Posts Tagged ‘Costco in Australia’

costcoWith the launch of US super-retailer Costco in Australia, thousands of people are joining the revolution, forking out $60 in annual membership to have the privilege to shop super-sized in the no-frills warehouse.  But is it all worth it?  Are there real savings to be had and how does one make best use of one’s membership?

For most people a membership at Costco has the potential to save you money.  Note please the emphasis on the word potential.  This is not guaranteed.  In fact, the amount which you will save, largely depends on a number of factors.

The size of your family and existing spending habits: Larger households, of course, have the potential to maximise ‘savings potential to the greatest extent.  However, even smaller families and couples can make a Costco membership pay for itself, especially if they are organised and/or are prepared to work with another family to share the benefits.

Your commitment to changing the way you currently shop: Most Australians shop weekly for the items they need in small amounts.  We are accustomed to purchasing the things we use daily on a weekly (or fortnightly basis).  Switching to Costco will fundamentally change the way you shop forever.  As a bulk buying warehouse, you purchase items in large sizes or in multipacks.  This means the amount of items you buy weekly will decrease but the size of those individual items will be greater.  Obviously, as you transition across to buying things in bulk you may find you are spending more than your normal average shop, however over time, as you add to your storehouse, this should settle down.

The risk here of course is that you spend the money that you save on other items you wouldn’t normally buy.  On the flip side you’ll be living and eating better as a family.

It is important to be aware that Costco specialises in good brands.  If you are a committed buyer of generic goods, you may find that a Costco membership is not worthwhile.

Your organisation as a householder and a consumer: To really get the most out of your membership it pays to be organised.  Know your prices.  Be prepared to be able to convert prices from the smaller price per unit to account for bulk buying or multipacks.  Don’t even think about going shopping without a list.  It is just too easy to be distracted and come home with a bundle of stuff you don’t need.  Organisation will also give focus to your shop.  You need to be able to evaluate clearly if you really can store 40 rolls of toilet paper.  Furthermore, you need to check expiry dates carefully.  It is no use getting a great buy on 2kg of yoghurt only having to dispose of half of it in 2 weeks!

Organisation is also crucial when it comes to storage.  When you get things home you may need to be prepared to spend an hour breaking products up into smaller amounts for freezing.  Make sure you have lots of freezer or snap-lock bags on hand for this.  You also need to make sure that you have organised you cupboards before you shop to enable you to store all your goodies safely when you get home.

Although I’d love to buy everything I need from Costco this is simply unrealistic.  There are always going to be a few items that I need to get from my local supermarket.  Dried dog food is a great example.  I could buy this in a massive bag from Costco.  Although my tiny Maltese terrier would take over a year to consume this amount and it would probably be stale by the time he did.  To maximise freshness, I also like to purchase smaller amounts of fruit and vegetables locally on an as-needed basis.

Your geographical proximity to a store: To really make the most of your membership, it helps to live reasonably close to the store.  Otherwise your visits will be sporadic and you probably won’t be able to make weekly use of the great offers on fuel.  However, even if you do live a distance away, organised shoppers can still reap the benefits, especially if they are prepared to do a monster shop monthly.  Sometimes it is a matter of thinking outside the box.  I live at least 25 minutes from my local Costco.  It is too far to pop in and make use of the petrol discounts.  However, I make a habit of filling up each time I visit.  Furthermore, my husband works 5 minutes away, so if I am running short of fuel we can swap cars in the morning.


**For more on making the most of your Costco membership, subscribe to this page and stay tuned for my follow-up article “How to prepare for my first Costco shop”.

What tips do you have for getting the most out of your Costco membership?