By: Natasha Etzel |
– First published on May 27, 2023
For some households, investing in a Costco membership is worthwhile. The famous warehouse club sells most of its grocery and household items in bulk, which can result in significant savings for shoppers on a budget. If you’ve never shopped at Costco, you may be surprised at the variety of available products. Some items sold here aren’t sold at other retailers, so make sure you don’t miss out on these winning finds at your local Costco club.1. $1.50 hot dog and soda comboIs there anything better than a satisfying snack after a busy afternoon filling your shopping cart? Costco is well-known for its affordable food court finds. One popular treat that makes for an easy and cheap lunch is Costco’s $1.50 hot dog and soda combo. You won’t find a deal this good at your local grocery store, but you can enjoy this cheap lunch at your local Costco.2. Kirkland Signature organic extra virgin olive oilWhile you can find olive oil at most grocery stores, not all olive oil available is high-quality or sold at a price that won’t drain your checking account. But Costco’s Kirkland Signature organic extra virgin olive oil is a favorite among Costco shoppers. Celebrity chef Samin Nosrat, host of Netflix’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, recommends this essential kitchen staple. You can get a 2-liter bottle at your local Costco for less than $20.3. Pumpkin pieCostco is known for this favorite seasonal find: pumpkin pie. This tasty treat is available in the bakery section beginning in the fall and through the winter holidays. The ready-to-enjoy pie consists of more than three pounds of goodness for $5.99. In a fall 2022 post in the r/Costco subreddit, user ouchmytounge shared a photo of a line going out the door at their local club. The crowd of shoppers were waiting for this fan favorite! You won’t find this exact creation elsewhere, so it’s the perfect item to bring to this year’s Thanksgiving potluck.4. Rotisserie chickenAnother deal that Costco is known for is its rotisserie chicken. The warehouse club sells an entire rotisserie chicken for $4.99. Whether you plan to make chicken salad, shredded chicken tacos, or add the meat to soup for a more hearty, filling meal, this is a great price to pay for an easy meal. Finding a rotisserie chicken this cheap at your local grocery stores will be difficult.5. Kirkland Signature organic pure maple syrupCalling all breakfast lovers! Another Costco favorite you won’t find at other stores is the Kirkland Signature organic pure maple syrup. Whether you’re a fan of brunch, add maple syrup to your morning bowl of oatmeal, or use maple syrup as a sugar substitute, this high-quality, 100% pure maple syrup won’t break your budget. A 33.8-ounce bottle costs less than $15.A warehouse club membership could save you moneyIf you want to reduce your grocery spending, consider investing in a warehouse club membership. Joining a club like Costco may help you stay on budget as you shop. Plus, you can try some of the finds mentioned above. Costco membership prices range from $60 to $120 annually. For additional ways to save money, check out our personal finance resources.
By: Dana George |
– First published on June 10, 2023
I will gladly try almost anything at Costco, at least once. You never know when you’re going to come across a product that’s absolutely perfect for you. However, there is no chance I will ever buy any of the following products at Costco. 1. 72-pound Cheese WheelI like cheese as much as the next person, but good gravy. Who needs a 72-pound wheel of parmigiano reggiano? The bad news? It’s only available through Costco.com.The good news? Shipping and handling are included in the $950 price. At over $13 a pound, it’s not like you’d be saving money. 2. 600 Bottle Classic LX Double Wine CellarI gotta be honest. If any of my wine-loving friends ever decide to spend $5,700 on a wine cooler for their home, I’m going to be the first one to stage an intervention. Unless a person owns a bar or restaurant, I cannot reconcile spending so much money on a single luxury item, designed to make drinking even more pleasurable. Does it look cool with its “VinoView Shelving?” Absolutely. It’s gorgeous. It may, however, be a cry for help.3. 28-pound Bucket of Mac N’ CheeseI recently told a friend that I would be the first to die in an apocalypse. Mainly because I need snacks. I get that people like gearing up for the end of the world, but really, the idea of 240 servings of mac n’ cheese makes me sad.The advertisement promises that this bucket full of carbs has a shelf life of up to 25 years, which immediately made me think it was made specifically for preppers. I stand corrected. Once I saw that there are 204 reviews online, I had to see what folks had to say.My favorite review came from a lady who says she purchased the bucket for her grandson, who was “pleasantly surprised” the day it arrived. But here’s the impressive part: Not only did the reviewer purchase the 240-serving bucket once, but she says she’s purchased it again.I can’t help but be impressed, although I don’t think I’m willing to shell out $120 for a massive bucket of mac n’ cheese anytime soon.4. The Mother’s Casket You know that nervous laughter that bubbles up when you’re supremely uncomfortable? That’s what I experienced the first time I saw The Mother’s Casket. My mind didn’t quite know what to focus on. Let’s face it: The name is both macabre and hysterical. Who thought that was a good idea?And please, even though I won’t ever buy one, allow me to describe this model to you. The first, and possibly most important feature, is that it’s pink with what’s called “a purple coral finish.” There is (of course) a pink velvet interior with the word “Mother” embroidered on the head panel, and an adjustable eternal rest bed. