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Does a Warehouse Membership Make Sense for Your Family?

Guest post from Mandi

It is almost time for me to renew our family’s Sam’s Club membership. We are in the middle of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 2, and so everything that can be cut is getting cut. Here are some questions I came up with to assess our current need for a warehouse membership card:

1. Do I really need to buy this?

I have started asking myself this question about all of my purchases, and it has made a big difference. When you shop at a warehouse store, are you buying items just because they are available and a “great deal”, or because you actually need them?

2. Can I get this for a similar, or ever a cheaper, price elsewhere?

This was the big question for me this year. The number one item our household purchases at Sam’s Club is gasoline. My husband drives just shy of 90 miles, round trip, for work. We have a Sam’s Club literally right around the corner from us that has a gas station. It averages a minimum of $0.10 less than any other nearby gas station, or approximately 3% cheaper. Since we always fill up at Sam’s Club, we are saving 3% of our gas budget, or $108 annually.

If it is diapers and wipes you buy most often, then you might be able to get a better deal on Amazon with Amazon Mom Deals. As with any item, you have to pick and choose your deals.

3. Could I get buy with one ‘stock-up’ trip per year?

Sam’s Club usually has a “free” weekend sometime in April and August where anyone can come in and shop. They do this to get you to sign-up for a membership. However, as Crystal has mentioned, you can use this as an opportunity to stock up for the year on things like yeast, chocolate chips, flour, and other items that truly are cheaper at a warehouse store.

4. Do I need to buy this item in this size?

True, that giant can of olives may be 10 cents cheaper per ounce than the can at the regular grocery store, but if you end up throwing away three-quarters of something, then you are not saving any money. {Note from Crystal: Make sure to follow the advice in this post to help you not waste items you buy in bulk.}

The key to saving money on warehouse club memberships is to be totally objective when you are evaluating your needs. Do the math – see if it makes sense on paper.

For us, it does make sense to keep our membership, at least for the time being since I know we save over $100 per year, and our membership cost $40. However, I am aware this may not always be the case, and if circumstances change, then I will reevaluate our needs.

Mandy White is a stay-at-home wife and mama to three wonderful children, and the most amazing man.  She loves to learn, and is constantly working on new domestic experiments, like canning, and freezer cooking.  Her favorite time of year is Fall – which doesn’t start in Arizona until November.

photo credit

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99 Comments

  • Becky says:

    A lot of times I have something delicious and ask my friend where they got it, and the answer is Costco. One couple in particular is often trying to convince my husband and I to join. I can’t see the benefit of paying that membership fee though. We are just two people (so were they until just recently – there’s one on the way now) so we wouldn’t be able to use that much, and I find great prices at Fresh & Easy. If I didn’t have one in the area, I would go back to shopping at Walmart, which I still find cheaper. I think it’s inevitable that I will join eventually if I ever have a large family (at least 5) or more pets (we just have two cats now and buy their food once a month at walmart).

    • Sarah says:

      I am also a family of two (Me and my boyfriend, plus a dog) and I have a costco membership. I was skeptical about it at first too, but I LOVE it.
      You have to have a meal plan for bulk items that expire quickly. A lot of the fresh produce I have to bipass because we can’t get through it all either.
      Regardless, they have exceptional prices on spices and general cooking ingredients, tolietries, cleaning products, and more.

      Plus, they are famous for their samples. I have been known to walk through on my lunch break and just eat the samples. 🙂

      • Mandy White says:

        We have a 105 lb. dog, and we always buy her food at Sam’s because we go through a lot of it. I wouldn’t get a membership just for pet food because you can get great deals with coupons at Walmart and Target, but it is a nice perk of already having a membership to just buy a giant bag every month and not mess with smaller bags. And you are right – the price on spices can’t be beat!

      • Cherie says:

        I too am a family of two (me and the boyfriend), plus a 135lb mastiff and a new Chihuahua. I have a Costco membership and usually go every 2-3 weeks to buy my fresh produce and once a month for meats. We eat a lot of salads and fruits and the price at Costco is better. Their food seems to last longer as well. I usually get a large thing of strawberries and I’ve had a container last almost 2 weeks before it started going bad (I was renovating the kitchen so we weren’t eating much from home with no sink or counter tops)I do find myself picking up items I don’t necessarily need. So I am having to do better with this but try and use a list as much as possible now that I know what I need from there. If I had a larger freezer I would stock up on more items to reduce my trips but unfortunately my fridge freezer is not that big 🙁 and I don’t have the room for another freezer. I love my membership though.

