In and Out of Costco for Less Than Your Car Payment

By Melissa Tosetti

I love Costco!  By hitting the big box store every other week, I save at least 30 – 40% on my grocery bill.

Just a few of the items on our family’s list of Costco staples include:

  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Coffee
  • Hamburger
  • Frozen Chicken Breasts
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Vegetable Oil

Not only am I able to purchase these items for far less than I would at the grocery store, but by buying them in bulk, I’m able to stock up. That helps minimize the risk of running out and having to drop everything to go to the store.

Over the weekend I came across an article by Business Insider titled: 16 Shopping Secrets To Save Time And Money At Costco

Several of the tips I regularly implement or have suggested to clients.  One of my favorites is finding a Costco Buddy – someone to split purchases with you.  This is an especially savvy strategy for small families and small houses.

One thing that surprised me in the article was just how much consumers can save by using Costco’s pharmacy.

According to Consumer Reports, Costco has the best prices for pharmacy drugs.  Other pharmacies can charge up to 447% more for the same drugs.  If you have regular prescriptions, you could pay for your Costco membership by saving at the pharmacy alone.

I also didn’t realize their end of summer clearance sales were so good.   In retrospect, it makes sense as it feels like they start stocking Christmas trees on July 5th, so they have to get those patio furniture sets off the floor as quickly as possible.

The one thing I’d add to the article is the Golden Rule of Costco Shopping which is – Stick to your list!

I’ve had many clients come to realize their weekly trip to Costco was a form of entertainment.

One couple in particular have two children under three and they felt it was a cheap outing for them – that is until we looked at their credit card bill and discovered they were spending an average of $300 a week at the big box store, little of which was on groceries or items they actually used.

In order to help them still take advantage of the fantastic deals, but stay within their budget, they started a Spending Book.  They kept the Spending Book with them and as they strolled through the aisles of clothes and seasonal items.  If something caught their eye, they listed it in their Spending Book.  This gave them time to decide if they really wanted the item.  Prior to entering the store the next weekend, they would review their Spending Book and if they still wanted the item and it was within their budget, they would then buy it.

The fact is that the bargains at stores like Costco, BJ’s and Sam’s Club can save you a lot of money, but if you’re not careful, can do more damage than good.  Just remember to be mindful and stick to your list.