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Billeater: What to Buy and Not to Buy at Costco Stores

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by savingtools.com)
at 10:56AM Wednesday February 9, 2011
under Shop Smarter

Many people mistakenly assume that buying in bulk is always a good thing. Truth be told, buying in bulk is only a good thing when the price is right. Costco isn't always the best place to buy--it might make you feel like you are saving a ton, but unless you buy enough of the right things at the right price it can end up costing more. It can also be a problem if you don't have enough storage space, yet another reason to be picky about what you buy in bulk.
Clothing

The name brands you see at Costco are often made-to-order. They can sell them cheaper because they are made cheaper. Most big label designers plan for and create cheaper lines of clothing specifically for outlets and warehouse clubs. You can tell the good stuff by the softer stitched-on labels. The labels on the other stuff are papery and stiff.

Linens

Costco doesn't have a great selection or a great price on bath towels and sheets. You can do better at Target or Walmart. Even better, see if your local big-lot store has what you need. The local Ocean State Job Lot has a great selection for very low prices. On the down side, they rarely have enough of one type of towel to make a full set.

Perishable Goods

This good for some, not for others. It really depends on whether your family can consume 20 pounds of oranges before they spoil. Even then, your family is likely to be sick of them after trying to eat such large portions before they go bad. If you can't freeze it and you won't eat it all, don't buy it.

Of course, every coin has two sides. Costco does a great job with certain other types of products. Here are the items you can expect to get the best deal when buying at Costco.

Wine

There are some very good wines re-branded and sold at warehouse clubs. Kirkland is praised as a brand worth the trip. They are so well known for good wine buys that one guy even blogs about it. CostcoWineBlog can help you choose before you shop from the largest wine retailer in the United States. Quick tip: You don't need a membership card to buy wine at Costco. Just tell the greeter you are there for the wine.

Chocolate Truffles

These incredibly yummy truffles only come around once a year. Chocmod makes these incredible find confections and you can get 4 pounds (two boxes) for just about $11 around Christmas. They are perfect for entertaining any time of year--so if you have no need for them right now, put them in the freezer for later. Otherwise, repackage them for last minute gifting, or for the office.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The Olive Center (yes, there really is such a place at UC Davis) the Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil available at Costco is about half the cost of Bertolli and twice as good. It turns out that most major brands mix the olive oil with cheaper refined oils. Kirkland doesn't. The other brands that don't mix oils cost five times more than Kirkland.

Managing Large Packages

As it turns out, buying in bulk all the time costs you more. Why? When you buy more, you eat more. The trick is to buy in bulk when the price is very low and to store your bulk purchases in smaller packages once you get home. If you practice this type of discipline with your bulk purchases, you'll squeeze even more savings out of your Costco buys.

Jessica Bosari writes for the money-saving site, Billeater.com. The site is devoted to helping people reduce expenses, save money and find great deals. Pay Billeater a visit for more money-saving tips!