  • Victoria says:

    I definitely think that having a warehouse membership is a good idea. Yes, you do have to work the numbers for your own family.For us, we save over $80 in yeast a year, and that is just on yeast. That means if all we bought was yeast minus the $40 membership we would still be $40 ahead. But, we save on a lot more items for our family, since we don’t live in a area of double coupons. For instance, we save significant amount per year on cheese, and our family loves cheese, but your family may not, so once again, it is really a family to family decision as to if warehouse membership pays.

    • Cheese is a great price at Sam’s. I can always find cheddar and mozzarella for under $2.50 a pound there.

      • Mandy White says:

        I totally agree! Thanks for mentioning this. I hadn’t bought cheese there in a while because I usually buy it when it is a great price at the regular grocery store. However, there haven’t been any good sales lately around here, so I checked the price at Sam’s and was pleasantly surprised that is was very similar to my “stock-up” price.

      • Emily says:

        When I lived in PA, I used to be able to get the imported Italian pecorino romano cheese that I use in my meatballs at Sam’s Club for around $8/lb, so I kept a Sam’s club membership. I now live in OH, where the cheapest I can find the exact same cheese is at around $11/lb. I had a Sam’s Club membership the first year we lived here, but they did not carry that cheese. Do you know if they’ll special order certain things for people if they request it?

      • Sarah says:

        Yup, Costco has the BEST prices on cheese that I’ve been able to find. I’m a vegetarian and during my pregnancies I’m a diabetic, requiring 3 oz of protein at every meal. The only way to get it was to eat 3 slices of cheese per meal. When you eat 63 slices of cheese a week, it gets extremely expensive. Costco had packages of sliced cheese selling for exactly HALF the price of our local grocery store, and we sure were excited to find them.

    • Rachael says:

      My Sam’s just started to carry bread flour, and it’s only $7.50 for 25 pounds. I was almost paying this much for bread flour at Walmart for just 10 pounds.

      • Sarah says:

        Yikes. I pay that much at Ralphs for 5 pounds of bread flour! Think I’ll check Costco next time I’m there, thanks for the idea!

  • Nicole says:

    I think having a membership and saving money is more related to discipline. Do you have the discipline to stick to your list when you are in the store, do you have the discipline to use only what you need when you need it and do you have the discipline to finish everything in your cupboard before spending another dime? I know this applies to all stores, but for some reason, those bulk stores can be money sinks if you are not careful. But there should be one particular item to note, you can get lots of items (especially ORGANIC vegetables and meats) at seriously affordable prices in these large bulk box stores. So, if quality is an issue for you on the budget you already have, definitely shop at one of these places – with discipline of course!

  • Jessica says:

    I save at least $60 dollars per month just on vitamins by buying them at Costco. They have a killer deal on CoQ10, several types of vitamin B, vitamin C, multi vitamins, etc.

  • Juletta says:

    just a FYI….If you have a Sam’s Plus card or business card you can get up to 40% off generics and 8% off brands at the pharmacy…This is really helpful if you do not have health insurance.

  • ELESHA DUNBAR says:

    We have a Costco membership and have saved a ton of $ I can sometimes cut our monthly food budget by $200. We have a family of 8 so we do use the bulk items and its so much cheaper than buying 2 or 3 smaller items to equal what we use in the bulk.

  • Emily says:

    just a thought on saving on gas money….we got a BP Visa card, which saves 5% on every gas purchase. We get a $25 check from BP in the mail every other month or so. Saving that 5% starts to make even more sense in high gas prices since that percentage “grows” right along with the rise in prices. For us it makes a ton of sense because there’s a BP right on our corner, too.

  • Liz says:

    SO glad this was posted! My hubby and I are trying to decide whether to renew our membership in April and lately I find that we don’t have the discipline to stay away from “extras” in Sam’s.
    Those *delicious* cookies in the bakery have seriously added a couple inches to my waist. Guess I could do without that too, huh? 😉

    • I have a regular Sam’s Club list, and I highlight the items that I’m low on ahead of time. Then I buy THOSE items.

      As you said, though, it’s a matter of discipline. I would LOVE to buy the large jar of marinated artichoke hearts from Sam’s, but it’s not in my budget. We’re pretty strict about our spending, though.

  • Brittany says:

    I think it’s easy to use more, without even realizing it, when you buy in bigger quantities. So it may be a way to save money, or you may actually end up spending more money. Just depends on you and your family, and the things you are buying.

