If you already have a membership to some place like Sam’s Club or Costco, you’re already ahead of the game. Buying in bulk can often save you a ton of money over the long haul, but there is even more room for savings if you put a little effort forth. Here are the top ten ways save money when shopping warehouse clubs.
1. See What it’s all about Before Purchasing a Membership
Warehouse clubs are a dime a dozen these days, and although they all pretty much carry the same things, not all are created totally equal. If you have a friend or two that already has a membership, tag along with them to see what it’s all about. Most clubs allow free day passes as well, but be prepared to pay a surcharge on the things you buy.
2. Shop Smart with Multiple Discounts
Plan ahead and you’ll save the most money possible. Scour the paper and the Internet for coupons and get everything organized before you go. Try to use as many discounts as possible, whenever possible.
3. Utilize the “Gap” Method
No, this has nothing to do with jeans, but it does have everything to do with saving you money on your membership fees. When your membership is about to expire, make a trip to the club and stock up on as much non-perishables as you can. If you can get three to six months worth, that would be ideal. Let your membership expire and continue using your stockpile until supplies run low. When they do, renew your membership. At this rate, you’re only renewing your membership once every fifteen to eighteen months instead of every twelve.
4. Phone a Friend
Perishables are always cheap at warehouse clubs. However, unless you’re feeding an army, many of these deals end up costing you more money in waste than you saved. If you find a really great deal on something you know you won’t use before it goes bad, call a friend and see if they are willing to split the cost with you so you both benefit at a great price.
5. Big-ticket Items, Gas and Prescriptions
You could save up to 50% on big-ticket items such as TVs and computers, gas and prescriptions at warehouse clubs. Gas itself is typically anywhere from a penny to as much as ten cents cheaper than other stations in the area, so take advantage of that membership!
6. Avoid the Impulse Shopping
Warehouse clubs are notorious for encouraging impulse shopping. Make a list, check it twice and stick to it. If you do come upon a deal you just can’t resist, ask how long the product will be around and compare prices. If you find it a great deal, go back and get the item. This is especially important for those big ticket items.
7. Your Calculator is your Best Friend
Never, ever go warehouse club shopping without your trusty calculator. Just because something looks like a great deal doesn’t mean it is. Always figure out the price per unit and jot it down in a price book so you can compare when you’re out shopping elsewhere.
Every club has its own way of marking clearance items. At Sam’s Club, look for items that end in a penny such as $14.91, or those marked with the letter “C.” At Costco, clearance prices end in 97 cents or there’s an asterisk after the price.
9. Split a Membership
Why pay full price when you don’t have to? You’ll probably have to sign up together, but most clubs are okay with both parties have different last names and personal information. You’ll each get a card in your own name to use whenever you want.
10. Only Buy what you know you’ll use
I know it’s tempting to grab that huge bag of lettuce because the price per unit is so cheap. However, if it’s just you and one other person, you know you’ll never finish it before it goes bad. Avoid the temptation to buy something just because it’s a good deal and let sensibility guide your decision.
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