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Old 07-25-2021, 04:43 PM   #181
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I tracked our expenses from 2009-2015 and finally decided I didn't have time for it any more.

One thing I found particularly annoying, was having to break out the warehouse club receipts (where we did most of our grocery shopping) to determine spending on food/drugstore items/lawn and garden/electronics/housewares, all of which seemed like separate categories to me. But I did it diligently.

One salient conclusion, was that warehouse clubs really do save $$ on groceries, assuming you use/freeze everything you buy (which we did). Our grocery expenses dropped during the first few years of tracking, during which we switched from mostly grocery store/occasional warehouse club trips, to the opposite (grocery store only for items the club didn't carry). In fact, I found some grocery tracking I'd done in 1998-1999 when we didn't belong to a club and were going to the grocery store 3x a week. Our grocery expenses - without accounting for inflation - were higher than they were 10 years later.
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Old 07-25-2021, 04:44 PM   #182
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I track eating out under entertainment. The only time we spend a lot on eating out is when we go out with friends, a club event at a restaurant or treat the kids. When it is just the two of us we are happy with something like a mom and pop restaurant with Chinese or Thai food and a lunch special, so it doesn't cost much. Sometimes I get seat filler tickets to fancy foodie events, but there haven't been any of those since the pandemic started.


I put TP under household. I buy it online and in bulk by the pound. I have an 80 roll box in the entryway I need to unpack. I usually buy it with a store reward's program coupon program so the cost is free.
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Old 07-25-2021, 04:49 PM   #183
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One salient conclusion, was that warehouse clubs really do save $$ on groceries, assuming you use/freeze everything you buy (which we did). Our grocery expenses dropped during the first few years of tracking, during which we switched from mostly grocery store/occasional warehouse club trips, to the opposite (grocery store only for items the club didn't carry). In fact, I found some grocery tracking I'd done in 1998-1998 when we didn't belong to a club and were going to the grocery store 3x a week. Our grocery expenses - without accounting for inflation - were higher than they were 10 years later.

Checkbook.org does grocery basket surveys and says Costco and Sam's Club are about 33% cheaper than supermarkets like Safeway.
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Old 07-25-2021, 04:55 PM   #184
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Checkbook.org does grocery basket surveys and says Costco and Sam's Club are about 33% cheaper than supermarkets like Safeway.
33% is pretty significant. Wonder how Aldis would stack up against that. We have been going to Aldis more and more lately and are very happy with it.
Our problem is that it is an hour drive to a Costco or Sam's club so we have never joined.
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Old 07-25-2021, 05:00 PM   #185
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33% is pretty significant. Wonder how Aldis would stack up against that. We have been going to Aldis more and more lately and are very happy with it.
Our problem is that it is an hour drive to a Costco or Sam's club so we have never joined.
Hard to compare Aldi with Costco as the kind of items they carry are different (I think Costco aims for more specialty items and high-end items) but I was shocked to see the prices at an Aldi when I went there for the first time a few years ago in the East Coast.

I heard recently that Costco limits their markup to within 30%. If the price of something has gone up by a lot, it's because they're buying it from their supplier at a higher price themselves. A big jug of canola oil at Costco in Canada now costs twice as much compared to a year ago due to drought and other factors...
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Old 07-25-2021, 05:06 PM   #186
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Checkbook.org does grocery basket surveys and says Costco and Sam's Club are about 33% cheaper than supermarkets like Safeway.



You need to be a disciplined shopper at Costco and Sam's.


My DB's favorite joke is "I stopped by Costco to buy 300 dollars worth of fruit".. lots of eye candy and impulse items at the clubs..
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Old 07-25-2021, 05:08 PM   #187
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33% is pretty significant. Wonder how Aldis would stack up against that. We have been going to Aldis more and more lately and are very happy with it.
Our problem is that it is an hour drive to a Costco or Sam's club so we have never joined.
From what I have heard Aldis has great prices, but there aren't any in the Bay Area so they weren't covered in their price comparisons in the article. Here is what else they had to say, "Grocery Outlet, WinCo, Walmart, FoodsCo, Foodmaxx, and Target were the price winners—where many families could save $1,350 to more than $3,000 per year. [Sams's and Costco were covered in a separate article].

Grocery Outlet, which offers a somewhat odd assortment of steeply discounted surplus national-brand products, offered prices that were about 30 percent lower than the average at all other stores we surveyed. WinCo was the other big saver, with prices 29 percent lower than average.

The next-best bets for low grocery prices in the Bay Area: Walmart and FoodsCo, each with prices 20 percent lower than average prices at all surveyed stores; FoodMaxx’s were 15 percent lower; and Target’s 13 percent lower."

I can usually save 70% off Safeway prices when I go to Grocery Outlet if I go alone and 50% if DH comes with me, which is still pretty good.
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Old 07-25-2021, 05:09 PM   #188
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We shop at Winco which is only in a few western states. The food is good quality and cheaper than the other grocery stores. I don’t buy in huge quantities so can’t compare to Costco.
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Old 07-25-2021, 05:15 PM   #189
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I agree about Grocery Outlet in the bay area. I sometimes went there when I lived there. Some of the prices were crazy good. I heard that they get items from bankrupted stores and also carry discontinued items. so those factors, I'm sure, contributed to their low prices. I saw a lot of obscure brands there that I'd never seen at any other stores. I checked the expirations of every item I was buying though, as they seemed to sell a lot of almost expiring items.
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Old 07-25-2021, 06:49 PM   #190
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Well it would be interesting to know her favorite brands/designers? She may actually not be buying a lot of clothes but what she buys is $$$$.
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Old 07-25-2021, 07:11 PM   #191
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Even though we are almost an hour's drive (slow roads) from BJs, we go there once every 4 or 5 weeks to stock up. In between, we visit Walmart. I think we've been in the local Publix once in 2 years.

