If you’re a lover of the food court, impressed by ridiculously clean, smooth floors, and slightly addicted to samples… welcome to the Costco club.
It’s pretty much the only place where your shopping cart can contain a $45,000 diamond ring resting on top of a five-gallon jug of cooking oil.
It’s also the only place I’d like to be stuck/trapped/held captive in the event of an alien parking lot invasion. Think about it… grab a mattress, sheets, down comforter, scooch yourself to the middle aisles, bust open a pillow two-pack, choose some cozy jammies, slippers and a good book, plug in a heater and wait for the sample servers to come around with hors-d’oeuvres at five. Rotisserie chicken, bagged salad and artisan bread for dinner? I’ll grab the paper plates, napkins, and plastic silverware. Brownies or pumpkin pie for dessert? Yes.
Before we accidentally start planning this event, let’s get to the Costco secrets.
- I am not an employee of Costco.
- I am not a secret shopper with the ability to write Costco up for not letting me drive the floor squeegee/rider/thingy.
- I do not own Costco stock.
- I have only put one question in the suggestion box. (Why is cornbread seasonal?)
- I do not follow Costco on Twitter.
- I have never spent the night in Costco, though I’m not entirely opposed to the idea.
- I am not member FDIC, mostly because I do not know what that means.
1. Open, Open, Open
Most Costcos in the States open at 10:00 a.m., but if you live in Mexico… 9:00 a.m., baby! Once I arrived early to our Ensenada store thinking I had 15 minutes to wait. When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a dude with a key and a smile just for me. In I went at 8:45, feeling like I had been given an extra chunk of time in my day. This happens in Temecula, CA, too!
2. Turnover Nights
Ever wonder why the display of rad, crazy-soft blankets moved from the front to the middle and then to the right? Marketing. Costco moves things around to make you take a different route and possibly see new products.
New products are stocked on Saturday during the night shift, so if you want to see the latest and greatest, shop Sunday. But first, go to church and pray for patience because there tends to be a bit of gridlock around the TVs and Nearly Naked Popcorn.
3. Some Prices Will Never Change
Behold, the all-American hotdog, and soda combo, alive and well in Baja, too. Same price since the day Costco opened… just a mere $1.50. Friendly reminder: just because something is super cheap and makes your mouth dance does not mean it’s healthy for your insides.
Did I just ruin it?
Sorry—I ruined it.
4. Costco Membership = Discounts on Cars, Vacations, and Coffins
Not much to explain here. If you plan on buying a car, going on a vacation or kicking the can soon, shop costco.com first.
5. For Real Bargains, Shop the Perimeter and Middle
According to Lifehacker, the middle area of the store is referred to as “action alley” because of the high traffic. “Makers and distributors often pay for the privilege of being there, and the prices are aggressive,” the site says. The flashy displays at the end of aisles, where lucrative samples are given, tend to be the worst bargains in Costco.
I love lucrative samples.
6. Price Adjustments
Besides having an amazing return policy, Costco also offers a 30-day price adjustment guarantee. If an item gets marked down within 30 days of when you bought it, take your receipt to customer service and get the difference reimbursed. Badda-bing, badda-boom.
7. Cheapest Prescription Drugs
A recent Consumer Reports survey found that, when it comes to generic prescription drugs, Costco’s pharmacy is the most affordable on the market.
Extra Bonus: Did you know Costco membership is not required for Costco Pharmacy purchases online or in the warehouses? Annnd… they offer home delivery. Ding-dong!
8. Ninety-Seven-Cent Tags are Your Friends
Most regular priced items end in .99¢, and sometimes .49¢, .79¢, and .89¢. But the real bargains end in .97¢. They’re the items that have been marked down to the lowest sales you’ll find. They’re throughout the whole store, even on food items. Score, score, score some more.
9. Asterisks Mean “Bye Bye”
If you see this symbol (*) in the top right corner of the price tag then you know the item will not be restocked. What you see is all they have, and it won’t be returning, so if it’s something you need, stock up. Exception: popular seasonal merchandise might be returning, but not for a year. Don’t panic though: Christmas decor now arrives in August. #sweatysanta
10. Think Outside the (Costco) Box
The clear, plastic container that holds a 12-pack or 14-pack of apples perfectly fits Christmas ornaments. Fa-la-la-la-la!
