Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

Q&A Tuesday: Is it frugal to shop at Wholesale Clubs?

(I was off the computer much of yesterday so I didn’t get this posted like I’d planned. Enjoy a Q&A Tuesday on Wednesday!)

Today’s Q&A Tuesday question is from Melissa:

I’m curious to know if you think wholesale clubs like Sam’s, Costco, etc. are helpful for saving money? -Melissa

My friend Tammy tackled a similar question on her blog last week on why shopping only at Costco is the frugal choice for their family — as opposed to using coupons and shopping at more than one grocery store.

While I thought she had some great points, I would disagree with her — at least when it comes to our family and our current situation.

Our family has had a Sam’s Club membership in the past thanks to one of our businesses having a merchant service with them. After extensive research and trial and error, I’ve come to the conclusion that a Sam’s Club membership is just not worth it for our family. The quantities are too big, the prices are too high and shopping there was too time-consuming with young children (the store is so big and requires much more time to navigate than a quick trip into Aldi, Dillon’s or the health food store requires.

There are a few items which we found to be cheaper at Sam’s Club than what we’d usually pay at Aldi or the grocery store including: yeast, vanilla, honey, chocolate chips, dry beans and cheese. However, the Cheddar cheese has food coloring in it (something we try to avoid completely at our house) unlike the cheese we usually buy at Aldi or Dillon’s which is colored with Annatto — a non-artificial coloring.

With the exception of yeast, the savings on the few items we found to be less expensive at Sam’s Club was very minimal — usually in the vicinity of $0.10 per pound cheaper. When I did the math, including the cost of a Sam’s Club membership, it would result in a savings of about $10 per year, maximum. But it would require making at least 4-6 trips per year there in order to buy the items. And each of those trips would likely take 1 hour at a minimum when you factor in the time to drive to the store and back, get three children out of the car, and navigate a huge store.

Since I always decide whether or not something is frugal based upon how much money I’m saving per hour, a savings of around $2.50 per hour to shop at Sam’s Club is definitely not worth it.

However, this is just my current conclusion based upon our family size and location. I think that Wholesale Clubs actually can be a frugal choice for many families who are in different situations, like Tammy outlined in her post.

What do you think? Is shopping at wholesale clubs a frugal option for your family or not? I’d love to hear!

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!


  • Tiffany says:

    We also shop at Sam’s Club. I save over $200/year on baking supplies, meat, and cleaning supplies!

    However, one thing you said in your post made me question whether I should renew it or not. I do buy cheese at Sam’s and after your statement about them using artificial dyes in their cheese, I became concerned. So, next time I went to buy cheese, I looked at the label and then came home and looked up what the coloring is. It is something called Annatto Color. It is actually plant derived and used in most red food colors and lots of other cooking things. There isn’t anything bad about it that I could find…

    I am breathing a sigh of relief and going back today to buy some cheese!

Money Saving Mom® Comment Policy

We love comments from readers, so chime in with your thoughts below! We do our best to keep this blog upbeat and encouraging, so please keep your comments cordial and kind. Read more information on our comment policy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *