7 Items You need to stop buying from Costco to Save Money

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. I never recommend anything I don’t personally use and fully stand behind.

I have a love/hate relationship with Costco.

I love their samples, all the new deals they come out with per week, their pizza is under $10, and it’s hot and ready for when I finish my shopping. And their return policy is unbeatable.

But, I HATE the shock I ALWAYS have (even though I know it’s going to happen) when I look at the receipt. Like, “How did I just spend $300”?

After learning and mastering the coupon and discount game, I can safely tell you that there are tons of things you should NOT buy at Costco….like ever!

Cereal

I have to start here because this was a weekly buy for me and when I think back at how much money I wasted, I feel bummed.

Mostly every cereal brand that Costco carries are almost always on sale at one store or another. And on top of that, there are coupons every single week! Not kidding!

Weekly,  I get coupons for General Mills, Post, and others and I use them to my advantage to get the most savings (more on this in a future post).

My favorite cereals at Costco sells for $8.49 and you get about 4 lbs of cereal. With my coupons, I can get the cereal for less than $1.25/box during most trips for the 12 oz. or more.

This means I can buy 4 boxes at the store for about $5 and I’ll have MORE than what I get from Costco. Math wins!

Fruit

I am still guilty of buying fruit from Costco. They make it so easy and everything always looks perfect!

But, you can buy fruit from international markets in your area and they will ALWAYS be cheaper. I used to get mangoes from Costco for about $8 for 6 of them until I realized that I can get an equally delicious mango for 4 for $1.

Let’s talk about apples shown in the picture. How can apples be this expensive? I can get a pound of apples for $0.99-$1.69/lb. So, no thanks, not today!

Also, I almost always trashed at least 1 fruit from Costco because they give you enough for a small neighborhood. Our family of 4 sometimes just don’t eat the fruit fast enough before it spoils.

Laundry Detergent

I stopped buying liquid laundry detergent about 5 years ago from Costco when I made this crazy discovery.

I used to buy the Arm & Hammer detergent for about $11 for 250 oz. size (160 loads) from Costco when I ran across an ad from Vons on their $5 Friday deals and what did I find? A better deal on 150 oz. Arm & Hammer detergent for $5!!

At the $5 price,  I can get 300 oz. for less than what I get from Costco. But there’s more, I happen to have several $1.25 off coupons!

I ended up buying about 8 of the detergents for about $30 and I still have some of them on hand until now. I go through 1 150 oz bottle (100 loads) in about 8-10 months.

Every time I run low (about 4 remaining) I keep an eye out for deals and coupons, and I usually find them. This discovery is my biggest money saver!!

Download the FREE Hot or Not Costco Buying Guide for more of these tips!

Bread

I know, it seems like it is an awesome deal most of time, right? Up until two weeks ago, I was always buying my wheat bread and tortilla from Costco because I couldn’t find a better price and, well, it was convenient. I would buy 2 loaves for $4.59. Seems reasonable.

Until I found a sale at Food 4 Less the other week. Wheat bread was on sale for $1.50 each. The brand that was on sale usually had coupons, but even without the coupons, this is a better deal than Costco.

I could get 3 loaves of bread for almost the same price as 2! And my family and I aren’t picky with the brand of wheat bread as long as it’s legit wheat bread and it’s a well-known brand. This deal in particular was Western Hearth by Van d Kamps.

Toothpaste

Okay, why is this so darn expensive at Costco?? 5 tubes of Crest for $10.99? You can get National brand toothpaste at the dollar tree WITH coupons for less than $0.50 a tube.

If you need to have a specific toothpaste like Sensodyne (my husband’s preference) which is a bit more expensive ($21.99 for 4 tubes at Costco), you can STILL find better deals at the drugstores.

Haircare

Not only are they much more expensive at Costco than the drugstores, but they don’t have tons of variety.

With coupons, I can get Loreal hair care from the drugstore at any given week for $1.25-$1.50 for a 12oz-16oz bottle.

At this price, I will usually stock up for a few months.

At Costco, the least they charge is $4.99 for each 40 oz. bottle of Dove and Pantene, both of which I personally don’t like using on my hair.