What’s your favorite Costco bargain?
Besides maybe pita and hummus, what do you think Jesus would buy at Costco?
Originally from the redwood forest of Mount Hermon, CA, Carrie lived in Baja, Mexico for the past 12 years. She and her husband, and two very white, bilingual boys just moved back to the States and are gradually adjusting to traffic and taco prices.
In the middle of a non-profit ministry and surrounded by dust and mud, she wrote a children’s book about bullying. She is now collaborating on a nonfiction book about loss, guilt and grace.
Carrie is dedicated to Jesus and avocados, and blogs regularly at carrietalbottink.com. She can also be found on Twitter @carrie_talbott and on Facebook at Carrie Talbott Ink.
Prayer can be a challenging practice, but Amy shares a simple but profound method she was taught that has reminded her to listen. God speaks when we’re listening! Want to try something new to reinvigorate your prayer life? Watch Amy’s short vlog, print the downloadable and spend some time with God. He’s waiting just for you!
Amy Carroll is a speaker and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She’s the author of Breaking Up with Perfect as well as the director and coach of Next Step Coaching Services. As a woman who loves a great story and a challenging idea, co-hosting the Grit ‘n’ Grace podcast has become one of her favorite things.
Amy and her husband live in lovely Holly Springs, NC. You can find her on any given day texting her two sons at college, typing at her computer, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner. Share life with Amy at www.amycarroll.org and find out more about her speaker coaching services at http://www.nextstepcoachingservices.com/.
I started wading through the clutter in January. One week later I was disheartened. There was still a lot to do. I shared my dismay with my brave friend who had come over and worked alongside me for a bit, she said, “It will take a year.” She reminded me this was a process and that it would take more than a weekend to declutter. And here I am today, still working on organizing, decluttering, de-junking my house. I have made some progress and have discovered some surprising clutter.
The piles of toy parts, the box of notes from high school, and the bags of stained baby clothes, I expected. However, I was surprised to discover hidden pockets of clutter of a different variety. These were things I thought I would never misplace or lose track of. I unearthed encouraging words left unsaid, found compliments piled in the corners like stacks of magazines, and discovered a hoard of fun under the couch.
I found a box full of family time that still had the packing tape on it from our last move. Nothing really prepared me for the waves of regret that quickly eroded my pride in the progress I had made. The cost of clutter had not really hit me until that moment; clutter steals and hoards what we are capable of giving to others.
I had not realized that my disheveled closet was hoarding confidence or that the chaotic art room had my children’s creative tendencies squirreled away in half empty crayon boxes and dried up paint bottles. I started to think that maybe we just weren’t as creative, fun or as kind as we used to be, but it was just that the clutter had taken over and obscured these attributes from our hearts and minds. My creative, kind and fun-loving family was there all along.
It was just that we could only see the mess.
It didn’t take me long to realize I could not hold on to the the regret that came along with this discovery. I certainly could not afford to stockpile regret, so out it went and in came a new way of living and loving.
How to clear out the surprising clutter
As we clear the clutter, we discover that our hearts expand to give more generously to those we love most, and isn’t that what we all want? I don’t need the old train table the kids played with years ago or the 20 reusable grocery bags that have taken over my side entryway, I do need every bit of my capacity to encourage my children and to love my husband well.
My words of affirmation and kindness must be said, otherwise they are just as useless as the boxes of VHS tapes in the basement. The fun hoard, along with the dust bunnies and dog toys, needs to come out from under the couch, so that our home can be a place of joy.
Clearing the clutter allows our hearts to be tuned into what is most important — the people we do life with. As I continue to declutter my home I am now more excited about what I will gain. An expanded heart ready to jump into joy, fun and love versus what I will lose.
You can read more from Bethany Howard at bethanyhoward.com. She writes about finding fuel for joy and growth in the details of the daily. Her greatest leadership exercise has been her roles as wife and mom to three. She is a graduate of Leverage: The Speaker Conference.
