Funny about Money

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

Thank You, Costco and Citigroup!

Hot dang! Costco’s move to annoying CitiGroup is going to cut my monthly Costco budget at least in half, and maybe by as much as three-fourths!

Remember how much I guessed I’d have to spend on today’s Costco junket, to pick up meat for the dogs and a few things for myself that I can’t easily find elsewhere? It was ridiculous, as you’ll recall — I guessed that the giant packages of chicken and the pork would each cost about 30 bucks; $15 for the restaurant-sized package of frozen veggies; maybe $10 per package of Campari tomatoes and of Mexican mangoes.

Well. That was all so majorly wrong. Wrong wrong wrong! The chicken came to about $13; seventeen pounds (!!!) of pork, $35.55; the mangoes and the tomatoes, each $4.49.

Now, I did expend the $95 projected for this trip, but only because for the first time since the memory of Fat Lady runneth not to the contrary, the store happened to have a pair of white Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in size 10.

It has literally been years since any of the Costco stores I habituate has had a size 10 pair of Glorias that fit, in white. I know, because every goddamn time I go into one of those stores, I search for them. So, add $14.99: come up with a total, including tax, of $94.23.

Costco Run 7-15-2016

This means the real cost of buying only the food items needed for this trip was about $77.

You realize…that’s about half the $150/month dedicated to Costco in the new budget.

Budget 6-2016 2

And, since the amount budgeted for Costco shopping in the New Regime is itself half the average I found I’ve been spending of late, $77 is a little more than a quarter of the amount I’ve been diddling away in Costco.

Think of that…

A 75% saving on household goods, food, and (monumental) impulse buys, just because Costco switched from AMEX to the dreadful, impossible CitiGroup as vendor for their in-house credit card.

Their loss, my gain.


I must say, I’d forgotten how annoying and stress-inducing it is to have to write a check while standing in line at a cash register. It’s been a long time since I’ve paid for anything with anything other than a credit card or direct bill-pay.

Shopping at Costco is aversive to start with. It’s crowded, the lines are endless, the insulting shoplift check at the door makes you want to bite someone…ugh. That’s exaggerated at the store nearest to me by cultural issues having to do with personal space: for a middle-class white American female, it really isn’t a very comfortable place to shop.  That’s why, whenever I can swing it, I’ll shop Costco in other parts of town. Not that I don’t love my fellow shoppers, but that I really do dislike people climbing up my rear end or parking their carts crosswise across the aisle so I have to turn around, go all the way to the start of the aisle, go all the way down the next aisle, and then come halfway back into the original aisle to get to the merchandise I want to buy.

Sociologically it’s interesting and amusing; time-wise and patience-wise, it ain’t.

So add to that the slight — but significant — extra hassle of having to write a check, and I find myself thinking “no, thanks.”

I’ve paid my Costco membership for this year. We will see if it seems like a $50 fee for the privilege of shopping there is worth paying.

The truth is, the things I can’t easily get anyplace else — a whole package of those wonderful mangoes; massive amounts of chicken, pork, and appropriate veggies suitable for processing into dog food; giant packages of high-quality pecans, walnuts, and pine nuts; lifetime supplies of paper goods; the incredible maple syrup at the incredible price; the smokin’ deal on gasoline; the beloved tire shop; the cheap propane — may not really add up to $50 worth of easy shopping or $50 worth of savings on gas and junk.

At any rate, given the hassle involved in writing checks and the general PITA it is to shop there under the best of conditions, you may be sure I won’t be running into Costco every time the whim strikes: not anymore.

I’m hoping to keep the Costco runs down to one a month, ideally; two at most. And if I only spend about $75 or $80 on each such trip…jeez. Costco’s CitiBank debacle will be my profit, to the tune of about $150 to to $225 a month!

Author: funny

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  1. Good to hear Funny….I have come to a similar conclusion about our FULL SERVICE grocery store. This store is HUGE like a small stadium and I’m told this store is the biggest in the state. BUT we don’t really NEED a huge store….255 kinds of cheese…..two aisles dedicated to organic food….OR the high prices that come with the place. It seems this SERVICE comes at a price….high overhead. My goal is to go to this place about every 4 to 6 weeks. I go to Aldi once a week and spend $30-40. I really don’t understand the mind set with grocery stores and “club stores” for that matter….

  2. I love the new Costco card because it covers my membership. I didn’t bother with the Amex but when I saw this new card and the 4% cash back on gas (unheard of) I opted to get it. I don’t even have to spend that much at Costco as with 2% cash back on everything plus 4% cash back on gas, if I spend $150 a month on my in store shopping plus $50 on gas a month it more than covers the $55 fee. Totally worth it for that alone.

