Costco – Your Personal Finance Pro http://yourpfpro.com Personal Finance for Young Professionals Thu, 18 Jan 2018 17:48:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 31591919 Loophole of the Day: Free Costco Membership For Everyone http://yourpfpro.com/loophole-day-free-costco-membership/ http://yourpfpro.com/loophole-day-free-costco-membership/#comments Fri, 07 Feb 2014 13:45:42 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3478 For regular readers of my blog, you probably know how cheap I am by now.  Any time I have to make a purchase of significant value I make sure to weigh all my options and figure out if I really need that product.  Sometimes I’ll ask myself, will this product improve the quality of my […]

The post Loophole of the Day: Free Costco Membership For Everyone appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
Loophole of the Day: Free Costco Membership For EveryoneFor regular readers of my blog, you probably know how cheap I am by now.  Any time I have to make a purchase of significant value I make sure to weigh all my options and figure out if I really need that product.  Sometimes I’ll ask myself, will this product improve the quality of my life or make me happier?  If the answer is yes then I’ll buy it.  But if the answer is no, I’ll pass and move on with my life.  I’ve even been known to buy a product and not open it for a few days just to get over the initial excitement.  Then I’ll decide if I want to keep the item in question or return it.

One of the things I struggle with on a monthly and yearly basis is membership fees.  For some reason, it really pains me to have to pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee, even for services that I use all the time.  And the one membership I’ve been contemplating lately is my Costco membership.  I know people have mixed opinions on Costco but I usually buy a lot of food related products that just aren’t sold elsewhere(for comparable prices).  My co-workers and I actually used to run a small exact vending machine setup in the break room(we donated the profits to charity) so Costco was great for stocking up on snacks and candy.    My favorites include:

  • Meat and Fish: Costco has an amazing flank steak and their salmon is pretty awesome too.  I also like buying their frozen shrimp because it’s cheap and most of the shell is already peeled off.  Their fresh chickens aren’t bad either and they are very cheap compared to the supermarket.
  • Frozen Foods: My mom used to buy the mini frozen pizza brand from Costco called Sabatasso’s.  I used to live on these things when I was a kid so I always make sure to buy them when I go there now.  My fiancee recently turned me on to some of their frozen pastas too which are very tasty.
  • Bakery: Costco’s muffins and croissants probably aren’t the healthiest items but they taste amazing.

Those are just a few of the staples I buy on my Costco trips.  I’m sure there are things I’m forgetting but as you can see, my list is dominated by food.  I’d rather have all my household supplies like laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, etc delivered via Amazon Prime for free.  That’s much more convenient in my book and if you buy them when they go on sale, you can get them for almost as cheap as at Costco(but minus the lines, traffic, parking, etc).  Definitely worth it in my book.

Free Membership Loophole

This year I actually let my membership expire.  I didn’t think it was worth it to pay the membership fee since I was only going a few times a year.  Last year though, when I was a member, Amex and Costco had a Twitter sync deal that gave me $25 off a $100 purchase on Costco.com.  Since I had 5 Amex cards at the time, I bought 5 cash cards for $100 and instantly saved myself $125 at Costco.  That savings was nice but it’s been a year now and I still have about $250 left on 3 cards but no membership.

The cards have actually just been sitting in my car for a while since I’ve been waiting for someone to take me to Costco so I can spend the money.  A similar Twitter sync deal popped up this year and I wasn’t planning on doing it since I still had cards left over but then I read about the membership loophole.  This is straight from the Costco website:

You must be a Costco member to purchase or reload Costco Cash Cards.  Members and non-members may use the cash cards to shop at any Costco location in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and online at Costco.com or on Costco.ca. Costco Cash balances may be used toward membership or merchandise.

You might have missed it but the key sentence was: “Members and non-members may use the cash cards”.  I’d heard about this trick before but I’d never seen it in writing until now.

In order to buy a cash card, you do need to be a Costco member though.  Costco cash cards can be ordered online or in-store so if you have a friend who’s a member it might be time to ask them for a favor.  Once you get your hands on a cash card you just flash it at the door just like a regular membership card and you’ll be able to shop.  Now not every employee knows about this policy so you might find some resistance here and there but if worst comes to worst, just call a manager over and have them explain the store’s policy to the employee.  If you exhaust the balance on your card, you can pay for the rest of your balance with an Amex card or cash/debit.

