First, I want to be clear that I’m not anti-Costco or anti-shopping club membership so please don’t fill the comment section below with hate. If belonging to such a club is either something you enjoy or something that saves you lots of money (hopefully, both!), feel free to keep on Costco-ing.
But for me, a Costco membership doesn’t make sense: based on my shopping habits, not only will it not save me money but it could trigger me to spend money on things I don’t need. Here is why I came to that conclusion.
I Eat Keto (and I Don’t Drink Wine or Soda)
In January 2017, I started eating Keto which is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet. I’m really happy eating Keto but it has definitely changed up my grocery shopping list. Things that aren’t on it include potatoes, corn, chips, bread, muffins, cookies, pies, sweets, cereal, oatmeal, fruit, and so much more.
There are groceries I still buy that are sold at Costco but I am not sure I could consume the quantities sold there before the item went bad or stale. And, even if I could do so, if might not be a healthy choice (I’m looking at you, nuts!).
I also don’t drink wine or soda, two items that seem to be especially good deals when purchased from Costco.
I don’t drink wine (or beer or hard liquor) because it triggers an allergic response—runny nose, itchy eyes and skin, sneezing, etc. Trust me when I say that if you felt as miserable as I do after drinking, you would avoid it too.
As for soda? I was a hard core soda drinker for years with Coke Zero being my last beverage of choice. Then, I was diagnosed with acid-reflux induced asthma so I gave up soda, which can cause acid-reflux.
I do occasionally still drink sparkling water but I am even cutting back on that as I can tell a difference in my breathing after drinking one (it’s the bubbles from the carbonation). It sucks but I’m more fond of my lungs than I am of soda so I’m willing to skip it Thank goodness I can still drink tea!
I Live by Myself in a One-Bedroom, 735 Square-Foot Condo
My condo is well laid out with decent number of closets but there is no getting around the fact that space is at a premium. “Stocking up” just isn’t an option.
Take toilet paper. I honestly don’t know how I would store a package larger than eight rolls. I also only buy paper towels two rolls at a time. It even takes me a while to go through a 64 ounce bottle of laundry detergent.
Given how hard I am working to declutter my space and to keep it decluttered, a shopper’s club like Costco seems unhelpful.
I Have a History of Overspending There
It’s been about 10 years since I let my last shopping club membership expire. At the time, I made a lot less than I do now and had a lot of debt. Even so, about once a month, I would find myself wandering up and down the aisles and filling my cart with stuff I didn’t need.
I was pretty good about not buying the gallon jug of olive oil since I rarely cook and knew it would probably take me eight years to use it up. My weakness was when it came to browsing the snacks, books, clothing, housewares and electronics sections.
It was just so easy to justify each purchase in my head—”this [fill in the blank] would come in handy during a [blank] and the price is good,” I would tell myself. But just because something has utility doesn’t mean it’s useful for me to own. Sadly, I wasn’t able to remember that while I was in the store.
In the end, I 100% believe I save more by not walking in the door than I ever could shopping there.
The Prices aren’t Worth the Inconvenience of Shopping There
The closest Costco to me is about 8 miles away. There are plans to open one closer in the next year but even so, I don’t think I will get a membership. Why? So many reasons.
First, getting into and out of them is its own adventure. I lived by one for a few months and the traffic was crazy (and the drivers seemed unnecessarily aggressive and bad tempered).
Their grouchiness might be because once you get in the store, there are lines for everything. Lines to show your membership card as you walk in, lines for the cash registers, lines to have your receipt verified as you leave, lines for hotdogs, etc.
I don’t know if the stores are badly designed or just understaffed, but each trip seemed to take up an entire morning or afternoon.
Finally, while their prices for gas are competitive, my time driving there and waiting for a pump is valuable too, and doing so just doesn’t seem to be worth the price differential.
If you live closer to one, and have a flexible schedule so you can go at off-peak times, you might not run into these issues. But for me, they really matter.
I Prefer to Shop at Trader Joe’s
I first went to Traders Joe’s in the late 1990s when I lived on the West Coast and I loved it. The animal cookie options! The Hawaiian shirts! The fact that they sold everything you really need in life in about the same square footage as the Subway sandwich shop occupies in the local Walmart!
Twenty years later, I still really like Trader Joe’s. I don’t buy the animal crackers anymore because of Keto but that’s okay. There are lots of Keto-friendly foods to fill the void. Here are a few of my favorites:
The pre-cooked bacon is especially worth the trip!
For the few things I can’t buy there, I will go to Aldi or Publix, which is a grocery chain located in the Southeast United States (their motto is “where shopping is a pleasure” and it’s true!).
Do You Shop at Costco?
If you have a Costco membership, have you done the math to determine if it really saves you money? And not only based on what you buy but whether shopping there results in you buying things you don’t need? Let me know below!
P.S. Budget Kitty pulled together this awesome post where he compares the cost of a Costco membership fee with fees charged by other shopper’s clubs, as well as the cost of some of the specific items he buys at Costco with that of the same item sold elsewhere. If you are looking for specific numbers, check it out!
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