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If My Mortgage Doesn’t Kill Me, Costco Will…

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I scrimp, I save, I budget but there are two things that can empty my bank account in three seconds flat:

My mortgage and Costco Wholesale.

I suffered an attack from both yesterday.

My mortgage cleared my account in the morning and even though I’m prepared, even though it’s budgeted, it’s always a little disheartening to feel rich one day and broke the next. It’s like watching a car full of cash leave my checking account each month.

For some reason, I thought yesterday might also be a good time to go to Costco. We ran out of paper towels and we would soon need napkins and toilet paper. This trip SHOULD have cost $45.

I tried to make a straight line down the center of the store, directly to the paper products (conveniently placed in the BACK) but found myself saying, ‘Peaches? OF COURSE I need a huge flat of peaches. Sure, it’s only hubby and me and we’ll have to eat 17 peaches each in the next 5 days, but I CAN’T live without them.’

It’s as if all logical thought and reasoning disappear at those roll-up doors.

I loaded the cart with apples, pre-cooked dinners, dog food, and paper products. My exit cost me…
$191.

I’m tricked into thinking I’m ‘saving money’ by purchasing toilet paper 92 rolls at a time but those rolls are typically accompanied by loads of items I don’t need.

It’s not as if anything I purchased will go to waste, but it will take 10 years for us to use it all. Fortunately, my husband worked a side job a few weekends ago and we had the cash, but that’s $191 that won’t be going into our emergency fund this month.

I think I’m going to have to break up with Costco.

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16 Comments

  • Reply Money Beagle |

    We make a list when we go into Costco. I’m not going to lie and say that we never go outside of that list, but it does happen. We also have a budget of what gets allocated every month to Costco, and I keep a running total of what’s being spent as we shop. If we look like we’re going ‘over’ we know that this has to then come out of our everyday spending and we’ll talk about whether we need everything or whether we can put anything back. So far that has allowed us flexibility in how we do our trips, but it’s also kept us from the out-of-control spending sprees that you described which Costco seems to bring out.

  • Reply RB |

    I love Costco, but I agree that you can save yourself to oblivion. My rule is I never shop there without a list, a budget, and an accountability partner. We save enough money in cheese alone to justify the membership fee. They have the best meat in town. We also tend to eat a “raw food” type of diet, so a flat of peaches goes fast. (Refrigerate half and they will last longer.) BUT we also know where bulk is not necessarily better and buy certain things in smaller quantity at Walmart.

  • Reply sb |

    My enemies are target and walmart.

    I think all stores should have a ‘buy online and pickup at the stores option like ‘ Lowe’s has. It would be perfect for me to look up target.com, pick only what I need and have it ready for me to pickup and pay for at the store.

  • Reply Claire in CA, USA |

    We broke up with Costco long ago. I like the idea the Money Beagle has of having a Costco budget; it just didn’t work for us. The other thing is, two of us are vegetarian now, and we buy almost all organic fruits and veggies due to my daughter’s health problems.

  • Reply In Debt |

    Never did Costco, although I have had a Sam’s Club membership (through my work) for years. I can’t even tell you how long it’s been since I walked through those doors. At least 5 years or more. I like buying in bulk….but only when I can pair a sale with a coupon — even better at a store that doubles my coupons. You’ll come out ahead every time and all those extras at $20 an item won’t sneak their way into your cart.

  • Reply Megan |

    Oh gah, we had a serious case of CostCo fever there for awhile. I’m a real sucker for the huge cartons of berries they always have in the summer, even though we’re scarfing them down at practically every meal to finish them before they go bad. But it’s awfully tough to beat their deals on yeast, dry beans, and toiletries.

  • Reply Jocelyn |

    Yup.. Costco is evil.. happens to me each and every time.

    Came across your blog, browsing other PF blogs. Great to see so many people making progress and in similar situations.

  • Reply JD & PennySaved |

    My wife and I call Costco the $100 store – we can’t seem to leave without spending at least $100, and sometimes more. To curb our spending we too take a list, and we try to only go monthly. We also have a good idea of our budget in case we “must” get something and we check to make sure we have money somewhere to use to pay for it.

  • Reply Newlyweds Budget |

    I broke up with Costco earlier this month. It would cost me $50 to renew my membership, and the last time I was in there was to buy Christmas presents. And for the same reason, I always end up buying jeans, or shirts , or something I don’t need just because it’s a good price! Luckily, if I really REALLY need something, my parents have costco membership–like they just bought me a beach umbrella.

  • Reply Sarah |

    My parents do our Costco shopping (tp, paper towels, kleenex and batteries, mostly). Saves us a ton of money if we don’t walk in the store. I keep my membership as I order my photos from there and have them shipped to my house. We probably also go a few times a year on our own when we have to buy a large amount of something for a lunch at school, etc.

    Since you just had the baby, maybe ask a family member to go for you and give them a list. Will save you money!

  • Reply emmi |

    Buddy system? Someone along whose job is to yell at you and you at them if you step out of line.

    I’ve only used it for shopping once or twice, but it is considered the best way to survive a dangerous environment where you are your own worst enemy.

  • Reply Jeff |

    I have a sam’s membership…same difference as costco. I found that paper towels and toilet paper are not cheaper there when you break it down to the price per unit. You can actually buy it cheaper at like a Kroger or store similar. Plus Kroger will allow you to use coupons where Sam’s wont. I go to Sams for meats, diapers , and drinks (bottle water, powerade) but that is really about all i go there for.

  • Reply Janelle |

    I love Costco. Best to stay away anything convenient. I do buy shredded cheese though, and on occasion we’ll buy one frozen meal but that is it. We have a large family though, so my tp will only get me through 3 to 4 weeks. Its much cheaper there. I buy almost all of my produce from Costco unless a store has a loss leader that week. I can go through 3 bags of grapefruit in 1 week! Love that store – buy yeah, shop with a list and know your limit!

  • Reply HS @ Our Debt Blog |

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that struggles with spending like that, we went to Target last night, had budget of 50 but came out spending 70! ugh!

    HS

  • Reply Neal Stewart |

    Proud to say I have never been inside a Costco. However, at Kroger where I shop (and work) prices are also ridiculous. Just laundry detergent drives me crazy. The smallest container costs like 7 bucks. Its awful.

  • Reply Cherry |

    Yes, the place is evil… Even if you are just buying for two people, you need all the TP, bathroom cleaner, deodorant, etc. since you rationalize that it is cheaper. Well, they are indeed cheaper, eg. The secret clinical strength cost for 3 is the same amount you pay for 1 at a drug store. And how can you resist the praline cookies, truffles, brownies, Belgian cookies and biscotti that are of great quality and cost a fraction of the price? Please do not get me started on the cheeses….yum. We usually pay a lot of money just for the cheese, but it is way cheaper that going to the whole foods store. I struggle like everyone else, but still go since they have better quality and price.

So, what do you think ?