Ask Yourself These 3 Questions Before Joining Costco

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  • Costco offers a host of money-saving opportunities that could lower your grocery bills.
  • Before you spend money on a membership, you'll want to make sure you can really get good use out of it.

Thinking of signing up for Costco? Make sure it's the right move.

As a suburban mom with a family to feed, I happen to be a big 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 basic level, you'll want to make sure you can recoup that sum and come out ahead financially. And so it's a good idea to run through these questions before making that commitment.

1. How often do I throw away food?

If wasting food is something you tend to do a lot, albeit accidentally, then you may want to think twice about joining Costco. The main benefit of shopping at Costco is getting to eke out savings by purchasing groceries and household essentials in bulk. But if you have a tendency to throw out food, then bulk buying may not be the best thing for you.

Of course, there are plenty of non-food items you can get at Costco, so if you think you'll purchase enough of those to make your membership worth it, go for it. Just be careful, though, because Costco can open the door to impulse spending on food, 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 reasonably sized home with multiple closets and a garage with ample shelving. That gives me plenty of room to store things like paper towels. Plus, in addition to my regular fridge, I have a second fridge in my home as well as a deep freezer. That gives me more options for storing perishable food items.

But if you live in cramped quarters and don't have much storage space, a Costco membership may not be right for you. This especially holds true if you're limited to a single small fridge and freezer, or you if you don't have much closet or storage space. After all, you don't want to force yourself to stash bulk toilet paper alongside your bed in the absence of having a place to put it.

3. How close is the nearest Costco location?

I happen to have two Costco warehouses within 15 minutes of my home. But if you live in more of a Costco dead zone, you may want to think twice before buying a membership.

If you have to drive 45 minutes to an hour each way to visit Costco, you may not use your membership all that much. Plus, with gas costs being so high these days, you could end up with a large credit card tab if you do decide to shop at Costco frequently -- and that could negate a lot of your savings.

Although I'm a huge fan of Costco, I recognize that it isn't for everyone. And while the $60 annual membership fee may not break the bank per se, you also don't want to throw that money away. As such, it pays to take a little time to think about whether a membership is really worth it for you.

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