Tuesday, July 23

6 Reasons to Shop at Aldi, NOT Costco

Which one do you like more: Costco or Aldi?

OK, here’s a thing about me: I don’t really like shopping at Costco. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t hate Costco. I just don’t consider myself a fan of the store. This may sound like a taboo in personal finance circles, especially when it comes to money experts like Clark Howard, who always recommend Costco for shopping.

In fact, I’ve been familiar with Clark’s beloved warehouse club for a while, as he takes his entire team on a Costco shopping trip as a Christmas gift each year. I’ve actually been on the team, and this tradition seems to have been around for a long time.

Obviously, beggars can’t be choosers, so, each December, I fill my Costco cart with things that Clark is gracious enough to pay for. Yet there’s one thing you won’t find in my cart: a Costco membership for myself.

Before you pelt tomatoes at me, let me explain why I can’t even see fit to spend the money Clark gives up during the Christmas shopping spree to get a membership for myself or my family. Keep reading to see if you agree or disagree with what I have to say about Costco!

Photo by monticello from Shutterstock

Why I’m Not a Fan of Costco

Instead of doing groceries at “stores with concrete floors,” I go to the super-cheap grocery store Aldi. This doesn’t mean that I don’t buy anything from Costco, but rather that I prefer spending the bulk of my grocery dollars somewhere else. When Aldi’s somewhat limited selection doesn’t have what I need, I get the rest from a traditional, high-priced grocery store.

Some people claim that Costco is good for families, but not so good for individuals. But even I know that’s not actually true. Here’s why I think this: I have a neighbor who’s in his retirement years and lives alone. He shops at Costco regularly and swears by it.

He says the membership helps him save so much money through the cash-back deal that it pays for itself. (We’ll talk about it later.) Meanwhile, here are several reasons why I choose to skip Costco and shop at my local Aldi instead.

1. I Don’t Want To Pay To Shop

As of June 2017, you have to pay $60 for the basic membership (there’s also an executive membership that costs $120). The price was bumped up from $55 for a standard membership, while the price for the executive one was raised from $110.

The latter gives you 2% back on most purchases, which somehow is good, but the price is still high.

Whether it’s a $60 or $120 membership, I’m just philosophically opposed to using my money so I can shop somewhere. Sorry, but for me, it’s some kind of nonsense. I’m already spending money (a lot, actually), and you want to ask for more just to get in the door? Well, I don’t think so.

Not to mention that everything got super expensive these days, so I’m already spending a lot of money on food and other household stuff. I used to spend so much more, but since I’ve read this book, I can say I’ve learned some tricks on how to save money while grocery shopping.

2. Bulk Buying Is an Option at Aldi Too

Everyone knows that Costco means bulk buying. However, if you do your groceries at Aldi, you may know something about its low-budget approach to inventory management. In other words, employees just tear open the boxes and place the products out on the shelf, often leaving the goods right in the boxes.

This type of shelf-stocking allows you to easily grab a box—say, a dozen containers of coconut water or 12 pints of blueberries —and just toss it into your cart. You can also place a bulk order for products by heading to your local Aldi store and seeking help from a store employee. Just remember that bulk orders may take up to 5 business days to arrive. This means you should place your order in advance.

Photo by Daria Nipot from Shutterstock

3. I’d Rather Do a Treasure Hunt at Aldi

Both Aldi and Costco strive to bring interesting and new merchandise into their stores to keep their regular customers engaged and interested. Yet, I like more the idea of “limited-time finds” that you can find at Aldi. Basically, the store is constantly rotating its product line, so each week you go shopping, you’ll find plenty of other interesting things to buy and try.

For instance, two weeks ago, I found pleated window shades at Aldi for just $3.99. They are easy to assemble; just peel and stick, and there’s also a cord. According to the information found on the package, the shades will block out 99% of light, so I’m excited to see whether I can save my AC costs with a $4 Aldi purchase!

4. It’s Easier To Park at Aldi

This is definitely a biggie for me. If the weekdays are pretty hectic and you have to do this and that, you probably only have the weekends for shopping. Well, my life is such that grocery shopping at off-hours when Costco isn’t crowded (read: on weekdays) isn’t really an option for me. Those who feel the same will understand this.

In other words, if I were a Costco member, I’d have to struggle to find a parking space at one of the warehouse locations on a Saturday and still have to park a mile away from the entrance. No, thank you!

Instead, I’ll just go to my local Aldi, which has supercenter-sized parking. There are always more empty spaces than you’ll ever need.

5. The Pricing Is Better at Aldi

This one is a bit controversial. I didn’t know exactly which of the two stores offered better deals until I made a price comparison. That’s how I found that Aldi tends to have lower prices for 10 of the 19 products I looked at.

This is because Aldi has fine-tuned a business model that slashes the huge overhead costs that come with large inventories, large advertising budgets, large store buildings, and large staffs.

Make sure you look after their low price tags too. If something is on sale or clearance that week, they use a special sign to highlight the prices. That’s when you’re in for a big treat!

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that prices may vary based on the state in which you live.

grocery shopping
Photo by Prostock-studio from Shutterstock

6. Smaller Stores Mean Quicker Shopping

Again, here’s my personal opinion. I don’t really like doing grocery shopping in a big store where I have to walk around a lot trying to find the products I need. Not only is it exhausting, but it’s also nerve-wracking.

So I actually love being able to have only four or five aisles to walk through, which is the case for Aldi. Now I’m here grabbing the toilet paper, and within two minutes I have the pasta shelves right in front of me. It definitely beats the labyrinth that is the Costco floor plan.

Yet, I’m aware that some people prefer big stores where they can find more brands of the same product. But if you don’t have the time to wander around a hypermarket, you probably choose stores like Aldi.

Final Thoughts

All things considered, my decision to choose Aldi over Costco is a highly personal one. This doesn’t mean that Costco cannot work for you. It sure can do that and help you save more money than Aldi. If this works for you, keep doing what you’re doing! However, I’d encourage you to give Aldi a shot. At least one.

You may also want to read 8 Smart Ways to Save Money at the Grocery Store.

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