Stockpiling Works For Us (At Least For Now)

One of my long time favorite bloggers, Funny About Money, is contemplating something that you rarely hear about: Quitting Costco.  She’s finding that, for her, not going to Costco is actually saving her money.  Could bucking the stockpiling trend actually work?

I think that many people don’t even consider such a thing.  They just assume that Costco saves them money by giving them lower pricing, with the tradeoff that you have to buy in larger quantities in order to realize the lower per-unit pricing.  So, the kicker is that you have to use more in order to really realize the savings.

Looking At Our Stockpiling Habits

After my wife took a recent trip and left me the pile of stuff to put away, as is our arrangement, I started taking a look at our stockpile in our pantry to see if waste was leading to us actually overpaying for items.

I’m happy to report that we went through our entire pantry shelf and found just two items that we threw out because they were past their due dates to the point where we no longer felt comfortable using them:

A can of cream soup and a half a box of taco shells, both which expired in early 2014.

And, what’s even better: Neither of these items was bought at Costco.

So, it seems that for us, the food we buy at Costco to take advantage of the lower per-unit pricing actually gets eaten.  This is a good thing.

The (Much Much Higher Priced) Organic Trend

We’re still keeping an eye on Costco.  I think there are factors that come into play that affect our ‘value proposition’.  For example,  who’s noticed that they’re shifting more and more food items to organic options?  If you have this as your preference, then I suppose this is great.  However, for people who don’t necessarily have the budget or the desire, buying organic may not be practical.mb-2015-03-checkbook

Every trip we take, we seem to find at least one item on our ‘regular’ list that we either have to choose to pay more for to get organically, or switch back to our grocery store to purchase the non-organic option.

Right now, we still save money with our Costco membership, but it’s started to occur to us that if Costco really wants to shape themselves as the Whole Foods of the bulk warehouse shopping category, they might very well lose us as customers.

Funny makes a great point. It’s always good to really take a step back and make sure that you’re getting value from your membership.  Even though Costco memberships are a way of life, they aren’t always a guaranteed money saver.

Readers, do you save money with your Costco (or other warehouse) membership?  How often do you check and how do you evaluate your return on investment?  

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16 thoughts on “Stockpiling Works For Us (At Least For Now)

  1. We go through a similar exercise through the year when thinking about out Costco membership. It really comes down to if we’ve thrown out food because we didn’t get to it in time. We leave it at only that as our deciding factor. We’ve gone through in the past and estimated in more detail the number of visits and the type of items we purchase there, we’re saving money on the food side of things, undoubtedly saving more than the membership fee and then some.

    We’ll actually be renewing our membership later today with a visit. : )
    Joe recently posted..College Costs – Part IMy Profile

    • Very true, we always go in with a list. There are usually a couple of add-ons but the list definitely helps.

      We typically buy bananas there, but not much more outside of that for produce.

  2. Great post! I think like, so many things, the key comes with regularly re-visiting the topic. Our Sam’s membership is about to expire (a free one that we had), and I won’t be renewing. I can find some good deals there but not enough to warrant the membership fee for our family. But, I am a deal shopper who watches prices very carefully and stocks up on sales at my regular grocery stores! Still, I will be adding to my stock pile with a couple Sam’s items before my membership expires! 🙂
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  3. A lot of people say that. I have a membership to SAMs club. But I don’t buy that much just a few things but it’s cheaper than buying from other stores but most of my buys are from a Kroger affiliated store.
    You can google to see if that can food is good and how long after some are good for 5 years
    if you do have stuff getting ready to expire you can take it to a food bank or church pantry.
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  4. We actually recently started paying really close attention to our grocery bill. We have definitely seen some of this “Costco effect.”

    Basically we’d buy something, get sick of eating it all the time, then forget about it for a month or two.

    Some food would sit in the freezer or fridge too long and we’d toss it out.

    That’s the thing, we could have eaten it, but who wants to eat 15lbs of chicken legs?
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    • I’ve found that with meat at places like that, it has to be something that is versitile to be used in a lot of different meals or for an event where you’ve got a ton of people, because otherwise the situation you described is about spot on.

  5. I love my membership to Costco and it has helped us save much more money because of its lower price. One thing more that has helped us is that we always make sure that there is no left product approaching its due date.

  6. I wouldn’t mind buying stuff in bulk. I’m just scared it would encourage my family to eat more because there is more of it in the house, lol. However, if those price per units indeed would be better I would have to perhaps set a limit to how much they could eat a day;)

  7. I don’t buy in bulk because it would push us to consume more to feel that we saved something. I am completely satisfied with getting enough grocery items we can consume for a week and have some extra items just in case we need some. Doing this helps us save more and have less food waste.

  8. Thanks for the mention! And I love the comments.

    As an update: I’ve almost stopped shopping at Costco, not because I don’t love CC but because it’s _just_ enough hassle to write a check to make the experience slightly aversive.

    The upshot: I’m going about once a month. (As compared to running by Costco at the drop of a hat.) I still DO stockpile, because like you folks, “it works for me.” Any day I’d rather reach into the garage cabinet for another package of toilet paper than have to jump in the car and run to the grocery store because I’m out. Also, during the Great Medical Adventures, there was so much food in the house — and so many general supplies — that I never had any concern about getting enough to eat or running out of something you can’t do without.

    Here’s what I have discovered about the once-a-month strategy: It is objectively true that Costco is Impulse Buy Hell! Go in there prepared to buy X, Y, and Z, and you will invariably come out with X, Y, Z, A, B, C…and oh yah, we’ll never see THAT again here or anywhere else so we’d better grab it right now.

    By thinking carefully about what I really DO need over the course of the next month and then using grocery stores for whatever might have been forgotten when the need comes up, I’m saving a surprising amount of money on the monthly budget. I don’t tend to impulse-buy in grocery stores and drugstores, and so now I’m not buying a lot of stuff that IS neat but that I don’t really need. With the $20 charge here and the $18 charge there and the $30 charge someplace else gone, the base expenditures were low enough last month to keep the several hefty unexpected bills from busting the budget nearly as extravagantly as it should’ve been busted.

    As for the organic thing…yeah, that’s all very nice, Dear Costco. But I do want the choice, when I’m feeling broke, of being able to buy the poison food…as opposed to no food at all, thank you. I’ll buy organic when I think I can afford it, but it’s not my default. What I will NOT buy is farmed fish — and Costco still sells plenty of that immoral wild-caught seafood. 😀
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