During college I survived through my Dad’s generous Costco buys. Six girls living in one house….it’s no surprise we loved all those bulk buys and extra savings and that hasn’t changed for me! There are so many way to make your Costco membership worth it BUT there are plenty of BAD BUYS at Costco.
25 items to avoid at Costco
1. Books and Media – It can be tempting to scoop up a new book or DVD at Costco but prices tend to be better online. You can usually find books and DVDs on Amazon for MUCH cheaper. Fun Tip: Take pictures of books you want to buy with your phone and look them up later online to find the best price! Or use the Red Laser scanner app to check prices. The Amazon Price Check app compares prices for items it sells.
2. Condiments – Condiments typically go bad within 6 months so unless you have a very large family or a lot of parties those giant 1 lb. bottles of mayonnaise or three-packs of ketchup will likely go bad before you have a chance to use them.
3. Sunscreen – Sunscreen goes bad after a few months so unless you’ll use that giant bottle in one summer season you may want to rethink your bulk buy. Saving leftover sunscreen to use the next year may seem like a great idea but it will actually be less effective.
4. Flip Flops – You can often find flip flops for $1 at the Dollar Store but they are usually on sale for $5-$10 for at Costco.
5. Diapers & Wipes – Diapers and wipes may seem like a great item to buy at Costco BUT they tend to be cheaper at Amazon, Target, or Walmart, especially if you use a subscribe & save service.
6. Candy – Candy at Costco comes in HUGE batches so the quantity is usually way too much for a standard size family. On top of that, it’s usually more expensive than Target and Walmart options.
7. Body Lotion – Like sunscreen, body lotion also goes bad after a few months. So, unless you can use that whole bottle in a few months you’re better off spending less on a smaller bottle (while it may be more per ounce) because you’ll end up throwing your money away.
8. Electronics – You may be able to find the occasional great electronic deal at Costco but it’s a better bet to shop deals/coupons at electronics stores like Best Buy.
9. Detergent/Liquid Bleach – Laundry detergent begins to lose some of its effectiveness after about six months to one year. While it’s still safe to use it may not be the best idea to buy in bulk unless you have a big family and will be able to use that detergent.
10. Name Brand Cereal – Costco rarely has name brand cereals on sale so it’s better to wait for a sale or coupon on your favorite brand at your local store.
11. Milk – Milk spoils so quickly that it’s not a good idea to buy in bulk unless your family is really large. Plus, milk by the gallon is often cheaper at the grocery store.
12. Paper Products – Paper products may seem like a staple purchase when visiting Costco BUT this may actually be costing you money. According to Marketwatch, “everything from toilet paper facial tissues can be found cheaper at Target or Walmart.”
13. Soda – Soda is often on sale at grocery stores which makes it cheaper than the same brands at Costco.
14. Produce – Costco produce tends to be more expensive especially when produce goes on sale
15. Canned Goods – If you stock up around the holidays you can pay as little as 39¢ per can which is 33% less than Costco’s prices.
16. Printer Paper – Printer paper can usually be found cheaper at office supply stores such as Staples when combined with coupons, especially during the rapid back to school season (July to very early September). Check deals at these stores first before buying at Costco.
17. Feminine Hygiene Products – You can usually buy small boxes of these products for $1.50 or less. Costco’s prices are almost 50% more!
18. Frozen Pizza – Frozen pizza consistently goes on sale at grocery stores. With tons of BOGO or high value $3 coupons available to pair with these sales you can usually find frozen pizza to be MUCH cheaper at your local store. Buy at Costco and you’ll usually pay about 25% more!
19. Bacon – Bacon goes on sale every month or two at the grocery store (at least near me!). Buy at Costco instead and you’ll end up paying about 25% more per pound.
20. Bread – Even if you’re looking for a special type of bread you can beat Costco’s price when it goes on sale at the grocery store…even without a coupon!
21. Peanut Butter – While peanut butter has a one year shelf life it’s typically 50% more expensive per ounce at Costco.
22. Snack Crackers – Snack crackers tend to cost around $1 a box after a sale or coupon at your local store. The big boxes at Costco tend to be about 33% more per ounce!
23. Shampoo & Conditioners – Shampoo and Conditioners can often be found for much cheaper at drugstores or specialty bargain beauty stores such as Ulta. You’re better off waiting for a sale at these stores if you’re looking to buy name brands.
24. Frozen Chicken Breast – Frozen, skinless chicken breast tends to be $2/lb. at Costco but you can score much cheaper prices at the grocery store. I typically don’t pay over $1.65/lb. so this is a no-go item for me. Fun Tip: Costco’s rotisserie chicken is only $4.99 and is AMAZING! Buy this for a quick dinner option instead.
25. Pasta & Sauce – Pasta is typically $1 a box at the grocery store and can be even less with coupons. It tends to be more expensive at Costco. You can usually also buy sauce for $1 or less at Walmart which is also consistently less expensive than Costco. Buying cheap sauce and using it as a base for your own recipes (add spices to spruce it up!) is a great way to cut costs without sacrificing quality.