Costco Syndrome: Do you spend more than you save?

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A Costco storefront.

A short time ago Costco sent me a $10.00 coupon off renewing my membership.  Like a moth to the flame, I fell for it, thinking.well, I really save big when I go to Costco on household items, so it’s worth being a member.  Now I’m not so sure.  You see dear reader, I suffer from what I call Costco Syndrome.  I go there intending to get my amazing discounts on bulk groceries, my Aleve, and of course their infamous bulk toilet paper package.  But, once I’m in the store it’s very hard to stick to my little shopping list.  Why you may ask? Because Costco now carries so many upscale brands, fashion items and high-end cosmetics.  This leads me to impulse shopping at its finest.  Look they have Chanel cream! Over there look, wow, Cartier watches.  Clinique, Estee Lauder, Oil of Olay, Calvin Klein and even Betsey Johnson are now lurking in those Costco aisles.  My recent finds at Costco include SK-II skin products, usually found at Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Sephora.  Check my photos from a Costco shopping trip showing Chanel products and even a Cartier watch!

Pictured: Costco Temptation 1: Sparkling Betsey Johnson bag.   Maybe not the most beautiful bag, but c’mon, it’s Betsey Johnson, and it’s at a good price at Costco!!! (photo: M.Hall)


Pictured: Costco Temptation Part Deux: Chanel Cream.  Do I need it, not sure, but it’s Chanel and it’s at Costco!! (photo: M.Hall)


Pictured: Pièce de résistance Cartier, the jeweler to the French Kings has a few watches at Costco!!! Under 2k.  Suchadeal.

After looking around and seeing all these discounted wonders, I had to step away from the Costco aisles (all these items were right up front in the store of course.) I fled to the back of the store, grabbed my TP, some groceries, some bulk coffee bags, a giant bottle of Aleve, my huge box of Crystal Light and some vitamins.

I used my calculator on my mobile phone to help me calculate the so called “savings.” My cart was just totaling $125.00 of stuff, and I knew I was lucky. Last year I went to pick-up a few things and my cart total came to about $300.00.  This is Costco Syndrome and it’s not  cheap.  If you don’t have a Costco near you, I bet you have one of its evil twins like BJ’s Warehouse or Sam’s Club.  Have you wandered their aisles picking up items you didn’t intend to buy because you are overwhelmed by what is there?

Beware readers.  I think Costco is the darling of the recession. Business is booming, and they are acquiring better and more upscale brands than ever.  And if you hear their siren’s call, you may not end up realizing any savings at all.


Since 2008, Mary Hall has been the author of The Recessionista Blog, which is read by thousands of regular readers in over 160 countries. An internationally recognized expert on the art of the living the good life for less, she has been a commentator on local, national, and international radio and TV shows. Her advice has been featured in over 2,000 media outlets, including The New York Times, Reuters, Life & Style magazine, ABC News, NBC News and now The Huffington Post, among many others.

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