Ask yourself these 3 questions before joining Costco

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Thinking of checking into Costco? Make sure it’s the right move.

Key points

  • Costco offers a host of money-saving opportunities that could lower your grocery bills.
  • Before you spend any money on a membership, you’ll want to make sure you can actually take advantage of it.

As a suburban mom with a family to feed, I’m a huge fan of Costco. And I can say with certainty that shopping there saves my family a lot of money.

At the same time, a Costco membership isn’t worth it for everyone. While it only costs $60 a year to join Costco at the entry level, you’ll want to make sure you can recoup that sum and get ahead financially. And that’s why it’s a good idea to explore these questions before you make that commitment.

1. How often do I throw out food?

If wasting food is something you tend to do a lot, albeit accidentally, then you might want to think twice about joining Costco. The main benefit of shopping at Costco is saving scrapes by buying groceries and household essentials in bulk. But if you have a tendency to throw food away, buying in bulk may not be in your best interest.

Of course, there are plenty of non-food items you can get at Costco, so if you think you’ll buy enough to make your membership worthwhile, go for it. Be careful, though, because Costco can open the door to boost food spending, and the last thing you want to do is increase your personal food waste.

2. Is storage an issue for me?

I live in a reasonable sized house with several closets and a garage with ample shelving. That gives me plenty of room to store things like paper towels. In addition to my normal fridge, I have a second fridge in my house and a freezer. That gives me more options for storing perishable foods.

But if you live in tight quarters and don’t have a lot of storage space, a Costco membership may not be right for you. This is especially true if you’re limited to a single small refrigerator and freezer, or if you don’t have much storage or closet space. After all, you don’t want to be forced to store bulk toilet paper by your bed with nowhere to put it.

3. How close is the nearest Costco location?

It turns out that I have two Costco stores within 15 minutes of my house. But if you live in a Costco dead zone, you may want to think twice before purchasing a membership.

If you have to drive 45 minutes to an hour each way to visit Costco, you may not use your membership much. Also, since gas costs are so high these days, you could end up with a huge credit card bill if make decide to shop at Costco often, and that could wipe out a lot of your savings.

Although I am a big fan of Costco, I recognize that it is not for everyone. And while the $60 annual membership fee may not break the bank per se, you don’t want to throw that money away, either. As such, it’s worth taking a little time to think about whether a membership is really worth it for you.

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