I was near a Costco the other day and low on gas so I thought I’d see if I could buy gas using a Costco cash card and it couldn’t have been easier.  All you have to do is swipe your Cash Card at the pump instead of swiping your membership card and you’ll be pumping gas in no time.

Readers, what do you think about the Costco membership loophole?  Do you think it’s wrong to take advantage of it or will you be all over it next year when it comes time to renew your membership?

-Harry @ PF Pro

The post Loophole of the Day: Free Costco Membership For Everyone appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/loophole-day-free-costco-membership/feed/ 4 3478
Where’s the Best Place to Get a Christmas Tree? http://yourpfpro.com/wheres-best-place-get-christmas-tree/ http://yourpfpro.com/wheres-best-place-get-christmas-tree/#comments Fri, 06 Dec 2013 13:45:09 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3446 It’s that time of the year again when we all get to feel pressured into spending lots of money on people we don’t care about and buy a bunch of superfluous gifts.  Ok Christmas time isn’t that bad, but it’s kind of like a nightmare for a lot of personal finance bloggers.  I actually enjoy […]

The post Where’s the Best Place to Get a Christmas Tree? appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
Our 25 Dollar Christmas Tree

Our 22 Dollar Christmas Tree

It’s that time of the year again when we all get to feel pressured into spending lots of money on people we don’t care about and buy a bunch of superfluous gifts.  Ok Christmas time isn’t that bad, but it’s kind of like a nightmare for a lot of personal finance bloggers.  I actually enjoy spending money during the holidays though.  I look at it as an opportunity to deal hunt and try to save as much money as possible on the things ‘I have’ to buy.  That part of Christmas is pretty fun for me.

Cyber Monday was kind of a bust this year and the only thing I ended up buying was a personal water filtration system, you know just in case there’s a zombie apocalypse(I’ve been watching a lot of Walking Dead lately).  But there is one item that I always look forward to buying around this time of year and that is a Christmas tree.  I love coming home to the smell of fresh pine after work and seeing a bunch of presents under my tree.

But just because I enjoy having a nice tree doesn’t mean I’m going to pay top dollar for it.  Here are some of the best options I’ve found when it comes to buying a tree this holiday season.

From a Tree Lot – $$$

You’ve probably started to notice temporary tree lots popping up around your neighborhood lately.  They usually get going just after Thanksgiving and they are often the most convenient option when it comes to buying a tree.  These lots tend to have a pretty decent selection but you can count on paying a nice price premium for that convenience.

Most tree lots charge around $10 per foot, so if you plan on getting a 6-7′ tree, you should expect to pay around $60-$70.  A lot of these local tree lots do offer coupons though so keep an eye out for mailers or flyers around your neighborhood.  Some lots will also offer a discount or a coupon for repeat customers so be sure to ask about that.

From a Christmas Tree Farm – $$$$

I’ve never gone to a Christmas tree farm to get my tree but I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun.  You will probably pay in the $10-$15 range per foot but being able to pick a fresh tree and watch it get cut down is worth the extra cost in my opinion.  I’d probably even make a whole day out of it with my family or friends since it’s not something you get to do every weekend.

Use a site like Yelp in order to find a farm with the best trees and prices in your area.  Typically, these farms are out in the wilderness or mountains so if you live in the city you will probably have to drive a ways to get there.

From a Big Box Retailer: Home Depot, Walmart or Costco – $$

Ever since I discovered that Home Depot sells Christmas trees I’ve been a loyal Christmas tree customer of theirs.  Keep in mind though that buying a tree here won’t be as convenient or easy as a tree lot, you’re going to have to work a little for your tree.  The trees are all wrapped up so you have to unfurl them yourself, I usually bring a box cutter or borrow one from an employee.  When I went the other night, the Home Depot staff was out helping people load the trees onto the roofs of their cars but I’m not sure if every big box retailer will do that.  I ended up buying a 5-6′ Douglas Fir for only $22.  They also had 5-6′ Noble Firs for $35 if you prefer that style.

Home Improvement stores and mega retailers might not be your first thought when it comes to buying a Christmas tree but they always have the best prices.  If you want to save even more money there are lots of promotions this time of year that you can try and use.  Lowe’s, Costco and Walmart are all having AMEX Sync deals right now so you could easily save an additional 10-20% on your purchase.