Grocery prices are rising, but buying in bulk (and knowing how to manage that in the home, an acquired skill) really does help.

We shopped at an Aldi's once, and found the prices to be low, but it was too gritty even for us experienced warehouse clubbers. A mob scene, too. Now, if I were 23 again, I'd probably make it my main store.

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Originally Posted by finnski1 View Post
33% is pretty significant. Wonder how Aldis would stack up against that. We have been going to Aldis more and more lately and are very happy with it.
Our problem is that it is an hour drive to a Costco or Sam's club so we have never joined.
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Old 07-25-2021, 07:44 PM   #192
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we are very selective about what we purchase at Costco. sorry, but anything with the 'Kirkland' brand is, in our opinion, junk. we do like Costco's muffins, though. specifically their oversized blueberry and coffee cake varieties. we're still out west in San Jose and I was disappointed that the local Costco doesn't carry the coffee cake muffins. while we've been out here I've restocked our pantry almost exclusively at Safeway. it's been next to impossible to find some of the brands and varieties that we're used to.
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Old 07-25-2021, 08:11 PM   #193
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Costco has some really good stuff. Halibut, sea bass and the last crab legs I got were good.

But yeah, you have to buy so much of the stuff. We only have 2 people here.
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Old 07-25-2021, 08:15 PM   #194
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Costco has great USDA prime grade beef and we love their ribeye caps, New York steaks and Ribeye. Our local butcher charges 3 times the price of Costco's prime grade beef.
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Old 07-25-2021, 08:20 PM   #195
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I’m curious: what preceded Costco’s status at e-r.org? Sam’s Club?
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Old 07-25-2021, 08:33 PM   #196
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I have been closely tracking expenses since 2010. Retired this past Mar and put together a budget for retirement that I thought was reasonable. Areas that I think we overspent on were food and clothes. So I put in an amount that I thought we should spend vs. what we do spend. Ask me how that turned out. So now the "budget" (or should I call it planned expenses) reflect what we have been spending the last 2 years. Nice try, huh? At least I know we don't have to watch what we spend on a daily basis and just need to meter the big spending. Probably happier that way. Still have more money than we needed to retire, so life is good.

Just to put up the dart board:

Food: $1,500 / mo budgeted, $2048 actual over the last 2 years
Clothes: $400 / mo budgeted, $600 actual over the last 2 years (I haven't bought clothes for me in years)

I also had to bump gas up 40% because we are camping a lot and pulling my 12,000 lbs fifth wheel with a gas truck costs a lot. We weren't camping before, so didn't account for that. Truck costs $125 to fill up and I can go about 200 miles on a tank when towing.

Everything else is tracking nicely.


How is it you spend that much on food? Do you dine out almost every meal or something? We eat well and spend maybe $500-$600/ month on food.
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Old 07-25-2021, 09:49 PM   #197
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Serious question to OP:

How can you spend $24,000 a year on food and not gain weight? Our overall annual spend is actually greater than yours, but our annual food spend budget currently is $5200 for groceries, and $4800 for restaurant dining. I'm afraid to increase either lest we gain weight.

We are very physically active, as in regular 10 mile hikes/50 mile bicycle rides active, but as we get older (now 58 & 66 after 10 years in FIRE) we simply can't eat like we used to and not see it on the scale.

Alcohol not included in groceries, as an FYI. That runs a few thousand a year as we find ourselves moving up the cost-per-bottle scale.
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But now you know
Old 07-26-2021, 08:11 AM   #198
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But now you know

Since you've got the money to spare, you aren't in the position where you MUST trim xyz expenses. Your budget has shown you your priorities in spending - which is good. Now you know. You and your SO's task now is to switch the budget to increase those categories - but DECREASE the ones that have been shown to not be priorities. That's how you can start the conversation with SO - "It's clear that food and clothing are big priorities here. I'm going to increase the budget for them. What do you think shows as lesser or non-priorities?"
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Old 07-26-2021, 08:27 AM   #199
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Even though we are almost an hour's drive (slow roads) from BJs, we go there once every 4 or 5 weeks to stock up. In between, we visit Walmart. I think we've been in the local Publix once in 2 years.

Grocery prices are rising, but buying in bulk (and knowing how to manage that in the home, an acquired skill) really does help.

We shopped at an Aldi's once, and found the prices to be low, but it was too gritty even for us experienced warehouse clubbers. A mob scene, too. Now, if I were 23 again, I'd probably make it my main store.
Our local Aldi's is very well organized, clean, friendly. Nothing like you describe. The prices are great on many things. It is small however and we can only do 50-60% of our shopping there luckily there is a much larger chain grocer(Hannafords) across the street.
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Old 07-26-2021, 08:43 AM   #200
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I think it really "depends." We have an Aldi here, the original in the area, in a low income area and it is really small, cramped, crowded, and gritty. However, in the last 4 years we've had two new ones built in nearby areas that are gorgeous and rival the best supermarkets: clean, well lit, lots of organic food, large, etc. A real pleasure to shop at!
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