Guest post from Victoria of Creative Home Keeper
Warehouse memberships can be a great way to really save money on your grocery budget. However they can also be a budget-buster if you’re not careful. Since joining Costco earlier this year, I have been able to buy a large portion of my groceries in bulk without breaking the bank.
If you are thinking about joining a members-only warehouse club, here are three tips to consider before you do:
1. Do your homework
Before you purchase a membership at a warehouse you need to do your homework first.
Take a tour
If your city has more than one warehouse to choose from, then you probably want to visit both. Where I live we have both a Sam’s Club and a Costco.
Before joining Costco, my husband and I toured both warehouses. Most warehouses will let you in on a visitor’s pass. You won’t be able to purchase anything without purchasing a membership, but being able to tour the store and take inventory on the type of products they sell will help you determine what warehouse to join, and if joining one is going to be cost effective for your family.
Know your prices
While touring, take a notebook, or your price book, to jot down the names and prices of the products you would buy. Note the price and how much you are getting.
For example, I can purchase a case of 8-14.5oz cans of organic diced tomatoes for about $7. That is about $0.88 per can. My price book tells me that this is the cheapest price for diced tomatoes. Not all prices at warehouse clubs are better deals then standard grocery stores so this is where knowing your prices, or having a price book, really comes in handy.
Also you need to factor in the yearly membership price into your cost breakdown. Does paying the membership (anywhere from $30-$100 per year) make sence for your family?
Some warehouses provide cashback bonuses; others provide services such as discounted prescriptions, eyeglasses, discounted gasoline, etc. Know the membership policies and compare to see which one will give you the best investment.
Pick the right warehouse
Once you have toured the warehouse and collected enough information to validate paying for a membership, then you need to pick the right warehouse to join if your city has more than one. Think about location. It’s not really going to save you any money if you have to drive a long way to get there.
Another factor to consider is how convenient it is going to be to get to the warehouse. My Costco is located just a few miles from my house near other stores that I shop. So I can easily do most of my grocery shopping in one trip.
2. Have a game plan
Walking into any warehouse can be very overwhelming. There is just so much to look at outside of groceries!
Know the layout
I suggest taking the time to know the layout of your warehouse. That way you know exactly what areas your items are located, and what areas to avoid. By knowing the layout, I can quickly get in and out of Costco without wasting time backtracking, which might lead to impulse purchases.
Make a list
Going into a warehouse without a list is an invitation to blow your budget. Make your list based on your meal plan and what stores have the best prices on those items (this is where a price book comes in handy).
Also just like any grocery shopping, it is best to not go into a warehouse hungry. Impulse purchases are much more costly at a warehouse than your standard grocery store.
3. Make sure you have storage space
One last thing to note before you even purchase a membership is to think about how you would store your food. Ask yourself: Do I enough freezer/refrigerator/pantry space? Coming home with a car full of bulk food will not save you any money if you don’t have any room to store it.
Victoria Osborn is a wife and stay at home mom to two little ones. She is passionate about encouraging women to live simply, intentional, and inspired at home. She writes about it every day at Creative Home Keeper.