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4 Tips for First-Time Homeowners Shopping at Costco

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So, you’re a first-time homeowner and you’ve been blessed with a trip to Costco — what a combination. If it’s also your first time at Costco, you’re really knocking out a bunch of firsts this year. But before you get too excited, remember you can always go back to Costco again and again. It’s not a one-and-done scenario, so no need to buy out the whole store today. Here’s what to know before you check out Costco.

1. Take a look online before you go

I know, I’m a total spoil-sport. But here’s the thing with Costco: It’s huge. Even the smaller stores are massive, and in all of that, you may very well overlook the item you’re after. It doesn’t hurt to take a peek online at what kinds of glorious goods your local shop is offering before you pop in.

This also allows you to plan your trip, including what you want to look at, consider, and maybe even buy. Also a great time to set a budget for your shopping so you don’t completely bust the bank, especially if you’re there to furnish your new home. While you’re at it, download the Costco app so you can find whatever you need.

2. Work the store strategically

If you’re at Costco for groceries, snacks, lawn furniture, new plants, tools, and dog treats, you’re going to be there a while. You need a plan. Non–shelf stable foods like fruits and frozen goods need to be the very last things you pick up, and plants are easy to crush under other Costco items, so they need to be next to last. Tools, furniture, treats, and the like can be first stops.

At most stores, making this much of a plan would be a bit of overkill. But at a Costco, there’s a real risk that if you get the frozen pizzas before you look at lawn furniture, you’ll be taking home a soggy, thawed pizza. Choosing lawn furniture is serious business that should not be rushed.

3. Bring a tape measure

As a first-time homeowner, you may be looking for a lot of items to go into your home — anything from closet organization to appliances or televisions, and you need to know how big they are before you arrange to have them delivered or you take them home on your own. Nothing is more embarrassing than to have to bring a refrigerator back because you can’t get it through the front door.

Measure the space where your items will go, measure the size of the openings they have to pass through, write it all down, and then compare these notes to the measurements of the items you’re shopping for at Costco. My Costco Find of the Century many years ago, a 70-inch UHD television, fits just between my thermostat and the edge of my front door. There is no room for error there. If I hadn’t measured and it had been literally any bigger, I’d have been doing the walk of shame myself.

4. Check out the Costco credit card

Normally, the last thing I’d advise anyone to do is open a new credit line after just closing on a mortgage, but you’re going to need stuff — and maybe a lot of it, depending on the size of your home and what was left by the previous owners. Curtains, blinds, and storage systems are totally non-negotiables in my mind, and they can be very expensive to acquire, but will last for years if chosen well.

RELATED: Best Credit Cards for Costco

If you know you can handle it responsibly, it’s OK to take out a credit line to furnish your house properly. And if you do it at Costco, well, you’ll also be saving money on stuff you might buy elsewhere at a higher price. Don’t forget that you can also buy the tools you need to install said items at Costco, so leave some wiggle room for that. A power drill is a friend after you’ve installed three or four sets of blinds and curtains into unyielding wooden window trim with hand tools.

Your trip to Costco as a first-time homeowner is going to be very different from the last one you had as a renter. You’ll see products you never bothered to notice before because you couldn’t hang items on the wall, or you had zero need for a telescoping ladder because your apartment had a maintenance person.

You’ll also start to understand the enormity of the possibilities before you. For example, you can now buy a ton of freezer goods AND a freezer to keep grocery shopping trips to a minimum and save yourself more time in the long run.

There’s no end of potential here. Just make sure to make a budget and stick to it, or your Costco trip may inspire you to get a job working in the bakery just for the discount.

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