Not everything sold there is going to be a great deal for you.
One of America’s favorite places to shop, Costco recently got second place among national grocery stores in an annual survey conducted by consumer data firm Dunnhumby.
Boasting a membership of more than 94 million members, that’s pretty remarkable, considering basic memberships costs $60 a year to buy the chain’s products in bulk.
If you are a loyal member of Costco, here are five mistakes to avoid the next time you go shopping to get the bang for your buck.
1) Don’t Take Advantage of Non-Member Perks
There are some perks that non-members can take advantage of at Costco, such as the pharmacy. As a result of state and local laws, non-members can purchase prescriptions at many Costco pharmacies, at times saving up to 80% off even without insurance.
These savings also apply to vaccinations, and without insurance Costco is one of the cheapest places to get your flu shots. Their optical department also offers cost-effective eye exams with licensed optometrists for non-members.
And afterwards if you need to grab a bite, head on over to the food court and pick up a hot dog combo for the ever-reliable price of $1.50. Or if you need to pick up something for the afterparty, remember that you don’t require a membership to get that bottle of Kirkland Signature vodka.
2) Which Membership is Right for You
Usually the only thing holding people back from getting a Costco membership is rationalizing whether to invest in a paid annual subscription, which starts at $60 per year. The next level up, the Gold Star Executive membership costs $120 a year and offers a 2% cash-back reward up to $1000.
All it really comes down to is how much you are looking to spend in the store. If you’re looking to spend $600 a year at Costco, the basic membership comes up to about $5 a month. If you spend over $250 a month, or $3000 a year, the executive membership pretty much pays for itself.
If you’re still on the fence, to push yourself over the edge, consider tagging along with a friend who has a membership or pickup a Costco Cash card which will allow you to check out the store even without a membership.
3) Watch What You Buy
With so many great deals surrounding you when you enter Costco it can get out of hand really quickly. Consider the overall value of what you’re buying before you do, as everything is generally sold in bulk and costs 10% less on average when compared to other big box retailers.
Make sure you are paying attention to the price tag and the price per item, or you may be throwing out food that goes bad or struggling to find room to store everything that you purchase.
4) Save on Health Services
Costco members can take advantage of discounted health services at the big box retailer. Some locations offer free screenings for diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart health.
Members can also enroll in the Costco Member Prescription Program to get additional discounts on top of Costco’s already low prices on prescription medication and over the counter drugs.
5) Not Everything is a Great Deal
Most members are loyal to Costco, going there for pretty much all their household needs. However it might be wise to diversify from where you get your groceries and other household items. Even though Costco has their own coupons and promos, you can take advantage of other promotions at retailers like Amazon.
So here’s hoping that you can make a decision as to whether a Costco membership is worth it for you. If you need any other financial advice, remember that the Financial Helpers are only a phone call away.