  • Kristi says:

    We pay for our Costco membership in less than 5 months with the savings on milk alone. I have compared Costco prices to Aldi’s on staple items that we buy and on almost everything, the prices at Costco are better. In our area, you can’t beat their prices on dairy unless one of the grocery stores has a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of sale.

    • Mandy White says:

      Great point! Around here, milk is often $1.57 on sale, and there are 4 major grocery chains to choose from, so I don’t even know what full price on milk would be. (Metropolitan Phoenix area) However, a couple of years ago, there was about a year that milk was rarely on sale, so I bought it regularly at Sam’s and saved quite a bit.

  • Mary H says:

    As a single person I decided that having the membership did not work for me. At Costco you do not need to be a member to shop there if you have one of their cash cards. I have a friend who is a member purchase one for me (you do have to pay the cash up front) and I use that. It helps to keep me focused on just the items I need since once the cash on the card is used up you are done.

    One tip I did not see here – at Costco you do not need to be a member to use their pharmacy. It is open to the public and I have found their prescriptions are quite a bit cheaper, just call first to make sure they carry the item you have the prescription for. They don’t advertise this but I’ve saved quite a bit. You have to pay cash or use a debit card or cash card – no credit cards or personal checks.

    • Linda G. says:

      Yes, it is true about the pharmacy and I do tell my friends they can use the pharmacy without a membership but the wait at the one near me takes forever to get your item! If the item is cheaper than your copay you can just pay cash out of pocket which is nice. I’ve now switched to Safeway since I can use the gas discount and they are much quicker at filling the prescription (you get full credit for the amount of the medicine, not just what your co-pay is).

    • Mandy White says:

      Wow! That is great to know! How do you get in since you have to show your card at the front entrance?

      • Mary H says:

        You just tell the person at the door that you are going to the pharmacy. If they question you any further just ask for the manager because the door people should know that you don’t have to be a member.

        At the pharmacy counter they will ask for your membership card. Just tell them you are not a member and they have a card they scan.

        I belong to an HMO so I can’t use it for my own prescriptions but I did use it for a medication prescribed for my kitty. The price was 1/2 of what I could get it for anywhere else, including Walmart. In this case it would have been worth paying a membership fee if I’d had to, but luckily I didn’t.

        I’d encourage you to call the Costco pharmacy and compare prices, I think you will be surprised at the difference.

    • Emily says:

      I’m wondering about this cash card. I have a couple friends at work who have Costco memberships. I suppose I could easily ask them to pick one up for me if I gave them cash. I’ve been contemplating a membership there because I’ve heard about their fabulous prices on organic meat/chicken, milk, eggs, etc. But the one near where I live is almost 20 minutes away with traffic, plus there is a membership fee, so I had decided not to do it. If, however, I didn’t have to have a membership……that might be a different story.

      • Mary H says:

        That is exactly what I did. I gave my friend who was a member the cash and she got it for me. As you go in the entrance you just show them the cash card instead of a membership card. I have not been stopped or questioned.

        It used to be that you had to go to Customer Service and get a day pass but the three in my area (Seattle) have not done that in over a year. I’d call first to ask, just to save any hassle with the door people.

        Also be aware that if you go over the amount on the cash card you will have to pay it in cash. They do not take personal checks from non-members.

  • ss says:

    I also like the organic bulk produce for my family of 6! It’s sometimes cheaper. Just one thing to think about.

  • O. Rivera says:

    I recently got a membership. My husband and I get items here and there. Romain lettuce lasts us about 2 weeks for almost $4. I got pork chops for about $12 or $15, that has lasted us almost two months now. I also got Dove porducts that is sure to last us about a half a yr if not more. I usually go grocery shopping weekly and my receipt is now about $20/week. So far our membership has been a good choice.

  • I have tried the coupon thing and have ended up with some GREAT deals! I have a great stockpile of tomatoe sauce/diced tomatoes/etc that was free after q’s. My family eats a TON of cereal and yogurt so I use those q’s often too. But, I also live 16 miles from the closest grocery store and even though they double q’s up to $1, their normal prices are so high that I can only shop there for things I have q’s for. I was making one special trip just there once a week….that’s 32 miles just to save a few $$ on cereal, yogurt and a few other things. My friend has a Sam’s card so we try to get together and go. When I can get in for free, it definitely works for me. But, it’s harder and harder these days for us to get together so I am going to have to bite the bullet and get a Sam’s membership. I have done the math and it works for us…but we are a family of 6. I buy our razors there and one pack will last 2 months (we all use the same one) and costs $20.99 for 22 razors. I pay $11.49 for 8 of the exact same in Walmart. And we eat a TON of cheese…slice, shredded, cubed…and that is way cheaper at Sam’s too. I just split the 5 lb bags into ziplocs and freeze til I’m ready. But, I agree that for smaller families it may not work.

