Secret to Getting Out of Costco for Under $100!

October 10, 2012 32 Comments | Disclosure

 { Extreme Coupon Education }


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I used to call Costco the $100 store. I could not seem to get out of Costco with out spending at least $100! You probably did not learn this secret on reality television. We are here to reveal the secrets of Extreme Couponing. TLC’s Extreme Couponing is really not about education it is more about entertainment. Our goal is to educate you and empower you to save money for your family. I first talked about Costco and coupons a few years ago, but a few things have changed since.

costco coupons

Before I started to coupon the fabuless way you could say I had an addiction to shopping at Costco. I live near a Costco so I would go 1-2 times every week, and I could not get out of the store with out spending $100!

Old way of couponing- The only form of couponing I knew was to use the coupons in the Costco coupon booklet. Buying in bulk was saving me money, but I had no idea how much more money I could be saving.

Know your price points– When I started doing more research about price points I was finding that if I am  patient and wait for a deal I can get a better price with coupons! So I started buying more things with coupons at other stores.

When I started couponing I had to still shop at Costco sometimes because I was still in stockpile building mode. I would stop by Costco to get the items that I had not found on sale with coupons.  As I got my stockpile built with some good basics I was shopping at Costco less and less.  When I walk through the store now it makes me sick to see how much I used to pay for things I now pay pennies for.

We often get this question in our inbox:

Do you use the Costco coupons?
The answer is rarely. I find that almost every time I can get an item for less if I wait for a sale and use my coupons from the newspaper or printable coupons. Or buy the item on amazon.

Can Costco coupons be used anywhere else?
No they can only be used at Costco!

Items I used to buy at Costco, but can now get for less shopping the fabuless way:

Chicken Now I stock up on this and freeze it when I can get it for $1.88/lb or less for boneless skinless
Carnation Instant Breakfast
Prego Sauce
Hamburger I stock up and freeze why I can buy from Zaycon
Cheese I buy cheese for $2/lb or less and buy several. These can be frozen. They have a long shelf life in the fridge as well as long as you do not open them.
Toilet Paper Find great deal on amazon here
Diapers & Wipes Great diaper deals on amazon
Fruit Snacks
Sour Cream
Granola Bars
Shaving Cream
Produce I buy the produce that is on sale usually at Fred Meyer or WinCo
Paper Towels
Shampoo I like to get FREE  shampoo
Body Wash
Razors will not pay more than $1 for razors
Toothpaste I only buy free toothpaste
Laundry Soap
Dish Soap
Cereal do not pay more than $1.00 a box!
Dish Detergent

Download the price point list

After getting the hang of couponing I found that I did not need to shop at Costco much at all. Instead of spending $5,000 a year at Costco I was spending more like $500 a year at Costco. So here is the next big question we get…..

Is it worth it to keep your Costco Membership?

buy clothes at costco

Yes. To me it is. Why?
I can still get some great deals on some staple foods and I don’t pay much if anything for the membership. I pay for our membership with cash back from our executive membership and our American Express Card.

Electronics: Costco has great prices for electronics and a 90 day return policy no matter what!

The Return Policy: Costco will let you return almost anything for any reason, even dead trees! haha. (you know you have seen it)

Clothing: It is hard to beat Costco’s price for name brand jeans!

Gifts: We love to shop Costco at Christmas time, we alway find some great gifts there! Although since I discovered Amazon for Christmas shopping, I do most of my shopping from home online.

Gas Prices: Costco has the lowest price in town for gas! Yes, I can get if for less at Albertsons some of the time with my preferred card gas rewards, but not every time.

Prescriptions: Costco usually has the lowest price for prescriptions! Don’t believe me? Check out the Costco Drug Price Checker! Type in any prescription you usually buy and I bet it will be less. They even give you the price for the generic alternative! (You do not have to be a member for this benefit.)

So how do I get out of Costco spending under $100?

I can easily get out of Costco now spending less than $50!  I only buy the staple items that I have not been able to get for good deals with coupons. Now that I have learned my price points I know which items are worth buying at Costco.

  • bread
  • eggs
  • produce
  • milk (If I am out for milk coupons)
  • gas
  • take and bake pizza
  • croissants (My weakness)

PS One rule I often follow is to only buy what I can carry!

