My family and I have been shopping at Costco for decades. We do much of our grocery shopping in the store, and many of the long-term employees know our children by name. However, we also know that not every item is a good deal at the membership store. These are 14 items we don’t put in our cart at Costco, and opt to get elsewhere.
Table of Contents
Office supplies don’t tend to expire, so you might think you’re fine purchasing them at Costco. Unfortunately, the pricing is fairly expensive on office supplies at Costco.
You’re often better served at buying such items at Walmart and Target.
Costco sells a significant amount of over-the-counter medications. This can be a great way for a large family to save money.
Unfortunately, you must typically buy them in bulk. Not only can they lose effectiveness over time, they expire. Unless someone in your family regularly uses an OTC medication, you’re better off buying it at Walgreens or Walmart.
Do you really need 12 massive rolls of paper towels at once? You likely don’t. Grocery stores often run name brand paper towels as a loss leader, allowing you to save more.
Additionally, tests show that Kirkland paper towels often don’t perform as well as well-known brands. There’s no need to spend more for something that’s not going to be a quicker picker upper.
Lots of coffee sounds great if you love a cup of joe. But, as any coffee-lover will tell you, coffee loses taste and effectiveness once ground.
You can still buy beans in bulk at Costco, just invest in an affordable grinder from Amazon or Walmart.
Pre-Cut Fruits and Vegetables
If you have a large family, you know that buying produce at Costco can be a fantastic way to save money on groceries. That’s not necessarily the case with pre-cut produce.
We’ve experienced less than fresh produce in these offerings numerous times. Reports also indicate other shoppers having a similar experience. While convenient, it may not be worth the savings for you.
Costco usually has fantastic deals on spices. Unfortunately, they don’t carry a lot of spices. Worse yet, they’re only available in bulk.
Spices, like coffee, lose flavor over time. Unless it’s a spice you use on the regular, you’re better served by purchasing a smaller version at your local grocery store.
Costco has a great selection of electronics. Unfortunately, the device in question may not have everything you want.
Companies often work with warehouse clubs to offer customers devices that don’t have all the features you will find from other stores. Or, it’s an out-of-date device. It’s part of how they keep costs low. Before purchasing electronics from Costco, comparison shop to ensure it’s what you want.
A good mattress is a necessity. Costco offers great deals on mattresses, but they lack selection.
You are typically better served by going through a local retailer, especially if you can purchase your new bed on a promotion.
Unless you fry food a lot, that massive jug of cooking oil isn’t a good deal. Oil goes bad, and can even turn sour or bitter.
Buy a smaller version at your local grocery store and use a receipt scanning app to reduce your cost.
Avid readers know Costco often isn’t the best place to purchase a book. They typically don’t have the latest best seller and you may get a better price at Amazon or Walmart.
Better yet, use your local library to completely reduce costs.
New to You Products
Don’t let FOMO trick you. If an item is new to you, it’s usually best to avoid buying it in bulk at Costco. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a lot of something you don’t like.
Instead, buy it in a smaller quantity at the grocery store to see if you like the new item before making an investment.
Believe it or not, but flour has an expiration date. Worse yet, flour attracts moisture even if you seal it tightly. That 25 pound bag of floor often only lasts about a year. Whole wheat flour can go bad in several months.
Unless you’re a serious baker, it’s best to avoid buying that large bag of flour at Costco as you may end up losing cash in the long run.
One helpful feature of Costco is their optical department. You can get an affordable eye exam, but look elsewhere for your new set of frames.
There are better choices to buy cheap glasses online to cut costs and get a better selection.
Costco may offer good deals on soda, but you must purchase it in bulk. Grocery stores often sell soda as a loss leader, and if you use a coupon app you can save even more.
Costco vs Sam’s Club: Which is Better?
Both warehouse clubs offer money-saving deals, but they vary a lot in what they offer. Choosing the right one can increase your savings.
Things You Should Always Buy at Costco
Costco is a great store to shop at. However some items truly stand out. Here are 12 items you should always purchase at the warehouse club.
13 Things You Should Never Buy at Walmart
Love them or hate them, Walmart is a good choice to save money. However, not everything is a good deal. Here are 13 things you should never purchase at the store.
11 Things You Should Never Buy at Aldi
Aldi is a terrific store to shop at, but not everything is a good deal. Here are 11 things you should never purchase at the discount grocery store.
Best Coupon Apps to Save Money
You don’t need to clip coupons to save money at the store or online. A phone is all you need to cut costs. You can redeem savings for cash or free gift cards.
I’m John Schmoll, a former stockbroker, MBA-grad, published finance writer, and founder of Frugal Rules.
As a veteran of the financial services industry, I’ve worked as a mutual fund administrator, banker, and stockbroker and was Series 7 and 63-licensed, but I left all that behind in 2012 to help people learn how to manage their money.
My goal is to help you gain the knowledge you need to become financially independent with personally-tested financial tools and money-saving solutions.