  • Katie says:

    You can reduce your membership fees for a wholesale club by doing a big stock-up run right before your membership expires, and then waiting as long as you can to renew it. (This obviously doesn’t work for gas and milk.)

    We’ve done this regularly, and saved in 2 ways:

    1 – We pay 3 annual memberships for 5 years.

    2 – We often get nice gift-card / coupon offers to renew our membership, which saves quite a bit (the last one from Sam’s was $20 gift card with $40 membership, which we were going to spend anyway).

  • Lisa P says:

    We are a family of 4 and there is a new Costco that opened near us about 6 months ago and we joined-I am loving it so much more than our Sam’s membership from a few years back. You get 1 or 2% back on purchases that goes toward the next membership fee (if you have the 2nd tier membership) and we have saved a TON on eggs and milk and the fruit is always beautiful and fresh. I still shop at Aldi for some things (baking supplies that I don’t need 25lbs of). But the fact Costco’s prices are less or comparable saves me money on gas not making several grocery store runs and I don’t run out of things as fast. We live at least 15 min from a grocery store so less trips also equals more money saved for us. Depends how often you shop, for what and how much you use if this works for you.

  • Meredith says:

    I can justify a Costco membership in one trip. We are pretty disciplined shoppers though, so I don’t really buy from the bakery or anything like that. Not to mention, when other things come up you may need, chances are they have it and cheap. My new brand name tires from Costco were 150 cheaper than the generics at the tire store. New wiper blades, five bucks….same ones at Walmart were 20. Just got some nautica dress pants for my hubby for 12 dollars. Saw the same ones online for 45. Not to mention the savings on rice, yeast, ketchup, and other basic necessities. With all we get there, it would never fit in on a free open day to the public.

  • Veronica says:

    It is definitely worth it for us. Just the allergy medicine alone saves us quite a bit. We just bought enough generic zyrtec to last us a year – and it only cost us $12. The generic at our local grocery store was more than that for one month. We also buy the grain free dog food at Costco. It’s a lot cheaper than we were paying at the local feed store. Produce and meat is high quality. You do have to have discipline when you go in though – sometimes I go in without a cart if I just need one or two items.

    • Mandy White says:

      Great tip about not taking a cart. I often do this if I really only need batteries or something.

    • Jennifer H says:

      Ditto on the allergy meds! I just got the same deal on generic Zyrtec and my dad got their generic Allegra – both were FAR cheaper than any drugstore generics. Plus I find that Costco’s prices on meat are generally comparable to grocery store sale prices, so I don’t have to wait for a sale to stock up on the meat I want. If you like to bake, vanilla extract is also a great deal – $6 for a huge bottle.

  • Sadina says:

    OT, but does anyone know of a good place to buy nuts cheap? like walnuts, hazelnuts? etc…thanks

  • Need A Nap2 says:

    I went last year to Sam’s free weekend. I think that was enough for my family, occasionally someone from church will pick up something small for us like cinnamon. What I bought last year that I was happy with: yeast, cinnamon, husband’s Gold Toe dress black socks (he LOVES these), and “workout/gym” hand towels (there were about 18 in a pack and I don’t feel bad when the kids drop them on the floor and get out a new one, I LOVE these). I’m okay with the large scoop I bought (ice cream/muffins). I’m dissappointed with the large pack of small spoons, they are kind of sharp on the edge and not suitable for daily home use imo, I’ll probably donate these to our church.

    Our Sam’s is at the far end of town and I haven’t been able to justify the expense for the yearly fee. We have 4 kids, making us a family of 6 so I think about it all the time if it would be easier/cheaper to stock-up and make large shopping trips but can’t get over the higher prices and yearly fee.

  • Hilary says:

    I love our Bj’s membership. I save so much money there. Bj’s lets you use multiple manufactures coupons on items with multiple barcodes, plus you can use a Bj’s coupon on top of that. We go through about 9 gallons of milk a week, I save on average a $1.25 a gallon at Bj’s this saves me $585 a year alone. We also refil our propane tank at Bj’s the average there is $12 everywhere else around us charges about $22 dollars, this saves us another $10 a month. We do buy our eggs there as 3 dozen eggs averages about $3. Which saves me a $1.50. The meats are better for us as well, they are always good quality and with a family of 7 we need the large package of meat. If I buy a bigger package of something that I know I will not use right away I freeze it into portions that we will use. The money we save at Bj’s is well worth it.

