I’ve gotten a few questions recently about wholesale clubs, and people wondering if they could really save enough money shopping there to justify the membership price. In my area, we have three wholesale clubs.
- Sam’s Club: Advantage Membership Price $40/year. This is the membership that I have and use frequently. You can upgrade to Advantage Plus to get coupons and additional bonuses, that price is $100/year. We upgraded once, at a reduced price late in our yearly cycle to try it out, but it wasn’t worth the extra $60 for us. It may be worth it to others though. *Can use Store Coupons occasionally, usually only with upgrade.
- Costco: Gold Star Membership (Individuals and Households) is $55/year. *I have visited this location with my mom when she was shopping with her card, on a few occasions. *Can use Store Coupons.
- BJ’s: BJ’s Inner Circle (Individuals and Families) is $50/year. *We received a Free Trial Membership offer in the mail and used it for 60 days. After that, we could’ve renewed at a discounted price of $40/year. *Can combine Store and Manufacturer Coupons.
Shopping at a wholesale club CAN save you money, if you are careful about comparing prices and stick to your shopping list. For me, I couldn’t justify more than one membership because they carry similar items. One store may carry different brands than another, but for the most part, they each carry the “Big Brands” in most items, and a store brand. You really need to use one of the day passes that most offer to go in and actually SEE firsthand what the store in your area carries to know which is best for you. Sam’s just happens to be what works best for us, currently 🙂
We’ve always had a Sam’s Club Membership (Since 1996) because it was either the only warehouse club near us, or the one that was most convenient. When we moved here and had other choices, I wanted to check them all out, but Sam’s was still my preference. Why? It is closer to my home, easier to get in and out of traffic wise, and it’s the only one with a gas station – in other areas, the other two stores may have gas stations as well, just not where I live. Gas at our Sam’s Club is generally $0.10/gallon cheaper than other stations, and it’s on Nick’s way home from work. It’s actually the only gas station that isn’t out of the way to get to. The gas savings alone makes up the cost of the membership.
As far as shopping, I have one item ready to give you an example of. Mucinex. Nick’s doctor recommends that he take one Mucinex every 12 hours to help his chronic Sinus Problems. The generic doesn’t work for him, for whatever reason, and the name brand is expensive, so I have compared prices all over to find the best price. For example, at Wal-mart, this is $29.48 for 60 tablets ($0.49/each). At Sam’s Club, I can get 72 tablets for $25.98 ($0.36/each). A significant savings over the course of a year. For one year at Sam’s Club, we’d pay $259.98 and at Walmart we’d pay $353.76 – a savings of $93.78 per year. If you deduct the membership price from that ($40), we’d still save $53.78 per year on just ONE item. So for me, it’s worth the membership price.
As I was preparing this article though, and looking for prices online, I was happily surprised to see that I can get Mucinex Extended-Release Bi-Layer Tablets 100 Count from Amazon for just $25.99 with free shipping, making them $0.26/each! I will start buying them here, I just have to put it on my calendar to remember to order them early enough that the next box gets here before he runs out. Otherwise, I’ll need to run down to Sam’s and pick some up. (P.S. that’s my affiliate link, feel free to use it or not :))
Other than that, there are several other items I purchase in bulk at Sam’s Club. I usually visit once a week. It’s on my way when I go into town, and Milk is about $0.50/gallon cheaper than any other store near me, and since we go through at least 4 gallons a week, I make sure to stock up as I’m passing by. I also buy celery, carrots, and other fruits veggies here each week. We always eat them before they go bad, so buying these in bulk saves me quite a bit of money, and I know my kids are eating healthy snacks! I also tend to buy rice, pasta, and seasonings in bulk because I know that I will use them before they expire.
The key to a wholesale club saving you money is to KNOW YOUR PRICES. Take the time to make a list of items you buy regularly, and compare them at the stores you shop at. You won’t want to go out of your way to save $5, it may cost you more in gas than you’re saving. However, if you’re passing a store anyway, it’s probably worth your time to run in.
Do you shop at Wholesale Clubs?