5 Must-Buy Items at Costco on a Tight Budget

When money is tight, it’s crucial to stretch every dollar as far as possible. Fortunately, shopping at Costco can help you save significantly, especially on certain key items. So, what are the Must-Buy Items at Costco on a Tight Budget?

5 Must-Buy Items at Costco on a Tight Budget
5 Must-Buy Items at Costco on a Tight Budget

From bulk basics to discounted gift cards, Costco offers unbeatable deals that can lighten the load on your wallet.

Key Takeaways

  • Buying non-perishable staples in bulk at Costco yields substantial long-term savings
  • Kirkland Signature brand products provide quality comparable to name brands at 20% lower costs
  • Discounted restaurant gift cards let you dine out at a fraction of the regular price
  • Filling up on gas and buying tires at Costco can save you hundreds annually
  • Selective bulk buying and focusing on key items is key to maximizing savings

5 Must-Buy Items at Costco on a Tight Budget

Navigating the aisles can be overwhelming, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Below, i have highlighted 5 must-buy items at Costco that offer excellent value for money, helping you stretch your dollars further without sacrificing quality.

Bulk Non-Perishable Staples

One of the biggest money-savers at Costco is purchasing non-perishable items in bulk quantities. Stocking up on pantry staples like rice, pasta, canned goods, and more can yield substantial savings over time compared to buying smaller quantities.

As financial guru Dave Ramsey advises, some of the best bulk buys at Costco include:

  • Toiletries and dental care items
  • Paper products like toilet paper and paper towels
  • Batteries
  • Canned goods
  • Rice and dry beans
  • Cereal

However, Ramsey cautions against bulk buying certain perishable items that may go to waste, such as:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Dairy products
  • Condiments and spices

By focusing your bulk purchases on long-lasting, non-perishable essentials, you can take full advantage of Costco’s volume pricing without wasting food or money.

Kirkland Signature Brand

Costco’s private label, Kirkland Signature, is a goldmine for budget-conscious shoppers. With over 350 products spanning groceries, household items, clothing, and more, Kirkland Signature offers quality on par with or superior to national brands at prices around 20% lower.

Some top-rated and budget-friendly Kirkland products include:

  • Batteries: Ranked as the longest-lasting by Consumer Reports
  • Olive Oil: Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil at a fraction of name brand costs
  • Wines: Highly-rated vintages at $10-$20 less than comparable bottles
  • Clothing: Quality basics like tees, sweats, and denim for the whole family

By opting for the Kirkland alternative to pricier name brands, you can enjoy substantial savings without sacrificing quality.

Discounted Restaurant Gift Cards

One of the best-kept Costco secrets is their deeply discounted selection of restaurant gift cards. You can frequently find popular eateries offering $100 gift cards for just $79.99 – an instant 20% savings.

For example, some recent gift card deals at Costco included:

  • $100 gift card to Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse for $79.99
  • $100 gift card to IHOP for $79.99
  • $100 gift card to Sullivan’s Steakhouse for $64.99 after $5 discount

The options span high-end establishments like Morton’s Steakhouse to casual chains perfect for gifting college students or treating yourself without breaking the bank.


While not a physical product, filling up your tank at one of Costco’s gas stations can result in major savings. Costco consistently prices their gas below the average in most markets.

City Costco Gas Price Average Price Potential Annual Savings*
Los Angeles $4.39 $4.69 $180
Chicago $3.89 $4.24 $210
Miami $3.57 $3.87 $180

*Assumes 15,000 miles driven annually with 25 mpg vehicle

To compound the savings, you can purchase discounted Costco Cash Cards and redeem them at the pump. For example, a $100 Costco Cash Card frequently goes for just $79.99, netting you $20 in free gas.


Stopping by the Costco Tire Center can save you over $80 per tire installation compared to other retailers. While Costco’s retail tire prices are on par with competitors, they include free tire installation, balancing, stem replacement, and rotation with purchase.

Most dedicated tire shops charge installation fees of $15-$25 per tire. At that rate, a $80-$100 installation charge for a set of four new tires is standard. Costco’s complimentary installation service essentially amounts to a $100 discount.

Beyond the upfront savings, Costco also offers free maintenance like rotations and flat repairs to extend your tires’ life. Their road hazard coverage provides free repair or replacement as well.

No matter how tight your budget, making Costco your one-stop shop for these five essentials can lead to huge yearly savings. Just be sure to buy in bulk mindfully based on your actual needs and storage space. With smart, selective shopping, a Costco membership can stretch your hard-earned dollars much further.


Is a Costco membership worth it if I’m on a tight budget?

Yes, a Costco membership can be extremely valuable even on a tight budget. The annual fee is $60, but the savings you can get on bulk essentials, gas, tires and more can easily exceed that, especially if you take advantage of the deals outlined above.

What if I don’t need to buy in such large bulk quantities?

Costco does offer some items in smaller pack sizes as well. However, the best deals are generally on the larger bulk packs. Consider splitting large quantities with a friend or family member to maximize savings without overstocking.

Are all Kirkland Signature products good quality?

While not every Kirkland product receives top ratings, the brand overall provides excellent quality at well below name brand prices across most product categories. Do some research on specific items you’re considering.

How do I know if buying tires at Costco is cheaper than my local tire shop?

The key advantage at Costco is the free installation and other services included. Call your local shops and compare their overall out-the-door pricing including installation against Costco’s listed retail prices for the same tyre models.



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