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Mom needs to be able to adjust the head and footrest, but there you have it.Finally, there’s a matching pink pillow and throw. Overall, it’s delightful.I get why people would be attracted to a jazz-hands casket that costs $1,150. Funerals are ridiculously expensive. It’s why so many people hold on to enough life insurance to cover their funeral costs.Although I’d never buy one, I’d love to meet the family who would. They sound like fun.5. Bote Zeppelin 10″ Inflatable KayakMy husband and I once went on a whitewater rafting trip with about eight other couples, some of whom we barely knew. Between that trip and a kayaking experience we had in Puerto Rico a couple of months ago, I’ve learned one thing: Sharing a small water vessel with a partner tends to bring out the “real” you.Two of the couples on that long-ago whitewater rafting trip spent hours bickering — loudly. One couple would fall out of their kayak and be underwater long enough to provide a few moments of blessed quiet, but then the other couple would start picking at each other. Honestly, I just thought they were broken.Then, in Puerto Rico, kayaking in the ocean at night, I realized that I don’t always trust my husband. I’m pretty sure I let him know. The farther we paddled into the dark water, the more “honest” I became about my feelings. In truth, I was fairly certain he was going to get us killed. (I also realized that I’m terrified of manatees, but that’s another story).The idea of taking a $900 inflatable kayak out on any body of water is more than my heart can handle.6. Closeout Sushi TrayI often wonder about sushi here in the Midwest, especially the sushi sold at gas stations. Given the quality of other Costco food products, it’s hard to imagine that its sushi might be awful. But according to the folks on one super entertaining Reddit thread, Costco sushi is not always the greatest.Here are some of my favorite comments from that thread:According to Alternative-Skill167, “It’s like chewing soft plastic dipped in soy sauce.”TheEZG added this opinion, “Just be prepared for the clearance that will occur in your intestines.”And finally, my favorite. It’s from a Redditor with a user name that cannot be printed here. The poster inadvertently compared eating Costco sushi to preparing for a colonoscopy. “Go ahead and get some toilet paper, nausea meds, and Gatorade too.”So, it’s a no on the sushi. In my life, Costco is like a weird cousin. Once in a while he comes out with something that makes you wonder if he’s okay, but most of the time, there’s not a thing about him you’d change.
If you’re a frequent shopper at Sam’s Club, you’ve definitely come across the Member’s Mark brand. From household essentials to office supplies, the brand has a wide range of products that appeal to a broad demographic. However, have you ever wondered about the origins of these Member’s Mark products? Who makes them and where do they come from? Let’s find out.What is Member’s Mark?Member’s Mark is a private label brand exclusive to Sam’s Club, which means its products are sold under its own brand name. The brand has been part of Sam’s Club since 1998 and is known for its quality and value, helping members save money.In 2017, Sam’s Club brought together its 20 proprietary brands under the Member’s Mark umbrella. The brand offers a variety of products, ranging from groceries and household essentials to electronics and furniture.About 20% of all items in Sam’s Club stores are Member’s Mark products. The proprietary brand is designed to provide Sam’s Club members with high-quality items at an affordable price. Purchasing these products can lead to a lower credit card tab, compared to other grocery retailers.Who makes Member’s Mark?Walmart, the parent company of Sam’s Club, is responsible for the manufacture of the Member’s Mark brand. Walmart is a worldwide retailer that generates billions of dollars in revenue every year, and it’s no surprise that it has the capacity to manufacture the products in-house.Some Member’s Mark products are sourced from companies that offer quality products at an excellent value. According to Chandra Holt, Vice President of Private Brands, her team scours the globe in search of these products, like Italian-sourced olive oil that was discovered during Holt’s visit with local olive and tomato farmers.Another gem is the Member’s Mark sangria from Madrid, Spain, and mouth-watering frozen lasagna, traced back to an Italian family recipe, sourced from Chicago.In 2020 Sam’s Club refurbished, revamped, and