree with their own opinions -- expressed by somebody else. Sydney Tremayne
Retired Jun 2011 at age 57

Target AA: 60% equity funds / 35% bond funds / 5% cash
Target WR: Approx 2.5% Approx 20% SI (secure income, SS only)
Midpack is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:15 AM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
HFWR's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Lawn chair in Texas
Posts: 12,964
I'm a foodie, if by that you mean I "eat food"...

I buy mostly coffee, frozen fish, fish oil, and paper goods from Costco. Well, and motor fuel...

I do not wish to deal with large quantities of fresh food, so I don't buy produce there. Their meat is good, but I'd be more likely to buy there if they carried grass-fed. Pizzas are a great bargain, but I prefer very thin crusted pizza.

Plus, the local Tom Thumb grocery where I usually shop is on the route to/from w*rk, and it's much easier to grab a few things and be in and out in a few minutes, versus fighting the crowd at Costco.
__________________
Have Funds, Will Retire

...not doing anything of true substance...
HFWR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:18 AM   #7
Moderator
MichaelB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Rocky Inlets
Posts: 24,464
If Costco carried more organic options they would clean up. When we grill for a group we get their lamb chops or whole tenderloin and there is never any food left over.
__________________
MichaelB is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:19 AM   #8
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Midpack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 11,977
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
If Costco carried more organic options they would clean up. When we grill for a group we get their lamb chops or whole tenderloin and there is never any food left over.
WholeFoodsCo
__________________
No one agrees with other people's opinions; they merely agree with their own opinions -- expressed by somebody else. Sydney Tremayne
Retired Jun 2011 at age 57

Target AA: 60% equity funds / 35% bond funds / 5% cash
Target WR: Approx 2.5% Approx 20% SI (secure income, SS only)
Midpack is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:25 AM   #9
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
audreyh1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Rio Grande Valley
Posts: 16,473
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
If Costco carried more organic options they would clean up. When we grill for a group we get their lamb chops or whole tenderloin and there is never any food left over.
We are nowhere near a Whole Foods - actually the closest one is ReWahoo's! 250 miles away in San Antonio. But between Costco, HEB and Sprouts I do OK.

HEB has an excellent line of high quality, "natural" meat and they also carry organic meat. I love their lamb (US sourced), but it's super $$$$. Costco carries Australian lamb that is outstanding quality (and really, Australian lamb is raised by strict standards) and is waaaaay cheaper than HEB lamb.

Costo has organic chicken (whole and breasts) and ground beef.
__________________
Well, I thought I was retired. But it seems that now I'm working as a travel agent instead!
audreyh1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:29 AM   #10
Moderator Emeritus
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 11,044
I can't really shop at Costco even though it's down the street from me. I don't have room to store large quantities of food or other products. So I walk to Wholefoods several times a week and buy only what I can carry back home.
__________________
FIREd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:30 AM   #11
Administrator
W2R's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: New Orleans
Posts: 38,899
We are getting our first Costco in the New Orleans area sometime in the next year or so. Construction on the (fairly modest sized) building has begun, about four miles from my home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HFWR View Post
[...]the local Tom Thumb grocery where I usually shop is on the route to/from w*rk, and it's much easier to grab a few things and be in and out in a few minutes, versus fighting the crowd at Costco.
Because of the neighborhood where our new Costco will be located, we expect it to be completely jammed/overwhelmed with gigantic crowds most of the time. Maybe we can go there early on a Sunday morning sometime when it is not as crowded. I am curious about Costco and would love to check it out.

Audreyh1, glad to hear that your food expenses have gone down, while maintaining your usual high standards! That is always so nice.
__________________
Already we are boldly launched upon the deep; but soon we shall be lost in its unshored, harbourless immensities.

- - H. Melville, 1851
W2R is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:32 AM   #12
Moderator
rodi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: San Diego
Posts: 8,817
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
If Costco carried more organic options they would clean up. When we grill for a group we get their lamb chops or whole tenderloin and there is never any food left over.
Our costco carries a HUGE amount of organic food. Both in the meats and in the more processed food. (by processed I mean food that is in a carton or box.) Examples: organic granola, organic quinoa, organic chicken broth)

We regularly buy organic chicken roasters at 99c/lb. And their organic hamburger is awesome.

Now our costco is probably a bit different than ones elsewhere - we have a test kitchen so there are a lot more "food samples" as you shop. It's the original "Price Club Warehouse" (Price club merged with costco in the late 80s early 90s... )

If you're including booze in your grocery budget - costco will *definitely* have an impact on the bottom line.

We're a family of 4 - 2 growing pre-teen boys who love fruit and salad... I have *no* trouble moving the volume of food through.
__________________
rodi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:34 AM   #13
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
audreyh1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Rio Grande Valley
Posts: 16,473
Quote:
Originally Posted by FUEGO View Post
We experience the same thing. Except we're a little less foodie and more low brow. It's called the "Aldi Effect". Dirt cheap produce and vegs that are generally of very good quality. It makes eating healthier easier.

I know what you mean - we try to eat up whatever is in the fridge, so we rarely have a time when the fridge is nearly empty and we say "there's nothing to eat, let's go out". I also like Aldi over Costco because you can buy in small portions usually. Allows more variety without waste or the feeling of delicious food fatigue ("ugg we are only 1/4 the way through this three pound tub of delicious hummus").
The volume is a little challenging for a 2 person household. So we don't go that often . About every 2 to 3 weeks, especially if we need to fill the gas tank.

