Three years ago I asked Can You Pay for a Costco Membership by Eating Free Samples? (then followed up that piece with Extreme Saving Tips for Sample Eating at Costco) As you might imagine, the comments were mixed. ;-)
Anyway, a reader recently left this comment on the original post:
My boyfriend and I eat a meal of Costco samples approximately three times a week. We work within walking distance and do purposely use this as a money saving technique. I don't see anything wrong with it. We pay for an executive membership and part of that membership is sample offerings. We are always respectful of other shoppers and only double dip if a new sample lady arrives. It is not the most healthful meal but our financial situation is not very healthy either. You do what you got to do. I monitor our budget closely and I estimate we save $100 to $140 a month using this method at Costco. On the weekends we use the same technique at regular grocery stores, for example Whole Foods, Central Market and HEB, saving an additional $40 to $80 dollars a month. We do not live near a Publix but I hear they have excellent sample offerings.
This comment made me consider the following:
- Is it true that they do this?
- It's an interesting point about paying for a membership and samples are included in the cost. That takes a lot of sting out of the "freeloader" comments on previous posts.
- Being respectful and not double dipping also makes this practice seem more ethical.
- Can you really save $100 to $140 a month? That's $1,200 to $1,680 a year!!! Makes a Costco membership well worth the cost, huh?
- Nice tip to spread out the sampling to grocery stores. And the savings are great too! That bumps the total savings to between $1,680 and $2,640.
- Is this their only source of food? My annual food budget for a family of four is $6,000, so saving $2,640 for a family of two seems like there's probably not much food that they actually pay for.
So, what's your take on this? Think anyone could actually do this? Do you think it's right?