revolutionized over 1,200 of its products. As a result, an increasing number of members are attributing their membership renewals to the quality and innovation of Member’s Mark offerings.Interestingly, Sam’s Club’s business model is quite different from Costco’s in terms of in-house brands. Costco is known for working with top name brands to produce its Kirkland brand products.In contrast, Sam’s Club doesn’t openly disclose the companies it partners with to produce the Member’s Mark brand. However, there are rumors that suggest that leading manufacturers in the industry make some of the products. Here are some of them:Member’s Mark dog food is made by PurinaMember’s Mark batteries are made by EnergizerMember’s Mark chicken comes from TysonMember’s Mark jeans are made by WranglerMember’s Mark milk comes from Walmart’s Great ValueIf these rumors are accurate, it means that Sam’s Club is working with powerful companies to produce in-house products.Member’s Mark rebrandsIn 2020, Sam’s Club unveiled a new Member’s Mark brand and logo that prioritizes quality and sustainability. Sam’s Club is committed to creating more sustainable products by making Member’s Mark items and its packaging more recyclable, reusable, and compostable.The company is striving to reduce the brand’s impact on the environment by encouraging suppliers to participate in the Project Gigaton™ consortium. This initiative, led by Walmart, aims to eliminate 1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the private sector.Regardless of who makes Member’s Mark, Sam’s Club is focusing on meeting its industry-leading sustainability goals by 2025. Suppliers and vendors have to source the Member’s Mark products responsibly, create inclusive economic opportunities, and prioritize diverse suppliers.Sam’s Club Member’s Mark is a great option for anyone looking for high-quality products at an affordable price. With such a range of products, there’s sure to be something that meets your needs. While Sam’s Club sources its products differently than Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand, Member’s Mark is leading the way with its sustainability initiatives. Sam’s Club is committing to a regenerative mindset by prioritizing nature, humanity, and its members in the development of Member’s Mark products.
By: Maurie Backman |
– First published on June 12, 2023
There’s a joke that it’s really not possible to do a shopping trip at Target without spending a minimum of $100. But that joke isn’t all that funny.Many consumers are pretty cash-strapped these days due to inflation and can’t afford to make extra purchases. But shopping at Target can easily lead to that. So if these signs apply to you, it may be a good idea to steer clear of your local Target store until goods become cheaper or your personal financial circumstances improve.1. You already have debtDuring the first quarter of 2023, U.S. credit card balances rose to $917 billion, according to TransUnion. That’s a 19.2% increase from a year prior.If you owe money on a credit card already, then the last thing you want is to risk adding to that debt. Doing so could really trap you in an unfavorable financial cycle. So if that’s the case, you may want to avoid shopping at Target until you’re debt-free. That way, if you end up falling victim to impulse purchases, they won’t necessarily push you deeper into a hole.2. You always overspend when you shop thereThere’s just something about Target that tempts people to stop exercising self-control. Maybe it’s the store’s cute apparel line or hard-to-resist housewares section. Even the snacks at Target are out-of-this-world delicious.You may not have any debt right now. But if you tend to overspend at Target and you’re trying to save for a specific goal, whether it’s saving for retirement or buying a home, then you’re probably better off avoiding it.3. You have cheaper options for food and essentialsTarget’s prices tend to be competitive, but they’re not always the cheapest. If you’re hunting for non-perishable items, you may find that you can scoop them up at a lower price point at your local dollar store. And when it comes to perishable items, you may find that you can spend a lot less to feed your family at discount grocers like Aldi.Furthermore, if you have a Costco membership, it could pay to do a lot of your food shopping there. You may also want to turn to Costco for household essentials (though to be clear, you should always try to compare prices when you’re buying food or things for your household).When it pays to stay awayIf you love shopping at Target, you’re in good company. But if these signs apply to you, then you may want to stay away, especially if your financial situation isn’t all that great right now. Besides, the longer you steer clear of Target, the more you might appreciate shopping there once your budget opens up and you’re able to scoop up fun items without having to stress over the cost.In fact, one thing you may want to do is give yourself the reward of a Target run for meeting a specific financial goal, like paying off a credit card or getting to a certain balance in your savings account. That might motivate you to hit that goal even sooner.
