Is the Cost of a Warehouse Club Membership Recouped?

making dollars changes

I do enjoy going to Sam’s Club and walking the isles. The samples are yummy and they keep the kids entertained! Plus, you can’t beat the price for a quick lunch. However, I have made the decision to break-up with Sam’s Club. Yep, we are officially done!

Now, I know that many of you enjoy shopping at warehouse clubs. For me and my family, I do not save enough money shopping there to justify the $40 membership. However, warehouse clubs may be right for you and your family. It all depends on how you shop and what you buy.

So how did I come to this decision?

I have been a member of a warehouse club (either Sam’s Club or Costco) for 10 years. My parents always shopped at one and I assumed that buying in bulk resulted in the most savings. Then I discovered CVS and what I call “extreme couponing”. I no longer pay (or pay very little) for toothpaste, razors, air fresheners, deodorant, hair care, body wash, dry pasta, condiments or cleaning products to name a few. I use to buy shampoo, conditioner, razors, condiments and cleaning products in bulk. Now when I walk the isles at Sam’s Club and see the price listed on a bottle of shampoo I almost fall over!

I am not brand specific on most items. This saves me a ton of money because I use whatever is on sale. I know that many people are brand specific and that is okay. You can still save by watching the sales and stocking up when your item hits the rock bottom price.

Toilet paper is bulk is expensive! I use to buy our toilet paper in bulk because I thought it was the best deal. After I started tracking the sales and using coupons more, I realized that it was much cheaper to buy a smaller package combined with a coupon. The same is true for cereal. I buy cereal for $0.90 to $1.25 a box- can’t do that at Sam’s.

I also use to buy our dog and cat food at Sam’s Club. It is actually a decent price. I have been holding onto my membership just for the pet food and the occasional meat and produce purchase. I have been tracking the dog food prices at Harris Teeter for a few months now. Every six weeks or so they have had Purina buy one, get one free. That means I can get a 20 lb. bag for about $5-6 after coupon. This week marks the third time I have been able to score Purina at Harris Teeter for this price!

The Bottom Line

When I take all the above into account, spending $40 on a club membership is not beneficial to me. The gas discount, produce and meat prices will be missed. However, Kroger offers a decent gas discount. We also have a huge garden this year to provide our produce.

Now, having a club membership may work for some of you. Take a look at the pros and cons before renewing. Will you be able to recoup the $40 fee in savings? Can you get away with just going a few times a year when they offer a free day pass? Instead of just auto renewing, think about what makes sense financially.

I would love to hear your thoughts on club membership!

Now it’s your turn!

If you are a blogger, write a post about your idea for making dollars out of change. It can be on any topic as long as it has to do with saving money. Please post directly to your post and not your homepage. A link back to Madame Deals in your post is appreciated but not absolutely necessary.

If you do not have a blog, we still welcome and encourage your participation! Please leave your thoughts in the in a comment below!

This post is linked at My Coupon Teacher and Melissa’s Bargain Blog.

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  1. Sara says

    My thoughts exactly. We used to belong on mother-in-laws membership, but when she didn’t renew, we didn’t bother either. We used to buy organic milk, spices, dog food, baking soda and a few other things at Sams. Now I get the organic milk ($3.99/gallon last week!) and dog food at Harris Teeter. I will occasionally ask a friend to pick up something for me a t Sams. I do miss the cheap pizza and ice cream lunches!

  2. Jennifer Womack says

    I still have my Sam’s membership but it has been harder for me to justify getting it each year. Last year we did the math and for the organic salad mix we get we made up for the price of the membership plus a little extra. But if I don’t eat salads everyday. . . We may not get it again this year. I only get my salad mix, some meats, and my shredded cheese there since we go through so much of it.

  3. Chrissy says

    We have a basic Costco membership which costs $50 per year. We buy all of our gas there but we don’t buy as much gas as most people because we live close to where we work. The only purchases I ever make in the store are milk, some fresh produce, and steak because Costco’s produce and beef is fresher and better tasting than our local grocery store. When we check out, the cashier often comments that our purchase is the lowest total they’ve seen that day. I know that the membership probably doesn’t pay for itself, but this is one instance where we so enjoy walking through the store and tasting their samples, that the $20 or so that we lose every year is probably worth it.

  4. Caroline says

    We share our Costco membership with my in-laws. We get most of our gas there. Unfortunately, my husband is the one on the card so I can only go with him, not on my own. It is very dangerous to send a man to a store like that and expect him to come home empty handed! We do utilize the coupons they send out in the booklets. I did the math last week and it was cheaper to use their $2 off coupon for Simply Go-Gurt to get a box of 32 than to use one $.40 coupon (even doubled) for the sale price at the grocery store. But most other things I have figured out how to get cheaper elsewhere. I wish I’d figured that out a few months ago when he decided to buy a year’s supply of razors there!


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