Warehouse Shopping: Cost Effective or Costly?

Warehouse shopping, such as at Costco and Sam’s, can be a great way to save money but it can also lead to the destruction of a good grocery budget.  It all depends on how you shop there.  First, let’s look at the cost and benefits of a membership.

A membership to Sam’s costs $40 or $100 per year depending on the type of membership you chose.  The Advantage membership is $40 and allows for 2 cardholders and the ability to purchase products in-store and online. The Advantage Plus is $100 and allows for 2 card holders, extended shopping hours, extra coupons and a percentage of savings on generic and name brand prescriptions.

Costo’s membership ranges from $55-$110 per year. The Gold Star membership is $55 and allows for 2 card holders, extra coupons mailed to you monthly, and the ability to purchase in-store and online.  The Executive Gold Star membership is $110 and allows for 2 card holders, extra coupons in the mail, and 2% cash back on all purchases throughout the year. You will get a check at the end of the year for your percentage back.  If the total does not equal $55, you can take your check in and they will refund the difference.

Outside the normal expected goods at warehouses, they also have excellent competitive prices on prescriptions, tires, contact lenses, glasses and much more. Throughout the year you can find excellent prices on toys, books, clothing, Halloween costumes, movies and CDs, and specialty items.

Our family has a membership to Costco and we figured out that if we only bought milk there regularly we would pay for our membership 2.5x in a year with the amount we save!

And now I want to tell you the secret to saving at warehouses.  Are you listening very closely?  It’s all about what you buy and knowing your prices.  Just because something is sold at a warehouse does NOT mean it’s a better deal than your neighborhood grocery store.  You must look at the unit price to see if it’s a better deal. If you aren’t familiar with that term, unit price is figured by calculating the total price times the number of items the package contains.  I often pull out my calculator and check unit prices while I’m at Costco to compare it to what I know the grocery store price is to see if it’s a better deal.

Some people hesitate to shop at warehouses because the quantities are often so large.  If you have room in your pantry or freezer and your family will consume something in reasonable time, then it might be well worth it.  Another way to get around the large quantity is going in with a friend to split the purchase.  My sister-in-law and I have
shared huge packages of toilet paper, fruit and other things to help us both with our budgets and storage space.

Bottom line:  when you’re warehouse shopping, go with a list and a set amount to spend and stick with it.

This week’s challenge. If you’re a warehouse member, try calculating this week to see
if what you are buying is really a better deal than the grocery store. If you aren’t already a member, ask a friend who is if you can accompany them. Sometimes you can also get a guest pass for a day to “test out” a membership.

Comments

  1. My parents have a costco membership. They buy their gas there, and my dad calculated they save $90.00/year just from gas. I have a sam’s mbrshp, and I’m not sure if we’re saving as much as we could because I just don’t like driving over there, but I do try to buy milk there as often as I can. Also, produce is cheap, and I only buy their butter.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I hadn’t thought about the gas savings, but that is usually around .05 cents less per gallon all the time. And you’re right, they have excellent produce!

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