NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Bulk Only On Sale

Bulk Only On Sale


            Warehouse clubs – Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s and others - can offer incredible price benefits. The price per unit of most items offed at warehouse clubs is often significantly lower than what can be found at other retail locations.  Benefits though often come with risks and shopping at warehouse clubs can be risky business.

            If you’re trying to stick with a budget each month and always seem to spend too much at your favorite warehouse store, make sure to avoid the following costly errors.

            Buying perishable fruits and vegetables in bulk. Unless you’re absolutely certain that your household will go through that 10 pound bag of oranges in a few days, or eat that multi-pack of guacamole within a week, you will end up wasting money buying fruits, vegetables and other perishables in bulk.  Having a meal plan in place will give you a more accurate idea of the amount of ingredients you will actually need. Unless you can cook or eat all of that fresh produce and items that expire over the course of a few days or a week, most of your savings for that item will end up in the garbage.

            Shopping without a list.  Shopping anywhere without a list is a proven method to spend more than you planned but at a warehouse store you have the real possibility of purchasing not just one item you don’t need, but multiples of that same item.  Even though you might find some great deals and markdowns going from aisle to aisle at the club, buying items you don’t really need or can’t use right away won’t save you money.

            Neglecting to check expiration dates on processed items. Buying in bulk only saves you money when you don’t end up with bags of groceries that expire before you can use them. Even highly-processed and packaged foods have expiration dates.  Take note of expiration dates on everything from chips and candy, to breads and meats. Think about how long it will really take to get through that box of candy or family pack of deli meat, and make sure you’re buying items that won’t expire any time soon.

            Not comparing prices.  Make sure you’re pricing out those bulk buys per item and can compare those prices to the grocery store or other retailers. If you’re buying high-end items such as televisions, computers, car accessories or household appliances, do a price check and make sure you’re comparing the exact same make and model.

            Forgetting to factor in membership fees.  A base membership for most warehouse stores is $45 to $55 plus additional fees for more than one card or for family memberships can push your membership fees to $100 and above. Although prices are low on many items, if you purchase only a few items per year you might not be saving enough by shopping at a warehouse club versus other non-warehouse stores to compensate for the membership fee.

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