    • Donna says:

      BJ’s also has a Rewards Membership that is more expensive ($100/year at my Club) that pays you back 2%, up to $500/year, on most of your purchases. Unfortunately, gas purchases aren’t included, but electronics, tires and optical are! Check your Club for a compete list of exclusions, it will be at the Membership Desk. If you spend at least $2500 a year there (only $210 per month!!), it will pay for itself. The Service Desk Team Members can check your annual sales and let you know how much you could have earned so far. I have had this type of membership for several years and have consistently earned over $200 per year in Rewards Paybacks!

  • Samantha says:

    I worked at Costco for a long time as a sample person – one of the best reasons to have a Costco membership is for the samples!
    As a member, you can have as many as you want – you are not limited to one or two. You can literally walk around Costco two or three times and eat an entire lunch!

    I knew a family that came into Costco everyday with their 5 or 6 kids and would feed the kids lunch by walking around the store. I wouldn’t recommend this for everyday – as a lot of the food they sample is high in fat and calories – but my kids love to do it for a treat on the weekends!

    • Linda G. says:

      I wish all sample people were so good natured about the samples. Sometimes I get looks when I take a sample for myself and for both my toddlers. I’ve almost said something in the past to them about their poor attitude even though we always say, “Thank you.”

  • I have a Sam’s Club membership (though I live right by Costco) since I did the math and found it was better for me to have a Sam’s Club membership (instead of a Costco one, or going without). Here’s my detailed reasons why, along with a list of what I buy there.

    http://www.theprudenthomemaker.com/index.php/frugal-living/shopping-wisely/sams-club

    I can also let a month or two pass before renewing my membership, if I make sure I’m well-stocked on things before my membership expires.

  • Jessica says:

    I share a membership with my parents. We’re a family of 4 people and 2 cats, and my kids are ages 5 and 1. I buy cheese, baking supplies and other items there. I store the bulk baking supplies in food grade 5 gallon storage buckets that I got for free from the Meijer bakery.

  • Sharon says:

    Have you ever thought about sharing the cost of a membership with a close friend or family member? When my daughter lived close to me we shopped together a lot and she would go to SAMs Club with me and buy what she needed there. She would either reimburse me for the cost of her things or they will let another person use your card to check out. Costco does the same thing. This wouldn’t work if both families wanted to purchase gas there but that wasn’t an issue for us.

  • Rachel says:

    We figure that the money we save on tires at Sam’s covers our membership fee. Then the rest of the savings are bonus. Sam’s is generally our best place for dairy products, though Aldi as been a little cheaper lately. I tend to prefer the higher quality of Sam’s products though, especially when the difference is minimal.

  • Sonshine says:

    I have asked these questions a lot over the course of the last year and not just with my membership to Sam’s Club. 🙂

    I find my Sam’s Club membership worth every penny when I know that I am saving my family of seven over $200/year with shopping at Sam’s for groceries and then another $100/year on buying gasoline there. Yes, there is plenty of things I get from the grocery store rather than Sam’s because we don’t use a lot of that particular item. I have found that with grocery prices rising that Sam’s has become my “go to store” for meats, and baking supplies.

  • Sarah R. says:

    a costco opened near us about 1 year ago. i hesitated over getting a membership as we are just a family of 4 and i didn’t think that it would be worth it. here are a few things we really like about it:
    – i like only planning 1 trip to the store for the month. i go at the beginning of the month and stock up on staple items. then i don’t have to shop again for the month except to pick up fresh fruit and veggies.
    – i make much of our food from scratch so we save big on staple items like flour, oatmeal, rice, yeast, salt etc.
    – in our area costco has the best prices for organic items. i wasn’t buying much organic food for our family because we simply couldn’t afford it. now i can easily fit in more organic items into our budget.
    – the fuel prices at our costco is usually 10-20cents cheaper per gallon than other prices in our area.
    – we found it cheaper to get name brand tires for our vehicles. plus we can get them rotated and filled with air for free, so i will have that done every month or so while i am shopping. their warranties are good too.
    – we have saved on random items like tennis shoes (i needed a new pair and last month they had a very high quality name brand on sale for $20) and a printer.

    • Mandy White says:

      Tires are a big savings, but I didn’t include them because most people don’t buy tires annually. I am glad you mentioned them! At Sam’s Club, they will also rotate and balance your tires for free if you had purchased them there. I assume that Costco would do something similar.

      Great tip!

