What Not to Buy at Costco (or Sam’s)

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Senior Costco shopper
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Savvy shoppers can often save big bucks by making purchases at warehouse club stores like Costco, Sam’s Club or BJs Wholesale.

But while warehouse clubs may offer the best deals on items such as prescription drugs, wine, meats and batteries, there are things that cost less elsewhere and times when buying in bulk is not worth it.

According to shopping experts, here are five things you should avoid putting in your shopping cart during your next warehouse club visit:

  • Perishable food items (like condiments): Sure, the price may be tempting, but unless you’re running a restaurant or have a family of 20, chances are good that you won’t be able to use the entire 1-gallon tub of mayonnaise before it goes bad. The same goes for many sunscreens and beauty products. Buying in bulk isn’t a money-saving option if you end up throwing half of the item away because it expired before you could use all of it.
  • Canned goods: You can typically score a better deal on canned goods at your local grocery store than at a warehouse club, according to Kiplinger. You could save up to 40 percent per unit for canned goods if you buy them at your local grocery store, especially if you opt for store-branded canned food.
  • Olive oil (and other cooking oils): The shelf-life of most cooking oils is fairly short. So no matter how good its price tag looks at the warehouse club, buying a huge bottle of olive or vegetable oil that expires before you’ve used it all, and ends up in the trash, is not a smart shopping purchase. “Shoppers can find deals on cooking oils in smaller packages at their local grocery stores,” CouponCabin CEO Scott Kluth told Kiplinger.

  • Books, DVDs and CDs: Before you throw a DVD of the latest kids movie in your cart or pick up a book that has a particularly enticing storyline, know that you can usually find a better price for those items online, especially if you don’t mind a gently used book or movie. “It might be tempting to buy books or DVDs at these stores, but you’ll find much lower prices online (like on Amazon),” Erin Konrad, a spokesperson for CouponPal.com told MarketWatch. You may also be able to borrow the book, DVD or CD for free at your local public library.
  • Fruits and vegetables: I’ve scored many great deals on produce items at Costco, but it is not always a good deal. First, there’s the risk that some of the fruits and veggies you buy in bulk will go bad before you have the chance to eat them all. Second, there’s a good chance you could get those items for a better price at a grocery store, Kiplinger says. While prices on produce are typically static at warehouse clubs, supermarkets often offer significantly lower prices for fruits and vegetables when they are in season, Teri Gault, CEO of grocery savings site TheGroceryGame.com, explained to Kiplinger.

For more tips on shopping these stores, check out “6 Ways Warehouse Stores Get You to Spend Too Much.”

Do you shop at warehouse clubs to save money? What items do you buy and which products do you avoid? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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