I Made This Mistake My First Year as a Costco Member, and I Won't Repeat It

When I initially joined Costco, I didn’t spring for an Executive membership even though I knew that getting one would mean scoring cash back on my purchases. Back then, we had a kid-free household, so it didn’t make sense to buy the more expensive membership when we didn’t visit Costco so frequently.

That decision wasn’t a bad one. But a different decision I made during my first year as a Costco member is one I later came to regret.

When you become an inadvertent brand snob

I’ve always been happy to eat at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and I’ve never been someone to splurge on expensive clothing. That just doesn’t align with my financial priorities.

But there was a time when I was more particular about the food and medication brands I brought home. And so when I first joined Costco, I pretty much walked past any Kirkland products I saw on the shelves. I preferred to stick to the brands I knew and liked, even though they commonly cost more.

But I changed my tune about Kirkland products several years back. And I’m glad I did, because it’s resulted in a lot of savings for me.

The upside of buying Kirkland products

Kirkland is Costco’s signature brand. It was introduced in 1995 and has expanded considerably through the years.

These days, you can find the Kirkland label on everything from medications to pantry staples to baked goods. And you can commonly save money on the items you’re buying by choosing Kirkland over a brand name.

When I first joined Costco, I wouldn’t have dreamed of buying Kirkland-labeled snacks or pills. I just had it in my head that sticking to the brands I was already familiar with was a better idea.

But then I decided to give Kirkland a try due to the savings involved. And lo and behold, I found that the quality was just as good.

These days, I regularly load up on Kirkland items. It’s not even a question. And as a result, my Costco bills tend to be lower.

Case in point: Buying Advil in bulk at Costco online will cost you $0.07 per pill (note that store prices can differ from those listed online). Buying Kirkland Signature Ibuprofen online will result in a cost of just $0.01 per pill.

This is just one example. But the Kirkland version of whatever you’re buying will often be cheaper than the fancy brand that spends money on marketing. So it could pay to at least give a few Kirkland items a try and see if they work for you.

Granted, they may not always be the items you prefer. While I have no problem scooping up Kirkland products in general, I won’t stray from Bounty as my go-to paper towel brand. I’ve tried the Kirkland version, and to me, it’s just not as good.

But that’s probably the only exception. So if you’re eager to slash your Costco bills, give Kirkland a go. The worst that’ll happen is you won’t love the product and you’ll know not to buy it the next time. And if you’re really dissatisfied, you can always take your purchase to customer service and ask for a refund.

Costco is really good about issuing refunds in those situations provided you don’t take advantage by frequently returning purchases based on simply not liking them. So there’s really very little risk involved.

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