Shopping at warehouse clubs such as Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s can be a great way to save money. Maintaining a well-stocked pantry and keeping household basics on hand can help reduce those in-between shopping trips that end up costing more than you planned. But you have to shop warehouse clubs wisely. If you don’t, you can end up wasting more money than you save.
Take a look at these dos and don’ts for saving money when shopping at warehouse clubs:
Stock up on household basics, including toilet paper, paper towels, laundry supplies and cleaning supplies. Unless you’re an extreme couponer, these items will almost always be cheaper at a warehouse club rather than buying smaller quantities elsewhere. Remember to store the items in an area that’s protected from pests and extreme temperatures.
Load up on dry goods with a long shelf life, including dry pasta, rice, flour, sugar, dry beans and other staples. Be sure to store them in airtight plastic, metal or glass containers to maintain freshness and mark the containers with the purchase date.
Have a plan and shop with a list. Shopping with a list is always the way to go, but it’s especially important at warehouse clubs since the sheer size and scope can be overwhelming.
Set a spending limit and shop with cash. This will help you stick to the list and avoid adding in extras just because they look like a good deal.
Split large quantities with a friend or family member. If there’s something you need but you know you won’t use it all before it goes bad, see if you can find someone who wants to split the cost and share the item.
Overbuy perishable products. Always check the expiration dates on meat, fresh produce, dairy products, prepared salads, refrigerated juices and other perishables. The low prices may seem irresistible, but if the food goes bad before you have a chance to use it, it’s money wasted.
Get tempted by samples. It wouldn’t be a trip to the warehouse club without enjoying the samples they offer; just don’t be tempted to buy them all. Unless it’s something you or your family already loves and you had planned to buy it anyway, just enjoy the sample and move on.
Pay with a credit card – don’t even bring one with you. It will be too tempting to add extras you didn’t plan on buying. Plan to pay with cash and keep track of your total as you shop so you don’t go over your pre-determined spending limit.
Forget to factor in the annual membership fee. If you only shop the warehouse club a few times a year, it might not be worth the annual fee you have to pay.
Need help putting together your household budget? Free Credit Counseling can help!