Bulk-Buying Boo-Boos

Costco is practically a mecca for bargain-minded shoppers. Sure, you have to purchase an annual membership to get in the door — but in return, you get access to a world of high-quality goods at great prices, all backed by a generous return policy.

Whether you need a new household appliance, a set of tires for your car, seasonal clothing, fresh produce, or the biggest containers of Lysol wipes you’ve ever seen, you can find almost any type of product at Costco.

But despite its legendary reputation for great prices, there are lots of common Costco mistakes that could end up costing you money. Make sure you’re not doing any of the following. (Not a Costco member? You can apply here.)

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Not Using Instacart

Let’s get this one out of the way first. You almost always need a membership to shop at Costco — but there’s one handy loophole. These favorite tips come from Jen Coleman and Laura Wiertzema of Costco Does It Again, who notes that "You can always Instacart Costco, even without a membership!"

Of course the prices won’t be quite as good through Instacart as they are when you shop in person — but if you only crave a serious Costco bargain a few times a year and aren’t buying big-ticket items, you can order from Costco via Instacart without having a membership. This is also a great way to get your Costco fix without ever leaving the house.

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Costco Check out by Michael Lehet (CC BY-ND)

Shopping on a Sunday

Okay, let’s say you want to visit your local Costco in person. We get it — the prices are best in the warehouse, and it’s fun to explore the aisles and see which new items have arrived. But don’t do your Costco run on a Sunday if you can help it. As Coleman and Wiertzema explain, the Sunday Costco crowds are just too crazy. Stick to shopping on weekdays instead, if you can.

If there’s a big payday in your area — say, if lots of people tend to collect their paychecks on Fridays or on the first of the month — you can expect Costco to be as packed as it ever gets on a Sunday. Save yourself some trouble and stay home on those days, too. After all, that’s part of the beauty of bulk shopping — you can usually afford to wait a while before the next trip.

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Eric Broder Van Dyke/istockphoto
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