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Do You Really Save Money At Costco?

Sometimes buying things in bulk isn’t the best way to go. The circumstances listed in this article may prevent you from obtaining the maximum value from your Costco membership. 

When trying to save yourself money, there are a number of factors that should be considered. Knowing how to budget as well as knowing what to buy in bulk can help you save some cash.

There are several mistakes that consumers make when trying to save money. These mistakes can end up costing you more than they save you.

How You Should Buy in Bulk

Comparing prices is usually a good idea, but it’s especially true when purchasing in bulk. The cost per unit is crucial in this case. 

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What exactly does “cost per unit” imply? All you have to do is determine how much each item costs.

You can figure out the cost per unit by dividing the total price by the number of items or weight. This process is really easy, especially with the help of your smartphone.

What Should You Buy in Bulk?

It may not always work out this way; there are several goods that you can bank on being a better deal when purchased in high quantities. Nonetheless, you should resist the urge to stock up on items you don’t need so you don’t end up with an overabundance.

You should also fight the temptation to do your monthly grocery shopping at the big box store to get your money’s worth from your membership. Keep an eye out for splurging!

The items you should buy in bulk are items that you use large quantities of every month. These can include:

  • Baby diapers
  • Wipes
  • Toilet paper
  • Long-lasting fresh produce like apples, potatoes, onions, and garlic
  • Snack foods
  • Canned goods
  • Dry goods like dried beans, rice, flours, etc. (as long as you have a way to store them so they don’t spoil)
  • Dog food for a large breed dog
  • Cleaning products/ Laundry detergent if you have a large family

The above list is only an example. Your family may be able to use up the 1-gallon jar of salsa in a week while that wouldn’t be possible for many other families.

Or your family may not have a way to store the 20lb bag of rice properly. If it ends up being infested with weevils, you didn’t really save money.

I love using the app Ibotta to save even more money on groceries. It’s free to use and will even have in-app coupons to save more.

Situations in Which Costco Does Not Save You Money

If you’re on the fence about whether or not a Costco membership is suitable for you, here are some situations in which it won’t pay off. Make

You Have Saved Coupons for Other Stores

Some things, such as body wash and detergents, may be less costly at stores that recognize coupons provided by the manufacturer. The deals you see on the shelves at Costco are the only deals available; you cannot use any other coupons to your advantage.

Store sales at large chain retailers are an alternative option. You can generally find similar deals without having to pay the annual membership fees by comparing costs, using coupons, or choosing generic brands.

Related: Can You Use Manufacturer’s Coupons Online?

Purchasing Perishables

If you can’t consume everything in a huge package before it expires, you may have to toss some of it away. Those enormous containers of perishables might add up over time if they are constantly thrown away. 

Buying non-perishable things in bulk can save you money so long as you only buy things that you need. If you constantly stock your refrigerator with fresh fruits and vegetables, I don’t believe a Costco membership is the best option for you. 

You may be alright buying longer-lasting produce like apples, potatoes, or onions, but smaller packages of fresh greens, berries, or mushrooms from the regular grocery store make sense for most.

You Travel Often

I do not recommend getting a Costco membership if you’re constantly on the move. On top of not having the time to go to the warehouse often, you also risk wasting fresh groceries due to them expiring when you’re out of town.

You Have a Small Apartment

Buying from Costco is unlikely to be worth it if you don’t have a lot of spare space to store massive quantities of things. Stick to making smaller, more cost-effective buying decisions of your essentials. 

When it comes to urban residents, you should carefully consider cramming family-sized amounts of goods into your cramped quarters. This only adds clutter to your space.

You Frequently go to Restaurants and Takeaway Establishments

Despite the low cost-per-unit of bulk items, Costco’s annual membership fee is just not worth the cost if you do not take trips to the store often enough. Even if you have saved some money on the per-unit price, buying a smaller box at another retailer could result in you paying and squandering less. 

Having dinner with friends or getting takeout after work regularly cuts down runs to the supermarket. If you’re someone who likes to cook up a storm in your kitchen, a Costco membership could be a cost-effective option for you and your money. 

Households of Two or Less

While shopping in large quantities is a no-brainer for families or roommates, a Costco subscription is not a sure-fire way to save you cash if you are single or live alone. One or two persons do not eat quite enough groceries and other daily necessities to justify the yearly subscription charge. 

