How to Save Money Shopping at Warehouse Clubs

Warehouse clubs give shoppers the opportunity to buy in bulk — an activity that most people associate with saving money — but if you aren’t careful, you can easily overspend.

Consider these ten tips to save money at warehouse clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club.

1. Know Your Prices

Create a shopping comparison notebook, or price book, to compare prices between stores so you’ll be able to recognize a good deal. You may use an actual notebook or any of a number of available smartphone apps. Track dates, stores, brand, price, size, and unit price of each item.1

2. Remember Membership Fees

You’ll only save money at a warehouse store if your annual savings exceed the annual membership cost: $45 per year for Sam’s Club2 and $55 to $110 per year for Costco.3 Alternatively, do one big shop annually with a one-day temporary pass.

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3. Stick to Your List

Make a list and have a plan ahead of time. Impulse buying at a warehouse store can wipe out any potential savings.

4. Avoid Seasonal Markdowns at the Front of the Store

Warehouse stores entice buyers to get into the discount shopping mood by displaying cheap seasonal items front and center. Skip this area and stick with buying what’s on your list.4

5. Limit Purchase of Perishable Items When Bulk Buying

Unless you freeze or preserve produce, or have a big family, avoid buying produce that spoils quickly. Also check expiration dates on cosmetics, skincare, vitamins, over-the-counter medicines and sunscreen. If you can’t use them before they expire, they’re a money-waster.

6. Use Coupons with Sale Items

Even warehouse clubs have sales, and, if you combine the sale price with coupons, you could save more money.

7. Don’t Shop When You’re Hungry!

Eat before hitting the warehouse store or you could end up with boxes of snack food that you didn’t budget for.

8. Look at Their Online Prices First

Some stores offer great deals on their websites. You may get a better price buying online, plus you’ll save on gas and avoid the hassle of going to the store.

9. Buy the House/Store Brands

Another money saver at the warehouse stores is to choose the lower-priced store brand items over the more well known brands.

10. Learn the Secret Pricing Codes

Learn price codes to see if warehouse prices have been discounted and by how much. For example, at Costco, regular prices usually end in .49, .79, or .89, while prices ending in .47 have been marked down once and those ending in .00 or.88 may signal a manager markdown for a quick sale.5

These tips can help you save time and money when you’re headed to the warehouse store.

Sources:

1. Organized Home, “Make a Price Book for Supermarket Savings” August, 2016

2. Sam’s Club, “Sam’s Savings,” August, 2016

3. Costco Wholesale, “Join the Club,” August 2016

4. Time Inc./Money,” 8 Ways Warehouse Clubs Get You to Buy More,” July 2016

5. Time Inc./Money, “20 Ways to Save Money at Costco,” March 2016

Legal Disclaimer: The articles and information provided herein are for informational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice. 

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