I really like going to the warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club to buy some things. I mostly buy freezer stuff and paper goods. There are many ways to save money at these stores but you have to be careful or you are actually spending money.
- Don’t overspend. Only buy what you can use. Freeze some. Share with a friend. You spend all this money and then you also need to have room to store the purchases. I always have a very set budget when I go to these stores. I think of it as the $10 store. I round the price of each item to the nearest $10 and then add it in my head. You can also take a calculator and calculate the actual price. Then, I put things back if I don’t have that much money in my budget.
- Don’t waste food. It can be so tempting to buy the big bulk items but you should always carefully consider the needs of your family. My family drinks two different kinds of milk. So, at Costco where you are required to buy two gallons at a time, we don’t even always drink the two gallons before it goes bad.
- Check price per unit. On the internet, there are lists of prices per unit at other grocery stores. Make sure that you are buying at a lower price per unit. Just because it’s bulk doesn’t mean it’s cheaper. This is why I only buy a few things regularly. I know the price at the grocery store. Usually, there needs to be a good sale to beat this price. But, I watch the prices and make sure I’m getting a good price.
- Shop sales. Buy things when they are on sale or a coupon is offered a few times a year. If you shop the sales at the regular grocery store and stock up, you could save significant money over paying for the membership and purchasing in bulk.. Confession: I’ve never been a great coupon/sale shopper. I just try to buy things when they are on sale as much as possible. In regards to shopping at Costco, I just prefer to get a good price all the time. I do stock up when they have their coupon events, also.
- Evaluate your membership every year. Both places offer cash-back if you upgrade from the basic membership. But, you should be making sure that this option is saving you money. When I purchased diapers and gas, the upgraded membership almost paid for itself. The basic membership would have cost more at the time. Now, I don’t live that close to Costco or go very often. So, I don’t see as much savings and it’s just better to pay for the basic membership. You can also shop at Costco with a gift card and no membership. They will charge you an extra 5% on many items. But, if you have a friend that you could give money to give you a gift card, that could be an excellent option. Maybe they’d take you with them when they go, and you could just pay cash.
- Danger of impulse buys. These stores really love their samples, demo tables and special events. Watch out for these items. When I take my kids, for instance, I often leave with a bunch of these sampled items and then realize that I overspent on those things. They don’t generally sample items unless their margin is high. This means their profit on this item is a high percentage of the purchase price. I don’t even like to talk to the special event people because they pressure you to purchase when it’s really not that great of a deal. I usually come home and look it up online or even on Amazon if it’s something I am actually interested in.
Be very careful about your spending at the warehouse stores. At the regular grocery store, the profit margin is cents on most items. But, the warehouse stores can get away with several dollars because the items are in bulk. Don’t get sucked into paying for a yearly membership just so you can save a few cents here or there.