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July 2021

Sam's Club vs. Costco Wholesale: Which membership is the best? - The price difference is SHOCKING!

By Mike Thayer

Sam's Club
A few groceries purchased at Sam's, how much will the same things cost at Costco?

My Costco membership is up for renewal and I like Costco, it's conveniently close to where I live and I've saved a lot of money buying there vs. a typical grocery store or retail outlet.  Another benefit to a wholesale club membership is the HUGE savings in the purchase of gas through the course of the year.  Savings at the pump alone makes the membership worthwhile, you don't even have to step inside and buy groceries, clothes or printer cartridges to realize the benefit of a membership! Costco and Sam's are typically FAR below local area gas prices, usually about 25 cents per gallon if not more cheaper.

But is Costco THE best wholesale membership club to belong to?

A club membership is a very good thing to have, you really can save A LOT of money buying in bulk and both Sam's Club and Costco offer a lot of advantages/benefits to having a membership vs. shopping at the mainstream grocery store or chain retail store.  

I also have a Sam's Club membership, I recently got one because there was THAT much savings in purchasing a kayak there.  In getting a Sam's Club membership so I could get the savings on a kayak purchase - even after paying the membership fees - I STILL saved huge on the kayak purchase price at Sam's vs. buying that same kayak at places like Academy Sports or Dick's Sporting Goods!  Thank you Cindy!  

But I don't need two wholesale club discount memberships......

So is one club better than the other?

I say yes.

Last Tuesday, I purchased a few groceries from Sam's Club and again, I got a nice assist from Cindy.  Sam's has 'Scan & Go', you can scan items as you put them in the cart!  On Saturday I visited Costco for a price comparison on those same items.  I can see a downside to that already, Cindy won't be "Checking me out".....   See what I did there?.....

UPDATE:  Shopping at Costco on 07/31

Just LOOK at the price differences below, Sam's Club wipes the floor with Costco!  Costco may be cheaper than the mainstream grocery stores like Kroger, but there's no doubt they're more expensive than Sam's Club!

Sams vs Costco

So even though I'll be losing the convenience of location - Costco is just a hop, skip and a jump from where I live - I will NOT be renewing my membership with Costco.  The cheaper prices at Sam's clearly show I'll save more money there.  They have a larger variety of product offerings, they don't push (a.k.a. limit you to) the organic crap and the discounted price of gas is virtually the same for each wholesaler.  Thank you Cindy for showing me the value!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Shopping for a riding lawn mower - Lawn Tractors vs. Zero Turn

By Mike Thayer

Husqvarna zero turnSo I'm in the market for a riding lawn mower for my property at beautiful Lake Viking.  The property is 1.5 acres and so a push mower just isn't going to get the job done and why push a mower when I can ride in luxury, right?  I purchased the land back in 2018 and I've used a lawn service up to this point to keep my property looking good.  But now that I have a shed lined up to be constructed on property to house a riding mower and my fishing kayak, it's time to shop for a mower I can have some fun with!

I'll be looking at classic lawn tractors as well as zero turn mowers.  My budget is $2,000 - $4,000.   Each mower type has its own uses and characteristics, so I need to pick the one that works best for my lawn.  All the major brands will be considered, including but not limited to John Deere, Husqvarna, Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, etc.

John Deere Lawn TractorToday's post is about lawn tractors vs. zero turn mowers and the 'pluses' and 'minuses' of each.  Lawn tractors tend to have more horsepower and the ability to put on a number of attachments.  In contrast, zero turn mowers are faster which cuts down the mowing time, but they are limited when it comes to attachments.  You can't put a blade on a zero turn for snow plowing for example.  While the speed of the zero turn is a big plus, the inability of the zero turn to multi-task is a minus.  Deck size is also a factor in cutting time.  It would take 12 passes for a 40 inch deck to cut a 1/2 acre of lawn.  A 46 inch deck would take about 8 passes to do that 1/2 acre.  I don't really need a 50+ inch mowing deck - those are set up for lawns 3 acres or more area.  So for my 1.5 acres, I'll need a deck in the 40 - 46 inch range.  