So I want to know.

Is it still worth it for you to shop at Costco?


More Coupon Education Resources:

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  1. I still purchase my diapers through costco when there is a coupon which is usually often on diapers. I have found it to be cheaper than Amazon and that is with prime on amazon and coupon etc. so i still dont know how amazon is cheaper please explain 😉

  2. I thought gas did not count toward cash back on executive memberships. I was going to join as an executive member, until I read the fine print and said it excluded gas.

  3. I don’t have a Costco near me, but I do have a Sam’s Club. Like you, I’ve whittled what I buy there down to a few things. I go once a month and get the things that I find cheapest there versus the grocery store, even on sale. Those things are water softener pellets, Craisins, tortillas (when I haven’t found a sale), dishwasher and laundry soap (when I haven’t found a sale), medicine, Olay facial moisturizer, and time-saving frozen foods like Tyson chicken nuggets, teriyaki chicken thigh fillets, egg rolls, and Bagel Bites. I spend about $100 a month there now. Oh, and if I’m on that side of town, I get gas there too. They aren’t close to us, but are halfway across town, so I’m often nearby when I do need gas, which is about once a month.

  4. The pharmacy is great. We pay cash for prescriptions and I need some antibiotics last month for a sinus infection. I went to Wally-world and they were going to cost me $75! I called over to costco and it was only $21!! big time savings!

  5. When I bought my executive membership they specifically told me that gas does NOT qualify for cash back. A huge bummer, but I find the pros out way the cons anyway.

  6. What about that “gas purchases qualifying for exec membership” question? Do you actually get cash back on your gas? If so, how? Thanks!

  7. I hit Costco every week. I live in Northern VA and no one has milk for cheaper. We pay for our membership in milk savings alone! I also can’t beat the price for eggs, cheese, flour, rice, and ground turkey. I just stay away from the frozen junk food and processed foods (which we don’t buy at the regular store anyway). We just got our cash rebate for the year and it’s $72. So the exec. membership only costs $28 this year. And that doesn’t include the cash back I get with my AMEX card. So I’m probably at least breaking even if not making $.

  8. Just want people to make sure that with or without a costco membership you can get prescriptions there. You just have to let the staff at the front door know that you are just using the pharmacy. They are not allowed to be close to the public despite being a store that requires a membership. I often send patients there who are uninsured and do not have a Costco membership.

  9. My membership is up in November and I’m on the fence about keeping it. Depending on location my nearest Costco is 30-45 minutes away and we are down to just getting potatoes and butter…not really worth the $55. They really haven’t had anything great in the coupon book in quite a long time. My sure fire way to get out of Costco spending the least amount possible? Only buy what you and your compadre can carry…after you have lugged a 20 lb bag of spuds across the store you really don’t want to “window shop”.

    • I may not find it beneficial enough if I were you and lived so far away. Good point about what you can carry! If forgot I often use that tactic!

    • Nancy Halstead says:

      I googled “best deal on Costco membership” and they had a deal that I paid for online. They sent me a certificate in the mail a couple of days later for l yr. membership and coupons for free products like rotisserie chicken, case of water, multi-pak of batteries, etc. , etc. that equalled the cost of the membership.
      I understand that you can buy a membership at Sam’s club and after 11 months can ask for you money back if you don’t think it was worth it….they don’t advertise this, but will honor it.
      Sometimes you have to do your homework to get a better deal!

  10. Warehouse shopping can be overwhelming and frustrating. However, I’ve found some items at Sam’s club, worth my trip. Gas, case of store brand water(3.99 for 40), less than $5 for rice(remember, this is a warehouse size), $2.24 for a large container of Dannon light and fit Vanilla yogurt, (unmarked)price drops for several misc. Dvd’s, DS games, accessories, clothes, clothes, clothes, free philadelphia cookbook offer last year when the store was hosting a holiday based month long sample event(free lunch on those days if you visit all the sample tables :) I really wish they accepted coupons, and had a price checker for customers! Other than that, I’m sticking with my warehouse(sam’s), the only one within 25 miles to the next one!