Since Costco is based in Seattle, they often carry some of my favorite goodies from the Pacific Northwest - fruit, seafood, etc. A couple of weeks ago, there was a bag of gorgeous d'Anjou pears from Yakima WA. They were in perfect condition (Costco really knows how to handle fresh fruit and maintain it in prime condition) and just a few dollars so we had to buy it. We ate a few, then I had to make a pear almondine tart, and then we had to make a chocolate pear tart, ate a few more, and the last one made it into some sangria. Whew! There must have been a dozen large pears for the same price of 3 or 4 in a regular store.
__________________
Well, I thought I was retired. But it seems that now I'm working as a travel agent instead!
audreyh1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:35 AM   #14
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
audreyh1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Rio Grande Valley
Posts: 16,473
Quote:
Originally Posted by rodi View Post
Our costco carries a HUGE amount of organic food. Both in the meats and in the more processed food. (by processed I mean food that is in a carton or box.) Examples: organic granola, organic quinoa, organic chicken broth)

Now our costco is probably a bit different than ones elsewhere - we have a test kitchen so there are a lot more "food samples" as you shop. It's the original "Price Club Warehouse" (Price club merged with costco in the late 80s early 90s... )
I see quite a few organic fruits and veggies in ours.
__________________
Well, I thought I was retired. But it seems that now I'm working as a travel agent instead!
audreyh1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:39 AM   #15
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
audreyh1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Rio Grande Valley
Posts: 16,473
Quote:
Originally Posted by W2R View Post
Audreyh1, glad to hear that your food expenses have gone down, while maintaining your usual high standards! That is always so nice.
Actually, my home food quality standards have gone up quite a bit! It was quite good before, now it's excellent.
__________________
Well, I thought I was retired. But it seems that now I'm working as a travel agent instead!
audreyh1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:39 AM   #16
Moderator
MichaelB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Rocky Inlets
Posts: 24,464
We are in the heart of Whole Foods country. Around here it's also known as Whole Paycheck.

Last week we bought a pecan pie for Thanksgiving. We have had one from them many times in the past. This year they added a new ingredient - corn syrup. They have carried out an amazing transformation from a small, premium-priced grocer focused on organic, healthful products to a large scale grocer focused on marketing a healthful foods image with a mix of organic and healthful foods and the same stuff everyone else sells but with different packaging. Their branding effort has been very successful.
__________________
MichaelB is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:45 AM   #17
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
audreyh1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Rio Grande Valley
Posts: 16,473
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
We are in the heart of Whole Foods country. Around here it's also known as Whole Paycheck.
Ha ha! You can't argue that. We used to live in Austin TX (headquarters for Whole Foods) and shopped there for years before they launched on to the national scene. And we also called it Whole Paycheck. After years of full-timing I got used to not having a Whole Foods all the time, otherwise I might not have been able to settle down here!

But it's good to know Chicago is a major Whole Foods city. It's really an amazing store, and I'm glad they've been wildly successful. Actually, the TX HEB chain is so great because they have to compete with Whole Foods Market.

I suspect my grocery bills were the highest when I lived in Austin........
__________________
Well, I thought I was retired. But it seems that now I'm working as a travel agent instead!
audreyh1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:45 AM   #18
Administrator
W2R's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: New Orleans
Posts: 38,899
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
We are in the heart of Whole Foods country. Around here it's also known as Whole Paycheck.
Yes, here, too! The Whole Foods in my area opened up in 2004, and is located close to my house (between my house and F's, so I pass it frequently). Before it opened up I thought it would be wonderful and that I would be their best customer. After seeing the prices, well, I haven't been back since 2004. I am sure people get what they pay for at Whole Foods, but it is not for me.
__________________
Already we are boldly launched upon the deep; but soon we shall be lost in its unshored, harbourless immensities.

- - H. Melville, 1851
W2R is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:48 AM   #19
Moderator
Sarah in SC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 13,456
Michael that sounds about right for the wholepaycheck here, too. I wander around in there infrequently and am astonished that they aren't really selling all that much healthy stuff.

I keep resisting the Costco membership, but we have friends who are crazy for that place. But I am of the opinion that at least for us, not seeing stuff you want to impulse buy is the best way for me to curtail extra expenses. If I never see the xyz product on display there, I won't want it. I'd like to think I was better than that, but history suggests a different story.
__________________
“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.”
Gerard Arthur Way

Sarah in SC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2012, 11:58 AM   #20
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
audreyh1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Rio Grande Valley
Posts: 16,473
Quote:
Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
They also have a reasonable selection of wines at ours, that surprised me. Maybe one day. We've always thought we'd join when we have a major purchase and can make back the upfront fee ($50-100 IIRC) with our first purchase, but we haven't found a major item there we'd actually buy otherwise -yet. Thanks...
They do have a great wine selection, I think they are famous for it. And they have a group of wine buyers that do a lot of tasting for their selection. It's the only place here that I can even find a reasonable selection of WA and OR wines. But since I can order my favorites directly from the winery, it's not such an issue for me anymore.
__________________

__________________
Well, I thought I was retired. But it seems that now I'm working as a travel agent instead!
audreyh1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:09 PM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.