3 Traps You Might Fall Into Shopping at Costco


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Do your best to steer clear of these.


Key points

  • Shopping at Costco can be a great way to save money.
  • It’s important to choose your purchases carefully to avoid wasting money or landing in debt.

As someone who shops at Costco once a week (sometimes more), I can say that my credit card bills would be a lot higher if I didn’t have access to not one, but two nearby warehouse stores. I get a lot of produce and staple items at Costco, and that saves me a ton of money even when I account for my membership fee.

But while I happen to love Costco, I can also admit that it could lend to some pretty big mistakes. Here are three traps you’ll want to avoid if you decide to start shopping at Costco as frequently as I do.

Trap No. 1: Buying something you can’t afford for fear it’ll go out of stock

Costco isn’t just a great source of bulk grocery items and household products. It also has a rotating line of inventory filled with everything from apparel to electronics at affordable prices.

The problem, though, is that an item you see at Costco one day might disappear off of its shelves the following month. And that could prompt you to make purchases you haven’t yet saved up for.

Imagine you hit up your local Costco for groceries and you notice that a neat-looking TV is on sale. That may be a limited-time deal — one you don’t want to pass up. So what you might then do is charge that TV on your credit card knowing full well that you don’t have enough money in the bank to pay that bill once it comes due. The result? Unhealthy debt and costly interest charges.

A better bet? Avoid the temptation to buy things that weren’t initially on your list. Even if Costco stops stocking a given item, chances are, you’ll find a comparable replacement at a great price soon enough.

Trap No. 2: Buying food in bulk that your family has never tried before

Because Costco offers bulk products at such reasonable price points, it can be tempting to take a chance on a new item if you think you’ll get good use out of it. But if it’s something your family has never tried before, that approach could backfire — especially if you have picky kids who aren’t always willing to try new foods.

Instead of trying out a new snack item, cereal, or spread in bulk, limit your bulk purchases to items you know your family consumes and enjoys. Otherwise, you could end up throwing your money away.

Trap No. 3: Buying perishables you don’t have room to store

Buying things like fruits, vegetables, and eggs at Costco could save you serious money compared to what you might pay at a regular supermarket. But before you load up, scope out your fridge and freezer to make sure there’s ample storage space available. The last thing you want to do is bring home a bunch of perishable items that you wind up needing to toss due to a lack of room.

Costco can be a great place to shop — whether weekly or on occasion. Just be sure to avoid these pitfalls along the way.

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