Most frugal people can say that shopping at membership warehouse stores such as Costco membership, Samâ€™s Club and BJ is one way to save on expenses. A lot of these stores offer a variety of item from produce, dairy, electronics, household, personal, clothing, etc. So for some shoppers, this can pretty much be a one-stop store. As for me, I have a Costco membership and have shop there frequently.
I did not actually start with Costco; I started with Price Club when I first signed up as a member in 1995 with my mom as the other cardholder. I was still single and living in the same residence with my parents but had been contributing a lot in the household. Back then, Price Club memberships were only open to select groups such as people who were employees, members or affiliates of organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, credit unions, federal employees, etc. The Price Club name was changed to Price Costco when Price Club merged with Costco and then was later changed to just â€œCostcoâ€ after a couple of years. Nowadays, you do not need to be affiliated of a select group of individuals but in some cases, the benefit of being one is you can avail some form of discount on Costco memberships.
How I Got Free Costco Membership
With Price Club, there were only two memberships available, the Gold Card and the Business card and both cost $50. When Costco took over, they started offering the third membership option: the Executive Membership at $100 that offers a 2% cash back on the purchases. I realized that it would be very beneficial for me to switch to the Executive Membership because of the volume of our purchase. Basic math indicates that you have to spend $5,000 to get a rebate equivalent to the cost of membership. In our case, we actually spend more than that so technically, not only that I get a refund on the cost of membership; I am getting additional money off it. The reason for this big volume is we have two household. When I got married and moved out of the house, I did not take my mom out from my membership. I kept my mom as the other cardholder instead of replacing her with my wife. The purchase volume of two household can rack up a lot. As you know, you canâ€™t have different address with the other cardholder when you are first signing up with Costco. In my case, I was living in the same household for years when I first signed up and then later moved out. The only disadvantage in having only one card for my own household is that my wife canâ€™t shop and pay for the purchases herself since she does not have the membership. However, there is a way around this. I bought cash card from time to time so she can use it herself in case she wants to buy something on her own.
Lastly, we signed up for the American Express Costco Membership card because it offers additional cash back such 1% for any purchase, 3% for gas, 2% for travel. The savings and rebate just keep adding up.
Benefits of Shopping at Costco to Our Family
There are a lot of items that we buy in bulk like household supplies (toilet paper, bottled water, kitchen items) and personal items (shampoo, lotion, OTC drugs, deodorant, multivitamins). The prices for electronics and clothing are pretty competitive as well. Gas prices are also cheaper as we usually save around 15 cents per gallon. In addition, if we use our American Express card, we get an additional 3% rebate. It canâ€™t get better than that!
Photo credit:Â greenwenvy08
Coupons and Instant Rebate
I like the fact that we are shopping at wholesale prices. What I like more is Costco offers additonal discounts in the form of coupons and instant manufacturerâ€™s rebate. I donâ€™t know if all Costco stores do this but for the Costco stores that I usually go to, I just have to hand them one coupon for one of the item and the coupon discount for the rest of the items that I purchased are all taken automatically. In other words, I do not have to cut all the coupons, all I need is one and it will automatically trigger the discount on the rest. If you did not receive a coupon book in the mail, you can always ask one at the membership center.
Photo credit: Mandy_Jansen
Tire Service Center
The prices at Costco are very competitive and they sell good brands such as Michelin, BF Goodrich, etc. As stated previously, from time to time, the store offers coupon when purchasing a set of 4 tires. Â What I like about buying tires at Costco is the excellent warranty and free services that comes along with it such as tire rotation, wheel balancing, and flat-tire fixing. Fixing a flat tire would have cost me $7-$15 if done outside. In addition, one of the key to prolonging your tireâ€™s life is if you do the recommended tire rotation and wheel alignment. Although they do not perform wheel alignment, they can do the wheel balancing and rotation for free while you shop at the store.
Photo credit: Retailbyryan95
Discounts on Gift Cards
These discounted gift cards are not just for gift. You can also use them for personal use. For example, if you are going to the restaurant anyway, why not take advantage of the discounts for personal dining. As an example, during Motherâ€™s day, we decided to treat my mom at Lucilleâ€™s BBQ. At that time, it occurred to me that Costco sells Lucilles gift card worth $100 for just $79.99 â€“ thatâ€™s a 20% discount. What we did is we stopped by at Costco first and bought $300 worth of gift cards. You see, we were going to eat at Lucilleâ€™s anyways even without the gift card but having one worked out pretty well for us. Other restaurantsand/or stores that offer the discounted gift cards at Costco in our area are Elephant Bar, Seeâ€™s Candy, Starbucks, California Pizza Kitchen, AMC Theatre, Edwards, Spa service, etc.
Photo credit: StartedByaMouse
Other Discount Services
Costco also offers discount on various services such as travel, auto shopping, business, investing, insurance and banking. Although we have not utilized these other services, we know that we can avail them when we need them.
What about you, do you have a Costco Membership and what can you tell about your experiences there??