Does Shopping at Costco Save Money? 7 Ways to Avoid Blowing Your Financial Budget.
How many times have you gone to Costco or Sam’s Club or BJs Wholesale and was surprised at how much money you were about to pay the cashier? I confess that this same scenario has happened to me more often than I would like to admit. Many times, I just want to run in for a few items only to find myself stuffing my car with bulk items about 30 minutes later while holding on to a drink, a hot dog, and a whole pizza from the food service area. Although the hot dog and the whole pizzas are great deals, there are ways you (and I) can avoid the pitfalls of spending too much money and blowing our monthly budget.
Here are 7 things to consider when going to a wholesale store like Costco:
- Buy what you use. What does that mean? We should only buy in bulk items that are nonperishable and items that we use a lot of. Toilet paper, paper towels, and dish soap are great examples of items that should be purchased at Costco (or any wholesale store).
- Know item prices. A big tub of mayonnaise costs between $4.49 and $6.99 at Costco. The price difference – sale vs. non-sale price. At $4.49, it is worth buying the 64-ounce tub of mayo vs. buying something that’s a fraction of the size at a regular supermarket. The price at our local Kroger for a 30-ounce tub is around $4.29. For $0.20 more, you get more than double mayonnaise. This is true for many items including pain medication, cleaning products, and packaged foods.
- Don’t fall into the trap of browsing. My biggest kryptonite is a stroll around Costco. It can debilitate my monthly budget. There are so many items at Costco that “I didn’t know I wanted.” I say want because often I have lived decades without the need of whatever was purchased due to a simple stroll. Baklava? Didn’t know what it was (just kidding, I knew what it was, but never had it), but after sampling it, I wanted it. Kids jackets are on sale! Doesn’t matter if they have more than 10 jackets each, they are each getting a new one at $7.99. See the problem? If I don’t browse and see things I want, I won’t spend money to purchase them.
- Self-control. You must have self-control when going to Costco. How often does “I’m just going in for a carton of eggs turn into a cart-full of things you need”? Know the aisles your items are in and make a beeline. Stay away from other aisles or the center of the store. Focus on that carton of eggs and make a dash out of the store as fast as possible. Self-control is key to staying on budget.
- Buy bulk fruits only if you can eat them within 3 days. I find that fruit from Costco will only last a few days to a week. The sheer quantity is enough to make my head spin when trying to put it all away when I get home. The price might be great for a whole box of nectarines, but if you only eat half of it before they go bad, you just paid double the price for the nectarines you consumed.
- Share with a friend, a neighbor, or a family member. Before going to Costco, speak with a friend, a neighbor, or a family member and see if they would like to split purchases with you. Some items are challenging to split, but items like bleach, cereal, milk, and individually packaged items are very simple to calculate what each item costs and share the purchase with others.
- Donate items to a nonprofit organization. Before food items expire, consider donating anything extra you may have that would otherwise go bad. Keep track of the receipts you receive when making donations to use these as deductions on your taxes the following year.
Going to Costco or any other wholesale store is not a bad thing and can definitely save money. You just need to know how to avoid the traps of budget-busting grocery runs.