12 Costco deals everyone should stop wasting money on

Award a superlative for "Best Deals," and most people will nominate Costco.

A one-stop shop for nearly everything imaginable, its total sales in recent fiscal years have exceeded $64 billion.

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Costco products you need to avoid
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Costco products you need to avoid

Facial tissues

A runny nose deserves some quality tissue, but you may not find that at Costco. Consumer Reports found that the Kirkland Signature facial tissue, at $1.23, has so-so strength, ranking in the middle of their pack of facial tissue ratings.

For the same price, you can get Puffs Basic, which has a dream combo of "superb softness with very good strength."

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Dog food

Dogs may be worth every penny you spend, but know there are a lot of pennies involved — theminimum annual cost of owning a dog is $1,001 and can be as high as $1,448. If you buy your pup's food at Costco, it may be even higher.

The Krazy Coupon Lady switched from Kirkland Signature Nature's Domain dry dog food to Diamond Naturals dry dog food when she realized that Costco sold the former at $0.97 per pound and Amazon sold the latter for $0.82 per pound. That saves you both 15% and the hassle of lugging a 40-pound bag of dog food on a flat bed Costco cart.

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Pasta 

No one does pasta like Italy, but sometimes purchasing it from the store will have to make do — just make sure it's not from Costco.

Blogger The Many Little Joys has had better experience stocking up on pasta when it's on sale at the normal grocery store than when buying it at Costco. "I usually only pay $0.50 to $1 per pound for pasta, which Costco can't beat," she writes.

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Toiletries

While you're tending to personal care, don't neglect caring for your wallet. Whether lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, conditioner, or the like is on your shopping list, Costco may not be your best bet to check those items off.

"If you are a coupon and deal shopper, supermarkets and drugstores feature these types of items with coupons frequently, so you can stock up on multiple quantities of smaller sizes for pennies," Stephanie Nelson, founder of The Coupon Mom, told Bankrate.

If you don't believe her, consider The Krazy Coupon Lady's incredible find: a deal where razors were $0.99 each at Target, compared to $1.43 at Costco.

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Towels

Sleep well at night knowing you didn't overspend on your sheets at Costco.

According to Kyle James of Rather-Be-Shopping, shoppers can typically save 30% to 40% more by purchasing bed sheets, comforters, and towels at off-price retail chains such as TJ Maxx, Ross, and Marshalls. Sales and coupons for department stores, such as JCPenney and Macy's, can also be the ticket to a better deal.

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Canned goods

Canned goods have a long shelf life, but their price at Costco isn't as promising. Teri Gault, founder of TheGroceryGame.com, tells Kiplinger that you can score better deals on canned goods when they're on sale at the supermarket — expect them to be 20% to 40% less per unit.

The Many Little Joys points out that buying generic brand canned goods is your best bet when saving pennies — even better when they're on sale, too.

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Name brand cereal

Bargain hunters alike agree that America's favorite sugar morning fix is better bought on sale at the grocery store. A two-pack of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal can cost $7.99 at Costco, but with the right coupons, you can bring this price way down elsewhere.

"Don't let the bigger boxes at Costco fool you," writes James. "They're almost always more expensive per serving than what you can find at the cheapest grocery store in your town."

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Soda

Author and frugal living expert Jeff Yeager told Kiplinger that you can always find soda on sale for less than you'd spend at a place like Costco.

A $7 to $8 24-pack at the wholesaler can run a hole in your wallet twice as big as paying for two discounted 12-packs at the grocery store — Coke products go on sale every other week for $2 to $2.50 per 12-pack.

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Black printer ink

Don't let the large size of the packaging of printer ink at Costco trick you, warns The Krazy Coupon Lady.

Amazon actually sells the same ink, only cheaper — it's just $22.04 per cartridge compared to Costco's $29.50 per cartridge. Bonus: it comes without the giant packaging.

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Feminine hygiene products

Women's periods cost more than just painful cramps — they also cost a good chunk of their paycheck. The Huffington Post revealed that the average woman spends $1,773.33 on tampons throughout her lifetime. Ouch.

That number is high enough without overspending at Costco, where prices for feminine hygiene products are almost 50% more than the base sale price at other stores.

And that doesn't exclude online retailers — Amazon has a history of selling pantyliners for a couple dollars cheaper than those at Costco. You can also snag a lower price buying from drugstores with printable coupons.

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Household cleaners

Housekeeping demands can get expensive. Save the dollar signs for home maintenance instead by cutting costs on household cleaners.

Costco's household cleaner prices are almost 50% more than the bottom line deal at other stores, says The Krazy Coupon Lady. "The smaller the quantity of an item, the larger the savings when using store sales and coupons," she writes.

