Costco, the giant warehouse that is land of $5 rotisserie chickens and humongous slices of food court pizza. It’s an impressive store with low cost-per-unit prices. But does it actually save you money overall? In this post, I’ll show you three strategies so you can save money at Costco.
It can, but it doesn’t always. If you want to save money at Costco, you need to be armed with a strategy, lest the sample ladies lure you to purchase every delicious container of artichoke dip… not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.
Last month I walked out with an extra $10 worth of crackers. For snacks, I reasoned. Not bad if I can make this last the whole month. Sure the crackers were eaten, but they were gobbled up in two weeks and we didn’t even save money because we simply ate more food.
The cracker incident prompted me to rethink my Costco strategy. I love Costco. I love the double carts (an essential with twins), I love the samples, I love the giant frozen bags of fruit and well-priced coffee, and I love the pizza (don’t you?)
What I don’t love is the “stock up now” alarm in my brain that kicks on every time I go there! Good deals abound, yet I know that I don’t need everything in sight. It just feels like I need it in the moment.
Can you relate?
So with that, I came up with some ways to keep my Costco spending in check and the shopping trips a win for my budget.
Okay sure, this one is so basic. But really, MAKE A LIST and don’t get anything that is not on the list! It’s harder than it sounds. 🙂 If you try this a few times and still walk out with two extra packs of sunscreen and those salted chocolate caramels (can’t say I’d blame you), then maybe it’s time to put the Costco card away for awhile.
No sense in saving $3 on toilet paper if you’re going to spend an extra $9 on cheese.
It’s not just about price per unit. Think about the quantities you can reasonably expect to consume. The grapes might be 20% less than the grapes at the store. But do you really want to attempt to eat that whole container before it spoils?
I know I can get a little ambitious in the store about my family’s ability to consume 20 lbs of potatoes and onions. But if I take my time to survey the options, most of the time I’m better off buying from the regular grocery store.
Costco does have some hidden gems on food, especially in refrigerated produce, however.
Some days it’s hard to even get out of the house with everyone in shoes. However, I’d rather just say “forget it” to a Costco trip than to take the kids on Saturday at 11am. It’s too crowded and chaotic to think straight, and I know I’ll have a more difficult time making decisions.
If you can avoid it, don’t go right before lunch or dinner time (trust me) and definitely eat something before you go. This refuels your brain’s decision-making capacity, increases your ability to remain calm, and you’ll have an easier time sticking to your list.
That’s how it works for me, at least. If I go to Costco hungry, then you’d better hope there’s room in the freezer for a gigantic box of waffles!
So, does Costco actually save you money? It definitely can. However, Costco is filled with impulse-purchase temptations, so arm yourself with a plan, and you’ll find you can have a well-stocked pantry and stay within budget.
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