If you’re a regular reader you probably already know I’m a big fan of Costco. So when I saw an article from Yahoo Finance that discussed tips for saving money at discount stores, I knew right away I’d be writing about it here.
Here are the 6 tips discussed in the article and my thoughts on each:
Play “Spot the Marketing”
Retailers are smart and they’ve done plenty of studies to figure out what makes you spend more money.
When you walk down the aisle at the supermarket, the most profitable products are at eye level while other brands are placed on the top or bottom shelves. Bakery departments are usually placed right at the front of the store. When you walk in the front door and get a whiff of freshly baked bread you’re likely to feel hungry and spend more money.
In my experience, the Costco bakery is usually located at the back of the store, so obviously not all stores use the same tactics.
Shop Before You Join
Warehouse clubs like Costco, Sam’s, and BJ’s charge an annual membership fee and it only makes sense to check the store out before you sign up.
If you live alone and you’re a minimalist who doesn’t do much shopping, then a warehouse club probably isn’t for you. But if you have a large family to feed you will most definitely get your money’s worth.
Get a one-day pass or tag along with a friend who is a member so you can check everything out before joining.
Beware of Large Carts
The extra-large shopping carts at warehouse clubs can trick you into thinking you’re spending less than you really are.
Whenever possible I try to shop without using a shopping cart at all. When you have a cart it’s easy to toss in any item that tempts you. But if your hands are already full you’re more likely to leave it on the shelf.
Carry a Calculator
In the age of smart phones everyone has a calculator with them wherever they go. There are also plenty of apps that will help you search both online and offline for the best price.
Not long ago I wrote an article comparing Costco prices to those charged by other stores and the warehouse giant was the clear winner. I encourage you to do the same and compare the unit price at your favorite warehouse club to other stores in the area.
Long Walks Mean Better Prices
When you go into most stores, you’ll find consumer staples like milk, eggs, and diapers all the way at the back of the store. The idea is to get you to stay in the store longer and hopefully tempt you to buy more than you came for.
Be Realistic About Your Needs
While warehouse clubs offer outstanding savings on bulk items, you won’t be saving anything if you end up tossing half the products away.
Don’t buy any more than you need and can use. This is especially true of perishable items which will only end up in the trash. If you know you won’t be able to use something before it spoils don’t buy it. Or perhaps shop with a buddy and split the package in half…you’ll also be splitting the cost.