Just as coupons can work against you or in your favor, depending on how you use them, so goes warehouse clubs. If you throw caution to the wind, you could really blow a wad of money at Sam's or Costco. However, with a little smarts you can save a bundle instead.
First, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions:
If I have 100 rolls of paper towels stocked in the garage, and little Johnny spills an entire glass of milk on the floor, will I do the thrifty thing and use a rag to clean it up? Or will I use an entire roll of paper towels figuring that I will still have 99 left? If you chose the latter, then stay away from warehouse clubs.
Will you be tempted to buy the 50 gallon jug of cheesy curls figuring that you can just plop those in front of the kiddies at snacktime instead of carrot and celery sticks? If the answer is yes, stop here and never step inside of a Sam's or Costco store.
Now, if you are still with me, make sure that you are stocking up on staples. Prepared, prepackaged foods cost too much at the warehouse store just as they cost too much at the grocery store.
Next, make sure that you are following all of our grocery tips at the warehouse club as you would at the grocery store. You still need to take a list to Sam's or Costco and stick to it, you still need to go on a full tummy, you still need to keep the kids in line, and so on.
There is a cost to join these clubs. See if your employer or spouse's employer offers free memberships. My husband is self-employed, but we have a free membership though one of his clients as dh takes care of this client's purchasing.
However, if we had to pay the membership fee, we would still save $$. For example, a 2 lb. bag of popcorn on sale at my grocery store costs $1.50. A 50 lb. bag at Sam's costs $10. This is a savings of $27.50. Now 50 lbs sounds like a lot, but if you have a large family like me it is not that much, plus I split it in half with another family. And you can just imagine the savings over buying microwave popcorn! Now I don't do all of my shopping at Sam's, I stop by Sam's about once every month.
Here is an article on the topic if you would like to read more:
ConsumerWatch - NBC 5 Special Report: Buying In Bulk