BIG DISCOUNTS FOR SMALL HOUSEHOLDS
Shopping at Costco and other warehouse stores often seems best for large families and businesses. A package of a dozen giant muffins calls for many mouths, or at least lots of freezer space. But there are Costco purchases that make sense for single people and couples, even after taking the annual membership fee into consideration. Here are some examples of the savings (prices vary by location).
FOOD ITEMS WITH A LONG SHELF LIFE
Uncooked rice, dried beans, dry pasta, oatmeal, and canned goods come in bulk quantities, but all have a long shelf life and are pantry staples that will help reduce weekly grocery costs.
Costco has a reliable supply of clothing staples and sometimes even carries brand names. Sorel brand boots and other brands that are normally $140 and up at retailers can sometimes be found for around $80 at Costco. Matty M leggings, a high-end line sold at stores such as Nordstrom, sell for $15 at Costco. Price cuts can be deep enough to cover a $60 Costco membership fee in one shopping trip.
Spruce up the yard or porch with Costco plants, which are often large and well-established. Large mums have been known to sell for less than $20 each — what a garden center might charge for a container half the size.
Alcohol is cheap at Costco — really cheap. Its Kirkland Signature brand vodka, gin, whiskey, and other hard liquors cost $15 to $20 less than name brands. Likewise, don't dismiss brands you don't recognize. Insiders say wines and spirits at Costco are pricey remaindered goods from other producers. A bottle that would cost $50 under another label at a liquor or grocery store might average $12 to $16 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.
A Cheapism comparison found Costco significantly cheaper for some TVs, Blu-ray players, and other electronics than conventional retail stores. When it's time to buy, consider putting down the money for a membership, which can pay for itself with one big-ticket purchase.
Lotions, hair care products, soaps, toothpaste, and more can all befound at bargain prices in large quantities at Costco — and don't take up much space, even in large containers. A pack of five 6-ounce tubes of Crest 3D White Advanced Whitening Toothpaste can get as lot as $19.50 at Costco, or 65 cents an ounce. You can't buy a multipack at CVS, but the same toothpaste there will cost $1.06 an ounce.
Health products, including allergy pills and over-the-counter medicines, can be good buys at Costco (but be sure to check the expiration date to calculate whether a supersize quantity will get used in time). Two 16-ounce bottles of contact lens solution cost $21 at Costco, or 66 cents an ounce, while two 12-ounce bottles are $17 at Walmart, or 71 cents an ounce, for the same brand.
Cleaning wipes, toilet bowl cleaner, dish detergent, laundry detergent, dusting spray, and mop refills can be found in bulk for less at Costco. Because these items don't expire, shoppers can save a bundle — as long as they have the storage space. Take Windex Original Glass Cleaner: a 32-ounce spray bottle and 176-ounce refill is $13 at Costco, while Home Depot will sell a sprayer and refill of only 128 ounces for a combined $12.75 — that's 48 fewer ounces of cleaner for saving a quarter. Even in a small house or apartment, storing a Windex refill shouldn't be too much of a challenge.
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, and some rental car companies waive their additional-driver fees for Costco members.
Printer paper, pens, labels, and notepads eventually run out, and they never go out of style. Buying office supplies in bulk is cheap and all but guarantees they will be available when needed. Grabbing some simple copy paper along with your groceries, for example, will cost $40 for 5,000 sheets at Costco but $43 for 5,000 sheets at Walmart.