Here's some quick stats for mowers in my price range:

  • Lawn Tractor Speed:  6 - 8 mph
  • Zero Turn Speed:  10 mph
  • Lawn Tractor Deck Sizes:  30 - 40"
  • Zero Turn Deck Sizes: 40 - 46"

So a zero turn mower offers advantages in speed and fewer passes in cutting grass, as well as better maneuverability around any obstacles in the yard.  The lawn tractor however, offers a critical advantage over the zero turn and that's the ability to accessorize with attachments.  It would be nice to put on a blade and plow snow or put on a bucket to move some soil around when landscaping/gardening with the same machine.

Stay tuned as I continue to do my homework on mowers, checking on prices, horsepower, blade deck width, the tractor vs. zero turn comparisons and more, combining all those factors in to determine the best mower for my yard.  I'm looking forward to cutting grass again!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Related:  Shopping for a kayak

Related:  Shopping for a shed


Sam's Club vs. Costco Wholesale: Which membership is the best?

By Mike Thayer

Sam's Club
A few groceries purchased at Sam's, how much will the same things cost at Costco?

My Costco membership is up for renewal and I like Costco, it's conveniently close to where I live and I've saved a lot of money buying there vs. a typical grocery store or retail outlet.  Heck, for the cost of the membership alone, you'll receive HUGE savings in the purchase of gas at a Sam's or Costco through the course of the year.  Gas savings alone makes the membership worthwhile, you don't even have to step inside and buy groceries, clothes or printer cartridges to realize the benefit of a membership! Costco and Sam's are typically FAR below local area gas prices, usually about 25 cents per gallon if not more cheaper.

But is Costco THE best wholesale membership club to belong to?

A club membership is a very good thing to have, you really can save A LOT of money buying in bulk and both Sam's Club and Costco offer a lot of advantages/benefits to having a membership vs. shopping at the mainstream grocery store or chain retail store.  

I also have a Sam's Club membership, I recently got one because there was THAT much savings in purchasing a kayak there.  In getting a Sam's Club membership so I could get the savings on a kayak purchase - even after paying the membership fees - I STILL saved huge on the kayak purchase price at Sam's vs. buying that same kayak at places like Academy Sports or Dick's Sporting Goods!  Thank you Cindy!  

But I don't need two wholesale club discount memberships......

So is one club better than the other?

I say yes.

Today I purchased a few groceries from Sam's Club and again, I got a nice assist from Cindy.  Sam's has 'Scan & Go', no app required, you can scan items as you put them in the cart!  Next week, I'll be purchasing those same items at Costco for a price comparison.  I can see a downside to that already, Cindy won't be "Checking me out".....   See what I did there?.....

Stay tuned for the comparison!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Shopping for a riding lawn mower - doing the homework

By Mike Thayer

John Deere Lawn TractorSo I'm in the market for a riding lawn mower for my property at beautiful Lake Viking.  The property is 1.5 acres and so a push mower just isn't going to get the job done and why push a mower when I can ride in luxury, right?  I purchased the land back in 2018 and I've used a lawn service up to this point to keep my property looking good.  But now that I have a shed lined up to be constructed on property to house a riding mower and my fishing kayak, it's time to shop for a mower I can have some fun with!

I'll be looking at classic lawn tractors as well as zero turn mowers.  My budget is $2,000 - $4,000.   Each mower type has its own uses and characteristics, so I need to pick the one that works best for my lawn.  All the major brands will be considered, including but not limited to John Deere, Husqvarna, Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, etc.

Husqvarna zero turnStay tuned as I do my homework on mowers, checking on prices, horsepower, blade deck width, the tractor vs. zero turn comparisons and more.  I'm looking forward to cutting grass again!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Related:  Shopping for a kayak

Related:  Shopping for a shed


Food Review: Mission Gluten Free Tortillas

Mission Gluten Free Tortillas
How do they compare to traditional flour tortillas?

