Are you guilty of overspending at Costco?

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
March 05, 2020

Shopping at Costco can be such a delight that it's practically a hobby for some of us, filled with its own set of rules (Avoid weekend shopping! Make your shopping list in advance! Steer clear of the candy!) to help us navigate the aisles.

But all those hours logged at Costco can make a big dent in your wallet, even though the warehouse club is designed to help you save money. Below, three ways Costco tries to convince you to spend more green.

1. Costco makes buying in bulk oh-so-easy.

After sliced bread, Kirkland Signature is a close second for "best invention ever." Well, not so fast, while Costco's in-house brand allows the bulk retailer to keep prices as low as possible, it also may prime you to buy more than you need, as The Krazy Coupon Lady website points out. For instance, you probably don't need that much peanut butter or a three-month supply of paper towels. As a result of the alluring prices, you can spend way more than you intend to as you watch your plunder collect dust for months on end. Especially with food products—which can expire, even if you think you'll definitely get to all that pasta or peanut butter before the "best by" date—be realistic about how much you need. You may be better off picking up standard sizes at the grocer.

2. They fill your stomach with tasty grub in the food court.

Costco pizza, how we crave you. Whether you're in the mood for a smoothie or salad, having a fast-service eatery on the store's premises a) gets you to shell out more money at Costco while buying the food and drinks themselves, and b) may inspire you to stay at the warehouse club longer, and thus do more shopping since refueling on food gives you a second wind. Or caffeine, because, you guessed it, Costco makes sure to keep its food courts stocked with plenty of coffee and caffeinated beverages, too.

3. They offer an amazing return policy.

Counterintuitive as it may seem, the fact that Costco offers a liberal return policy may help the company keep more of your hard-earned dollars in its folds. As Cheat Sheet explains, "According to The New York Times, 91% of customers believe a store’s refund policy will influence their purchasing decision. Costco expertly removes self-doubt from the equation by offering one of the most flexible return policies in the industry. Not only is your membership fully refundable, but most items can be returned, no questions asked." As a result of their return policy, people may have less qualms about buying items they otherwise might double-think, and then ultimately not get around to returning things, even if they don't truly need or love the various products they've purchased.

Do any of the above scenarios sound familiar to you? What's your best tip for saving money at Costco or other bulk retailer stores? We'd love to hear your favorite tips and tricks to avoid overspending.