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11 Costco Items You Think Will Save You Money—But Won’t

You know Costco is a one-stop place for just about anything, where you can walk away with plenty of bargains. But truth is, not everything is cheapest at Costco. Here's a look at the items you're better off buying elsewhere.

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Cold cuts and meat

When deli meats like ham and turkey go on sale at your local grocery store, there’s a good chance they’ll be significantly cheaper than at Costco. The same goes for meat, like chicken and beef—and you can purchase it in smaller qualities. The trick is finding what you want on sale. “You may have to look at a few grocery store circulars, but I’ve seen similar products for $2 per pound less when on sale,” says Mark Charnet. Make it a habit to comb through your grocery store’s sales flyers keeping an eye out for coupons, too. “Taking a few extra minutes to read the flyer before you shop can really save you big,” says Charnet. And make sure you’re also looking out for the sneaky ways Costco gets you to spend more money.

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Clothing

Costco frequently offers one or two hugely discounted items of clothing, but that does not mean that all of the clothes sold at Costco are a similar value. “Sales at clothing stores and online retailers often are a better value for your dollar than at Costco,” says Charnet.

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Electronics and TVs

In most cases, the price you see on TVs and other electronics at Costco is what you pay, however, that is not necessarily the case at an electronics store. You stand a better chance of negotiating with a store that specializes in electronics than Costco, says Charnet. Electronics are just one of the things you should probably skip buying at Costco—here are 4 more (plus 5 things you should buy there).

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Personal care products

Sure that bulk package of razor blades and Q-Tips may seem like the score of the century, but if it’s going to take you a year or more to use all of them, take a pass. “You shouldn’t have to move their warehouse to your home and tie up your money for a year or more to reap your savings,” says Charnet.

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Books

You can almost always find books for less—like online at eBay or Amazon (and don’t forget about the library!). “Unless you need the book immediately, it’s well worth it to buy it online for some decent savings,” says Dustyn Ferguson, founder of Dime Will Tell. Instead of books, pick up these 15 things you haven’t been buying from Costco—but totally should.

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Fruits and veggies

While that mega bag of grapes, broccoli, or lettuce looks like a good idea for your diet and your wallet, the truth is, though, if you don’t eat them all before they go bad, you’re throwing away your money. Also, supermarkets lower prices on produce that’s in season, while Costco may not have the same agility. That’s why fruits and veggies are one of the items you should never buy at Costco.

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Diapers

Ask any parent and they will tell you that the early months with a baby are all about the endless diaper changes. Again, you might automatically think that Costco is best because you’re buying in bulk, but it’s worth checking prices at Walmart, Target, and Amazon Family, particularly if you’re picky about the brand, style, or size of the package you buy. And there are some other things you should never buy in bulk, period.

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Prescriptions

It’s true that Costco has some of the cheapest drugs around. For example, a generic drug necessary for people with Bell’s palsy that typically costs around $200 can be found at Costco for less than $39. However, you need to look closely at your insurance plan before filling your prescription at their pharmacy to get those dirt cheap prices. “Many of our clients list Costco as their preferred pharmacy without realizing there are other pharmacies where they can fill their prescriptions for less,” says Danielle Kunkle Roberts, co-founder of Boomer Benefits. “If your insurance plan has a network and Costco is not a preferred pharmacy in it, your medications will likely be cheaper somewhere else,” says Kunkle Roberts. Or you can use an app such as GoodRx.com to compare all of the pharmacies in your area to find the best deal.

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Eggs

Not only do supermarkets often offer eggs for less, but eggs are also another product with a limited shelf life. “Purchasing large quantities of eggs from Costco just doesn’t make sense unless you’re regularly cooking up huge batches,” says Steven Millstein, a certified financial planner and founder of CreditRepairExpert.

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Canned goods

It may seem like a no-brainer to pick up your canned goods at Costco, especially as they’re non-perishable. But think again. “You can do better at Amazon and the supermarket, especially when you purchase the store’s private label, on sale,” says Millstein. On the other hand, though, there are plenty of dollar store items that are actually cheaper at Costco.

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Flowers

When you want to show someone how much you care with a floral arrangement, forget about Costco. You can get a better selection, a nicer arrangement, and discounts and deals on flowers online from 1-800-flowers and FTD.com. Be sure to search for promo codes online, and make sure you’re taking full advantage of these other Costco shopping tips that will save you tons of money.