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Do memberships save you money?

November 29th, 2008 at 03:07 pm

I was in line at Barne's & Noble, doing a secret shop, when the lady in front of me got a membership card that gets her 10% off her books. When it was my turn I was asked if I wanted to become a member and I said

"No thank you I don't spend $250 a year on books"

Lady in front (who was putting on her gloves) "I never thought of it that way"

Is that math so hard? to get back the $25 a year membership at 10% off wouldn't you have to spend $250?

I have problems with places that charge me to spend money. We have arts and craft fairs that are really just big open air markets that charge admission. Once you get in there is nothing to do except buy stuff. Why should I pay $5 to stroll among the vendors, who have also paid the organizers for their space. It's not like they have free entertainment or displays that are fun to see just rows of people selling their stuff.

I had a boss once who said that Sam's was not in the business of selling stuff but in the business of selling memberships. I know people who say they get better deals there but if I am careful and watch the sales I usually do just as well.

So, once you do the math do memberships save you money?

6 Responses to “Do memberships save you money?”

  1. scfr Says:

    This is definitely one of those "It depends" questions.

    We have a Costco membership, but when we were starting out we did not have one. It makes "cents" for us now, but it hasn't always.

    If you're a single or a small family, a traditional employee (working for an employer rather than running your own business), with no pets, living in an area where there is not a spread on the price of gasoline between Costco and other gas stations, having a Costco membership is probably not going to make sense for you.

    But if you have a business to run (needing to pay for check printing, paper, toner, etc.), the savings start to make sense.

    If you have a large family to feed and must buy large volumes of food regularly, more savings.

    If you have a pet to feed and want to feed them quality food, you know that nothing can touch Costco on price.

    If you live in an area where there is a big price difference on gasoline, and you can get to a Costco without driving out of your way, you know that the savings on gas alone might make the cost of the membership worthwhile. (Gas prices are interesting. When we lived in the Seattle area, we could count on Costco to be much cheaper each and every time. Here in Austin, we don't find that there is a difference; usually, we can find cheaper prices other than Costco.)

  2. shiela Says:

    Yeah it depends on what it is. We have a professional membership which give discount on tuition fees and text books and other stuff. The discounts we get from it more than pay off the fees.

  3. fern Says:

    I'm the same way; i don't like paying an admission fee for the privilege of shopping.

  4. whitestripe Says:

    i agree. the only memberships i pay for are:
    a zarrafas coffee club card (a one time fee of $5 for the card, and you get a free drink (any you like) once you join and one on every birthday, as well as every 10th drink free) i got there a lot so it's worth it to me.
    our surfclub card which is $10 a year, it allows us to enter any club (rsl, surf club, bowls club) to eat and drink, otherwise they will not let you in unless you purchase a membership from them.
    and my racq membership for roadside assistance for my car.

    i do not pay for the privelege of shopping anywhere Smile

  5. katwoman Says:

    No I don't pay for memberships either but then I'm not running a business, my dog died so no need for anymore dog food, mom has Medicare Part D so the drugs will cost the same anywhere, I happen to be an aggressive couponer....you get the picture.

    Almost did sign up for the Costco membership until I found out that half of the company's profits come from the sale of their memberships.

  6. Koppur Says:

    I actually have the Barnes and Noble membership and have been renewing it for the past 3 or so years. It saves me a LOT of money. Last year I saved $90. Of course, this means I spent $900 on books last year, but still. *smile* So far this year I've already saved over $70 and my membership still has a couple of months on it before it needs to be renewed. Of course, Mums and Dads give me a B&N gift card worth about $150 every Christmas, so that helps. *smile*

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