For quite a while I have been wanting to check out a Costco store.  They promise big savings but I find it hard to stomach the concept of paying a $60 yearly membership fee for the privilege of shopping at their store, without knowing whether the savings stack up.  After much consideration, I decided to take a leap of faith and sign up for a year to find out what all the fuss was about.  So I powered off down Parramatta Road, handed over my cash and added an extra card to my wallet.  But the big question is was it all worth it?

In a word, I think, yes.  But let’s start at the beginning first.  For those who haven’t been Costco it is true American shopping experience.  Everything is super sized!  In terms of the store itself, think Bunnings with food!

But it is not just food you can buy there.  They have everything from TVs, to beer, cubby houses, lounge chairs, clothes and you can even buy an $8000 watch if you feel so inclined!

Do you have a spare $8,000?

In terms of groceries in most areas the big brands are covered but like most of these things may not have the exact product or brand you are after.

Not only is the store super sized but everything you buy is huge too!  Butter comes in 1.5kg blocks, toilet paper in slabs of 60 rolls, you can’t buy one loaf of bread you have to buy two and even Nutella comes in packs of 2×1 kilo tubs!  Luckily, the trolleys are tank sized to help you cart your haul.  Needless to say good storage space is a must if you are going to be a regular Costco shopper.

Yummmm – but maybe somewhat oversized even for me!

So what about the savings?  Are they worth it?  I think yes.  I took a random sample of 10 pretty common household items from my regular shopping list and did a quick price comparison with my local big name store.  This was the results:

Product Costco Price Quantity Local Store Price Quantity Costco Unit Price Local Store Unit Price % Saving
OMO Top Load (5kg) $54.99 10 kg $30.00 5 kg $5.50 per kg $6.00 per kg 8.33%
Finish All In One Dish Washer Tabs $37.69 112 tabs $21 48 tabs $0.34 per tab $0.44 per tab 22.73%
Cottonelle Toliet Paper $25.38 60 rolls $15.99 24 rolls $0.42 per roll $0.66 per roll 36.36%
Colgate Total 360 Toothpaste $15.99 3 x 220g $2.94 1 x 110g $2.42 per 100g $2.67 per 100g 9.36%
Radox Oxygen Shower Gel $11.99 2x 1 litre $8.89 1 litre $0.60 per 100ml $0.89 per 100ml 32.58%
Heinz Big Red Tomato Sauce $7.79 2 x 1itre $3.96 1 litre $3.89 per litre $3.96 per litre 1.77%
Old El Paso Soft Taco Kit $9.29 785g $5.00 405g $1.18 per 100g $1.23 per 100g 4.07%
Pine O Clean Multipurpose Spray $8.59 3 x 500ml $2.99 1 x 500ml $0.57 per 100 ml $0.60 per 100ml 5.00%
Mortein Fast Knockdown $15.29 3 x 300g $6.77 300g $1.70 per 100g $2.26 per 100g 24.78%
Huggies Nappies Walker Girl $65.99 132 nappies $33 64 nappies $0.50 per nappy $0.52 per nappy 3.85%
Average Saving 14.88%
NB. Prices as per Thursday the 20th of June
NB. I used price per unit to measure the cost savings, given the difference in quantities between my local store and Costco

 

On every product, Costco performed better than my local store.  On some products the savings were substantially better than others, but I think an overall average saving of 15% makes the membership fee and 30 minute drive worth it for me.  I think the savings would have been even bigger, if I had included fresh meat or vegetables but we have a small family and do not have enough room in our fridge to freeze the excess.  For example, lean mince is substantially cheaper than my local store at $6.99 per kilo but I would have to buy 3 kilos at a time, rather than the 500g that I buy now.  If you have a big family then I think the savings over time should be worth it and I will be planning a trip to Costco for Miss Money’s 3rd birthday party supplies.

A word of warning though!  Costco is the land of temptation and you can walk out of there with things that you do not need.  Yes, I am talking from experience.  I will admit that on a whim, I brought a packet of 100 Chupa Chups.  I only have one child! What was I thinking?

Chupa Chup…anyone?

So, yes Costco I will be back.  Once a quarter or so, for household items, like toilet paper, tissues, cleaning products that have long storage lives, oh and maybe a couple more Chupa Chups :-)

If you liked this post you might also like to read:

How To Create A Budget

How To Save On Your Electricity Bill

5 Financial Tips You Need To Know Now You Are a Parent

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

10 Easy Ways To Save Money

(Please note this post was originally published as my first Money Mummy guest post for The Thrifty Issue and is not a paid post.  It was done out of my own curiosity.)