By Mike Thayer

I've been on a gluten free kick as of late, trying to keep my intake of wheat down.  It's not that I'm gluten intolerant, but I do seem to feel better when I'm not eating so much regular bread, pasta or crackers.

Today I'm reviewing Mission brand gluten free tortillas.  I love tortillas, if you ask me they're better than sliced bread.  There are SO versatile and are a great alternative to any food item requiring sliced bread or a bun in the prep.

Mission Gluten Free Tortillas aren't bad, but they just aren't as good as regular flour tortillas, there's an obvious difference in both the taste and texture.  They're also not as pliable, especially straight out of the package in having soft tacos or a sandwich wrap.  These tortillas tend to break apart and have a bit of a chewy factor to them.  To make them more tolerable, they either need to be warmed up in the oven or microwave, or slightly browned in a skillet and even better yet, pressed.  I enjoyed these tortillas best in making breakfast burritos and browning them.

Breakfast Burrito
Breakfast burrito deliciousness

Costing me about $5.57 for a package of 6 tortillas, I'm giving Mission Gluten Free Tortillas 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They are over-priced (gluten free foods usually are) and NOT worthy of a repeat buy.  I'll continue to look for other gluten free tortilla options.

3 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Shopping for a shed - doing the homework, part 2

By Mike Thayer

Fishing at Lake VikingAbout a month ago, I wrote about the need for a shed.  Now that I have my customized kayak for fishing at beautiful Lake Viking, I need a shed at the lake property to keep it in.

So I've been doing some homework online and checking things out the traditional way as well, visiting the brick and mortar stores.  I'm in the market for a 10' x 12' foot shed - the maximum size allowed by the home owner's association.  It also has to be made of wood, no metal or plastic/resin kits allowed.  No problem there, I prefer sheds made from wood anyway.

I've already got a concrete pad in place, a nice foundation for the shed, but do I buy a kit that I assemble (option 1), or do I buy plans for a shed and purchase the materials myself (option 2)?  Another option, the most expensive one, is to buy an already assembled shed and have it delivered and anchored to the foundation by the shed maker (option 3).

Prices for a quality shed in the size I want range from $1,200 to $5,000, the latter being for the pre-assembled shed, delivered option. 

A little homework, Option 1 - buying a kit

Here are some options for 10' x 12' shed kits available at places like Lowe's, Home Depot, Shed Warehouse where I get to take the kit to Lake Viking and assemble:

Lowe's shed
Available at Lowe's - $2,087.00
Shed Warehouse
Available at Shed Warehouse - $2,999.00
Home Depot Shed
Available at Home Depot - $1,399.00

Right now, as far as the kits (option 1) are concerned, Home Depot would seem like the go-to place for a shed when it comes to price.  It's basic, but heck for the savings in price, I can install a couple windows if desired, just look at the price difference between the Home Depot shed vs. Lowe's, vs. Shed Warehouse.

A little homework, Option 2 - Get a shed plan and purchase all the materials myself

There are A LOT of shed plans out there to choose from and various shed features/options in those plans.  Some plans are free, some are pay for more detailed plans...   But as I started to research this option, the pricing of lumber and materials - COVID price hikes - has made this option cost prohibitive and never mind the labor involved.  Not that I wouldn't enjoy putting a shed together mind you, but I honestly would rather maximize my time at the lake fishing, not shed building.

Shed frame
Framing available at Walmart for $200, but it's not 2x6 lumber and the joints are plastic
TenByTwelveHip
I like the plans for this one, but materials are costly!

So in nixing option 2, getting a shed plan and purchasing all materials myself, it's on to option 3.