Finding rest in summer
Summer’s here! Time for fun, right? Well … maybe, but work keeps right on going. Kids are home, laundry’s piling up, and that car doesn’t pack itself for vacation. Finding rest in summer might seem out of reach.
It’s hard to carve out time for rest, even in the summer, but God gives us some rich encouragement in His Word. Amy shares a scripture that will feed your soul and an action step that will help create your best, most restful summer yet.
Have you ever had a time when you secretly crowned yourself the Clutter-Free Queen of your house, and then you remembered the storage space under your basement stairs? You know, the storage space that was supposed to be only for Christmas decorations, but now houses every holiday decoration your child ever made from preschool through high school?
I, too, had one of those moments when I recently discovered a forgotten storage space in my life where I kept outdated and unwanted items. My storage space is smaller than the closet under the stairs, but it has enormous storage capacity. You guessed right, it’s in my mind!
If you haven’t de-cluttered your brain yet, you don’t need to throw away your prized tiara. The mind can be conquered just like every other closet and drawer we face. When we successfully delete all the unnecessary information in our minds, we create room for new and peaceful thoughts during the day, and for restful sleep at night.
When we are at rest, particularly at night, our entire being, the mind, body, soul and spirit reaps the benefits. As I discovered while researching my book, Winning the Battle for the Night, unresolved issues in our mind often disturb our sleep at night.
As a Christian, I know from scripture that God gives us sleep. And the night should be a time for rejuvenation, rest and even revelation from God. Our Father did not intend for human beings to lie awake, tossing and turning on their beds all night.
Is a clutter-free mind possible?
Actually, have you ever heard the phrase, “I slept like a baby”? Well, God’s intention for us is to sleep like a healthy baby, in perfect peace. I believe this is the picture God had in mind when He designed our body for sleep. And yet, our mind robs us of the rest we were designed to receive at night.
The astonishing fact is that this small area of our body, weighing just three pounds, holds more than all our books, files, pictures and memorabilia combined. You may have a garage full of filing cabinets you purged. Maybe thousands of files shredded, but the brain can hold so much more information than anything you’ve ever shredded, trashed, or given over for consignment.
The brain holds about 25 million books worth of information. In computer storage terms that would be as much as 1000 terabytes of information. In comparison, the National Archives of Britain holds 900 years of history, which are contained in 70 terabytes.
Not everything in our brain has to be deleted before you can have a restful night of sleep. Deleting unnecessary files in your mind is not like the reformatting process for a computer in which all the files are deleted. A lobotomy isn’t necessary. We do have valuable information stored in our mind. Just as on a computer hard drive, there are many good files.
However, as I began an inventory in the filing cabinets stored in my brain, I was both shocked and embarrassed by what I found. I kind of felt the same way when I opened my closet in front of my neighbor and my belongings started tumbling out the door.
With the desire to sleep like a baby as my motivator, I decided it was time to look at my inventory and de-clutter my brain. Some of the contents of my filing cabinets were files that were decades old. I hadn’t looked at them for years, but they were still there, taking up space. Talk about cobwebs!
So here’s my list of seven storage cabinets that I’ve readied for removal.
This storage space is not as easy to deal with as the closet under the stairs. I can’t put the contents in the dumpster or take them to Goodwill. So I devised a two-step method. It is called Give and Receive. Here’s how it works:
GIVE: Rather than calling a shredding service to shred all the files out of my seven cabinets, I took each file and gave it to God. Some files were harder to part with than others, but my desire for better sleep provided the power to pry the file loose from my grip. The surprising thing about giving the filing cabinets to Him was that He gave me something good to replace each file I gave Him. The shredding company never gave me anything for my files except a bill!
In order to benefit from God’s generosity, I need to anticipate and be willing to participate in an exchange with Him. This is the second step—receive.
RECEIVE: God is the ultimate Giver. He is resourceful, imaginative, and knows exactly what I need to receive. Here is a list of the seven exchanges I received from Him.
1. Courage to try again in place of failures.
2. Comfort for the pain of betrayals.
3. Hope for the future in place of regrets.
4. Joy in the place of disappointments.
5. Love to cover the conflicts.
6. Blessing to replace the accusations.
7. Forgiveness for all my shame.
Your brain may not have as many cabinets tucked as mine did. Regardless of how many you have, think about focusing on one cabinet a week. Give God the contents of your cabinets. Once you’ve taken this first step, the next step is easy, just receive what God gives you in exchange for what you released to Him.
