I’ve had many people ask if it’s worth it to have a warehouse club membership such as Sam’s Club or Costco. The warehouse clubs claim to offer great savings because you are buying in bulk, but are you really saving money? If you think about it, every time you walk into a Sam’s Club or Costco you almost always walk out having spent at least $200 if not more. And on top of it you have a $45+ yearly membership fee.
I have a Sam’s Club membership because they do have good deals on certain products that I use regularly and I can’t always find those products on sale at a grocery store. But when I shop at Sam’s Club, it’s rare that I spend $200 in one shopping trip. So how is it that I don’t spend hundreds of dollars at a warehouse store? Here are 9 money saving tips how to save money at warehouse clubs and how to save when buying in bulk:
1. Create a Shopping List and Stick with It
Before you shop at a warehouse club, plan first by creating a shopping list. Once you are at the store, stick with the shopping list. It’s very rare that I add extra items into my shopping cart because I always stick to my shopping list. That’s part of the reason I don’t walk out of Sam’s Club spending $200+. Warehouse clubs have strategies to encourage impulse buying. They persuade shoppers to think they’ve found the best deal which leads to overbuying. If you see something you want that isn’t on your list, find out how long it will be around and then go home and compare prices.
2. Know the Price Points
When paying a membership fee you think all of the prices of the warehouse club products are slightly above wholesale price and that you are getting a good deal. However, that’s not always the case, and it doesn’t mean you always get the lowest price. There are many products you can get less expensive at a grocery store if you purchase it on sale. Be sure to know the price points of products and know what is a good deal and what’s not a good deal. Buying in smaller quantities can sometimes be a better bargain, especially when taking into account sales, store and manufacturer coupons and other offers. Carry a calculator with you whenever you shop so you can break down the price per ounce or serving. To find the price per unit, divide the total cost by the amount in each container.
Products that you’ll more likely save money on by purchasing them at warehouse clubs include laundry detergent, batteries, diapers, wipes, milk, cheese and gasoline. Also you’ll save money on big-ticket electronics or major purchases, as long as you shop around first to make sure it’s the best deal, and eye wear. Read my tips here on how I saved 50% on my eye wear. And prescription medicine will cost you up to 50% less if you buy them at a warehouse store. There are many more items that could be listed here, but in the end make sure to know the price point of a product and if it’s a good deal before you buy it.
3. Shop Less
The more often you walk into a warehouse store, it’s likely you’ll end up spending more money. Plus, you’ll probably add items to your cart that aren’t on your shopping list. To save money at the warehouse store, shop there less. I only shop at Sam’s Club once every 2-3 months to pick up items that I haven’t been able to get on sale, use regularly, and isn’t less expensive on Amazon or at the grocery store.
4. Limit Food Waste
Don’t buy a product in bulk such as produce if you can’t use it all before it expires. Buy what you need and consume what you buy. There may be times when produce is a good deal at a warehouse club store, but if your family won’t be able to eat it all before it goes bad, then that’s a waste of money. Produce is often less expensive at a grocery store when on sale. I like to purchase produce at Walmart because I can price match all of the best deals from the grocery stores in my area and I’m saving money. Read these tips on how to price match at Walmart.
5. Purchase Store Brands
The store brands at warehouse clubs are almost identical to and often made by the name brands, but they are less expensive. Take time to compare the cost per unit, then purchase the store brand if it costs less. You’ll get the same quality only in different packaging.
6. Split the Tab
Team up with a friend who also wants to save money. Discuss which items you both use regularly and want to purchase at a warehouse club. Head to the store and shop together, split the tab, then return to to one of your houses to divvy up the products.
7. Extend Your Membership
When your membership is about to expire, stock up on enough nonperishable items that will last you three to six months. When you start to run low on those products then renew your membership. With this strategy, you only pay the membership fee every 15 to 18 months rather than every 12 months.
8. Look for clearance items
The best deals in warehouse club stores are many times the big displays or pallets in the middle of the store, around the perimeter and at the back of the store. They want to pull you in as deep into the store as possible because you are more likely to purchase something. If you are at Sam’s Club, look for a price that ends in a penny, such as $14.91, or anything marked with the letter C for clearance. If you are at Costco, check for a price that ends in 97 cents or an asterisk on the tag, which means the item will not be reordered.
9. Compare Online Before You Buy
Compare Sam’s Wholesale Club or Costco‘s online website before you shop at the physical location. Sometimes you can find better deals online their store websites. Plus, you’ll save money on gas by not driving to the store.
If you have a warehouse club membership, be sure you calculate if you are saving enough money to cover the membership fee. You may find that you’re not saving as much as you thought by shopping there. If that’s the case, then take what you would have spent on membership fees and use the money to stock up on sale items at the grocery store.
What are money saving tips and ways you save at warehouse clubs?
Read these tips how to buy groceries on a budget.
I have a Sam’s Club Plus membership which cost an additional $60/year. With that I save more than enough in a year to pay for that addition through the rewards program and the instant savings. But like you said, you have to know your prices since not everything is cheaper at the club. Many times you can get meats on sale at grocery stores which will sell them at a loss to get you in, but I do find that most of the time the membership clubs can not be beat for cheap lean ground beef and their Rotisserie chicken which I can easily make 3 or 4 meals out of for two people.
And using a shopping list is the only way to go. It is way too tempting to purchase those impulse items. Great article.
Lisa @ Saving Cent by Cent says
It’s true that most of the time you can get meats on sale at grocery stores for less expensive. It’s important to know what is a good deal for meat and whether it’s a better deal that week at the grocery store or at a warehouse club. Thanks for your comment and for stopping by!