Costco Haul

Welcome to my 101st post!

I’ve already mentioned the great deal Costco has on tires. I also hit Costco 4-5 times a year to stock up on essentials, in a shopping trip I refer to as the “Costco Haul.” Unfortunately, there are a few preferred brands of personal care products that they don’t carry, but I usually find their prices to be much better on the items they do carry. Here’s how to score good deals, and know when to skip a deal.

Costco Deal Examples
Costco usually offers really good deals on items you can’t always find elsewhere, or in sizes you can’t find anywhere else.

Renu Multi-Plus contact lens solution: I can get two 16 oz. bottles for $15.49 at Costco. My local CVS and Ralph’s charge $13 for a single 12 oz. bottle. Even with coupons, I would pay almost as much for less than half if I bought it at a regular store. Off-brands or store brands are cheaper at these stores, but this is one item I won’t buy off-brand. My eyes are too important to take the risk.

Wine: A 1.5 liter bottle of Woodbridge is 8.99. A bottle half that size is $6.99 at Trader Joe’s. Of course, that’s a lot of wine, so I only buy it when guests are coming. If you’re having a party, this is the best place to stock up on liquor and soda.

How to Shop at Costco
I know some people fear Costco because they aren’t able to walk out the door without spending way more than planned, sometimes hundreds more. (I don’t understand how a recliner becomes an impulse purchase, but people do it. How do you get it home?) I’m not generally an impulse purchaser, but just to be safe, I take a list of all the essentials I need. I try to stop on just those aisles, although I will walk past the large appliances to price them because we’ll need to buy a new fridge and possibly a washer/dryer when we buy a condo. I will also check the books, but I don’t always buy them.

There are occasions where I spend more than planned, but usually they’re items I’d been thinking about for a while. On one occasion they had a $30 drill set. It was a good brand, came with several bits, a battery, a charger and a cordless drill. We’d been thinking about buying one, so I grabbed it. I also picked up two $12 emergency survival kits for our cars. Again, not something I planned, but we live in earthquake country. I consider that money very well spent because the chances of me getting stuck in my car during a disaster or emergency are pretty good.

Making Use of Costco Coupons
Every couple of months, Costco sends out a coupon booklet. When the coupons are valid, I make a list of all the items we need to stock up on, check the prices at a local store, and then write a list. I won’t buy something with a coupon that we don’t normally buy, but I will use coupons to save extra on our essentials. This week I was able to use $5.50 in coupons.

I had another $2 coupon, but the price of the dish soap even after the coupon was higher price I could get at the grocery store, so I didn’t buy it. It’s rare for that to happen at Costco, but it does.

This Week’s Costco Haul
I received my coupons in the mail last weekend, and they were valid Friday. I spent $205.99 on the following items

  • two 16 oz. bottles of Renu contact lens solution
  • 14 bars of body soap
  • 4 liters of regular olive oil
  • 17 photos
  • Quicken Deluxe 2008
  • Pur water filter and 2 replacement inserts
  • 20 Swiffer dusters
  • 1.5 liter bottle of wine
  • 2 pounds of active yeast
  • 4 bottles of shave gel
  • 300 allergy pills (store version of Zyrtec)
  • Hydration backpack

The hydration backpack wasn’t on my list, but I’ve been looking for one to give my husband. At $19.98 (roughly one-third the price of a hydration pack elsewhere), I couldn’t pass it up. Nearly $80 of the purchase was Quicken and the Pur filter. That means we spent about $100 on everything else.

If you’re a careful shopper, you can score some great deals at Costco. The key is not to buy items you’ll never use up before they go bad (like four pounds of garlic), or items you wouldn’t have bought elsewhere.

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