Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

WOW! Costco Escape Yields Results!

The AMEX bill came today. The bottom line: amazing. Defies belief. The result of staying out of Costco for a month is…well, to coin a phrase, it’s YYYYUUUUUGE!

As you know, the usual monthly budget to support the Funny Farm is around $1200, including just about everything but utilities.  Except for utilities and a few bills paid annually (insurance & taxes) everything goes on AMEX and is paid off at the end of each month. I try to keep the total under $1200 but often fail in that endeavor.

Incredibly, the September bill came in at $759.60.

Holy mackerel! I don’t think I’ve ever had such a low monthly AMEX bill. The only explanation is that I stayed out of Costco (a.k.a. Impulse Buy Hell) except for buying some dog food makings and a bottle of booze.

This, despite going over budget in several areas: The $40 bottle of Maker’s Mark, the cookies for a church potluck, and a box of Parmesan crisps (impulse buy!) exceeded the $150 Costco allotment by $41 after purchases of dog meat and household sundries. I went $55 over budget in regular grocery stores, splurged on clothing and restaurant meals with friends and son, and coughed up $83 for towing and a $25 ding for an Experian report on the Venza.

Jeez. If my car hadn’t crapped out, the September bill would have been around $650: about half the usual AMEX budget!!!

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  1. You are substantiating my thinking that I should NOT get a Costco membership 🙂 My friends all have one, and when I go in to pick up prescriptions (which does not require a membership) – I start getting the feeling that I am missing out on ALL THE DEALS.

    But for a single person, I’m thinking, I’d probably just spend more overall, if I shopped at Costco.

  2. See what I mean by the psychological effect of the place?

    You’re NOT missing out on deals, at least not many. Prices are on a par with most other retailers’ for most products. A few things represent a bargain. The steak is better than meat on offer in most grocery stores for prices slightly less than (non-sale) grocery prices. Electronics are comparably priced, but you get the advantage that you can return devices that don’t work; you can return almost anything. What you REALLY get at Costco is extreme convenience: you can buy almost everything you need, from a cell phone to a pair of jeans with stops at groceries, lawn chairs, hardware, linens, tires, & whatnot in a single trip. It really does cut a lot of time off running around the city in search of all the products you need. And you never, EVER run into a surly, unhappy employee.

    But to avoid buying things you don’t need — just because they’re on offer and may not be there the next time you come in — you need an iron will.

  3. Yep, this is why I don’t regret getting rid of my Costco membership years ago. The large size packaging just doesn’t work out for a single person with limited storage space, and the propensity towards impulse buys is minimized, too.

  4. I had a Costco membership one year, I did not get the benefits I should have gotten from the membership.

    • I imagine it probably depends on how far the store is from you and what blandishments it offers. I save quite a bit on gasoline, and one of the stores that’s not too far off my beaten path sells propane at a significant savings over what other dealers charge. And doing business with their tire department is VERY far cry from Discount Tires.

  5. I for one don’t get the whole “mystique” with Costco…Sam’s Club…. or BJ’s. The ability to buy mayonnaise and mustard in gallon containers is lost on me. Our biggest challenge is to keep food from going bad before we eat it.
    As for the EXCELLENT Amex statement…. Congrats….one could make the argument that the Makers Mark is for “medicinal purposes”….
    I have a similar experience that you have with Costco at our HUGE full service grocery store. I just went there for the first time in 6 weeks to take advantage of some “deals” that resulted in $1.10 a gallon off gas. I shop weekly at Aldi and the price differences between the two is amazing….The longer I can stay away from the full service grocer…the better.

    • Heh…it’s possible I’m overmedicated… I think a little beer could be substituted for that prescription.

      I don’t buy things like mayo and mustard at Costco, but really DO appreciate the lifetime supplies of toilet paper and paper towels — just hate having to run to the store for that stuff every time I turn around. If you use the brands of laundry detergent they sell, it’s also nice to have enough of that to last for two or three months. You can’t lose with their reams (and reams, and reams…) of printer paper. And their wine and hard liquor are priced well below what you’ll pay at a grocery. As for the meat, I cut it into meal-sized portions and end up with enough in the freezer to last for a month, after a single visit.

      A freezer goes a long way toward making a Costco membership pay for itself…

  6. I get my computer paper at Staples pretty much for free after rebates. You might want to check into there “paper deals”….like a pack of 500 ct. for 1 cent…..or 5 pack and 10 pack deals. In addition these folks price match and won’t be beat on printer ink. A 20 pack of toilet from the HUGE grocer for $10 will have to suffice for us….