Buying in bulk can save you money, but it can also cost you more than you save if you are not careful. Use these shopping tips to get the biggest bang for your buck at a warehouse club.
Make Sure You Are Really Saving Money
Always check the per unit price of whatever you plan to buy, and compare it to what you would pay in a grocery or department store. Many products, such as meat, paper goods, or coffee may be cheaper in a warehouse club at regular price, but I have found that I usually save more money buying them at the local grocery store when they are on sale. In addition, Sam’s Club and Costco do not accept manufacturer’s coupons, which can give you an even bigger discount if paired with a sale.
Get What You Need and Stay Away From What You Don’t
Always shop with a list and stick to it. For many of us, the atmosphere of a warehouse club encourages impulse purchases. My personal weakness is the samples. Who can resist a box of 63 cheesecake bites for only $14.68, especially after they just tasted a tiny dab of raspberry white chocolate heaven? I know I can’t. Unless you have iron willpower, just step away from the samples.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try Store Brands
Sam’s Member’s Mark and Costco’s Kirkland Select store brands are generally high quality products comparable to national brands. Both stores offer a large selection of their own products, from foods and over-the-counter drugs to clothing and household goods. My set of Member’s Mark cookware cost less than $100, and has held up longer than the more expensive name brand set I had before.
Is the Membership Worth the Price?
If you shop at a club on a regular basis, you will save enough to pay for your membership many times over. After many years of paying $45 annually for a Sam’s Club membership, I realized I was only using it a few times a year and decided not to renew it. Now I only shop there with a friend who has a membership, or during the special “open house” promotions for non-members. I can also shop at Costco by having a member buy a cash card for me, which I can use to gain access to the club and shop without a membership.
Whether you shop at a warehouse club as a member or a guest, always go prepared with a list and only buy what you need. Before you buy anything in bulk, consider how you will store it and if you will actually be able to use it. After all, a deal is not a deal if you end up giving (or throwing) half of it away.