Shopping at Costco and other warehouse stores often seems suited to large families and companies; offerings such as a dozen giant muffins demand many mouths and/or lots of freezer space. But many Costco purchases can make sense for singletons and couples -- even taking the annual membership fee into consideration.
Cleaning wipes, toilet bowl cleaner, dish detergent, laundry detergent, dusting spray, and mop refills can be found in bulk for less at Costco. As these items don't expire, shoppers can save a bundle -- as long as they have the storage space.
Tissues, paper towels, toilet paper, and paper plates are sold at Costco for less than regular grocery store prices. Try splitting these necessities with another single friend or small family if storage space is at a premium.
Lotions, hair care, soaps, toothpaste, and more can all be found at bargain prices in larger quantities at Costco. Since these items don't take up much space even in large containers, this is a purchase almost anyone can take advantage of, regardless of storage limitations.
Allergy pills and over-the-counter medicines can be excellent buys at Costco, but be sure to check the expiration date and calculate whether or not this supersize quantity will get used before the item expires. Recently Costco offered two large bottles of contact lens solution for $18.99, a considerable value over a local grocery store, which sold the same brand at a similar price -- in much smaller bottles.
Alcohol is cheap at Costco -- really cheap. Costco's Kirkland Signature brand vodka, gin, whiskey, and other hard liquors cost $15 to $20 less than name brands. And as Lifehacker points out, the contents may be the same. Likewise, don't dismiss brands you don't recognize. A Metasip blogger says he used to do wine demonstrations at Costco and his former company sold expensive wines remaindered from other producers. What would cost $50 under another label at a liquor or grocery store might average $12 to $16 a bottle at Costco. Costco's low profit margins also keep alcohol prices low, regardless of the brand. Don't have a membership? Check state laws, as some allow alcohol purchases at Costco without one.
Costco has a reliable supply of clothing staples, and sometimes even carries brand names. Matty M leggings are a high-end line sold at Nordstrom, but during the winter months they are available at Costco for $14.99 -- far less than retail. Hunter rain boots, normally priced at $140 and up at most retailers, cost $79 at Costco, and a similar deal can be had on Sorel brand boots. These deep price cuts can cover the $55 Costco membership fee in one shopping trip.
The Costco travel department helps members find rental cars for less than other travel services by scanning the market for money-saving coupons, discounts, and deals. It's not only a budget boost but a time saver, as well.
When Cheapism compared Costco prices to conventional retail store prices, Costco proved significantly cheaper for TVs, Blu-ray players, and other electronics. When it's time to buy a TV, consider putting down the money for the Costco membership fee, which pays for itself with one big-ticket purchase.
Printer paper, pens, labels, and notepads never go out of style, but they do eventually run out. Buying office supplies in bulk is a cheap alternative to buying from a conventional retail outlet and guarantees they will always be available when needed.
Spruce up the yard or porch with Costco plants, which are often large and well-established. Recently, large fall mums were on sale for just $14.99 each -- the same price a garden center would charge for a container half the size.
Costco sells gift cards for less than their face value -- for example, a $100 iTunes gift card regularly sells for $84. Gift cards for restaurants, gym memberships, movie tickets, weight loss programs and more are available. Use these yourself in addition to buying them for others.