And even if I did like these brands, I can most definitely get them much cheaper at the drugstores with deals and coupons. Save your money.

Pre-packaged Snack Foods

I still get tempted to buy them from Costco. Well….tempted and lazy to plan ahead and get a better deal somewhere else.

But, the fact is that many of these national brands have coupons readily available that can be used to get the best deal. I once got Quaker Oats granola bars for $0.50 for a box of 8.

Although that was a screaming deal, I think my normal buy rate for this is more around $1.50 for a box of 8. Costco sells the 60 count  for $8.99?

Buying at my $0.50 price for an 8 count box means I spend about $4 for the same amount that Costco provides. Even if I spent $1/box, its still much less than Costco.

You’re probably thinking, this seems petty. Who has time to calculate all of this just to save a buck or two? Seems too little of a difference to make a fuss, huh?  I hear ya.

Go on spending $2-$4 extra on every item, and tell me at the end of the month if it’s worth it. Imagine saving at least $100 each month on groceries and using that $1,200 annual savings on a nice trip or that nice item you’ve been eyeing.

Okay, glad we’re back on the same page.

I seriously have much more to share with you on this topic, but in an effort not to make this post too long, I will save it for another post.

I’m curious what items you’ve stopped purchasing from Costco and where you buy them now. Let me know in the comments below, would love to hear from you!

Until next time my frugal friend,

14 thoughts on “7 Items You need to stop buying from Costco to Save Money”

  1. Your photo quality is amazing in this post. Keep up the great work. I really enjoyed reading al of your exciting posts 🙂

  2. Very helpful and useful information Gina. Thanks for sharing! Other items I’ve stopped buying at Costco are meat, eggs and milk. I can get better quality and price on these items at the grocery store. Keep these articles coming!

    1. Wow, I’ve always wondered if I could get good quality meat somewhere else for less. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Love that you DIY a lot of the list and have a lot of great alternatives! That is so motivating! Bakery bread is definitely the best tasking bread in my opinion, but it’s usually more expensive at the bakeries near me. I’d love to know if there’s a certain time of day that you can get a discount on it, perhaps before closing?

  4. Unfortunately in my area, we don’t get coupons, atleast not for products we use (the only coupon I’ve ever gotten for laundry is Tide and we can’t use it). As well, prices are much higher here! Granola bars come in 6 packs (I’ve never seen an 8) and the lowest price I’ve seen is 1.99 (usually they’re 2.49 or 2.99). The Costco box of 48 is 9.99, so even on sale at the grocery store, I’m saving about $5, and that’s before taxes! A three pack of tortilla at Costco is the exact same price as a one pack at the grocery store, and they never go on sale. The bread we buy (hubby is fussy) is 3 for 6.49 at Costco and 3.99 a loaf at the grocery. It’ll go on for 2 for $5 if buy one get one occasionally, so I’ll get it at the grocery, but usually I get it at Costco because we go through at least 2 loaves a week (no kids in school yet). I don’t buy fruit, veg or meat at Costco, though, because it’s to much and we waste it, I prefer to buy produce at a local stand.

    1. Thanks for chiming in Natasha! Yeah, I imagine it would not be cost effective if you didn’t have coupons, hopefully they start coming to your area soon! I’ve just found local grocery gems that save me much more than buying from Costco in certain items. I agree with you on the tortilla, I still buy them from there, but sliced bread is always on sale at the national chains that it makes more sense for me to buy from there.

  5. I would like to learn more. I can’t agree with some of your suggestions – meat at my Costco is usually significantly less than Publix and the quality is outstanding. However, I won’t buy a pkg of 8 HUGE apples or big fat oranges when I get great quality at the farmer’s market. I do appreciate Kirkland toilet paper and paper towels – one package lasts me a LONG time and keeps me from running to Walmart and leave with a $100 tab! Like everyone else, I suppose!

    1. I totally agree with you Vicki. I’m working on finding a better place to buy meat, actually. Sometimes I can find deals when there is a sale, but Costco tends to be my plan B when all else fails lol

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