It’s no secret you can already save money at CostCo just by shopping there, but that isn’t the only way to get more bang for your buck out of the warehouse retailer. Savvy shoppers can find ways to keep even more cash in the bank by employing a few additional tips, tactics and strategies when they head out to do their shopping. If you’re ready to hang on to more dough, here’s 10 ways to save even more at CostCo.

Shop Seasonally

Like all retailers, CostCo has massive markdowns right after the holiday season where you can reap massive rewards. You should also know that CostCo does a big price cutting right after summer as well, so at the first nip of autumn, you should make a point of heading in to stock up for the next year. You’ll also want to keep your receipts just in case another retailer, or even CostCo itself, slashes their prices on some item you just bought so you can take advantage of their price matching guarantee.

Get Online

Going to a CostCo outlet can sometimes be a hassle. There are crowds to contend with, parking lots, and battling another shopper to the death over the last case of A-1. This isn’t always necessary. CostCo recognizes that it can be a headache to shop at their outlets which is why they offer additional bargains, deals, coupons, and offers to people who skip the trip and shop online. You’ll often find discounts on items that are only available through their website and online deal codes that will save you cash. Most of the time shipping is included and you can be guaranteed to get your item, while inventory at the actual store might be depleted.

Shop Without a Membership

If you want to save money at CostCo without coughing up the yearly membership fee, you can get in the door by having a CostCo cash card that a member bought for you. That is all that is required for you to help yourself to the heaps of savings available inside. You don’t even need to make your entire purchase with the card. If you have a cash card worth only $25 and you rack up a couple of hundred bucks worth of merchandise, you can simply pay the difference with one of their accepted payment methods. Now that’s sneaky saving.

You can also buy a membership, stock up in a few massive trips and then cancel it by saying you were not satisfied. CostCo has a 100% money-back guarantee. If you claim you aren’t happy with your experience, you’ll get all your membership costs returned.

Crack the Codes

The way a true guru knows to save money at CostCo is to learn the secret price codes. Each sign has a few things to note so that you can determine what are the best buys and what you should pass by. Here’s what to know:

  • If a price ends in 88 cents or an even dollar amount it is a manager’s markdown. They make these when they need to get rid of an item very quickly. It is specific to each store and tells you that they really want you to buy so these will have a much lower price than usual.
  • 97 cent steals: Ordinarily an item ends in 99 cents, so if you see “97″ at the end it has been cut down from its usual price. These are usually the items that give you the most savings so it is worth taking a look.
  • Prices with odd cents amounts (examples: 49, 59, or 79 cents): These are items that CostCo bought cheaper from the manufacturer and they are passing the savings on to you. You won’t save as much as the other methods listed, but it still might be worth checking.

Welcome to Kirkland

Kirkland is CostCo’s store brand and by buying Kirkland products you can save a bundle. Here’s the best part: They are often made by name brand companies at a lesser price. Pureology makes the Kirkland shampoo. Bumble Bee makes the tuna. Huggies makes almost all of the diapers, and Humboldt Creamery makes the Kirkland Signature ice cream. The best is the booze. Grey Goose handles their vodka while Jim Beam makes their bourbon.

Kirkland is meant to be a high-quality brand so CostCo doesn’t skimp. Some of their stuff is not great but the majority of the time you’ll get materials that are equal-to or even better than the name brand at a fraction of the cost.

Do The Math

This is a smart shopping practice no matter where you go. Carry a flyer from local grocery stores with you whenever you go to CostCo and do a price analysis breakdown. Bulk items seem cheaper because you’re getting more of them, but sometimes the price per item isn’t actually a savings. Divide the price by the number of boxes, ounces, or units you are getting and then see how it compares to other places. You’ll be surprised at how much you might save by skipping the bulk purchase and getting the same thing from another source.

Know Where you Aren’t Saving

There are three primary areas that are actually more expensive at CostCo than they are elsewhere: office supplies, paper goods (toilet paper, paper towels, etc.), and soda are all typically more costly than if you had gotten the same item from another store. This is why doing the math pays off. You’ll find out that by breaking the illusion that you always save money at CostCo by buying in bulk you’ll keep more in the bank.

Buy Bulk Meat

You’ll need a vacuum sealer and a decent freezer for this tactic, but it can save you hundreds on butcher costs. Get a big slab of beef, a rack of ribs, or one of their other massive meat deals and then cut it into portions for freezing. With a good vacuum sealer your meat won’t get freezer burned and you’ll be able to live out a zombie apocalypse in the lap of meaty luxury.

Do a Perimeter Sweep

The center aisles are where CostCo will try to trap you into making impulse buys. Thanks to the warehouse layout, it is easy not to get sucked in by these tricks. Do a loop around the store that doesn’t take you past the snacks, the electronics, or the DVD sections. Every store uses the same tricks to drive you into the middle where you’ll drop hundreds on stuff you don’t need. Get your eggs, your milk, your produce, and your frozen goods, then escape the CostCo clutches.

Give it Back

CostCo has a glorious return policy that you should know about and use. You have two years to return almost anything – yes, that often includes frozen foods that spoiled or got freezer burned – and they have a price matching option that gives you 30 days to prove their item was cheaper somewhere else and they’ll refund you the difference. Just make sure you keep your receipt!

Featured photo credit: Jon Sullivan via public-domain-image.com

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