No doubt, food is one of the biggest expenses in college. One great way to save on food (and booze): buy in bulk. The answer: Costco.
When looking to sign up at Costco, there are two membership options for individuals:
1. Gold Star Membership: standard, $55.00/year
2. Executive Membership: advanced deals and 2% back annually, $110.00/year
So which one to pick?
Gold Star Membership: Perfect for once a month shoppers. The $55.00 fee is reasonable, and, on average, can be made back in savings within 10 visits. Lower initial $$, but not nearly as many good deals (read: savings on booze=not as high).
Executive Membership: Perfect if you’re shopping for the whole crew. The higher fee means you need to spend more to see your return, but you have access to flash sales and executive deals on up to 45% of store merchandise. Which brings us to…
How long does it take to break even?
Here’s some basic math:
Executive Memberships cost $110, Gold Star Memberships are $50. With an Executive Membership, at 2% back on all purchases, you’ll need to spend $2,500 a year to break even. That’s mucho dinero. But, here’s the catch:
If you don’t profit with the Executive Membership, Costco will give you back the difference. Say you only get $20 in rebates. Bring in your rewards check at the end of the year and they’ll give you $30. So there is no risk. This is part of their 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, “We will refund your membership fee in full at any time if you are dissatisfied.”
In addition to the membership cost savings, there are tons of other discounts offered to Executive Members only, including dope grown up things like insurance, small business services, cheaper check printing, real estate services, tires and more. These won’t end up on your rewards rebates but will still save you money. So not only is there no risk, there is super high reward.
So, now that you’re a member…
A few Costco hacks:
Guests: Your mooching roommate didn’t sign up but still wants to come with you. Get him a guest pass for the day and he can hit up those free samples to his heart’s content.
Pay attention to the cents, not the dollars:
Ending in .99 = retailing at full price
Ending in .97 or .69 = special deal determined by the warehouse manager
Ending in .49 or .79 = product is a deal run by the manufacturer, and is usually on a trial basis which is always cheaper in a Costco warehouse than in a retail store
Ending in .00 or .88 = last chance items which have been priced all the way down
Asterisk* = product is discontinued, and has been drastically priced down
Check out these other ways to save serious cash: