I probably shouldn’t have a post related to Costco without first talking about, well, Costco! The benefits of shopping at Costco have been well documented by people very good at being frugal HERE and HERE, and you can find a nice guide/some Costco hacks HERE. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a Costco expert, but here’s what I know. Overall, it’s a great place to buy groceries. However, it’s also a great place to spend $200 on I’m-not-sure-what-I-just-bought. So you have to shop with a sharp mind and/or go in with a purpose. Occasionally, relatively non-perishable things go on sale, like the huge box of Clif bars below or other tasty snacks that can be used to stock your emergency food box at work. Don’t have one of those? Well get on it! What do you do if you get hungry?! So when an item I like to eat goes on sale, I stock up. Otherwise I buy just what I need to survive snack time until something goes on sale again. It’s also a great place to buy meat and poultry for cheap. In particular, inexpensive cuts like pork shoulder and even brisket (USDA prime, no less!) are very cheap at Costco. If you know how to cook these foods well1We’ll do a post about this sometime, you’ll eat like royalty for less than $2 a meal. You’ll also find some good deals on produce there, but if you don’t have a family you might want to split perishable foods with a willing roommate! Things like salt, pepper, and commonly used spices are also quite cheap. Just make sure you don’t buy stuff you’ll never finish.
Common objections to shopping at Costco
- I don’t have space. I share an apartment with two other guys. I’m here to tell you that if you have 1/3 of a fridge and a couple shelves in the kitchen/pantry you have space. Additionally, unopened boxes of granola bars/cereal/whatever don’t have to be stored in the kitchen when they’re not in active use.
- I don’t want to pay the membership fee. The fee is currently $60/year. If you shop at Costco even semi-regularly you will save that much. Additionally, you can get the Costco credit card for the same fee which will give you 4% cash back on gas2Which you should buy at Costco, because it’s way cheaper there! (among other benefits trumped by other credit cards) too. That alone could cover the fee if you’re really bad at not driving.
- I don’t live near a Costco. This is really the only legitimate objection. If there’s a Costco somewhere you go anyway every once in a while, you can just combine Costco runs with other planned trips (which is exactly what Mr. Money Mustache does). Otherwise, remember that you’re paying over 50 cents a mile every time you drive there, so depending on how far away it is this could easily tip the balance.
The Huge Sale
Ok, that was way too much stuff about things that aren’t really the point of this post. So what about that sale?! In a previous post I talked about the Chase Trifecta, the most lucrative combo of credit cards available. The trifecta includes these Chase cards: Sapphire Reserve, Freedom Unlimited, and Freedom. The Chase Freedom is a no-fee card that has rotating 5% categories each quarter. For the last three months of this year, the category is Department Stores including Costco! And it gets even better. When you pair this card with the Sapphire Reserve, you can convert that cash back to points that are worth at least 1.5x as much, which means that that 5% effectively becomes >7.5% back. Pretty sweet deal considering you’re already getting a good deal by just shopping at Costco!
What if I don’t have the card?
Lucky for you, there’s a solution to this problem: get the card! People often say things like, “oh wow, that sounds really great” when I tell them about this, and then just go on missing out on a bunch of free money. But applying for a credit card takes two minutes, and you’ll probably make way more money in those two minutes than you do in two minutes at your day job! Another thing people like to say is something like this: “Three credit cards! That sounds like a lot of work.” It’s literally the same amount of work as one credit card. You log into your Chase account and instead of seeing one card there, you see three. You can toggle between them with the click of a button. Of course, you want to follow all the rules of credit cards like don’t get all three at once and have to overspend to reach the sign up bonus, don’t use your card as an excuse to spend money you don’t need to spend, don’t go into credit card debt absolutely no matter what ever ever ever, etc.
And if you want to support this blog, reach out to Joe and I and we can refer you. Happy Costco shopping!