    • Yeah, I have to admit, I WILL miss the $400/year kickback from the Costco AMEX card. But Citigroup could promise to fork over twice that much, and I still wouldn’t do business with them.

      When I say I wouldn’t do business with Citigroup again if they were the last bank on this earth, I’m not kidding. I sincerely hope all the other Costco customers don’t experience the awful customer service (or, we might say, the NON-customer service) that I got from CitiGroup. Maybe the sheer weight of Costco will be enough to make them clean up their act. But if you keep an eye on what customers are saying at the Costco Facebook site, you’ll see it’s going to take a LOT of weight to make that happen…

  3. Yeah… I do like the 255 kinds of cheese, but must admit to buying…oh, maybe three kinds of cheese? The organic food? BFD: Trader Joe’s carries a ton of it, at reasonable prices.

    Around here, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods commonly locate in the same malls. I’ve learned to go to TJ’s first, get what they have on offer, and then (if I feel so inclined) to fill in with special items at WF. That means WF gets a fraction of my commerce — about 3/4 of my grocery shopping goes to Sprouts and TJ’s, with the rest of it split between Safeway, Fry’s, AJ’s, and Whole Foods.

    It is fun to walk around inside one of these swell places, and great for special occasions. But buying day-to-day supplies there doesn’t seem very practical when there are so many other choices.

  4. I think Costco now accepts any Visa card for purchases. If you don’t already have a Visa card you could shop around for the best deals/rate/rewards Visa and use that instead of writing a check. But then maybe you’d spend more? Your check writing plan sounds like it works well for your budget!

    • Yeah, I know they’ll accept any Visa card, and they’ll also accept both my debit cards. But…y’know, I feel I have to carry around ENOUGH pieces of plastic! Many of the wallets residing on the closet’s top shelf no longer will hold it all. In the wallet I’m carrying around right now, EVERY SLOT has two or three cards.

      In addition to which, I don’t want any more credit card accounts. I feel two credit-card accounts and two debit cards are quite enough.

      Every credit card represents a risk. It presents the risk of hacking and fraud; it presents the risk of loss and theft. And every credit card account calls out to you to charge up more than you can afford to pay. Did you know the average American credit-card holder carries a balance of OVER $15,000?

      Imagine: 15 grand charged up on credit cards.

      Well, I _can_ imagine: when I divorced the lawyer, we were ~$10,000 in debt on every card we owned…and those were only the cards I knew about.

      No wonder most people can’t scrounge up $400 to pay an emergency expense.

      We’re talked in to getting all these credit cards. As Americans, we’re persuaded, by those who want to sell us expensive credit, that it’s the norm. But it shouldn’t be the norm!

      LOL! A rant…first thing in the morning! 😀

      Seriously, I’d rather write a check or pay with the debit card than get yet another credit card. That would be true even without the nuisance of having to release the freeze on all the credit bureau cards, wait around till some credit-card issuer gets around to sniffing up my financial butt, and then reinstating the freeze.

      • Yeah, I don’t even carry a credit card in my wallet. Just one debit card. Unless we are traveling, then I do bring one credit card along just in case of an emergency.

        I have pared my wallet down to drivers license, insurance card, debit card and work ID card/fob. I did used to keep every card I owned in my wallet, including all those annoying store cards. I finally got tired of lugging it all and also realized the mess I’d be in if my wallet was ever lost or stolen.

  5. Have you considered cash? I hate to write checks, so near the first of each month I estimate what I will need for those few places I don’t want to use my one and only credit card. I stop in my bank and take out that amount. Also, since almost everything is automatically deposited or paid, I think its good for the bank personnel to see I actually exist!

    • Really, I don’t like to carry cash around. First: paranoia… If I lose my purse or someone steals it, cash is GONE. A credit card can be redeemed with a phone call.

      But second and more to the point: my innate innumeracy makes cash hard to deal with. I understand HOW to count it…I just can’t. Many fewer errors occur when I charge things on a credit card.

      Also, the credit union, which resides on my former employer’s campus, is now WAY off my beaten path, making it inconvenient to withdraw cash when needed. Sometimes I’ll buy groceries with a debit card so as also to get a little walking-around money for such things as the weekly SBA drawing, tips, and the like. But by and large I go the lazy person’s way: charge it.

  6. Right now the Chase Freedom card is offering 5% cashback on Costco purchases. I’ve told DF that we’ll pretty-please be using my Chase card there until Sept. 30.

    The Costco here is crowded but nothing like the ones in Phoenix, I bet. The population base is noticeably smaller in Anchorage.

    • Hmm… I’ll check that out!

      When you live in the Urb, the time to visit a Costco is Tuesday or Wednesday. Sometimes Thursdays are OK, too. Right around dinnertime, after the working stiffs have gotten home and most people are eating — half an hour to an hour before closing time — it’s not very crowded.