In a survey conducted by the Frugal Shopper, 1,900 shoppers said their favorite way to save when shopping was to buy groceries and other items at warehouse outlets that offer great discounts for bulk purchases. An added benefit is that these stores offer some of the best credit card deals, such as Costco’s American Express card.
It is clear that the economic difficulties of the past few years have contributed to the growing popularity of these stores. According the Frugal Shopper, more than 75 million cardholders now shop at more than 500 warehouse stores located all over the country. The larger stores, such as BJ’s Wholesale Club, Costco and Sam’s Club offer a variety of goods for families on tight budgets.
Here are 6 tips to make the most of your warehouse club membership:
- Justify membership costs. The typical annual fee to join is $30 to $50, depending on location of the store. As per Coupon Sherpa, your family will need to spend a minimum of $250 annually to reap the benefits of the fee. However, this will not be too difficult for those families that shop even once per month.
- Shop for prescription medications. Federal regulations make it illegal for warehouse stores to mandate that you purchase prescription drugs from their pharmacy. That means you are not required to recoup the membership fee by filling prescriptions in the warehouse store. However, many prescriptions are much less costly when purchased through the warehouse pharmacy. As an example, 50 antibiotic pills that may cost $45 at a Wal-Mart pharmacy may cost as little as $15 at BJ’s.
- Create a shopping list. Most warehouse outlets depend on impulse purchases to garner much of their profit. You go into the store to buy just a few groceries, but walk out with two shopping carts full of merchandise. To prevent impulse buying and stay within budget, make a list of what you really need and check off each item as you place it into your cart.
- Limit the purchase of perishable items. Perishable foods such as fruit, bread and dairy products come in large quantities that may go bad before you ever get to eat them. For this reason, it is best to limit your purchase only to those products that you will eat or drink within the week.
- Shop the outer areas of the store. The middle aisles are where most of the discretionary merchandise is placed, while products at the end of each aisle contain items that are a bit pricier. For this reason, those on a tight budget will do best to shop the periphery of the store, where essential and more moderately priced items are placed.
- Beware high-priced goods. Televisions, computers, furniture and appliances are often available at a great price at discount warehouses. However, it isn’t a good idea to trade brand for price, as you may wind up with a product that doesn’t last very long. When purchasing items that you expect to last for years, it is best to stick with trusted brands. Although you may spend more now to purchase a trusted brand, you will save money in the long run by not having to replace the item after only a short period.
Daniela Baker loves to help anyone looking to make the most out of every dollar earned. She is a personal finance blogger and frugal mother of two. Visit her blog at http://www.creditdonkey.com/ to compare credit card deals and offers.