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Tips to Survive Costco as a Single Person:
- Give your second card to someone you really like.
- Get a card from your ex-significant other or an Ex-Boyfriend/Girlfriend.
- Don’t buy perishable items.
- Plan to freeze everything possible.
- Focus on your safest bets to buy in bulk.
- Buy what you like the most.
- Budget $100 per trip.
How to Conquer Costco as a Single Person
The idea of shopping at Costco can be daunting for anyone living the single life. The size of the store, the hassle of the parking lot, the children in carts unattended… all of it is overwhelming and can seem unnecessary.
I’ve battled the Costco debate for years as a single person. I’ve tried to get Costco to work for me, but somehow I still feel like I never use my membership to its fullest potential.
So here I am, at almost 39 and I’m single…again. For the past 2 years I did not renew my last Costco membership. As a newly single chick, I’m currently 6 months into my third membership. Yet I’ve only been shopping there less than a handful of times all year.
WHYYYYY am I losing money on a Costco membership? Am I actually saving enough money to justify the cost of the membership?
Let’s explore and maybe by the end of this post I’ll have decided to either keep or get rid of my Costco membership.
The Main Problem: Membership
Why is Costco for 2 People?
There’s nothing more offensive to a single person than selling things in 2s. Unless it’s something I can use both of at the same time and get double benefit… I only want one.
Just like hot dog buns and hot dogs… Costco comes in a membership package that isn’t conducive to singles. The numbers are off. If you don’t have another person to get a membership with you, you’ll be paying the entire cost and have a second membership that goes unused.
You have two options here. You could just not use the additional card. You also could give it away. Both options kinda feel like a waste of money, right?
More importantly, why hasn’t Costco developed a discount program for single people?
Ex’s Everywhere…You’re Welcome For The Free Card.
If you choose to give the card away you can give it to a family member. Most likely though, you’ll give it to the person you spend the most time buying household goods with.
Which is usually your significant other or someone you’re “seeing/dating”. As a single person, giving up you extra Costco card to someone you’re dating is like giving up your letterman jacket in high school. It better be for someone good, cuz you likely won’t be getting it back.
Giving your extra card to someone you’re dating says “Hey I care enough about you to want you to get a discount on stuff”, or “I need you to pick up a lot of TP for the house…since you’ve been using all of it when you’re over…”
Either way, it’s a big deal for a single person to share their Costco membership.
Giving your second Costco membership card to anyone you’re dating is only an advisable strategy for a single person if you:
- Really like this person.
- Everyone else you know already has a Costco card.
- You are OK with going all the way to Costco to revoke their card privileges if you break up or stop seeing each other.
If none of these three truths are your single life situation… give the card to your sister, neighbor, roommate, or colleague.
Simple Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Your Single Person Costco Life
After you’ve solved the problem of the mysterious 2nd Costco membership card, you still have the issue of things being sold in bulk.
Bulk sales are awesome price savers on per-unit cost for items. However, you could end up with way more than you can actually use of any one item.
This is why I developed a Single Person Costco Strategy.
Yep, I shop with a purpose at Costco. And now you can too! This strategy will help you save money, limit food waste, and try to get your Costco membership to pay for itself. (For once!)
Single Person Costco Strategy
Tip 1: Don’t Buy Perishable Things!
Just don’t do it. You might be tempted with the huge box of tasty looking strawberries. But recognize there are a million of them and only one of you. You can’t possibly eat a whole flat of strawberries before they go bad by yourself.
Anything fruit, cheese, vegetable, bread or pre-prepared food at Costco should be purchased with extreme caution. However, bagged salad or spinach might be perishable items you could finish before they expire.
Of course, there are times when having a Costco membership as a single person comes in handy, for example, when you’re having a party or need to bring something for a potluck. If you’re cooking in bulk and you know you can use all the perishable food in your recipe… go for it!
A few recipes I make with Costco ingredients for parties usually include the small Mozzarella balls and tomatoes to make a huge Caprese salad. Occasionally, I’ll buy a pineapple or some avocados for guacamole.
Otherwise, I save the perishable items for the regular grocery store. That means you will be making two shopping trips. Which is better than having too much of the same type of produce in you refrigerator.
Unless you have a huge freezer.
Tip 2: Plan to Freeze Everything Possible
If you have a freezer that can store a ton of stuff… then more power two you. Get your Costco ON!
If that’s the case, you can blanch and freeze most vegetables. You could buy fresh vegetables and freeze them in single servings for meals or meal prep entire meals with your vegetables and save one or two servings per container in your huge freezer.
You also can take advantage of the cost savings on meats!
Usually I buy one package of organic chicken breasts for dinners and it will last about 3 weeks-1 month frozen. Since they are individually packaged into 2 breasts per serving, this item is like Costco single person gold.
Having a huge freezer also opens up the doors to a whole section of Costco- the frozen food section. Now this section should include a caution statement:
Most frozen foods have a ton of salt in them.