And don’t forget about the 10% off Lowe’s home mover coupons.  They can usually be found in USPS change of address packets or you can buy them on eBay for about a buck a piece.  Most Home Depots will match this coupon too so you don’t have to shop at Lowe’s with the coupon if you don’t want to.

Go For an Artificial Christmas Tree – $ to $$$$

The last option and the lamest in my opinion is to get an artificial tree.  These trees will run anywhere from $100 to $1,000 if you get a really nice one.  But you can also find some good bargains on Craigslist for artificial trees.  I think having an artificial tree kind of defeats the whole purpose of Christmas but if you have allergies or tree-hungry pets you might not have a choice.

Readers, where do you like to get your Christmas tree every year?  Do you know of a cheaper option than going to a big retailer like Home Depot or Walmart?

-Harry @ PF Pro

The post Where’s the Best Place to Get a Christmas Tree? appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/wheres-best-place-get-christmas-tree/feed/ 13 3446
Does Paying For Memberships Motivate You to Use Them? http://yourpfpro.com/paying-memberships-motivate-use/ http://yourpfpro.com/paying-memberships-motivate-use/#comments Thu, 24 Oct 2013 12:45:31 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3063 Ever since I quit my job, I’ve had a ton of time on my hands!  After I’m done with my four hours of work, I usually spend the rest of the day exercising, working out, exploring or meeting up with friends.  When I first started this day job hiatus, I was working out at the […]

The post Does Paying For Memberships Motivate You to Use Them? appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
Does Paying For Memberships Motivate You to Use Them?Ever since I quit my job, I’ve had a ton of time on my hands!  After I’m done with my four hours of work, I usually spend the rest of the day exercising, working out, exploring or meeting up with friends.  When I first started this day job hiatus, I was working out at the gym 2-3 times a week.  But as my time off has progressed, I find myself working out less and less.  I still do yoga once every week or two but I’m talking about the hardcore pumping iron sessions that I do.  Ok well they’re not really that hardcore and I’ve been known to bench press a few sets and go home but you get the point.

I signed up for 24 hour fitness when I was in 10th grade and at the peak of my athletic prowess.  I was looking to maximize my volleyball skills and I figured working out a little bit wouldn’t hurt with the ladies either.  I was right on with my first goal but very wrong on the second one.  Anyways, when I signed up, they offered me(and my mom) the option of pre-paying 3 years up front at the regular rate of $25 dollars per month and then only having to pay $99 a year for the rest of my life.

My First Great Investment

At the time, I actually had some money since I started working at the age of 14, but I didn’t really want to spend it on a gym membership.  My mom had done a similar deal with Bally’s when she was younger so she agreed to cover my gym membership.  We pre-paid 3 years and that gave me access to any 24 Hour Fitness Sport in the country as long as I continued to pay $99 a year after 3 years.

Even as a kid, I figured this was kind of a no-brainer.  I’ve always been very active and I knew that I’d need a gym membership for the rest of my life.  I knew I might not use it a ton during college(since I would have a school membership) but after that it would definitely come in handy.  I especially liked the fact that the membership gave you access to any club across the nation so I’d be covered even if I moved around.

In recent years, 24 Hour Fitness has started converting a lot of sports to super sports which require an upgraded membership.  I don’t have access to super sports and I have a suspicion that they’re doing this because they have too many people like me.  It’s just a conspiracy theory but I know how these CEO types think 🙂  Either way, there are still plenty of sports and active clubs around so it hasn’t become a problem just quite yet.

Almost Too Cheap

The monthly membership fee at 24 Hour Fitness these days is $35 a month and they no longer offer the deal that I signed up with.  That’s $320 more per year than I pay and a pretty insane amount when you think about it.  I know there are Costco 2 year memberships that you can buy for a few hundred dollars but even those are more expensive than my membership.

The one major problem that I’ve found with my $8/month membership is that it’s not enough to motivate me to go to the gym sometimes.  Since my fees are so low, I don’t even feel like it’s a waste of money if I don’t use the membership for months at a time.  When I studied abroad in Hungary during college, I bought a 20 use pass to the gym.  The pass was only $30 but by the end of the semester I still had 6 or 7 uses left.  Even though each use was barely over a dollar, I still felt like I had to use the remaining passes otherwise I was leaving money on the table!

