One of the oldest ways of getting a cheaper price for anything is to buy in bulk. In today’s hectic lifestyle you can often do this at any of the big supermarkets through a 241 or BOGOF promotion. But if you had the time could shopping at Costco save you money? Or are you only slightly better off?
Use what you buy
If you buy in volume then there’s a greater chance that some of what you buy could end up being wasted or going out of date. While non perishable items can be kept for longer, such as soap or personal care items, any food which has a use by or best before date has a limited shelf life. Figures from Love Food Hate Waste suggest “Wasting this food costs the average household £470 a year, rising to £700 for a family with children, the equivalent of around £60 a month.” So if you’re buying food in large quantities make sure you use it or at least freeze it for later.
Share your membership to cut costs
An annual Costco membership costs around £34 per year (as of Feb 2017) and that includes a spouse/ partner card. So for it to be worth the cost you’ll need to have made savings of at least £34 or more. But if you can share it with a partner or another household then your membership will only cost £17. Membership is open to current and retired employees of certain professions including public services, financial, insurance and education sectors.
Just like any membership scheme – don’t become a sleeping dog
If you sign up to any member programme such as a gym, Netflix or Costco, the only way you can get value is by using it. Although the monthly cost works out at £2.83 a month it soon adds up. The advice here is simple. If you only shop once in a year then the chances are that you won’t get value for money.
They also provide additional services
The motto at Costco is ‘everything under one roof’. Among some of the services offered, you’ll find a tyre fitting centre which offers brands such as Michelin and Bridgestone. In some instances, you can find they cost cheaper here compared to other national tyre fitters and even similar in price to the lower-end brands they offer. It’s always worth calling in advance for a cost and to check they have your size. Their service normally includes balancing and disposal of your old tyres. You can also find an opticians at most stores which provide eye examinations, tests and a range of lenses and styles to suit you.
Extended warranty on goods
A major benefit of the service is the extended warranty included on some high-ticket items. Televisions carry a five-year warranty and other selected electrical equipment comes with a two-year warranty. To give you an idea of what a warranty costs, Currys currently charge up to £129 for a three-year Knowhow care plan on TVs costing less than £500. Make sure you read the conditions and choose wisely, but it’s worth calculation and consideration.
If you have a large family or use a lot of non-perishable items on a regular basis then Costco could save you pounds compared to prices you’d pay at any of the major supermarkets. For events like a party or family gathering it can be easy to justify the membership outlay. If you’re also looking at Christmas or bulk buying birthday presents then it could easily pay for itself here.
Costco’s own brand ‘Kirkland’ products such as clothing and food are of good quality as well. So even if you’re not bulk buying branded goods, you can still save a pound or two.
Where it stops being value for money is when you don’t buy the volume required, waste what you’ve bought or don’t visit enough to cover the £34 membership. And if you don’t need optical treatment, or you can source tyres cheaper elsewhere, then a Costco membership is simply just a luxury which you could potentially do without.
The alternative could be to see if any friends or relatives have a Costco membership and visit with them – try before you buy! This way you can save on the membership costs and also make savings. But if you are thinking of joining, make sure you’re savvy enough to get value.