Make the most of a Costco Membership

Costco and other so-called box stores not only purchases items at wholesale prices, but do so in volume amounts. This reduces the cost to the store even further, and at least theoretically, to the customer. Nevertheless, the cost of a Costco membership, though not terribly expensive, makes it important to realize as much as possible in the way of savings that the association can provide. The Costco shopper can take advantage of three methods for realizing some important savings.

First method: Comparison shopping

By reviewing weekly advertisements from regular stores and supermarkets, the shopper can make a list of items needed, and jot down the prices for these items at the different stores. Take special note of coupon specials. At Costco, by comparing the prices item-for-item, the shopper can quickly determine the savings, if any, a Costco purchase will realize.

Cost comparison needs to go a bit farther than simply evaluating package prices, however. An exact comparison requires breaking down the cost of an item to the per-ounce or per-serving price of similar or like items. This information normally does not appear in grocery advertisements, so a telephone call may prove necessary to obtain the information. It also helps to know the ingredients and/or nutritional value of any foods being compared, which may take a bit more research than a simple telephone call.

Second method: Studying Costco’s coupon book

Published once a month with prices effective for about 30 days, Costco’s coupon book contains several pages of coupons for items ranging from canned and packaged food, to clothing, electronic equipment, sporting gear, cleaning products and pharmaceutical products. The booklet also offers special prices for many items that do not require a coupon.

With the coupons and special prices good for nearly a month, timing a visit to Costco does not require the fine-tuning that short-term advertising makes necessary in other stores. The shopper can postpone an excursion until pantry supplies at home warrant stocking up on a number of items. This can mean additional savings at Costco (lower fuel costs) through the advantage of making fewer trips to the store.

Third method: Online shopping

Costco membership also permits online shopping either for convenience, or for specials not available at the local store. Costco offers special coupons available only to online shoppers for a wide range of products. Online shopping entails home delivery of purchases (except for tires, which can ship to a local store), a requirement to take into consideration when ordering online.

Taking advantage of one or more of the three options listed can make a Costco membership card a valuable piece of plastic.