You will be amazed at what He has already planned to give you! He has been waiting for this opportunity to fill your mind with good things. As you enjoy the fruit of your hard work—a clutter free mind, you’ll find sleeping like a baby comes more easily.
Faith Blatchford, Author of Winning the Battle For the Night: God’s Plan for Sleep, Dreams and Revelation is also a conference speaker and composer. She has a B.A. in Religion from Vassar College. She is a pastoral counselor, as well as a creativity coach and sleep/dream consultant. Her goal whether in writing, speaking or personal ministry is to help people experience freedom in every area of life through deep connection with God, the giver of hope.
“I’m overwhelmed. I just need a break!” I said to my counselor. Minutes later, I left her second story office and hurried the length of the deserted hallway. I glanced at my phone while descending the stairs. My phone was dead, but I knew it was close to 4:00. I had just enough time to get to school and pick up my kids before their practices ended at 4:30. As I took the next step, I missed the stair and tumbled forward. When I came to a stop, I heard a loud “pop.” The pain was unbearable.
Tears came fast and furious and I cried out for help.
No one heard me.
I tried to push myself up to stand, but my left foot refused to bear any weight.
I cried for help again, thinking there must be someone nearby.
Again, no one heard me.
I tried my phone a second time in vain. My husband was in New York on business. Picking up the kids wouldn’t wait. I gritted my teeth and pushed myself up from the base of the stairs. I could stand on my right foot, but my left was completely useless. With great pain, I hopped to the car, frequently banging my left foot against the pavement. I managed to get myself into the car and drive across town to the school, sobbing the entire way.
The “break” I needed
I’d love to tell you my injuries were minimal and I healed quickly, but that’s not what happened. Instead, I got the “break” I needed in the form of broken bones and multiple sprains in my foot and ankle, six months of pain, restrictions, physical therapy, and a complete overhaul of my demanding pace of life.
Before my fall, I was at a breaking-point. Maybe you’ve been there too.
I had taken on too many responsibilities – running a nonprofit, serving as team mom, leading a Bible study, making play costumes, and so much more. I spent the previous year moving at record speed. I like to keep busy, but I was over-committed, under-rested, and probably not the most pleasant person to be around.
We don’t have to live that way.
Count the cost of yes
What I learned through my ordeal was that I’m capable of only so much. I’m learning to live within my limits. That means I only commit to a certain number of activities, projects and responsibilities. When my plate is full, I must eliminate an item before adding another. I guard my time and energy or they’ll be swallowed up by my desire to say “yes” to more than I can sanely accomplish.
If I hadn’t been rushed and feeling overwhelmed, I’m sure I wouldn’t have missed that step. I likely wouldn’t have even been in counselor’s office that day. The cost of over-commitment was high.
One of the things I contemplated during my recovery was that Jesus never rushed. He moved at an intentional pace. His time of ministry on earth was very brief, only three years. If anyone had a reason to pick his pace and do more than humanly possible, it was Jesus. But, he didn’t.
I’m learning to follow his example.
Luke 14:28 reminds us to count the cost, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”
When we’re tempted to say “yes” and add one more thing to our busy schedules, pause and acknowledge that “yes” will cost us something. At the very least, it means we have to say “no” to other opportunities.
What will saying “yes” cost you? Will it cost your peace? Dilute your focus?
When we commit to pause and count the cost before taking on another thing, we are empowered to manage the opportunities that come our way. We focus on what we’re meant to do, the things most important to us. We walk in freedom, unhurried and confident.
What are you doing to follow Jesus’ example of walking out your life intentionally and unhurried? How have you learned to live within the limits of your time and energy?
Elizabeth M. Thompson is a writer and speaker. Prayer is her super-power and she loves helping women develop meaningful prayer lives. She and her husband have three children. They live, bike, kayak, and hike along the American River near Sacramento, CA. Stop by her website for a free download of “Jumpstart Your Stalled Prayer Life.”