How To Make Costco Member Fees Worth The Cost

Many people shop at Costco in order to save money, but does it actually pay to be a Costco shopper? Are you benefitting from that yearly membership or are you losing more money than you're gaining in the process? Here's how to maximize your membership and really make it worth the cost. 

Unlike other grocery stores, Costco charges anywhere from $60 (for a basic membership) to $120 (executive membership) per year. While the executive membership does cost more, you do get 2% back on your purchases. So, depending on your membership, you will need to save anywhere from $60 to $120 a year to make that membership seem worth it. On a basic level, the easiest way to maximize your membership is to shop at Costco regularly. While there's not a set number of trips you should make, if you only shop at Costco once or twice a year, you're unlikely to get your full value of the membership. 

Likewise, you may want to reconsider it if you're just one person who doesn't really need many items in bulk. Costco memberships are helpful for larger families who go through groceries at a faster rate. So theoretically, you would save money by buying these groceries in bulk rather than individually. However, if you end up throwing out a lot of your groceries because they spoil (because you couldn't eat them in time), you're throwing whatever savings you would have gotten in the trash.

Look for the best deals

The trick to shopping at Costco is to avoid impulse buying or selecting items you're unsure if you would actually need. It's important to ask yourself whether you would use all of the product before it spoils and if it's actually cheaper to buy at Costco versus another grocery store. If the answer is no, then you may want to skip it or get it elsewhere. 

Likewise, how much you save really depends on what you buy at Costco. In an interview with Motley Fool, finance expert Dave Ramsey explains that you have to be selective about which items you buy at Costco. While the grocery store does offer plenty of discounts, not every item is worth buying or will save you money in the long term. And it pays to know what the best and worst items to buy at Costco are. While it may require a bit of homework on your part, you should compare your groceries versus the competition to make sure you're getting the best deal. For that reason, it's best to make a shopping list before going into Costco and prioritizing the essentials.

Of course, another way to save money is to eat lunch at Costco's food court. The grocer offers a variety of deals, including a hotdog meal that's only $1.50. There's a good reason the hotdog meal is so cheap, and it has everything to do with Costco's members.