A little homework, option 3 - buying a pre-assembled shed, have it delivered and anchored to the concrete pad on property

Tuff Shed
This is the style I went for

This is the most appealing option to me, allowing me to spend more time on the water.  But delivery and installation comes with a higher price tag.  I checked out a number of shed building companies in the Kansas City area.  I can get pre-assembled sheds delivered and installed, some companies actually build the shed for you on property.  This option is going to hit the top end of my shed budget at $5,000, but I say it's worth it!  More time on the lake!  I went with a company called Tuff Shed, and my shed will be custom built!  I can't wait to store my fishing kayak in it's new home!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Who has the best online stock trading service?

By Mike Thayer

InvestingI've posted a number of product and service reviews on this site ranging from cookware to hotels.  Those reviews talk of quality, availability and most importantly price, a.k.a., spending money wisely.  Then it hit me, why not do a review on money - investing to be more precise - evaluating stock trading services?

In the coming weeks, I'll be taking a look at online brokers, outfits like Firstrade, Charles Schwab and Etrade.  Being evaluated will be items such as investment account minimums, fees, promotions, customer service and most importantly, how easy it is to use the various trading platforms. 

I'm really looking forward to this one, playing with money!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 


Food Review: Braum's Crispy Chicken Club Sandwich

By Mike Thayer

Braum's Crispy Chicken Club Sandwich
Nice initial visual, good meat to bun ratio

There's been a chicken sandwich war going on in fast food, it started in 2019 and it's still going on today.  

Chick-fil-A made headlines in 2019 becoming the third largest fast food chain, led with their classic chicken sandwich.  Popeyes reacted by putting a new chicken sandwich on the menu and consumers went crazy over it, so crazy in fact, their sandwich is now considered THE gold standard for a chicken sandwich. 

So how does Braum's - a regional fast food joint with 300 stores in 5 states - and their Crispy Chicken Club Sandwich stack up against Popeye's?

Scoring:  In this Chicken Sandwich War Challenge, sandwiches are evaluated and scored on the following criteria:  Visual appeal, the meat, bun, meat to bun ratio, crunch factor, the pickle/mayo and of course, overall taste.  There are 1-9 points available for each category for a total possible total score of 63. 

Braum's Chicken Club
Nicely stacked sandwich

I like Braum's, there's a restaurant just a hop, skip and a jump from my apartment and I eat there fairly regularly.  I've never had a bad meal there and their Crispy Chicken Club Sandwich did not disappoint.  There was good visual appeal, the chicken was crispy and juicy, good meat to bun ratio, the bacon was crisp and in overall taste the sandwich scored well.   It is a Club sandwich so it's dressed with lettuce, tomato and comes with a slice of cheese.  The cheese however, doesn't do much for this sandwich, especially since it's a slice of American Cheese, which in my humble foodie opinion, doesn't pair well with fried chicken.  The sandwich would be better without it and could use a few pickles....  There's just something about the tartness of pickle and fried chicken, now THAT's a pairing!  But I digress, my adjustments would mean renaming the sandwich, it would no longer be a 'Club'.  And while Braum's makes a pretty good chicken sandwich, I'd rather have one from Popeye's.

Inside look at Braum's chicken sandwich
A look under the lid...

Braum's Crispy Chicken Club Sandwich combo meal cost me $8.05 which is a Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly price.  Scoring 51 out of a possible 63 points I'm giving the sandwich 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars, it's repeat buy worthy, if you can't make it to Popeye's. 

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends..... 

Related: Who makes the best chicken sandwich in fast food?


George brand men's walking shorts are a great fit for any wardrobe

By Mike Thayer

George ShortsI've got the George brand men's walking shorts in my closet.   It's a go-to in my wardrobe, they are designed for a classic fit, they're comfortable and I bought them at Walmart.   Made with a polyester/cotton blend, they are fade resistant, easy to maintain and they last a long time, as in the threading doesn't fall apart after a couple washes like some of those discount clothes tend to do. 

I paid about $17 for these shorts, that's Bachelor on the Cheap friendly!

For social gatherings, weekend barbecues or just about any outdoor activity, these are good looking, comfortable shorts, a great addition to any wardrobe! 

George shorts get 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars

4 stars