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12 Tips for Shopping at Costco If You Live in a Small Home

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Kevork Djansezian/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

Think Small

Even when there's not an urgent need to stock up on food and household goods, there's no doubt shopping at Costco makes sense for a large family with a large home to house all the bulk items. It can save tons of money every year. But what if you are single, or live in a small apartment, or even call an RV your home? How is Costco worth the membership fee if you don't have ample storage space? We turned to Costco itself and Costco shoppers living in small spaces for some tips to help you decide if a membership makes sense for you.

Related: I Shopped at Costco for the First Time and This Is What I Learned

Costco Toilet Paper
Costco

Split With Someone Else

Instead of shopping solo, you can split up those bulk items that come in large packages with a friend or family member that doesn't live with you. For example, if you don't have room to store 30 rolls of toilet paper, split the cost and the pack with your shopping partner. Fifteen rolls are much easier to store, and you still save money: 30 rolls of Costco's Kirkland brand bath tissue is 67 cents a roll compared with 85 cents for Walmart's Great Value brand premium bath tissue, which comes in a 12-pack. (The Costco toilet paper is also a half-inch wider and has a few more sheets per roll.)

Related: How Non-Members Can Shop at Costco

Store Things Outside
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Store Things Outside

When it comes to storing bulk items, have you thought outside the box — literally outside? Water, sports drinks, and the like can easily be stored in an outdoor space like a garage, carport, small deck, or patio. In the colder months, they will stay chilled and ready to drink.

Related: 50 Ways to Save Money Shopping in Bulk

Costco Produce
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Buy Produce

Not all items at Costco come in huge containers. Fresh fruit and veggies, for example, are only slightly larger than the supermarket variety and yield big savings. Storage for produce such as blueberries and strawberries or a six-pack of bell peppers shouldn't be too hard to manage. They'll likely get eaten or used up rather fast, and if not, many fruits and vegetables can be frozen easily.

Glass of red wine
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Grab the Boxed Wine

It's widely known that Costco offers some of the lowest prices around on wine, and it's good wine. Kirkland Cabernet Sauvignon boxed wine is the equivalent of four bottles in one box for slightly more than just one bottle elsewhere. Likewise, Kirkland Prosecco is just $7 for a large bottle, and you don't have to buy more than one bottle.

Gas
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Baking Goods Are Cheap
Costco

Baking Supplies Are Cheap

If you bake often, Costco is a good bet to get cheap supplies, and generally they don't take up a lot of storage space. For example, Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Premium Brownie Mix is a way better deal at Costco, at $12 for six pouches of mix, than at Walmart, where it sells for $16.65 for a three-pack, and those pouches don't take up much room in the pantry. If you use nuts for baking or snacking, those are also cheaper at Costco and don't take up much space at all.

Get Spices for Less
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Get Spices for Less

Spices are another thing that don't require a lot of space and can cost a pretty penny at the grocery store. Costco is your place for excellent quality spices at lower prices. For example, at Walmart you can get 18 ounces of black pepper for 55 cents per ounce. By comparison Costco sells black pepper for just 43 cents per ounce.

Take Things Out of Their Boxes
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Take Things Out of Their Boxes

One great tip for storing bulk items is to make them smaller by taking them out of the box. Instead of storing something like olive oil in the huge container it comes in, try storing it in smaller jars to save space. Take items such as rice and separate it into smaller mason jars for storage. You can keep extra jars on a remote shelf you don't need to access often, while keeping smaller quantities close at hand.

Costco Pharmacy
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Check Out the Pharmacy

Medications can get quite pricey, and according to a Consumer Reports study, Costco is one of the cheapest places to get prescriptions filled. You can also find cheap over-the-counter medications, and other toiletries that take up little extra storage space but will save you good money. Things such as razors, contact-lens solution, and the like can be a good value. Take Clear Care contact solution: It goes for $21 at Costco and you get two 16-ounce bottles. At Kroger, you would spend $13 for just one 12-ounce container — basically $1 per ounce compared with just 65 cents per ounce at Costco.

Related: The Cheapest Pharmacy: Walmart vs. Walgreens vs. CVS and More

Consider Buying Clothing Items
Costco

Consider Buying Clothing

Kids' pajamas, socks, underwear, workout gear, coats, and pretty much any clothing item you can think of can be bought at Costco for a steal. While it's always smart to compare prices, we've found items such as Puma no-show athletic socks for less than $10 for an eight-pack at Costco, while they cost nearly $12 at other places.

Stay Caffeinated
Costco

Stay Caffeinated

Coffee is a steal at Costco and, unlike other bulk items, takes up little storage space. Take Starbucks French Roast coffee, for example. It costs $21 for a 2.5-pound bag from Costco, retaining an edge over the smaller, 1.75-pound bag of the same coffee for $16 at Walmart. The products have about the same footprint for storage, but you get much more bang for your buck at Costco.

Keep a Food Diary
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Keep a Food Diary

One final tip when it comes to buying in bulk and living in a small space: Keep a food diary. This will help you determine what you are truly using and what is worth buying in bulk and giving up precious space to store. Likewise, it will help you determine what you actually aren't using enough of to make buying in bulk worthwhile.

Related: How to Live on $500 a Month at Costco