Do Warehouse Clubs Save You Money?

warehouse-clubsDo warehouse clubs save you money? The answer is: sometimes yes, sometimes no. Thankfully one of the perks of my husband’s job is that he gets a free membership to Costco, our local warehouse club. It would normally cost $40 or $50 a year, so unless you save more money than that, you are probably better off without a membership. Often items cost more at a warehouse club than at your local supermarket, and who wants to store a huge amount of something that just ends up rotting? Things that need to be refrigerated are especially horrible to store, because large containers jam all your space in your refrigerator door, making you wish you hadn’t bought such large containers.

I remember, though, back when many of my children were in diapers. There was a specific diaper that didn’t ever leak for my boys, so I wanted that name brand. A large box of those diapers were $10 less at Costco than at any other store at the time. This may no longer be the case, but other name brand items like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese used to be only 50 cents at Costco but a whole dollar at the grocery stores. So you basically need to know your prices if you actually expect to save money.

warehouse-clubs-2Gasoline is substantially lower if you are a member of Costco, and this alone could save you enough money to make the membership worthwhile. But do you actually buy your gasoline at Costco, or do you buy it at a gas station whenever you are running out? In other words, you might be saving money in your imagination because you only bought gas at Costco 4 or 5 times last year instead of every time. Don’t multiply your savings in your head unless you are actually buying it at Costco.

Some people say not to go on the weekends because there are samples, and you end up buying more. Other people are freeloaders that say you should take your whole family and gorge yourself on samples for lunch, thereby avoiding having to spend any money or effort making lunch for your family.

warehouse-clubs-3Meats are nicer at Costco, I have to admit. I think the prices are about the same as grocery stores (grocery stores are definitely cheaper during sales, and you can freeze the meat), but the meat has less fat in it and tastes better when cooked, when it comes from Costco. If you have a large family or are having people over for a barbeque, buying nice meat in bulk might be just fine. I remember, though, back to when my husband and I had only babies and toddlers. We had to buy freezer bags and freeze the meat in one-meal portions. Then the meat might get freezer burn, and you might as well have just bought it on sale at a grocery store for a cheaper price.

Kirkland Signature is the generic brand for Costco, and it’s actually really high quality, unlike grocery store generic brands, which taste like cardboard. So you could save money by buying the warehouse brand of salad dressing, grape juice, or whatever, and it will usually taste great.

warehouse-clubs-4Costco coupons are wonderful. They offer $3 off the toilet paper we love, and other great discounts on real food that you probably already are buying. They also sell tickets to amusement parks, hotels, and movies at a considerable discount, if you have the budget to have fun with your family in this way.

I got my eyes checked at Costco by an optometrist, and I bought my glasses there. It’s supposedly cheaper than other places, although the reason I did it was because I was already there. (Gasoline costs a lot, and if you are already at one location, you save money by not having to drive to another location.)

So do warehouse clubs help you save money? Maybe. If you have trouble feeding your family, or if you have any credit card debt, I would definitely cancel my membership. You can buy food at grocery stores called “loss leaders,” stocking up on the food that is on sale, and spend way less on groceries. But if you are a middle class family with no debt, and you go to Costco twice a month and buy your gas there, then it’s probably worth it.

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2 Responses to “Do Warehouse Clubs Save You Money?”

  1. lol We are those freeloaders that feed the family on the samples! We have found lots of foods that we love by trying those samples and some we are glad we could try first and not buy. Actually, we buy them lunch too though. 😉 Pizza, hotdogs, and ice cream for the whole family for around $12.

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