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As you know, the name of the game here is saving more money at Costco than you’re spending for the $60 per year privilege to shop there.
So, don’t get a Costco membership unless…
…You spend more than $50 per month (every month!) at Costco.
It’s true that if you shop at Costco, then immediately you’re saving around 10% on groceries and up to 35% on retail goods.
Why? Because Costco doesn’t mark up name brand items more than 14% and Kirkland brand items more than 15%. (Compared to a 25% markup at grocery stores and a 50% markup at retail stores!)
In order to break even at Costco (assuming a $60.00 per year membership), you have to spend at least $600.00 per year. That’s $50.00 per month.
…You always fuel up at Costco gas stations.
Guess what? Costco shines when it comes to saving on gas. In fact, you can figure out exactly how much gas you’d have to buy in order to make the membership fee worth it.
Ready for some math?
- $60.00/G x T = The number of times you must fill your tank to break even on your Costco membership in gas savings alone
- $60.00 = The cost of a Costco membership
- G = The capacity of your car’s gas tank
- T = The difference in Costco gas prices vs. other local prices
So if gas at my local station is $2.31 a gallon, but Costco gas is $2.10 a gallon, we can plug the numbers in and see how many times I would have to fill up my 12-gallon gas tank to break even after paying the $60.00 membership fee.
$60.00/12 x .21 = 24 tanks of gas per year to break even.
Since I fill up my gas tank once a week (I commute for work), and Costco is literally on my way to work in the morning (when the lines are smallest) this is a no-brainer for me. Even if I ONLY ever got gas at Costco, I’d still be saving money.
…Your Costco is less than a 15-minute drive away.
I’m not going to lie, if you can’t get to your Costco in 15 minutes or less, it’s much harder to justify the cost of a membership.
Partially because you’re going to spend more in gas to get there, but also because you’re much less likely to go to Costco often enough to make it worthwhile.
So if you live close enough or you make a long trip to do your large bulk shopping once a month, you might want to skip a membership.
…You’re buying diapers and wipes for at least one child.
It takes 9 months of buying diapers and wipes at Costco to pay for your $60 membership.
(Psst…also Kirkland brand diapers are made by Kimberly Clark, the Huggies manufacturer. So there’s that.)
Check out these savings:
On average, a baby wears a size 1 diaper for four months and goes through about 10 diapers a day.
- Costco: Kirkland size 1 price per diaper: $0.15
- Target: Huggies size 1 price per diaper: $0.16
Diaper savings: $12 every 4 months
On average, a baby goes through 900 wipes a month.
- Target: Pampers wipes at $11.99 per box of 448 wipes (7 refills): $0.03 per wipe
- Costco: Kirkland brand wipes at $19.99 for 900 wipes: $0.02 per wipe
Wipes savings: $15.96 every 4 months
Yes, you absolutely can get diapers cheaper with coupons at other stores, but Costco is a great option if you have a newborn and you’re currently prioritizing sleep over couponing.
…You have at least 4 mouths to feed OR a large freezer.
Food waste is a real problem when you buy groceries at Costco.
So, unless you have a freezer big enough for storage or a family large enough to eat it quickly, your food will spoil, and the money you’re saving is wasted.
If you have on average four or more people in your family (or maybe just a single teenager…), buying in bulk makes a ton of sense because you use all your bulk purchases before they go bad.
…You drink wine.
It takes 8 bottles of Kirkland brand wine per year to pay for your membership.
Compared to wine at Kroger, you’d save $96 dollars on these 8 bottles of wine by buying at Costco! Check it out:
- Costco: 1.5 liter (51 oz) bottle of Kirkland Pino Grigio is $7.99 ($0.15 per oz)
- Kroger: 25 oz bottle of Pino Grigio is $10.00 ($0.39 per oz)
…You buy 11 Costco rotisserie chickens per year.
It takes 12 Costco rotisserie chickens per year to cover the cost of your membership.
Costco rotisserie chickens are no joke. They’re so beloved and famous they even have their own Facebook page!
And while the price of poultry has risen steadily over the last few years, Costco continues to keep their famous rotisserie chickens at the low, low price of $4.99.
And for $4.99 you get a HUGE chicken that easily makes for 3-5 meals for a single person.
- Costco: $4.99 for 3+ pound chicken
- Walmart: $4.98 for a 1.5 pound chicken (you’d have to buy 2 to get 3 lbs)
…You don’t mind waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
You WILL stand in line at Costco.
Before that, you’ll spend 20 minutes looking for a parking spot. Then you’ll stand in line for samples, you’ll stand in line at checkout, and if you want that $1.50 hot dog, you’ll stand in line for a good 5-10 minutes and then stand around waiting for a table to open up. (Or you’ll just straight-up stand next to your cart and eat.)
As you leave, you’ll stand in line while you wait for the associate to check your receipt.
If you’re easily annoyed by waiting in line, this might be a legitimate deal-breaker for you.
…You have killer self-control and can avoid impulse buys.
Costco is the veritable den of temptation for impulse shoppers.
Sample mavens hover around every corner, offering you little slices and morsels of heaven in an effort to get you to spend more money.
If you’re the kind of person who will purchase an entire Costco pizza on a whim, then perhaps you’ll end up OVERspending at Costco rather than saving money.