Sam's Club typically costs $45/year for a basic membership, while Costco is about $50/year.
I don't have a scientific method to my madness, but I do have a head for numbers and a desire to get a good deal. Prices fluctuate around the country. Something that is a bargain for me might not be a bargain for you. The key is to price check at various stores.
An assortment of items at the warehouse club are great values while many others cost more than the grocery store. Yes, you're buying in bulk, so if you don't bake much, the ten pound bag of flour won't make sense for you. Also, you need a place to store your overflow. If storage is tight, a warehouse club is not your friend. (I recommend Aldi's as the best quality and cheapest bare-bones grocery store for non-name brands.)
What I buy at the warehouse club:
1. Spices and baking supplies. Corn starch, bouillon cubes, flour, sugar, vanilla, taco seasoning, chili powder--I buy it all here for about half the price of the local grocery stores.
2. Toilet paper and paper towels. If you have a coupon and hit a sale, you'll find these products cheaper at your local grocery store. But if you're busy and want a high quality product, buy the warehouse brand (Kirkland or Member's Mark). I like their brands better than the store brands!
3. Razor blades and shampoo. Addicted to your Venus razor? The razor cartridges quickly sent me into sticker shock. Buying them in bulk at Sam's costs half of what they run at our local grocery stores. Half!! Razors alone pay the cost of my membership within a few months. Also, shampoo and conditioner is way cheaper if you buy the big bottles.
4. Trash bags, laundry detergent, dishwasher tabs. The savings isn't as great as on the razor blades, but it's still worth it.
5. Butter, cheese, cream. I bought four packages of butter (four sticks per package) for less than $7.49 yesterday. One package is $2.99 around here. That's a savings of $4.47.
6. Ground beef, chicken breasts, other meats. This really depends on the area you live in. Ground beef is a dollar per pound cheaper and chicken breasts are about forty to fifty cents a pound cheaper. The meat is high quality too.
7. Drink boxes. Capri Suns (in a four pack) average $1.65 a box. Our grocery stores sell them for $2.00 and $2.19. It adds up.
8. Name brand coffee. I grind my own when I'm there. A 2.5 pound bag of Bigby coffee costs a mere $12.98. That's a lot of coffee for the price.
9. Frozen snacks. If you have a house full of growing kids and teens, check out the frozen snack section at the warehouse club. Pizza rolls, hot pretzels, Bagel Bites, corn dogs--everything unhealthy and yummy--can be found cheaper here.
10. Magazines. Like to buy individual magazines? They're 30% off. Score!
While there are tons of great deals, there are also plenty of items that cost more.
I don't buy:
a. Soda. Way more expensive to buy name-brand soda at the warehouse club. Hit the sales at your grocery store.
b. Bakery items, except for homemade buns or french bread.
c. Fruit. Fruit looks wonderful at the warehouse club, but it's usually more cost-effective to buy this at your local market.
d. Bread and bagels. Maybe my perception is off, but our grocery store sells these products cheaper even when they aren't on sale.
e. Anything in a large package that I won't use. What good is a vat of salad dressing if I have to throw 3/4 of it away?
When my kids were babies, I bought diapers at Sam's Club. I don't know if they are still less expensive at the warehouse club or not. You'd have to look into it.
I'm sure I've missed things! If you're strategic, compare prices, and buy what you know you'll use, a warehouse club membership can be a terrific addition to your frugal toolbox.
Do you ever shop at Sam's Club or Costco? What are your tips?
Have a great day!!