It's no secret that we're fans of Costco — and warehouse clubs in general. The savings can easily cover the cost of an annual membership fee, especially if you're a smart shopper and know how to spot the best deals.
Even if you aren't providing for a large family, the savings on things like luggage, gas, tires, non-perishables (just to name a few) — on top of the many other perks like discounted movie tickets, gift cards and more — when you do the math, a membership is totally worth it.
But while the warehouse clubs are known for a lot of great deals, there are some products you may be able to find cheaper somewhere else — or that you probably don't want to buy in bulk — especially if you aren't buying for a large family or group.
So to help you get the most out of your hard-earned money, here are some things that you may want to avoid buying at the warehouse clubs — and where you can find them cheaper!
11 things you should not buy at a warehouse club
- Books and DVDs: Look online at sites like Half.com and Amazon to find great deals on new and used books and DVDs. If you're an e-book person, check out sites that aggregate free and cheap e-book deals like eReaderIQ.
- Printer paper: If you're buying printer paper for your home, many office supply retailers offer customers who sign up for their emails a cash-back rebate on printer paper a few times a year — which makes the cost free to you! Also check out Walmart.com, which now offers free two-day shipping with no minimum required.
Staples is another place to look — the store sometimes offers printer paper for one cent after a rebate.
- Canned goods: Your best bet to save on canned goods is to look for sales at the grocery store. Then to increase your savings, use a coupon app to find additional coupons to apply to your purchase.
- Condiments: It really depends on how big the jar or package is. Ketchup and mayo can last quite a while in the fridge, but they may lose their freshness. Plus, buying a three-pack of 44-ounce ketchup containers may be worth it if you're having a party, or host a lot of parties, but buying condiments when they're on sale at the grocery store (along with using additional coupons) can save you money on your purchase and room in your fridge.
- Olive oil & vegetable oil: It may seem like these cooking oils last forever, but they don't. According to the USDA, olive and vegetable oils last about three to five months after opening. So buying a giant tub will likely just end up wasting you money. Check your local grocery for sales to save on smaller sized bottles of cooking oil.
- Diapers: This really depends on your personal preference. Costco does offer super cheap Kirkland Signature brand diapers, but there are plenty of ways to save on brand name and other diapers elsewhere.
- Liquid detergent: Unless you're washing the clothes of a small army every day, by the time you get through a warehouse-club size of liquid detergent, it may not be as effective anymore (about six months at room temperature) An alternative to consider is buying powdered detergent at a warehouse club. They can be super heavy, but just transfer some into a smaller container and reload whenever necessary.
- Brand name cereal: Unless you have space in your pantry for massive amounts of cereal — that will get eaten before it goes bad — you're better off buying smaller quantities at your local grocery store when it goes on sale. Groceries often have sales on cereal and if you apply manufacturers' coupons on top of that, you can get a great deal.
- Produce: Unless you plan to eat a lot of produce before it goes bad, buying it in bulk isn't the best idea. Plus, prices on produce at warehouse clubs don't change much throughout the year. If you want to find produce at the lowest cost, check out Aldi and Walmart, and look out for sales at your local grocery story on items that are in season, which is typically when prices drop the most.
For more savings tips, check out 13 secrets you didn't know about Aldi.
- Soda: You're better off buying soda on sale at the grocery store than buying it in bulk at a warehouse club — unless you need big quantities for a party or some other event. In fact, Coke products go on sale about every other week for between $2 and $2.50 for a 12-pack at the grocery store, while 24-packs cost around $7 or $8 at the warehouse clubs.
- Toothpaste: Check weekly sales at local grocery and drug stores to find the best bargains on toothpaste. If you're willing to try different brands, you'll be able to save more by purchasing whichever one has the best deal. Also look for extra manufacturer's or other coupons to maximize your savings.
Read more: 5 things to always buy at a warehouse club