Warehouse Clubs are not for everyone – you either love them or hate them. Even more, no everything they sell is sold at a cost savings.
Most people assume that, when you get a warehouse membership, you are looking for the cheapest prices on items you consume. Cheap is great, but we shouldn’t dictate our purchases by price either – especially if you are looking for the best and most healthiest food.
These warehouse clubs are not for everyone – they can be a drain on your wallet if you aren’t sure how to shop with a purpose and valid intentions. When you use them correctly, a warehouse club membership can save you a pretty generous amount of cash.. as well as time.
Time is huge for many of us – sure, you might be able to get some of your items at the grocery store for less with coupons, but the fact of the matter is not everyone wants to spend the time clipping, and driving around to various stores to find items in or out of stock.
So how do you know if a warehouse membership is for you?
You have a large family. If you are a family of 2 or 3, you might not reap the benefits of a warehouse membership as easily as a bigger family may. Our family of 7 can blow through a case of diced tomatoes in a week.. while it might last others a few months.
You are familiar with your food prices. You are familiar with grocery prices in your area, so you are able to determine what’s a great buy.
You purchase a great deal of Organic items. This is important because in comparison to most grocery stores, Costco has amazing prices on Organic items – wonderful variety and nothing requires you to clip a coupon or scour ads for sale items.
Do you have a membership? If you do, check out these ways to make the best use of that membership to get the most savings.
1. Stick to your List
It’s so easy to go overboard at a warehouse, not only do you have huge carts to help you buy more items, you have FREE samples that tempt you into throwing additional food on your buggy too. Sometimes, shopping with your kids can be more of a hindrance than a help.
In order to win at a warehouse, shop with cash (and cash ONLY) which forces you to stick to your budget.
2. Use the Membership Perks
Take advantage of many of the other perks of your warehouse membership aside from savings on food. Try to fill up with fuel at their fuel pumps, use their optical department, print your photos there using the photo lab, and shop for tires there too.
In many cases, their non-food perks will be just as amazing of a deal, not to mention they are a one-stop shop that doesn’t require that you drive around to various locations.
3. Split your Membership
Membership Fees at a Warehouse Club can be rather high – for those of you who are used to shopping with coupons at regular grocery stores.
Go in with a friend for a membership, and give your friend the second card – perhaps that friend is your neighbor or roommate, or even family member, in which that can be a tremendous benefit. Before splitting your membership, ensure that you check your club’s membership rules.
4. Consider the Warehouse Store Brand
In many cases, the warehouse store brand might just be quite a bit less than it’s name brand counterpart. Paper Products like napkins, toilet paper, dish detergent and even trash bags might be a better price per unit than the name brand items carried in the warehouse.
For example, Kirkland Signature Toilet Paper is an amazing price and is super quality, and a wonderful option for those of you needing to stock up.
5. Less is not Always Best
Many will tell you that you should compare prices and know your price points – while that is true, it’s also important to know that less is not always best.
You may get your meat cheaper at a grocery store, but it’s wise to know that cheap meat is also a sign that the meat was the result of a Confined Animal Feeding Operation … and that should be enough to make you think twice about putting it in your cart.
Your goal should be pasture raised meat – and ultimately that can be the most cost effective way to buy meat. If you are in a pinch and that is not an option at the time, shop your warehouse for organic meat, which will be priced a little higher than conventional but still competitive with your local Sprouts. If you can’t afford to shop for organic meat, then reduce the amount of meat your household consumes – you can still buy the organic meat, but you might not be buying as much as you would normally.
6. Know your Go-To Items
I you are shopping at a warehouse, it’s important to know what your go-to items are, that you buy there regularly and that will get used.
If you have a large family, Organic products sold at Costco are an amazing price and competitive with organic products in your regular grocery store. Know which items are a great deal for your family and situation, and stock up on those items that you can reasonably use.
7. Limit your Trips
The more you visit your local Warehouse the more you will end up spending – try to limit your trips to once every 2 weeks, or once a month and buy enough items to last you through that period of time.
If you walk into your warehouse more often, you’ll find yourself adding items to your cart that you can’t afford, don’t particularly need or are higher in price than your regular store.
Although it never used to be my favorite place to go, Costco is an amazing way to shop for food, for less (in some cases) and avoid the work and effort of running store to store and finding empty shelves.
With an ever growing family, it’s a huge time saver – not to mention their organic selection is rather huge and seems to increase with every trip. While shopping local is just as important as saving yourself time, you can still manage to accomplish that AND have a warehouse membership, too.
We have a CSA at our local Farm that helps us stock up on fresh, local produce on a weekly basis. Moreover, we purchase our Raw Milk from another local Farmer. Our warehouse membership helps us stock up on those other bulk items that are a bargain – especially considering the organic prices per unit are competitive if not better than the local grocery store.
Overall, a warehouse membership can be a wonderful way to save – if you have a plan, and can curb the temptation to add items to your cart that might not be on your list and take advantage of some of the other advice mentioned above.