Thursday, May 23, 2024

Here’s How I Saved $144 by Shopping at Costco

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A man pushing a shopping cart through the aisles of a warehouse store.

A man pushing a shopping cart through the aisles of a warehouse store.

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As a loyal Costco member, I typically end up doing a Costco run once a week. I also rely on Costco for a wide variety of items, from groceries to gifts to apparel.

Because of this, it’s pretty tricky for me to try to calculate the total amount of savings I’m reaping at Costco in a given year versus shopping elsewhere. To do that, I’d need to compare the cost of each weekly Costco haul of mine to the cost of prices at local supermarkets and big-box stores. And frankly, that’s an exercise my brain might struggle to handle.

But I can tell you that I saved about $144 last year by shopping at Costco for one specific item. And while it’s not my favorite item at the store, it’s one that’s come in handy on several occasions.

When you’re able to buy pizza for a crowd on the cheap

When you have young kids, you often find yourself picking up a pizza on the fly. I’ll be the first to admit that Costco’s pizza isn’t my favorite. Some pizza purists might even hesitate to call Costco’s offering “pizza.”

But even though there’s plenty of good pizza to be had in my New Jersey town, the one benefit of ordering pizza at Costco is that it’s worlds cheaper. A massive Costco pie costs $9.95, whereas most pizzerias in my area charge about $18 for a large pie without toppings that’s smaller than Costco’s version. (No, pizza wasn’t always that expensive, but inflation has managed to turn a once-cheap meal into anything but.)

Meanwhile, by my estimates, my family ordered 18 pizza pies from Costco’s food courts in 2023. A few of those orders were for four or five pies at a time when we were hosting parties and feeding a crowd. But if that estimate of 18 pies is correct, and I was able to save $8 per pie, it means I saved $144 on pizza alone in 2023 by purchasing them at Costco.

When a single item pays for your membership

Since I shop at Costco often, it makes sense for me to have an Executive membership, the cost of which is $120 per year. That membership gives me 2% cash back on my Costco purchases. A basic membership at Costco, by contrast, costs $60.

Based on my savings on pizza alone, I was able to cover the cost of the more expensive Costco membership. But the reality is that there are numerous other items I bought at Costco last year that probably, on an individual basis, made up for my membership fee, too.

If you’re on the fence about keeping your Costco membership, you may want to see if there’s a certain item you tend to buy a lot of at Costco, and then compare the in-store price there to what you’d pay outside of Costco. Maybe that item is paper towels. If you’re saving $6 a month on a multi-pack but are paying $60 a year for a basic Costco membership, you’re coming out ahead financially to the tune of $12, because you’re paying $60 to save $72.

Remember, too, that sometimes, making a single larger purchase at Costco, like a laptop or piece of furniture, could be enough to justify the cost of your membership. So if you’re thinking of canceling, consider the big-ticket items on your list and see if Costco’s deals are substantial enough to make your membership worth keeping.

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We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Maurie Backman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Costco Wholesale. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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