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You May Never Know These 10 Ways To Save Money At Costco If You Miss This

You May Never Know These 10 Ways To Save Money At Costco If You Miss This

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.

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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:

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  • 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.

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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.

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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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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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