  11. Meridian Mama says:

    It’s still worth it to me to shop at Costco! I am like you, Monica, I used to buy a lot more at Costco until I started couponing a few years back, but I still shop there and I feel I can save money on items that don’t go on sale very often at “regular” stores. Off the top of my head this is what I buy there:
    – milk (when out of milk coupons),
    – Kirkland fresh squeezed OJ,
    – uncooked tortillas,
    – sliced havarti for sandwiches (I freeze half of the 2 lb package and it defrosts just fine),
    – Kirkland deli turkey breast (low sodium, yummy & great price, also freeze half the package for later use),
    – brie cheese (I am addicted, ha!),
    – steaks (love their beef, it’s not the cheapest but it’s worth it),
    – La Brea Bakery bread
    – rotisserie chicken in a pinch for dinner
    – holiday ribbon (I think those rolls are 50 yards and cost around $8 for a wide wired ribbon, I find similar price only at 70-80% off on after Christmas clearance but pickings can be slim)
    – ocassionally TP/paper towels/kleenex if we are low & Costco has a coupon for them
    – gas (can be 10 cents cheaper than other gas stations)
    – I always browse their clothing section for good deals & clearance
    – if we shop for a big ticket item we always compare to Costco’s prices and if we can get it for similar price we’ll buy at Costco due to their great return policy
    – hot dog & soda on the way out!

  12. I love costco for the items that I buy there….. which is not many since starting couponing 2 yrs ago but this is what I go into buy every other friday…

    Half and Half (not cheaper anywhere else)
    Whipping cream (high quality)
    vinegar (best cleaning stuff around)
    sea salt (love the price and shaker)
    english muffins
    cream cheese
    milk… 6 kids, I never have enough coupons for all I need LOL

    AND THEY HAVE GREAT DEALS ON TOYS FOR CHRISTMAS EX: lego set 24.99 normally 45.99 everywhere else

    membership is pricey but I try to pay it on my tax return and I love to buy coats, jackets, PJ’s and swimsuits….

    thanks for all your ideas

  13. Loving the great ideas Meridian Mama and Angela!

  14. I have a Costco and Sam’s both within 10 minutes of my house.

    I’ve found Sam’s to be much cheaper for things like
    -laundry detergent
    -dish detergent
    -cleaners like disinfecting wipes, off-brand Lysol
    -meat (chicken for 1.77/lb every day)
    -produce (usually, sometimes Aldi’s is a better bet, just because we won’t always used up bulk quantities of fresh foods)

    almost anything that is the Simply Right or Member’s Mark brand are cheapest for my family (and still work just fine). The Costco near me sells a lot of high-end products, like ecofriendly cleaners and diapers, which are great, but we can’t afford it even at wholesale prices. I’ve done a couple posts on my blog as to why I shop @ Sam’s, but it’s pretty well summarized here.

    Not trying to convert you, just letting other’s know that it’s worth checking out if you have one in your area!

  15. I seldom go to Costco – do not like to wade/weave through/around the free lunch people. Monday afternoon seems to be the slowest time to go. We almost always buy our gas there. I usually buy batteries there too.

  16. I have a foolproof way to stay on-budget at Costco…send my husband. The worst thing he ever bought that wasn’t on the list was a couple pair of jeans(which he got for 11 bucks!) Saves on my feet, too!
    Sigh…there’s just too much cool stuff at Costco!

  17. This isn’t worth it for me. We buy jeans at target, organic produce at trader joes, and its at least 15 miles from us so the gas isn’t worth it. We buy minimal holiday gifts which are usually photo cards or a donation to a charity. We just can’t afford more. Electronics we haven’t purchased in years and when we do its amazon.
    The only thing is utilize Costco for is meat.

  18. I myself love Costco!!! I have 5 little eaters that clear my stock pile fast. I haven’t got an amazing pile yet, but when I do find a good deal I try to stock up. I love what I purchase at Costco too!! It is fun for us too, my girls love getting food samples. (My Husband too!) Cheap lunch or icecream is nice too! I know when to go shopping most of the time, so not so busy! I think every store has plus and minus to it. My secret is I shop for my meat on post, commissary best prices. The one thing I hate though is so you spend $150 had say $30 coupons, then they charge you for shopping at the store and they want you to tip the bag person! See so + and -!

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