  • Mandy White says:

    Thanks for posting this, Crystal! I’m glad it had gotten people thinking. I’m glad that a few of the readers have pointed out the additional prescription savings available for certain types of memberships. If your family regularly uses the pharmacy, that would definitely be something else to consider.

  • Tiffany says:

    Cheese! At our Sam’s a 5lb bag of shredded cheese is around $11 right now. That equates to $1.10 for an 8oz bag or $2.20 for 16oz bag. That is much cheaper than Aldi, Walmart, Target, even with sales and coupons. Same with the block cheese and slices of American cheese. Milk is usually cheaper than Aldi but not much so that alone would not justify a membership plus extra gas expense.

    • Tiffany says:

      And Peter Pan peanut butter. It’s cheaper than the generic stuff at Aldi and tastes MUCH better. Although I have to make sure we ration it out because my boys like to go into the big canister with their spoons! Sometimes you can get better deals on PB using coupons, but it’s rare.

    • Crystal L. says:

      Cheese is always on our Costco shopping list! Unbelievable how much cheaper it is. 🙂

  • Amy says:

    We share a membership with my in-laws at Sam’s Club. There is a lot we DON’T buy at Sam’s Club because it IS NOT CHEAPER!! However, we DO SAVE A TON every month on milk, eggs, bread, half & half, salad, fruit, chicken, garbage bags, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, yeast, and cheese. We also buy our gas at Sam’s and save 5 cents a gallon. Every little bit adds up. We work with a college student ministry and often use our membership there to buy food for large gatherings and retreats – hotdogs, coleslaw, bbq, lasagnas and other pre-made food is a lot cheaper when bought at sam’s compared to even sale grocery prices. Sam’s is also a great place to enjoy a cheap lunch out! My family of 4 can eat lunch for less than $10 at Sam’s food counter (if we don’t fill up on samples first)!

  • Amy says:

    We went for years without a warehouse membership, but now that I have 4 boys with one more on the way (plus two young 20’s men from our church living with us for a while), it saves me a lot of money to have a Costco membership. We got the more expensive membership that gives you cash back. They let you cancel it if you don’t earn enough cash to cover the extra expense, but we pay for our entire membership that way.

    Our Costco isn’t close enough to save on stuff like milk routinely, but just the shelf-stable stuff and frozen items alone make a huge difference. Coupons don’t really work well for our style of eating and food allergies anyway, but even if they did, I would have to subscribe to some kind of coupon service to get enough of each thing for a family of 8! I like being able to shop at Costco without clipping coupons and know that I’m getting a “good enough” deal.

    I especially love that I can get organic frozen veggies and fruit for the same price as conventional at my regular grocery store. I can’t really say that I’m saving the difference between organic at the grocery store and organic at Costco since I’d never buy the $3.50/lb frozen broccoli at the grocery store, but even if I didn’t save enough at Costco to pay for the membership, I can count the annual fee as an investment in health that allows us to have attainable organic foods.

  • Dana S. says:

    We save way more than our membership costs just on vitamins and all the OTC things we have to take. Cat litter and cat food are also things we save on monthly. The photo department employees know me by name and have even called when there’s been a problem with an order, saving me the trip to pick up pictures that wouldn’t have been done. 🙂

  • Krysten says:

    I’m going to go against the crowd here and say that we’ve decided that a Sam’s membership would not be worth it for our family for two reasons. 1.) Sam’s is on the far side of the big town near our little town. I rarely need to go that far for anything else, so I would be wasting my time and gas to go there. 2.) I’ve checked Sam’s prices online, and none of them were significantly better than the prices I usually pay at Kroger, Wal Mart, and Aldi (which are all much closer to me than Sam’s). In fact, many of their prices were higher than I usually pay.

    • Krysten says:

      Oh, and I have a family of 4 currently: my husband (who eats like a teenager), his 18-yr-old brother (who IS a teenage boy), and my 2-yr-old son (who follows their example and eats like a teenager half the time!). We’re also expecting a baby girl within the next few weeks, so I’ve been eating like a teenager lately, too! 😉

  • Crystal L. says:

    Our Costco membership more than pays for itself in prescription savings alone. I have a medication that my insurance will only cover 14 days worth, even though I need 30 days worth. To buy the extra pills at a traditional pharmacy would be $199! I get it at Costco for $11! Sometimes we also do ‘lunch’ at Costco. On the weekends we’ll go fill up on the samples. Yum! They have a better return policy for large ticket items as well.

  • Roxanne M Jones says:

    I homeschool our children and work full time.

    I do not have time to play the drugstore game and coupon match at grocery stores. For me, Sam’s Club prices are about as good as it’s going to get with my time constraints.