With my current gym membership, I pay the $99 once a year and I kind of forget about it.  I think if I had to pay $35/month for my membership it might actually motivate me to go to the gym.  I’m probably averaging 1 gym session a week so each session is only costing me $2.  If I was paying the normal membership rate, it would be costing me close to $9 per visit.  If that were the case, I think I’d be highly motivated to get a really good workout in or go to the gym multiple times in order to bring my per session cost down to something more reasonable.

It’s kind of funny to think that a gym membership can be too inexpensive but I feel like that’s exactly what’s going on here.  I’ve been tempted to pay for a crossfit type class or boot camp that costs $100/month just to see if the money motivates me to work out more.  I think it will.

Readers, do you think I’m crazy for wanting to spend more money per month on my gym membership or should I find other ways to motivate myself?  How much do you guys pay for your gym membership?  I can’t imagine having to pay $30-$40 per month after paying $8/month for so long.  

-Harry @ PF Pro

The post Does Paying For Memberships Motivate You to Use Them? appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/paying-memberships-motivate-use/feed/ 9 3063
5 Ways to Make Buying in Bulk Work For Regular People http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-to-make-buying-in-bulk-work-for-regular-people/ http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-to-make-buying-in-bulk-work-for-regular-people/#comments Mon, 15 Apr 2013 01:18:06 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=2086 The following article is a guest post.  If interested in submitting a guest post, please read my guest posting policy and then contact me. Buying items in bulk is almost always less expensive per unit than buying a single item. But a great deal in bulk is only a great deal if you eventually save money and spend […]

The post 5 Ways to Make Buying in Bulk Work For Regular People appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
5_Ways_to_Make_Buying_in_Bulk_Work_For_Regular_People

The following article is a guest post.  If interested in submitting a guest post, please read my guest posting policy and then contact me.

Buying items in bulk is almost always less expensive per unit than buying a single item. But a great deal in bulk is only a great deal if you eventually save money and spend less. Think of it as a long-term project instead of instant gratification. Here are 5 ways to make buying in bulk work for you.

1. Buy What You Need

When you’re spending more money on things you don’t need, you’re not really saving money. The problem is that some things are items you only need one at a time. The trick is to buy things you’ll eventually use. Things like bath tissue, household cleaning supplies and pens and pencils will eventually be used. If you’re buying a large amount of products for the same price or slightly higher than you’d pay for a single item, it’s probably not worth your trouble. Also be sure to avoid things that look cool but have no place in your home.

2. Share the Load

Buying birthday party supplies or paper products is a good example of something you might not need a lot of often, but still use with regularity. Try sharing the load with friends or family. Maybe you don’t need 72 paper plates that say “happy birthday” on them and 72 cups to match. When split in half, that’s 36 apiece though. It’s manageable for one or two parties a year. Grab a friend and put your heads together. Make a list of what you both need, then split the cost in half. You’ll both have what you need and spend less doing it.

3. Organize Storage Space

One reason why most people don’t buy in bulk is because they’re spending a little more money up front, so they feel like they’re not really saving money. The reality is though that you won’t have to buy it again for weeks or months and the unit price will be substantially less. So what are you supposed to do with the extras until you need them? Get organized. Set up some shelves or cabinets in a place that’s out of the way; perhaps the basement or the attic. Be conscious of your inventory and use it before you buy more.

4. Use Special Offers

Look for specials and shipping discounts. If you’re serious about saving money, do your homework and take advantage of special offers. They’re out there. Some stores offer a free ship-to-store feature or contests and giveaways for shoppers who sign up for their value clubs.

5. It’s Not As Big As You Think

When most people think of bulk products, they think of giant cartons of hundreds of products. Not everything comes in giant cartons so look at the packaging or order information. There may be a unit price with a minimum quantity involved that suits you. Do the math and see if it fits your needs.  For help compiling an efficient list, it might be best to consult with someone who has a masters in project management.

Buying in bulk might take a little more effort, but when you shop wisely and plan ahead, it can cut down on your shopping budget. Only you can determine what works best for your household so be selective.

Nikki is an independent writer for DollarTree.com. Dollar Tree offers great deals on office supplies, party supplies and more.

The post 5 Ways to Make Buying in Bulk Work For Regular People appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-to-make-buying-in-bulk-work-for-regular-people/feed/ 10 2086