By: Dana George |
– First published on June 13, 2023
It’s easy to go wild while shopping at Sam’s Club. After all, there are new things to see and buy every time you walk into the warehouse store. And while many purchases are spot-on, some only make sense if you go in with a plan. Here are five things it rarely makes sense to buy at Sam’s Club. 1. Huge containers of anythingIf you’re excited by the idea of purchasing a one-gallon container of mayonnaise, you’re my kind of person. However, it may not be the best idea, particularly if you’re unsure how long it will take to consume a container of mayonnaise as large as a newborn baby.While there are dueling expert opinions on the matter, Dr. Karen Latimer is quoted in EatDelights as saying that a jar of mayonnaise can last for months if left unopened and stored away from sunlight. However, once that jar is opened and refrigerated, you have between two and three months to ensure it’s consumed. And if you accidentally leave it out for eight hours? Prepare to toss it. In short, unless you’re running a school cafeteria, a massive quantity of mayo may not be a good buy. It’s easier to save money on groceries if you’re willing to give up mega-sized products. 2. Fresh produceEvery time I walk into a warehouse store, I rack my brain to figure out who would benefit from purchasing the fresh produce. It’s colorful and looks supremely healthy, but you can’t just pick up two or three tomatoes or apples. So, unless you’re throwing a huge party and need enough avocados to put a bowl of guacamole on every table, or you’re a summer camp director and know the kids will tear through 10 pounds of onions with their burgers, you’ll probably save money by picking up the actual quantity of produce you need at your local farmer’s market or grocery store. Given that an estimated 20% of the food we buy goes to waste, making an extra stop could be worth the money. 3. SunscreenSummer is upon us, and we all know better than to allow our skin to burn in the midday sun. Sunscreen is essential, but unfortunately, it does expire. According to Mayo Clinic, we have 36 months to use sunscreen from the time it’s manufactured. The active ingredients will break down faster if exposed to excessive heat or direct sun. Picking up a three-pack of sunscreen as you browse your local Sam’s Club may seem like you’re saving money.. However, if you still find yourself squeezing sunscreen from one of those bottles three years later, you’re essentially putting lotion on your body and expecting it to protect you from the elements. 4. Vitamins and over-the-counter medicines One of the things that make vitamins and over-the-counter medicines so attractive at Sam’s Club is how much less you have to pay per unit. After all, the less you spend, the more money you’ll have to put away in a savings account, right? It’s not quite that simple.Let’s say you need to pick up Bayer Low Dose Aspirin. At Target, you’ll pay between $0.05 and $0.06 per tablet. But at Sam’s Club, you’ll pay only $0.03 per tablet. In this situation, there’s no doubt that Sam’s offers the best bargain. According to Bayer, aspirin remains 100% effective for up to four years, and you’ll probably use an entire bottle of aspirin in that time. However, it can be tough to determine when other products in the pharmacy department are due to expire. The Food & Drug Administration does not require vitamin manufacturers to put expiration dates on their products. While some manufacturers do so willingly, it’s not something you can count on. For example, if you were to pick up a 400 count bottle of Vitamin C + Zinc 500 mg at Sam’s Club today, you’d pay $0.04 per capsule. Here’s the problem: A Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences study found that 92% of vitamin C supplements lose efficacy after 12 months of storage. But unless you know that in advance, you don’t know if you’re getting an actual bargain. 5. Diapers and toilet paperGoing out of your way to purchase either diapers or toilet paper at Sam’s Club may cost you more than it’s worth. We all use toilet paper. Retailers know that, so they frequently discount toilet paper to lure shoppers into their stores. Chances are, you’ll score a deeper discount by purchasing TP when it’s on sale at your local market. You can compound the savings by using a coupon. The same is true of diapers. Today, the cost of Member’s Mark Newborn Diapers comes out to $0.16 per diaper. At the same time, Target’s Up & Up Newborn Diapers sell for a little less than $0.14 per diaper. It’s not a huge difference, but the savings add up when you consider how many of those things you go through while a child is young. By determining what constitutes a good buy and which products you want to avoid before walking into a Sam’s Club, you can spend less and keep more in your bank account.