December was an eventful month for us with the holidays and all, but luckily we kept our spending in decent order. I am happy to see the number slink a little lower, looking to shrink it more in January. I forecasted already through the end of January and we’re down almost $1,000 from this past month.
We did splurge at Costco once again in December, which led me to believe we’d be better off without that membership. I have been thinking about not renewing for months now, and I finally decided it wasn’t worth it for us; right now.
Over the course of 2017, we spent around $2,708 at Costco. That was above our regular food shopping budget and pretty much railed our food budget every month.
For what we bought with all that cash, I can’t even really tell you. I know some of it was clothes, dog food, garage lights, and lots of food that some of is still sitting in my cabinets. I like the leggings I bought, but I probably could have found them elsewhere online.
While many touted the advantages of a Costco membership for years to me, I was skeptical after coming off of having a BJs membership the single years after each child was born. I was never thrilled with bulk buying, and I always bought more than we’d want or could consume.
I still have Madras Lentils from last spring I bought at Costco, and just used up frozen butternut squash from probably our first shopping trip last December.
Plus, I got roped in mid-year to the Executive membership to save a whopping 2% on purchases. I didn’t find I used the membership to save on travel, car tires, or anything else major. Instead, their prices were higher for most things, or the reviews for travel service weren’t ideal vs. booking directly.
For tires, I went with my local Pep Boys, which was far less expensive for a great set for my Rav4, and comes with lifetime rotations. For travel, we booked a trip directly through a cruise line (more on that soon), because we knew we’d get better service vs. the Costco gift card we’d get in “savings.”
I debated sticking with the membership for the new $60 fee, but I feel too tempted to spend, spend, spend at Costco based on paying a membership fee. Even if their prices are “the best” and they had the top stuff, we always overspent which is a huge problem when you’re trying to pay off debt or reach other financial goals.
Our local Wegmans is pretty comparable, or even beats Costco, on our regular food purchases. Plus, we shop on occasion at Walmart and their food prices sometimes beat Wegmans. With so many local options, the lure of Costco isn’t as good for us as compared to those who may only have a few stores nearby to choose from.
Verdict: I decided we’ll go without a membership and possibly have a friend get us a gift card there if we need to make a trip there at some point. I can bet, we’ll probably not miss it and I don’t anticipate needing a gift card to splurge there anytime soon.
Some things I will not miss are:
- Buying bulk frozen vegetables that we tire of too quickly (see butternut squash above and year old green beans)
- Impulse shopping in-store and online because 2% you know
- Large quantities of fresh produce that eventually go bad no matter how much I gorge on them
- Standing in the vacuum section for 30 minutes every time we take the kids
- Spending date nights going to Costco, so we can avoid vacuum demos a la Monkey
- Overbuying just about everything and not for that much better of a price
- Going over budget every month and squeezing out extra from savings to cover the impulse buys we didn’t really need nor felt like returning
What I will miss:
- Having somewhere warm to walk around on a date night after we eat
- Excitement and prospect of consuming so many fresh vegetables or fruit; I can convince myself I’m healthy!
- Impulse shopping for fun things and assuming the best price because everyone tells me Costco has it (truth: they don’t)
- Cheaper dog food (but I plan to shop around again for a new brand)
- Frozen GF pizzas (but I found I like my homemade better, just takes up more time)
Actually, I don’t think I’ll miss that much.
We definitely liked a few of the Kirkland products, but they are rather comparably priced to Wegmans brand on a unit cost level. I also find that the large quantities of just about everything is still too much for our family to use them up in a decent amount of time.
Maybe when the boys get older we’ll need to bulk shop, but most of the touted items to go to Costco for, we either make ourselves (i.e. laundry detergent) or can find at a place for a similar or cheaper price sans membership (Walmart is a good competitor on many items).
Oftentimes, I read or see videos saying toilet paper, paper towels, detergents, or processed foods are the best buys at Costco. I’ve found better prices at Wegmans, Stop n’ Shop or Walmart by just looking for sales or the regular price is comparable. Plus, we try to limit processed foods where we can, and the meat prices are no better than Wegmans and mostly more expensive. Stop n’ Shop takes the cake for meat prices when they go on sale, I just hate dealing with their store.
In the end, I missed going to Wegmans every Friday night with Monkey when we’d make that trip to Costco instead. We have so much more fun with Wegmans, using their food shopping app to make our list, and Monkey crossing it off and finding the items.
Costco was just a jumble of being all over the place on our way back to the busy check-out line and it was always stressful and busy no matter when we went.
Plus, after I listened to the podcast The Anti-Store on how Costco is built to make you spend more, I got a little frustrated because I totally bought into it and was overspending. Great for the founders to really make it work, but it just isn’t for me. I like food shopping weekly and get enjoyment out of meal planning with fresh foods and not stocking up.
After all that let’s see how December shook out:
|Item||Amount||Frugal Mom$ter Musings|
|Food||$1,040.20||Over $300 was at Costco, which encouraged me to let our membership expire at the end of the month.|
|Gifts||$174.46||Chris shopped for the boys the week before Christmas.|
|Household||$131.19||A trip to IKEA! A few fake plants, a new light fixture, and pillows with new cases for the living room.|
|Leisure||$176.24||I signed up for a spring race, and Chris picked up a new router of sorts to up our internet capabilities in the office (our old one was running at a small fraction of what we were paying for!)|
|Mortgage||$2,039.56||Regular payment plus a little extra.|
|Pets||$106.77||Kong toys and a few bags of dog food before I let our Costco membership expire.|
|Total Spent||$4,058.50||Not too shabby for the month. I’m proud we kept down our household projects for once!|
Wondering why some bills may be missing from this report?
The September 2016 Expense Report will answer your questions.