    Not to mention, it’s so much less stress. Before I was working I did heavily coupon and faithfully work CVS deals. We live in an area full of avid couponers and every single week many of the items I wanted were out of stock both at the grocery and drug stores. I ended up making several trips to save money, and now I don’t have that time.

    Lastly, Sam’s Club offers click-n-pull. I order my groceries online then just pick up my cart at the front of the store at the scheduled time and pay for my items. No risk of buying a pair of pillows or a book during the shopping experience!

    I know my grocery bill is not as low as it can be, but it is what works for us!

    • Rachael says:

      I agree. I like to coupon, but I also work full time. I know I can go to Sam’s and get reasonable deals. It’s also convenient because I don’t run out of things for a long time.

    • Ruth says:

      LOVE LOVE LOVE the click-n-pull option! With little ones, this is such an awesome service!!! I am so glad that someone mentioned it!

    • Karen says:

      The click-n-pull option is also great for when your husband is picking up the items on his way home.

  • Kelly Hess says:

    We just finished our 1st year at Costco and the savings is tremedous. We paid for our next year’s membership with our rebate check alone. Plus if you have their American Express card you earn an additional rebate check. The gas is always 10-20 cents cheaper, which is huge for us! Their return policy is amazing! We bought a dual screen DVD player for our van almost a year ago. One of the screens broke, they took it back no questions asked! I didn’t even have the original box! If you have some big ticket purchases coming up such as a camera or electronics, shop there first. You will save more money and pay for that first year membership!

  • Teresa says:

    We do not have a club card. Mostly because it is over 30 miles from our home so by the time I drive there it really defeats the point. I do have a friend with a membership that works with my husband, so he gets us yeast. Other than that I really find we don’t use or need much that I can’t get cheaper with double coupons. Sometimes I do wish we could buy more in bulk from the packaging stand point (so much waste). We are a family of 7 and just to make noodles it takes two normal size boxes to fed them all. A box of cereal is gone in one meal. But that is the price we pay for low prices.

  • Sarah says:

    On the days when the allow anyone in. My stores will not let you buy unless you buy a memebership. I do not know if this is a new policy, you are only allowed to walk around and look.

    • Jules says:

      I have seen that on the “open” days, Sams will let anyone buy, but there is a 10% fee when you check out (see the fine print). Often, that is enough to delete the savings.

  • nancy says:

    There are numerous things we purchase regularly at Sam’s. Twenty-five pound bags of bread flour, yeast, spices, bulk cheddar, mozzarella, and provolone cheese, cases of tomato sauce and paste are always purchased there. We sometimes buy reduced priced meat, but not at the regular price. We can find better deals on sales at grocery stores. We have two large dogs, and get our dog food at Sam’s too.
    End of season reductions on clothing, for children, is often a good deal and after Christmas reductions on seasonal items can be a great deal.
    We also purchase Sam’s brand of vitamins, which are very reasonably priced.

  • Patrice says:

    Something to keep in mind… the $40 Sam’s membership is for TWO people and they do NOT require that you be in the same household. I share a membership with a friend of mine so it’s only $20/year for each of us. Since neither of our husbands ever do the shopping, it has worked out well for us.

    • Jen says:

      I do the same thing with a friend at Costco. My friend signed up and put me as the 2nd person – same household address though. I’ve never had a problem getting a temp pass when I forget my card & it’s definitely worth $25/year. I can save that with one 15 lb pork shoulder purchase and the prices on milk, eggs and butter are consistently lower than what I can find at the larger stores.

  • Jennifer says:

    I skimmed and didn’t see it mentioned so thought I would point out: Sam’s Club has a service called Click and Pull.

    Basically, you shop online for the items that you want and go in the next day to pick up your already pulled items. You don’t pay until you pick up your stuff and the service is free.

    I’m love this service! I’m a busy mom of four. The day before shopping day, I make my list and go to the Sam’s Club website. I pick out what I need and I can see right away what my total is going to be, so I know if I need to take something off or if I have enough money left to stock up on something. I send my order in and pick it up the next day. Usually takes less than 20 minutes. Such a budget and time saver, AND I avoid impulse purchases as I’m not cruising up and down the aisles.

  • Debbie says:

    My Costco membership more than pays for itself. Just buying my gas alone at Costco saves me $50 a year which pays for half our membership. They have excellent prices on eyeglasses – I paid less than $300 for 2 pair designer frames and transitions lenses. Three years ago 1 pair cost me $400 at the last place I went to. They have a great return policy, excellent customer service always, and great prices on organics and many other things. I saved over $500 on a computer recently as well. Know your prices so you don’t overpay, make a list and stick to it, and you’ll save a ton at Costco. I do.

