We are the Costco generation. We love to shop there, maybe not all of us, but a good percentage. They do have great stuff. Their Kirkland brand combines all that is fantastic and Costco has items that are difficult to find anywhere else. But not all is good in Costco land, these are Top 10 Mistakes Everyone Makes Shopping at Costco.
10. Buying in Bulk and Overspending
Ever since Costco merged with Price Club in 1993, it’s been a total craze. This large retail warehouse became the place to shop for everything under the sun. You can find anything from food to a kitchen sink. They have everything from household appliances and linens, clothes and jewelry, pharmaceuticals, books & movies, sports equipment, plants and flowers and so much more and too long to list here. It is a great place to always find cheaper prices for some items. Its food aisles are well stocked, with good name brands at a good price point value. But here is where you can go wrong. Costco tends to sell items in bulk. Therefore, that means you are buying items in large quantities, either in doubles or even triplicates. If you are feeding a large family this is perfect, most of the items will be consumed within a week or a two-week period. But, if you are a Lone Ranger, this place is a trap and not such a good idea. Unless you are a REALLY big eater or really like to waste your money. Non-perishables items take up space and buying fresh produce, bread, meats and dairy in large quantities will probably and usually lead to spoilage before you have had a chance to consume all of it. Splurging and wastage will not make you richer. Instead, look for better deals at your local grocer, in smaller quantities, they will cost you a fraction of the cost and keep those pennies in the bank for another rainy day.
9. Not Understanding Pricing
Don’t go to Costco before doing some research and knowing your pricing. Not everything is the drop bottom cheap at Costco. If your local shops are having a sale, a really good sale, it is probably best to do a price comparison first. Always shop around for deals for everything from food to that huge 60-inch TV that is on your wish list. Sometimes you can get better pricing at Best Buy. The golden rule of purchasing is to at least get three different quotes for that same item. Also compare apples to apples, meaning the same model, quantity, and brand, as this makes a huge difference. No need to pull out your calculator, if you don’t know the cost of just one item to be able to compare, the price tag on the shelf at Costco lists the price per unit. Then compare it to what you normally pay at other stores or when it is on sale and you can see if you have a deal or not. Also check Costco online, as prices may vary and there are also weekly deals if you purchase via the internet. Costco pricing has a whole hidden meaning, science, and culture behind it that not many consumers are aware of. You are not expected to know this unless you are a real Costco aficionado. You’ll need to track and pay close attention to get better deals. Items ending in .99 & .98 means it is regular pricing and probably doesn’t translate to much savings. If the price ends in anything else it means Costco got a manufacturer’s deal and can offer these items at a bigger discount than most other retailers. If the price ends in .97, this is the best deal. These are items need to move and are priced at a large discount. If there happens to be an asterisk in the upper right corner of the sign, this means the product will be discontinued, so act fast and stock up on your favorite before items before they vanish.
8. Fruits And Vegetables
This one is a bit of a no brainer to most Costco shoppers. While it might be tempting to grab carts worth of fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables, this could be one of the worst food choices to buy at Costco. We must just say that this has nothing to do with quality, after all, Costco does actually have some of the best produce around. No, this is all about quantity. While the price of buying fruit and veg in bulk is appealing, as soon as you leave the store your money has been wasted and you are in a race against time to eat as much as possible before it all turns to mulch. Unless of course, you are feeding an army of people every day, which we doubt you are. The trick to buying produce at Costco is to actually check out their frozen section. The fruits and vegetables in Costco’s freezer are still some of the best, and cheapest, around. And as they are frozen, you can really stock up on your fruits and vegetables as the frozen option won’t spoil for months, if at all. This is by far a better way to buy produce at Costco; it will save you money and make your food go a lot further.
7. Canned Foods
Canned food seems like an obvious choice when looking to bulk buy at Costco. After all, canned foods such as beans, corn, etc don’t go off so, therefore, they are the perfect product to stock our house up with. Well, you’d be right actually as they are. Most canned goods last for a very long time, as long as they are stored properly that is. The problem here isn’t with the quantity it is actually with the price. Surprisingly, most grocery stores and supermarkets sell canned food for a cheaper price, especially when they have sales or deals, which a lot of stores do. By keeping an eye on your local store, buying canned food at the store is cheaper than a trip to Costco. The same can actually be said for things like soda and even fresh meat. Soda is one of the rare items that a lot of grocery stores markdown, in particular around any kind of holiday. Fresh meat can also be better bought from a supermarket as any of their deals will beat Costco’s price. Plus you get a more manageable size to put in your freezer and consume before the meat goes bad.
Condiments, such as ketchup and mustard, are must-have items in any home. We all use these tasty sauces to add extra flavor to the food we love, so why wouldn’t we bulk up our pantry with giant ketchup bottles the next time we stop at Costco? Well, the answer to that is a simple one. Believe it or not but condiments, even ketchup, go bad. Once any jar or bottle of source or seasoning is opened, the color starts to change and the flavor begins to turn. While an open bottle of ketchup or mustard can last a few months, are you really going to finish that giant bottle in that time? Chances are that you are not and a good quarter of the bottle will be thrown out. Once you open a condiment jar, the countdown is on. There is even less time for things like mayonnaise, and even soy sauce which can start to turn bad even sooner. While there is nothing wrong with bulk buying at Costco, the best thing to do is to buy more regular-sized jars than one giant one. Most unopened condiments will last at least a year, if not longer. That way you have plenty of time to enjoy that tasty ketchup.
