Many people have a membership to warehouses such as Costco and Sam’s Club. In the past, I never considered one of these memberships as there was not a location close to my house. That recently changed as we had a Sam’s Club open up and so now — I’m a member!
I have found that some of the deals I find there are in fact better than what I pay at my grocery store. However, there are times when it is the same price or even more expensive than the sale price for the week.
Before you jump in and spend any money on a membership, you need to make sure it will be worth it. Here are some questions to ask yourself and other things to consider before you sign up!!
Can I save more than the membership fee? If you don’t think you will save more than the the cost of the annual fee (around $45), then it is not worth shelling out that cash. Make sure you know that you can recoup your fees. Sure, you can find some fun products there, but if you don’t plan on shopping there on a regular basis or doing a lot of spending, your membership fee could cost you more in the long run.
How frequently will I shop there? If you don’t foresee several trips to your club store each year, then the cost of the membership could be the same as throwing money out the window. You will want to commit to making several trips in order to recoup the cost of the membership through savings.
Isn’t bigger always better? Not always. Before you can shop in a warehouse, you want to make sure you know (or have a good idea) for what you pay for your items at your local store (after coupons and discounts).
For example, if you see 2 – 20 oz bottles of Heinz Ketchup for only $3.49 ($1.74 each), that may seem like a good deal, considering you pay $1.89 at your grocery store. However, when you redeem your coupon at your store, you will pay just $1.39 for that 20 oz bottle – which is less expensive.
You also need to know your per unit cost for your paper products, detergents, etc. Just keep a price list with you when you shop, so that you know if you are truly getting a better bargain or just a bigger box.
Can I use coupons? No, you can’t. While the warehouse may offer some of it’s own in-store coupons, you can’t use manufacturer’s coupons on top of them. So the price you see is the price you pay. No additional savings.
Can I try before I buy? Many times, warehouses will offer a one day pass for you to check out their store before you sign up for a membership. This can be a great way to check out those prices and do some comparison shopping so you know if you will quickly earn back your annual fee or if you will be tossing money away. Just make sure to take along your price book and take lots of notes. And make sure you ask about the fee if you do make a purchase. Sometimes you still can buy without the membership, you just pay an additional percentage above the purchase price as a non-member transaction fee.
I am certainly not saying that warehouse shopping can’t save you money as it absolutely can on some items. I am just reminding you that you will want to exercise due diligence before you sign on the dotted line. Doing a little research can save you much time and headache.