  • I LOVE my Sam’s Membership! I find the best produce at Sam’s and love to stock up over there. I like how their produce is always fresh and packed well!

  • Laurie says:

    I have a SAMS club membership mainly for the pharmacy benefits. I have oop $2500 before anything is covered. SAMs is the cheapest for scripts. I am on a b/p med that was over $200/mos. The pharmacist looked into the patent since it went generic. My cost is now $20 just b/c the pharmacist went over and above for just me. Now that is customer service to me and having my membership does not come down to ever having to justify the cost. The proof is in the pudding.

  • Christy says:

    We are on a family member’s business membership, so we don’t pay a membership fee. If we ever do have to pay it, I think it is worth it for us. The gas, as mentioned. We have bought tires there–cheaper than anywhere else we called around. Cheese, as mentioned. My husband and I both work. He works 45 hours a week plus commuting plus and hour lunch break so he is gone at least 11 hours a day AND he has a second job. I teach school–enough said about my extra hours logged at night. And we have an almost 5 year old and 16 month old. So, I do use coupons, but just cannot go to the extreme that others do. We also don’t have time to stop at multiple grocery stores searching for clearance priced fruit and meat. Since my husband passes the Sam’s exit on his way home from work everyday, he will stop once every 2-3 weeks and get meat, diapers, wipes, snacks, fruit, bagels, cheese, paper goods. I know I could probably beat the prices on some of the things elsewhere, but we just don’t have the time. I coupon and deal shop heavily in the summer and we get a good stockpile and use Sams a bit less.

  • I just went today–and cheddar and mozzarella cheese were both at $2 a pound right now at Sam’s Club.

  • We just had a Winco open by us. I went the other day to compare to see if their bulk prices beat Sam’s Club. I’m breaking it down by several items on my Facebook page for those who want a comparison. Sam’s Club is a VERY clear winner.

  • Brandi says:

    I don’t do a Sam’s membership because we have a small apartment and limited storage capacity. I have a question for regular shoppers of Sams Club: If I were to go on the free weekend what items are truly cheaper there and would be good to stock up on?

    • Alex says:

      My husband and I are in your same condition-apartment with limited space. We tried checking out the free weekend just so I could evaluate if buying a membership was worth the savings. If you go on the “free weekend” there is often an additional charge for anything you purchase that means your’e not saving anything if your’e not a member. Sorry

    • If you use yeast at all even just around the holidays get it from a Sam’s club or BJs – it’s about $4 for 2lbs (I believe?). Also, things like garbage bags (there hasn’t been deals lately it seems…not like it was a few years ago) I get the 130 bag pack of Glad kitchen bags for about $13 and it lasts us the year. Spices too! I bought a BIG cannister of taco season for a few bucks. Mrs. Dash is CONSIDERABLY cheaper at the bulk stores. My parents also purchase my grandfather’s depends at BJs (they supply them for the nursing home he lives in).

      Hope this helps!

      -Meg

    • Ruth says:

      Definetly yeast and spices, especially taco seasoning or ranch dressing. It depends how much space you have any how much you cook, but flour, sugar (white or brown), oatmeal, salt (4 lbs for under $2) & printer cartridges. I find that buying the staples there are more cost effective than buying baked goods or even the frozen foods.

    • Ruth says:

      I forgot to add butter. The price varies at least in the past year at my Sam’s store, but it went down last month for 4lbs of butter was under $8. But I tend to watch the price of butter and buy at the lowest cost. We go through a lot of butter.

  • Our Costco membership just expired, and in order to extend the time before we renew we bought four $10 cash cards. That should get us in the door four more time, at least (this past week my husband went and they let him in with the cash card, but then he was able to pay cash at the register). Note that you can only pay with the cash card or cash when you do this.

    We don’t plan to play the cash card game indefinitely, but it should help us go a couple of months before renewing. Yay!

  • Jerilyn says:

    I love my sam’s membership! Even better, it’s the complimentary card from my in-laws! So that’s an option for families out there to split with parents or siblings or children.

    I may not save a ton of money but sometimes it’s the convienence of shopping for me.

  • Deb says:

    I share a Costco membership with a friend and I love it! We take turns and one of us goes once a month and buys everything for both families (we live about 65 miles away from civilization so it’s expensive to drive anywhere for groceries!). We save time and money this way, and Costco enables me to buy healthier food than I would otherwise because of their great prices!

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