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By the author of What School Should Have Taught You.
So there’s a Sam’s Club or a Costco in your neighborhood. As you drive by, you regularly notice that the parking lot is absolutely packed, and it’s left you wondering whether or not those membership warehouse stores are actually a place where you can save money.
The idea of having to pay for a membership card just to shop at a store slightly nauseates you, but you have to ask: why do so many other people seem to feel like it’s financially worth it? Are they onto something? Let’s take a look…
Are the goods themselves cheaper at membership warehouse stores?
I have noticed that the prices on items at bulk stores can offer significant savings. For example, when I ran my bubblegum machines, Sam’s Club consistently was the best place to buy peanut M&Ms and gumballs.
I couldn’t find anybody else that could compete with their prices (nor could I find anybody else that sold giant boxes of gumballs).
However, I’ve also noticed that you have to be price savvy when you shop at these places. Sometimes you will find that your local grocery store is in fact cheaper for particular items than will be the bulk goods store.
Overall, I would say that you can typically save money on what you’re purchasing at warehouse stores. But, you do need to know what it is that you’re looking at.
Warehouse stores’ gasoline offers amazing savings.
One thing that I think there’s no question on here whatsoever, is that these stores can save you a significant amount of money on gasoline. Oftentimes you can get 30 cents and up off of a gallon of gas with these businesses.
They’re not always the most conveniently placed gas stations for you to make a run to in town, and there is typically a lengthy line to fill up, but that could end up saving you a lot of money if you have a big SUV or truck that would cost you $70-100/tank to fill up otherwise.
Discounted lunches absolutely rock.
Let’s say that you’re out on the road, you didn’t pack a lunch or a cooler with you, it’s lunchtime, and you absolutely have to have something to eat.
I’ve found myself in this situation a couple of times, and when I do, I’m already hangry, but then there’s the added frustration of trying to stay on a budget but knowing I’m going to have to run somewhere to pick up food.
If you don’t want to spend $10 at a fast food joint when this happens, you may be able to get by with picking up a cheap (and unhealthy) lunch at one of the restaurants in your local warehouse stores. Hot dogs and pizzas are typically present inside and are about as cheap as it gets.
You can get some nice savings on gift cards at bulk goods stores.
One of the cool things I’ve discovered about these stores is that you can typically buy gift cards here at a discount. While you may be picking up $150 worth of gift cards, you might only end up spending $130-$140.
It’s not a huge savings, but every little bit that you can keep in your pocket helps. If you’re gearing up for Christmas shopping and are going the gift card route for all of the people on your list, this is a very appealing option to keep in mind.
There are occasionally travel packages that you can buy here at a heavy discount.
Let’s say that your family has had its heart set on traveling to SeaWorld in Orlando. If that’s the case, and you want substantial ticket savings without being suckered into sitting through a stupid timeshare meeting, then you may want to take a look at your local bulk goods store.
They frequently offer travel packages that can save you a good amount of money.
The jewelry selection actually isn’t bad.
I’m not a jewelry guru, but I do know a thing or two about engagement rings and wedding bands. One of the things I’ve discovered is that men’s wedding band prices at warehouse stores actually aren’t half bad. If you’re just now starting out with life on your own, and there’s a wedding in your near future, this may be another potential benefit of a membership to one of these warehouse stores.
You’ll get access to their tire selection.
Where I live, there is one store that consistently has the lowest tire prices in town. The only problem? The guy who runs the place is a Grade-A jerk. I refuse to shop there simply because of that dude. If I’m going to be treated as an inconvenience, then I will refuse to inconvenience you. I’ll spend my money elsewhere.
Like it or not, you’re going to have to buy tires every once in a while. If you have a membership to one of these stores, then you have another potential store that you can shop from to get them.
In my personal experience, the prices are very affordable at these stores. I just haven’t had the best of luck with the employees being able to get them on the car in a timely manner. I think the last time I went to one of these stores for this, I waited in the store for three hours. Yes, I was the weird guy sitting on the display couch watching Lord of the Rings.
Hopefully, you have better employees at your bulk good store tire shop, though. And if that’s indeed the case, you could save a few hundred dollars this way – potentially per year.
So is the cost of a membership worth it?
I think it is. When I take all of the above factors combined, I can’t think of any reasons why it wouldn’t save you money to have one of these memberships to warehouse stores.
But hey, those are just my thoughts.
What are yours? Are there other ways to save money at warehouse stores I didn’t list? Let us know in the comments below.
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, What School Should Have Taught You, The Faithful Prepper, An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.