Is Costco Worth It for One Person?
While most people would instantly assume the answer is “no” for this question, the reality is it depends on a couple of key factors. If you drive a lot and there is a Costco gas station near your house (or along your commute), then the answer is usually, “Yes, a Costco membership is worth it for one person.” You can see if the amount you’ll save on gas will pay for the membership fee with the Costco Gas Calculator.
If you don’t normally purchase gas at Costco, it gets a lot more difficult to justify the $55 membership fee each year. There are exceptions, such as if you run a small business and buy products from Costco to resell, but for the average single person it probably doesn’t make much sense. For those who find that the membership price doesn’t pay for what they buy each year, it’s possible to shop at Costco without a membership which is a valid option for those who only need to buy something at the warehouse a few times a year.
Is Costco Worth It for a Couple?
This is another question with an answer that’s dependant on how the couple shops. For many couples it’s about a break even scenario. If there is a Costco which is close by and convenient to visit, then a Costco membership is likely worth it. If the nearest Costco is miles away and you have to make a special effort to go there, then it’s much less likely that a membership is worth it. Again, your shopping habits will also play a big role in determining whether or not the membership is worth the price. Those couples who have a large house and do a lot of entertaining, including big gatherings at the holidays, are more likely to find the membership worthwhile than couples who live in a smaller apartment and rarely have big gatherings. If you aren’t sure if a Costco membership is worthwhile for you as a couple, the chances are that it probably isn’t (or a break even scenario at best).
Is Costco Worth It for a Family?
While there may be some exceptions, in general, a Costco membership will end up paying for itself if you have a family. The larger the family, the more likely a Costco membership is worth it. Again, distance from the house and convenience in getting there will play a role in determining if it’s actually worthwhile, but because families are able to take advantage of the bulk items Costco sells to a greater degree than one person or a couple, it’s easier for the membership fee to pay for itself for families.
Is Costco Worth It for Groceries?
This is another question that comes up a lot, and it greatly depends on how you grocery shop rather than how big your family is. If you use coupons and shop specifically for items only when they go on sale, then you’ll get a better value from your local grocery store than you will from Costco. If, on the other hand, you don’t shop sales or look for discounts and basically buy what you need when you need it, then you’ll likely get better prices at Costco. The warehouse has good prices on most food items, but it doesn’t have the best prices. Those who take the time to shop grocery store sales can save more money shopping at their local store, but those who buy at normal retail price will do better at Costco most of the time.
One big exception is the Costco bakery department. The Costco bakery items made at their stores are usually a much better value than what you could get at a grocery store bakery. The classic example are the Costco pies. They are twice as big as the ones found in the grocery store and are usually priced less.
If you have never shopped at one of their warehouses, it’s definitely worth the time to check it out. Since they don’t have one-day guest passes, you can do so with a friend who already has a membership or by getting a Costco cash card. Seeing what the stores have to offer will give you a much better idea whether or not Costco would be worth it for you.
(Photo courtesy of David McKelvey)