It’s fair to say that Costco is one of the weirdest grocery stores in the world. Not only do they sell pretty much anything, and in huge quantities, but you also have to pay just to get in the door. The first problem we face when getting a membership is whether or not we are actually going to shop at Costco that often. After much deliberation, we convince ourselves that we will, even though we will probably only go there around 3 times a year. Once we’ve decided to go for it, then comes the choice of which membership to get. Costco currently offers 3 membership choices; Gold, Business and Executive. While each membership option has its merits, depending on what you want to use Costco for that is, more often than not we sign up for the wrong one. The Costco membership fee is one of the biggest money wasters around as most people hardly ever go to Costco but don’t change their membership accordingly. Because of this, a lot of us are essentially throwing money down the drain. The best thing to do to truly maximize the Costco experience is to get the membership that is right for you. Study the pros and cons and be realistic about how much you will shop there, do all that and Costco will be a real-life changer.
4. Not knowing About Travel Service & Gift Cards
Another mistake we make while shopping at Costco is overlooking some other items that offer further deals and savings. One of the most underutilized departments at Costco is their Travel Services and Gift cards Section. We never think of it, or just don’t know about it, but they offer and sell some exclusive travel packages to Costco members. As mentioned before Costco has big purchasing power, they negotiate the best value in the marketplace and then pass on the savings to Costco members. That means better deals than your local travel agent. Costco employees working in the Travel Service area are also trained travel professionals who can expertly advise you in planning and booking your vacation. A special perk is that Executive Members can also earn that annual 2% Reward on Costco Travel Purchases. They also offer everything to complete your vacation from car rentals, ski packages and tickets for lifts at reduced prices, discounted tickets for theme parks like Disneyland, Universal, Safari’s, Gym memberships, Delta Airlines and even the reduced ticket prices for the Super Bowl. Added up, this is fantastic savings annually for a family of four who would otherwise not be able to go on vacation or plan activities. Do not forget gift cards for many restaurants, where there are savings to be had up to 20-25%, which means money on the table for dining out, or tip. They even have gift cards for coffee house that will ease up your monthly coffee budget. They have gift cards for movie nights and sporting events. What more can you ask for?
3. Buying Seasonal Gifts
Another big mistake we make is buying Seasonal Gift baskets at Costco. It may seem like a good idea at the time because you are in a hurry and don’t know what to get for that aunt & uncle who pop in last minute during the holiday season. These gift baskets look great and are beautifully decorated, but hold on, have you actually looked to see what’s inside them for the price. There are actually charging you extra for the tissue paper. Not to mention that not much thought process goes into it and everyone knows how much you paid. This holiday season don’t be a scrooge, put some thought into that special gift, hey otherwise a bottle of Chivas Regal may do the trick. Another mistake a lot of people often make around the holiday season, especially when shopping at Costco, is bulk buying nuts. While it may make sense to grab a giant bag of nuts, especially as it is the season, big bags of nuts are a big no-no. Because of the large amount of oil nuts contain, a large quantity can go rancid a lot quicker than smaller bags. So, when it is time to stock the cupboards for the holiday season, it’s best to stick with smaller bags of nuts.
2. Ignoring Services
We are so fixated on just purchasing food at Costco, that we forget that they sell other items, like appliances, electronics, eyewear, pharmaceuticals, medical services, travel, and even insurance. They have competitive prices in all these areas, plus added value as a Costco member. Costco also offers Concierge Services with the purchase of the items listed above. This service comes with two major perks, for electronics they off free technical support and extended manufacturer’s warranty for an additional two years. If you pay using your Costco Anywhere Visa Card, that warranty can get extended even further and up to seven years maximum. Costco Pharmacy is not only cheaper compared to other pharmacies, but by enrolling in their Prescription Program, it will give you further savings on prescription medication and over the counter drugs and it’s free for members. Their Optical Center has great deals on discounted eyewear, contact lenses, and sunglasses. They have an on-site optometrist where you can make an appointment before or after shopping. Costco offers a lot of discounted health services for its members as well. Some Costco stores also provide free diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart health screenings and immunizations. Many Costco locations have hearing aid services, offer hearing tests, free cleaning, check-ups, as well as loss and damage coverage, at competitive pricing and a money-back guarantee. They also offer Insurance on Health, Auto & Home, Travel & Life Insurance.
1. Avoiding the Gas Pump & Auto Center
Another mistake many Costco members make is not utilizing Costco Gas pumps and Auto Center. These two areas are often overlooked for savings. No one ever thinks about it, because no one wants to make that special trip just to Costco to purchase gas or new tires. It’s easier to do a shop close to home at the corner gas station. But why not fuel up while there? Costco has very good pricing and offers very competitive rates, compared to many gas stations. They are always a few cents cheaper. Those few cents add up in a month and will give you a round of free hot dogs at the food court for the family on your next trip to Costco. Many new Costo stores are now adding gas pumps to most of their locations were space allows. Gas is not the only area where members save money. Many Costco stores have name brand tire listed at a reasonably good price and the Auto Centers is offering $150.00 instant savings this year with the purchase of new winter tires and installation. In addition, the chain’s website offers members deals on anything from car insurance to long term and short-term leasing for travel and special membership deals of the purchase of new cars through reputable dealers.