One tip given on many money related sites is becoming warehouse club members. Signing up for Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s is seen as the best value for families, but is it the best deal for your family? Can you really save significant money with membership?
When we signed up for Costco a few years back, my husband and I looked at the benefits and calculated whether or not it was a deal for us. I’ll show you how you can do an analysis for your own family.
Buying in Bulk – Pros and Cons
One of the most touted benefits of being a warehouse club member is getting a better deal (value on price) on bulk sizes of items. Some items, like laundry detergent or other cleaning supplies, can be found at much better deals than some of the big box stores. Warehouse clubs also feature their own store brands that can save you even more money.
Baby supplies can be incredibly affordable at warehouse clubs, like diapers and wipes. We get our wipes through Costco for $20/box and it lasts for months.
However, there are cons to buying in bulk that you should consider:
- Are you going to use all of it before it expires? For perishable foods, buying in bulk can be a financial burden on small families.
- Are you buying more just because it’s on sale? The temptation of grabbing a few extra in your cart because of the great deals can increase your monthly expenses considerably.
Weighing the pros and cons with a spreadsheet of items you’d purchase by buying in bulk can allow you to have an objective to see if you’re truly saving money. For us, that means that certain items, like breads or frozen foods, may be off our shopping list unless we’re going to host a party.
Save Money on Gas
Some clubs have gas stations on the premises. Depending on your area, you may be able to snag a fuel-up that is 5-10 cents cheaper per gallon than neighboring gas stations. If you’re curious to see the actual savings, take advantage of apps like GasBuddy to get the real time prices in your area.
For some, the distance driven to get the gas isn’t worth it. On the other hand, some families have found it to be a good deal, especially if their membership allows them to also get a portion of their spending back in a rebate check.
Membership Benefits – Additional Value
Being a warehouse club member can also get you access to additional perks that you may not be aware of or have used. For us, being Costco members has cut our car insurance expenses considerably. We’ve saved about $400/year with the premiums! That has freed money for some of our family’s financial goals, including paying down the mortgage and student loan faster. In addition, being Executive Costco members means that we get towing and assistance added free to our policy.
That alone has paid for the membership itself!
We also found out earlier this year that Costco membership also decreased refinancing costs through CapWest. Checking the information booth and pamphlets by the entrance/exit can be extremely beneficial for your family. You may be able to save money on current family expenses.
Thoughts on Warehouse Clubs
For us, our Costco membership has been a good deal on our family budget. How about you though? How many of you are members of a warehouse club? What tips do you have on maximizing your membership?