The Costco craze hasn’t simmered, and many people consider the giant warehouse retailer to be a go-to stop for many purchases.  Costco can save a lot with certain purchases, and other times a cool product simply snags your interest.

Costco’s $5 fully cooked rotisserie chickens are an easy dinner with zero work (they sell these at a loss so you come back for more!) and sure you can buy chickens at other stores, but Costco chickens are huge, plump, juicy, and have a better texture than the dry, mushy birds found elsewhere.  At Costco, you can probably find a few mainstays that will shave some serious dollars. Costco’s coffee prices, peanut butter, dried fruits, juice, and many other common items can be incorporated into your yearly shopping routing, for a great discount.

costco-couple(Image from Huffington’ Post)

However, one problem remains: for a few dozen key purchases a year, the $55 per year membership fee is just too much, and it would negate the savings.  Yes, many people use Costco as a grocery mainstay, but the truth is, you will end up paying more for groceries this way.  If you are trying for Great Saver status, grabbing really great deals and ignoring the rest is the best way to utilize Costco.  Hey, there are some ways to chisel down the membership fees…

One workaround is Costco gift cards.  You can used these gift cards at Costco without a membership. You can buy these cards online, but frequently with a slightly increased price.  You can also coax existing Costco  friends to swap your cash for cards which can be picked up at any location.  While you can refill the gift cards, it does technically require a membership, yet many people are saying that Costco help-desk workers are overlooking this rule at most locations, but the conditional nature of this arrangement might become annoying.

Another workaround is to simply pick up the phone to get a joint Costco membership with another family member, since you can get two cards per membership.

As we’ve discussed before, you can save ENORMOUS amounts by shopping for groceries at Aldi, and snacks at the Dollar Store… The truth is, Costco can give you a limited final edge on a deeply discounted grocery bill for a few key items.

Forgetting about Costco really is a possibility, because overall, Costco can’t really support the most spendthrift shopping: their bulk packaging entices shoppers to spend more on quantities that exceed their need.  This issue leads to buying fewer products, in larger sizes, with less variety than you might actually enjoy.

While Costco does have some quality stuff, they are as liable as any sales outlet and sell a fair amount of junk.  For example, we bought their big towels, which ended up not being lint free (try putting in contacts after drying your hands with these!), and these towels began to unthread and fall apart  in months rather than many years.  We also bought some daily vitamins that ended up having ginseng in them which is a stimulant that feels very unnatural: when I tried to take them back, two ladies helped me, one was kind, while the other lady actually gave me a dirty look, which is just ludicrous customer service.

Costco does have allure, because they DO have some great products (and they pay living wages to their employees).  However, there are frequently cheaper alternatives for most things sold at Costco, which should not be overlooked.

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