Instead, I recommend sharing a subscription with friends and making bulk purchases together.

You can save even more money by keeping an eye out for Costco’s clever ruses to entice you to spend more money. They often do this in the form of specials. 

Whenever it comes to shopping for groceries, more is often not better as many of these purchases can be wasted.

You Impulse Buy

If you’re not careful, this unhealthy habit might cost you a lot more money than you anticipate spending. You, just like everyone else, are susceptible to going to pick up a few items at Costco and leaving with a full shopping cart.

If you consider yourself a shopaholic, you might want to avoid getting a membership at a warehouse store.  

At Costco, you must shop with a strategy. Otherwise, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and succumb to all the offers.

That’s just one of several harmful habits that Costco customers should stay away from.

Related: 7 Ways to Stop Impulse Buying Now

You Live a Busy Lifestyle

We don’t always pay attention to the money we spend on groceries. When it comes to spending, convenience is generally a factor.

If you lead a busy life, you may not have the time to familiarize yourself with Costco’s membership benefits. To keep buying at Costco budget-friendly, you need time to think ahead, budget, and compare prices of different products.

Costco subscriptions might be a better option for those individuals who have more time to browse for offers. 

You Don’t Own a Vehicle

To save enough cash to make the subscription worthwhile, most consumers need to do the majority, if not all, of their shopping at the warehouse store. If you don’t have a vehicle, Uber trips are expensive and a definite way to go through your money at an alarming rate. 

Sharing a subscription with somebody else so you can travel together or buy at places that aren’t as far away from you is a much more feasible idea. Do the calculations before you sign up for a yearly Costco membership so that you know you are making the right decision. 

Would the savings from buying there outweigh the membership fee?

How to Save at Costco Without a Membership

You do not necessarily have to be a member to reap the benefits of Costco. There are several services that you can utilize regardless of whether or not you have a subscription.

  • Optical or Hearing Exams (still need a membership for buying glasses or hearing aids)
  • Pharmacy / Immunizations
  • Alcohol Sales (state dependant – some states have laws saying alcohol sales must be available for all)
  • Shop Online at Costco.com for certain non-member deals
  • Instacart will shop on your behalf (Instacart fees apply though)

You’re also able to shop at Costco if a member escorts you in and lets you use their membership card. The member will need to pay at checkout but you can Venmo your friend the total immediately after.

You Can Save Money on Health Services

Costco subscribers have access to a variety of reduced health services. Check to see if your neighborhood Costco offers a similar service at a lower cost before going to your doctor’s office or clinic.

Several Costco locations, for example, provide free diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart health examinations.

Subscribing to the Costco Member Prescription Program can help members save even more money on prescription and over-the-counter medications.

This program, which is open to all Costco members and is free to subscribe to, is not classified as insurance, but it does offer additional savings on top of Costco’s already low costs.

Stick to Your Budget

Is buying large amounts of groceries from Costco the most cost-effective option? Not all of the time. It is entirely dependent on your requirements. 

Think about whether it benefits you and your situation, just like anything else in your spending plan. If it fits your life and spending plan, then you can go ahead and buy a few staples in bulk to see how much money you can save.

It’s unfortunate but true that you won’t always see a significant difference in savings. Buying eggs in bulk may save you a staggering few cents.

That’s hardly a lot to brag about. This is why you must crunch the data to determine what is valuable according to your needs and what is not.

If the initial outlay doesn’t make logical sense for your budget, don’t feel obligated to buy in bulk. Also, keep in mind how simple it is to purchase products in bulk that you don’t really need.

Even if it appears to be a wonderful offer, if it puts your budget in jeopardy, it’s not worth it. Don’t be seduced into buying unnecessary items.

Whether you shop in bulk or otherwise, make sure you map out your grocery bill well in advance before going to the store. 

Do You Really Save Money At Costco – Conclusion

Shopping at Costco can save you money so long as you are aware of your budget and the items on sale. Smart shopping allows you to take advantage of the deals on offer.

Should you make any of the common mistakes listed above, you could end up spending more than you would elsewhere. Keeping your budget in mind is a great way to help you save.

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