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How to Save Money at Costco: Top Insider Tips

Shopping at bulk retailers like Costco can be a game-changer for your budget. The massive store, known for its generous return policy, tasty samples, and wide array of products, is a haven for savvy shoppers. But how can you ensure that you're making the most out of every dollar spent? Here are actionable tips to stretch your money further at Costco.

1. Membership Levels and Deals

  • Understanding Membership Options: Costco offers different membership tiers, including Gold Star, Executive, and Business. While the Gold Star is the base level, the Executive membership, although pricier, gives you 2% cash back on most purchases. If you're a frequent Costco shopper, this could mean significant savings by year-end.
  • Leverage Membership Promotions: Keep an eye out for membership deals. Occasionally, Costco partners with companies or offers promotions that provide gift cards, discounts, or other perks for signing up.
  • Split a Membership: If you don't shop at Costco often, consider splitting a membership with a friend or family member. Both of you can benefit from the savings without bearing the full cost of membership.

2. Time Your Shopping Trips Right

  • Avoid Peak Hours: To truly enjoy your shopping experience and avoid crowded aisles, try to shop during weekdays, especially in the morning. This not only ensures a more peaceful trip but might also give you better access to limited-stock deals.
  • Watch for Markdowns: Costco has a unique pricing strategy. If you see a price ending in .97, it's a markdown. Similarly, items with asterisks on the price sign mean they're being discontinued. Snap them up before they're gone!
  • Shop Seasonally: Right after major holidays, Costco often slashes prices on related items. For instance, grab discounted holiday decor in January or discounted summer items in early fall.

3. Opt for Costco Brands

  • Embrace Kirkland Signature: Costco’s in-house brand, Kirkland Signature, is not only cheaper but also often matches or surpasses the quality of name brands. From olive oil to batteries, give Kirkland a try and watch the savings pile up.
  • Sample Before Buying: Take advantage of Costco's generous sampling stations. This lets you try before you buy, ensuring you only purchase what you love.
  • Stay Informed: Occasionally, name brands manufacture Kirkland products. By staying updated through blogs or forums dedicated to Costco shoppers, you'll know which Kirkland products are actually hidden gems.

4. Bulk Buy with Caution

  • Do the Math: Just because it's in bulk doesn't mean it's a good deal. Break down the price per unit and compare it with prices at other stores. Apps like Unit Price Compare can help with this.
  • Avoid Overbuying Perishables: While bulk buying can be tempting, avoid purchasing perishables unless you're certain they'll be consumed before expiring. Food waste is not economical or ecological.
  • Divide and Store: For items that you can stock, such as toilet paper or cleaning supplies, allocate storage space at home. Proper storage ensures longevity and quality.

5. Make the Most of Technology

  • Use the Costco App: Costco's mobile app showcases the latest deals, offers digital coupons, and even lets you create shopping lists. It's a must-have for the modern Costco shopper.
  • Keep an Eye on Deal Sites: Websites like Slickdeals or RedFlagDeals often feature Costco-specific discounts. Regularly checking can alert you to unadvertised in-store or online deals.
  • Stay Updated with Email Alerts: Sign up for Costco's email alerts to stay in the know about upcoming promotions, special events, and hot-ticket items.

6. Explore Additional Services

  • Gas Up: Costco's gas stations frequently offer competitive rates, making it a great place to fill your tank. If it's on your way, this can translate to regular savings.
  • Check Out Travel Deals: If you're planning a vacation, glance at Costco Travel. They curate vacation packages, cruises, and rental car deals, often at rates that beat other travel agents.
  • Prescription Savings: The Costco pharmacy often provides medications at a fraction of the cost compared to other pharmacies. Even if you're not a member, you can still use their pharmacy services.

Costco's savings potential is vast, but the key lies in being an informed and strategic shopper. By using these tips and remaining vigilant, you can ensure that each trip to Costco brings maximum value to your wallet

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