We’ve talked before about the 7 things that I always buy at Costco – because they are truly a great deal, without ever having to cut a coupon or wait for a sale.
But shopping at Costco can also give you a false sense of security. You may be lulled into thinking that everything there is a bargain.
Unfortunately, this is far from true.
To know whether the Costco prices are a bargain, you really need to keep a price book. The next time you’re going to stock up on mayo or ketchup or paper plates, consult your price book. You might be very surprised to realize that even without a sale or coupon, your grocery store or Target have lower shelf prices on many items.
While prices, sales and deals vary regionally, I often get asked, “What shouldn’t I buy at Costco.” So with the caveat that you should consult your own price book to know for sure, here are five products that I (almost) never recommend buying at Costco.
#1. Cereal – A stockpile of cereal is sort of quintessential to a couponer. I don’t ever pay more than $1 per box, and often get them for under $.50. Even if your price point is $2 with a coupon and a sale, you’re still probably better off to pass on the cereal at Costco. That said, there have been a few exceptions to this rule – so always check my Costco Coupon Matchups, to find out when cereal is worth it to buy at Costco.
#2. Pasta – My target price is $1 per bag. I like to pay a bit less with a sale and coupon (which is often doable for the Barilla brand at Target), but even at Trader Joe’s I can pay $1 for their store brand. No coupon or sale required. Costco’s multi-packs of pasta will run you $1.50 per bag or more – definitely not a deal in my book.
#3. Toothpaste – I used to say that I would never pay for toothpaste again, but in the last several months, I’ve noticed that the price (with coupon and sale) has inched up toward the $.50 – $1/tube range. Even still, it’s far less than you’ll pay for a four-pack of Crest at Costco.
#4. Body Wash – Again, I used to get body wash for free, but now I find that I have to pay $1 or even $2 for a big bottle. (Not sure how to do this? Read my weekly CVS deal posts.) Again, the prices at Costco – even for their bigger bottles – far exceed this.
#5. Avocados – This is a tough one for me. I love Costco avocados. LOVE.Them. They are big and meaty and I’ve yet to get a bad one. But even during the peak of the season, you’ll pay at least $1 per avocado. And much though I love them, it’s hard to justify spending that much when I can get avocados at Aldi for as little as $.19 each on sale. Sure they are smaller and harder – so I have to plan ahead – but at 1/5th the price, I’ll make the sacrifice. (In the interest of full disclosure – I will admit that on occasion, when I’ve had some extra money in my budget, a few of those green mesh bags did make their way into my cart.)
What items do you avoid at Costco because the price isn’t right? Have you compared your price book targets to the shelf price at Costco? Any big surprises?