Thursday, 22 May 2014

Too Small to be a member of Costco? Here are 3 ways you can make it work

Recently I posted 5 reasons you may want to reconsider joining Costco.  Most of the reasons actually involved you not getting value for your $60 membership because you were too small or did not have enough space to buy the bulk items.  This post suggests 3 ways that you can 'get around' these limitations and make shopping at Costco worth your while.

1. Tag along with someone who is a member at Costco

This is the most efficient way because it costs you nothing.  Members at Costco are allowed to take along one guest on their membership card.  The only limitation is that the Costco member has to be the one that pays for the items.  This is not much of a limitation at all if you think about it.  Work out roughly how much your spend is and give the person you go with the cash or transfer them funds after the event.

The benefits of this method is that it involves minimal co-ordination and costs you absolutely nothing.  The downside is that you are still having to buy in bulk...which is really not practical if you live on your own or in a small household.

2. Join with a group of friends and get one Costco membership card

This is much like the tagging along method but you are less likely to feel guilty about mooching off your Costco friend and more likely to be able to use the Costco card whenever you would like to.  So how does it work?  Simply join with a group of friends (who you trust) and pitch in for one membership card.   Splitting the cost among 3 or 4 friends reduces the benefits that you need in order to make the Costco membership more valuable.

The benefits of this method is
that you are more likely to be able to go to Costco when you want and not have to be invited or to wait for another Costco member to want to go.  The downsides are that you can only have one member (or two if they live in the same address) on the same membership card.  So the friend that takes the bullet amongst your group has to be there every single time a trip to Costco is organised.  If you have a friend that loves the place then this could work out for you (or you could organise a lower share to be paid by this person)

3. Join with a group and share the bulk items amongst you

This is my favourite method for small shoppers to be able to benefit from Costco.  What you do is find a group (as in method 2) but make sure that you guys have a similar type of household and tend to buy the same things.  Share the costs and then split the bulk items and the bill so that everyone shares in the costs and benefits of Costco.  You are effectively creating your own little group buying experience - you buy goods in bulk and then repackage themselves into smaller items.  

This is actually not as hard as it sounds.  Most of the 'bulk items' at Costco are just individual items packaged together.  For example instead of 24 rolls of toilet paper the minimum number they have is 3 cases of 24 packaged together.  The same goes for cleaning detergent and bulk packages of snacks.  There are things that truly come in big containers (for example coffee beans and some meats) but depending on how many containers you have (I have a lot) this isn't that hard to get around either.

The benefits of this method is that you are sharing the cost of the membership and effectively get the portion sizes that you want for everything without the cost premium that is normally ascribed to smaller quantities.  The disadvantages are that you have to find a group which is effectively close enough to make sure that there aren't arguments over how to split the bill or the different items that are bought.  It also really helps if you have similar tastes to the people are you are shopping with.

How do you get around the limitations of buying in bulk?  Do you have any other ideas that can help?

You May Also Be Interested In

1 comment:

  1. Hey 90 Mill,

    Agree with #1 and all but especially number 1. For me though I find that I couldn't really use all of the stuff but this then justifies splitting it up..

    I look to get in and out with my shopping at any rate ;).. All about efficiency for me