A Costco membership can be a double-edged sword. There are tons of great deals, but it can be easy to spend a lot more than you were budgeting when you start finding interesting stuff. Buying in bulk just because you can is not an automatic recipe for big savings. You’re likely to waste a lot of food and money if you start buying everything in bulk.
Costco offers two basic membership tiers at $60 and $120 per year, so it’s not expensive to join, and the membership can absolutely save you money if you use it for the right items and figure out how to properly buy in bulk. You also need to take advantage of the products they offer the most substantial discounts on. Here are six simple ways a Costco membership can save you money every month.
1) Use The Costco Pharmacy
The Costco pharmacy is one of the best reasons to have a membership. They list some of their best discounts on medication on their website and you can contact your local Costco pharmacy to get a more complete list. They even offer substantial discounts on pet medications. The savings over most national pharmacies ranges from 5% to 50%, so you can pay for your Costco membership if you are prescribed any of the most discounted items with just the pharmacy. Anyone with even a few regular prescriptions should consider getting a Costco membership.
2) Buy Costco Furniture & Housewares
Costco has a policy of selling all items at a maximum of 14% profit margin, which is why they have such good deals on furniture and housewares. You’ll quickly realize that furniture and housewares have a hefty markup at most other stores when you start comparing prices at Costco. If you are looking to remodel your home or are moving into a new place, then you can save yourself a lot of money with a Costco membership. You can always find a solid selection of furniture on their website, and you are likely to find some unique items at great prices in any of their locations.
3) Open the Coupon Mailer & Use Them
Even if you’re not big on clipping coupons, you will want to make an exception for the Costco Home Mailer. It’s filled with great deals and discounts on a random and varied assortment of items. There are tons of great websites that even publish monthly breakdowns of the best deals in the mailer. FrugalLivingNW.com provides routinely updated list of the best discounts. The monthly mailer has a loyal following online for good reason.
4) Use Costco Price Protection & Return Policy
You will want to make use of Costco’s price protection and return policy if you want to maximize the savings with your membership. They have an extremely member-friendly return policy that will allow you to return just about anything that you are not happy with. There are a few time limits with large ticket items like electronics and appliances, but they basically guarantee full satisfaction with anything you buy from them.
Costco also offers a price protection policy that will rebate you the savings if something you buy goes on sale within 30 days of you buying it. It’s fairly straight sforward. You simply go in with your receipt and they will give you the difference in store credit or cash.
5) Buy Discounted Gift Cards to Your Favorite Businesses
One of the simplest ways to see some immediate savings on things you already do is to utilize the discounted gift card selection at Costco. You are likely to find a few companies that you frequently buy something from or restaurants you dine at. There are even theme parks, spa packages, and charter flights. This perk of a Costco membership can certainly lead to more spending if you get carried away. Charter flights are still expensive, even when they are discounted. When used to get deals at the stores you already frequent, it can serve as a simple and effective way to save money every month.
6) Use The Costco Gas Station
Not all Costco locations have gas stations, but it’s a great way to save money for those that live by a location that does. Costco does not promise a certain discount level and gasoline will always have price fluctuations by area and time of year. There are many reports online, like a recent one by Motley Fool, that has found Costco to consistently be the lowest price gas in the area. They found the prices to be roughly .15 lower per gallon. That may not seem like much, but a few dollars every time you fill up will add up quickly and ultimately pays for the membership to Costco by itself.