Do free samples cover Costco membership?
His friends save the cost of a meal every week
"FMF" at Free Money Finance asked a question for the ages in a recent post. OK, it really wasn't. But it is food for thought. The post is called "Can you pay for a Costco membership by eating free samples?"
And just like the answers to more serious questions -- such as will the economic stimulus package work? -- the answer here is: It depends.
FMF thought about this because a couple he knows shop at Costco every week, and they eat so many free samples that it saves the cost of a meal.
The possible answers are:
- Yes, you cover the membership -- $45, which includes a free card for your spouse -- if you eat there once a week or even once a month, and would otherwise be spending at least $2.50 per person per meal. Add in kids and it's a big bonus.
- No, if you're buying things there that you don't need or won't use, which has been known to happen when people shop at Costco.
Is this a legitimate way to save money? FMF also asks if "using this strategy is in some way dishonest and over-the-top when it comes to saving money?"
This sparked a lively discussion among readers, one of whom remarked, "Maybe you folks should also bring a change of clothes, a pair of sunglasses and disguise your voice just to make sure you can go back two or three times over. This is ridiculous. Why not just crash a wedding reception every weekend?"
- 5 best -- and worst -- Costco deals
- Can Costco keep prices low?
- Discounts hiding in your wallet
- 6 secrets for club-shopping success
Published Feb. 2, 2009
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ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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