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Peanut butter

The blogger behind Root of Good compared the price of a 16-ounce jar of generic peanut butter among five grocery stores — Aldi ($1.08), Walmart ($1.16), Target ($1.20), Costco ($1.67), and Trader Joe's ($1.99).

Notably, Costco is the fourth most expensive on the list. You'd be nuts to pay for that price.

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There's no denying its success and popularity, but bigger isn't always better. Not every deal is all it's cracked up to be — sometimes Costco actually costs more. 

Get warehouse wise by avoiding these bad buys at Costco.

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15 secrets Costco employees won't tell you
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15 secrets Costco employees won't tell you

We move items on purpose

Our stores constantly move their stock around, so you won’t necessarily find the peanut butter in the same spot it was last time. The company touts it as a “treasure hunt,” but it also knows the more time you spend scanning the shelves, the more likely you are to notice (and buy) other items. Check out these tips for saving money at Costco.

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We'll keep in item in one spot if it's selling

As we move items around, we pay attention to how they’re selling. If they do particularly well in one spot, we’ll keep them there.

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Pretty much everything goes on sale

Wondering if you should stock up or wait? Most items will go on special eventually, so it’s worth holding off if you can be patient. Check out these things you should never buy at Costco.

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You can hunt us down

Got a meat question but don’t see a deli employee on the floor? Just knock on the door to the department, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

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Don't sweat on missing a sale

While Costco doesn’t price match with other retailers, it will honor its own sale prices on earlier returns. If you notice a costco.com item you bought had a price cut within 30 days of purchase, put in a request online to get the difference refunded. Some warehouses offer the same perk for in-store purchases, so stop by the membership counter to see if we can help.

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Our rotisserie chickens are as good a deal as you hoped

We aren’t downsizing our birds or adding weird fillers to keep our famous $4.99 rotisserie chickens at their low price. In fact, our chickens can weigh twice as much as our competitors’. We do add seasonings like sugar, salt, and modified corn starch (like many other store-bought rotisserie chickens), but there are no preservatives, MSG, or artificial colors and flavors. Learn more secrets behind Costco’s $4.99 rotisserie chicken.

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Our price tags warn you if we aren't restocking

An asterisk in the upper right corner of a price tag signals our location isn’t reordering the item. It might come back at a later time, like if it’s seasonal, but stock up now if it’s one of your favorites. Learn more about what asterisks on Costco price tags mean.

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What you see is what we've got

Costco is a “warehouse” store in a literal sense—we don’t have any additional storage from what you see on the shelves. If it’s not there, don’t ask us to check the “back.” The “back” doesn’t exist. Every now and then, the items will be out of reach on the high pallets, but most stores won’t bring the forklift out for just for one item. Come back tomorrow; it will probably be restocked.

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You can't use manufacturer coupons

We know you’d love to get an even better deal on the items in your cart, but we don’t accept manufacturers’ coupons, and we won’t negotiate for a lower price. If you want to save extra money, check our warehouse savings books.

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We can help you through tragedy

Steel Costco caskets can cost as little as $950, which is a steal compared to other distributors. The company currently ship to 36 states, plus the District of Columbia. Here are more Costco perks every member should know.

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Put your pizza order in early

On a busy Friday, you might have to wait 20 to 25 minutes for a fresh pizza. Make the most of your time by giving us your order before you start shopping so it’s finished cooking by the time you want to leave.

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Our price tags have a special code

Most prices end with .09 (.89, .99, etc.), but a couple price tags signal you’re getting a particularly good deal. A price ending in .97 means the item is on clearance, so you’re getting an even better deal than usual. Meanwhile, a .00 or .88 price tag signals the manager decided to cut the price, sometimes because it’s the last one in stock, doesn’t have a box, or has pieces missing. Learn more about the secret codes behind Costco’s prices.

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You can get your non-member friends in

It’s no big secret that you can bring two guests with you to shop, but you can set up your friends who refuse to buy a membership with their own access cards. Only members can buy and refill a Costco Cash Card, but whoever you give it to has access to the store to spend the store credit whether they have an annual membership or not. Check out these other things you can do at Costco without a membership.

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You don't pay much more than the store does

To make a profit, stores mark up their prices from what they pay the supplier. For instance, most grocery stores jack up meat prices by at least 30 percent. But at Costco, you won’t pay more than 15 percent more than the store does, and the prices average just a 10.6 percent markup.

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We appreciate when you order ahead

We normally have enough party platters in stock, but we appreciate the heads-up the day before if you know you’ll be loading up so we can prepare. We don’t mind making extra, but we hate telling customers we’re sold out because one person wiped out our stock.

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