5 Things That Aren't Worth Buying at Costco

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  • You'll often save money by purchasing items in bulk at Costco.
  • Certain items don't make sense to buy in bulk, such as spices and condiments. 
  • Costco doesn't always have the lowest prices on the things you're buying; you'll often find better deals on books elsewhere, for example.

As someone who shops at Costco almost every week, I'll be the first person to tell you that a membership can more than pay for itself over time. A basic Costco membership these days will cost you $60 a year, while an executive membership will cost you $120. In exchange for that higher fee, you'll get 2% cash back on all Costco purchases.

I've been an executive member at Costco for years, and I've always been able to easily justify the cost of a membership via the savings I've reaped from it. But while there are many items I make a point to exclusively buy at Costco, there are certain items the average shopper should probably avoid buying there. Here are some that fall into that category.

1. Spices you don't use often

Over time, spices tend to lose their potency. And, well, that sort of defeats the purpose of buying them in the first place. That's why you generally don't want to load up on any given spice in bulk that you don't use frequently. 

It's one thing to buy garlic and black pepper in mass quantities if you use those spices in 90% of your dishes. But if there's a spice like nutmeg you only tend to use seasonally, then you may want to just buy a smaller bottle of it in the fall, once you're ready to get your pumpkin spice on.

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2. Condiments

Costco might offer decent prices on condiments like ketchup and mustard. But chances are, your local supermarket will offer an even better price in the weeks surrounding holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day. So in that case, sticking to a regular grocery store could result in a lower credit card tab.

Plus, condiments, by nature, tend to sit out, unrefrigerated, for longer periods of time. It's one thing for that to happen with an 8-ounce bottle of ketchup. But for a 31-ounce bottle, which is what you might find at Costco, it means your product might turn on you before you get a chance to finish it.

3. Produce for one

Since my husband, kids, and I eat lots of fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, it makes sense to buy our produce at Costco. But if you live alone, that may not be the best idea. Even if you try to follow a super healthy diet, you might struggle to consume the 2-pound sack of broccoli florets you'll commonly find at Costco.

4. Books

You might find a great deal on books at Costco. But often, the selection isn't that vast, and the deals aren't any better than the ones you might find at a local bookstore or an online seller like Amazon. Plus, if you're on a budget, you could always visit that magical place called the library, where you can read to your heart's content without having to spend a dime.

5. Over-the-counter pain relievers

It can be tempting to buy pain relievers in bulk at Costco due to the savings involved. The problem, though, is that you might end up having to throw a lot of those pills away.

Costco sells a two-pack of Kirkland ibuprofen that contains 1,000 tablets, or 500 standard doses, in total. That's a lot of ibuprofen to take over the course of a year or so, which is commonly the shelf life those bottles have. So unless you live in a household with a bunch of athletes who are prone to injury, you may be better off buying pain relief medication at a pharmacy or supermarket in smaller quantities. 

Costco certainly has its fair share of great deals to offer. But these specific products are ones you may want to skip and pick up elsewhere.

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