I love me a good shopping trip to Costco. I had only been to Costco a handful of times growing up since my mom didn’t have a membership, but my memories of Costco were grand. The lights, the large aisles with so.much.stuff, the extra wide parking spots, the FREE SAMPLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I’m only slightly making fun of people who plan their entire meals around Costco sample day), seriously though, I loved it all. Yet I knew you could only shop there if you had the room to store your purchases, something our apartment lacked so the week hubby and I closed on our house we went to the brand spankin’ new Costco in town and signed on the dotted line for our annual membership.
You’re telling us we could buy over-sized bags of chips?! A year’s supply worth of granola bars for a family of two in one box?! Buy five pounds of rice or eight liters of ketchup at once?! We were over the moon with excitement, until we hit the cash register.
Every time we went to Costco we filled our cart with more food and ‘stuff’ than we needed, especially for our small family of two. Yet, after every trip we found ourselves planning our next. It was like a drug. Don’t get me wrong, Costco has some good deals even for our small family but if I’m being honest our cart was always full of stuff we didn’t need.
Helpful Shopping Tips
Here are a few tips I’ve learned from many trips and shopping mistakes that help us from not overspending at Costco and maximizing on our shopping experiance:
- Give up the membership. If you know someone else who has one, shop with them. Hubby and I would often end up in the store just because we were ‘in the neighborhood’. Having to go with someone else (the in-laws) requires us to plan the trip, saving us from crazy impulse shopping. If you can’t give up the membership, maybe share your membership with another family. To do this you may have to temporarily ”marry” your best friend/co-worker/whoever since Costco requires you live in the same household for membership, anything for a deal though
- Do a ”dry shop”. Leave you wallet at home and do a good walk-through at your local Costco to price things out. Check out the prices, package sizes and quantities before buying. Some things are a great deal but not necessarily for every family size.
- Share the cost with friends or family. Sometimes there are good deals but again for a larger group. Recently we found a double pack of a salad dressing that we really like but knew we’d never go through two extra-large bottles before it expired, so we split the cost with someone else who wanted to try it as well.
- Keep a running list of things you know Costco sells (on a regular basis) and prefer to buy from them. This may help you from overspending at other stores. For us it’s cereal and bananas. It kills me to buy bananas anywhere else knowing I can get a ginormous bag of 10-12 bananas for $1.69, not per pound but $1.69 total. It’s one of the best deals in town. Same with cereal, I can buy a Costco size box of cereal for less than $6.00 or pay $6.99 for a regular size box of cereal at the grocery store.
- If you find you consume a lot of any one thing, check to see if it’s something Costco sells it and price it out. We eat a lot of broccoli. The best price I can get at our local grocery stores for frozen broccoli is $2.50 for a 500gm bag and this is an infrequent sale price. I just bought 2kg bag of some of the best looking broccoli at Costco I’ve ever purchased for $6.00. We’re set for a while.
- If you’re an infrequent shopper like us, shop with a list as well as a ”Costco contingency fund”. Costco often carries one-off items, their stock is constantly changing. Rather than allowing your budget to get busted by one shopping trip, try sticking to your list and bring what I like to call a Costco contingency fund; a set amount of money you’ll allow yourself to spend if you decide there’s an item you need and may not be at the store during your next trip.
Costco is a great store if used correctly. It’s easy to go overboard and just buy stuff because it’s a good deal and end up tying hundreds of dollars up in food and ”stuff”.
Do you shop at Costco? Any money-saving tips to share?