If you have problems with salt, high blood pressure, or in general need to lower your salt intake… frozen food is likely not for you.
I usually reserve the frozen food section for parties and entertaining. If I need a quick appetizer I might pick up some mini quiche or a frozen dip.
Frozen fruit usually has additional preservatives or sugar. Instead of buying the pre-packaged frozen fruit, I buy the fresh fruit in bulk and save it in single servings in the refrigerator. This is a great way to have fruit available for smoothies all year round.
There is always prep-work that is required to store food in the freezer, make sure you take into account the amount of time you will be spend preparing fresh food to be frozen or how long it will take you to eat the entire box of frozen pretzels.
Tip 3: Focus on Your Safest Bets to Buy in Bulk
Any of these items are safe to buy at Costco because they really aren’t dependent on one person or you should be able to use the entire thing by yourself over time. If you are entertaining, even better! It’s always helpful to make a Costco run before a party.
- Paper products
- Dog products
- Clothes- Socks & undies & workout clothes
- Healthy Snacks
- Frozen goods
- Party supplies
- Smoke/carbon dioxide detectors
- Car tires
- Cleaning supplies
- Olive oil
- Seasonal items
- Bar-b-que grill
Tip 4: Buy Whatever You Eat the Most Of
What were you thinking when you bought an entire box of Costco cinnamon rolls? That I love cinnamon rolls. Did I finish it, No way… of course not. That would be the worst wellness decision ever.
Did I get my fix of cinnamon rolls? Yes. I did. Thank you.
When you buy something that you absolutely love, you’re investing in your happiness. Although it may be temporary. Allowing yourself to splurge in calories and money is something that you have to do from time to time. However, splurging huge at Costco can be very dangerous for your pocket book and wasit line.
I highly recommend allowing yourself to buy those things you eat a lot of and absolutely love at Costco. If you have some waste at the end, that’s ok. You might find that you can’t finish the entire bulk quantity but you will enjoy trying.
Tip 5: Budget $100 Per Trip
The last strategy I deploy to ensure I get the most out of my Costco membership is to limit my per-trip spending. I do this by limiting myself to a goal budget of $100 or less per trip. Here is how I accomplish this goal:
- I save my list in Trello on my grocery organizing board.
- 5 items or less. I always try to keep my purchase under 5 items. Any more and I will inevitably be over $100.
- I typically have two reasons to go to Costco in the first place: toilet paper or paper towels. I always add these to the list first.
- Then I assess the next tier of needs- chicken, tissues, batteries, or other cleaning supplies.
- Last I get a splurge item- something chocolate, a workout top, or something for my pup, Asha.
That’s pretty much my $100 single person’s shopping trip to Costco. Your shopping trip might look different depending on your living situation and preferences.
Is a Costco Membership worth it for a single person?
It depends. Costco has two tiers of memberships and they each have advantages.
However, for a single person, if you’re not going to share it and don’t want something back from your purchases you can opt for the cheapest membership. The Gold Star Membership will cost you $60 for a year.
If you want to pay double at $120 per year you can have the added benefit of an annual 2% award for the Gold Star Executive membership.
I typically assess that scale by dividing the total by the number of times I think I will use the service in a year. For Costco, I estimate I will go less than once a month. This allows me to estimate how much the membership will cost me per trip.
Since I have the $60 membership, if I go to Costco 10 times in a year, I will be spending $6 per trip just to walk in the door. The question then becomes, will I be saving more than $60 across 10 trips?
Further, will I have a lot of wasted goods or food because I can’t consume a bulk quantity?
Answering these two key questions will help me assess if I want to keep my Costco membership or if I want to ditch it.
Costco vs. Amazon
For example sake, I decided to compare my typical Costco Cart with Amazon Prime.
- Toilet paper– 30 rolls
- Paper towels– 12 rolls
- Women’s Sports Bras– 2 pack
- Batteries- 48 pack
- DentaStix for Dogs
When I compared this sampling of products that I regularly purchase in bulk as a single person, Amazon Prime appears to be the way to go. The average Costco price was between $1-$4 more for the currently listed prices on Amazon. Of course, prices vary and you would need to factor in the $6 estimated for each Costco trip vs. free shipping with Amazon Prime (with an annual subscription fee).
Will I Be Giving Up My Costco Card?
If I choose to ditch the Costco card that means I would:
- Save money on the membership.
- Don’t have to risk death in the parking lot.
- Can buy most of my items from the comfort of my sofa.
- Won’t buy extra things I don’t need because I walked by them in the store.
Yes, inevitably I will be giving it up. I’m still hold out hopes of meeting a dashing man with a Costco card and no x-girlfriend taking up the second card so I can swoop in and make bulk purchases.
Until then, I’ll just wait out my current year membership and not renew. 🤷🏽♀️
(On a side note, don’t judge my large battery purchases. I teach Spin class twice a week so I go through batteries super fast.)
Great article. Exactly what I needed to know. Thank you so much