9 Warehouse Club Mistakes That Will Drain Your Savings

Sam's Club.
Photo by Joni Hanebutt – Shutterstock.com

No matter where you shop, you have to be prepared and make sure you’re saving money in the process, whether you stop by Walmart, Target, or Whole Foods. So why not approach warehouse clubs with the same amount of attention to detail?

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that any trip to Sam’s Club, BJ’s or Costco is guaranteed to save money but you have to remember, these businesses need to make a profit as well so don’t be fooled that everything you buy there will be worth your money.

Here are 9 tips that are guaranteed to help you save more. During your next shopping trip (or better yet, before that) make sure you’re ready to tackle them all for maximum shopping efficiency!

1. Not Earning Cash Back

If you’re only trying to earn cash back at ‘regular’ stores then you’re only doing your bank account half a favor. Ideally, you should maximize your cash back potential no matter where you shop, and warehouse clubs are no different.

By now you’ve probably (hopefully!) heard of Ibotta, the number one app for cash back in America. They offer the same types of deals for BJ’s, Sam’s Club and Costco.

If not then you should sign up with an account right now, it’s completely free. Download the app and pick whichever warehouse club you’re planning on visiting to check out their cash rebates. It’s important that you do this before your shopping trip to have an idea of what your shopping experience will look like.

Of course, for those who don’t plan on using Ibotta there are always cash back credit cards, so if you have one, make use of it as soon as possible!

2. Assuming That You Need a Membership

You don’t really need a membership in order to shop at a warehouse club. Some people like tagging along with friends and family that do but if that’s not an option for you you could just as easily simply shop online.

However, if you do make at least semi-regular trips or are planning to, you have to consider where or not the membership fee is worth it.

Costco, for example, has a membership that costs $60 per year. Without it you’ll be paying a 5% nonmember surcharge on most purchases. So, are you spending $1,200 or less per year at Costco? Then you could have more by simply paying the extra 5% instead of the $60 membership.

3. Not Planning Your Meals

Warehouse clubs are a blessing for those families that go through a lot of food quickly. If you’re not part of such a family then a lot of the food you buy in bulk could be going to waste.

Planning your meals ahead of time will give you an idea of what to shop for the next time you’re out on the hunt for a good deal. It will also help you feel less stressed in the following days, knowing you don’t have to go through a lot of mental gymnastics in order to figure out what you’re going to eat- that’s a problem your past self has already tackled on your future self’s behalf!

Plus, by knowing exactly what you need to purchase you can ignore a lot of temptations while you’re filling up your cart.

4. Not Reviewing the Ads and Deals

A lot of people make the mistake of forgetting that you can add to your savings by also reviewing ads and deals. Just because these are warehouse clubs we’re talking about and saving money is their whole shtick doesn’t mean you should avoid taking it one step further!

You can find most deals either on the Costco app or you can check out their periodic discounts on their Warehouse Savings webpage. For Sam’s club that’ll be their Instant Savings Book webpage.

And of course, you can always check out ads and fliers like you would for any other regular grocery store!

5. Not Figuring What You Actually Need

Did you know that batteries have a shelf life too? Yep, it’s not just food you have to worry about going bad! If you’re ever in a pinch and just need one or two batteries then getting them from your local store won’t ruin your finances, but for those who like and want to plan ahead, buying them in bulk is the much smarter option.

So, if you’re unsure that you’re going to go through all your batteries you might want to tone it down, otherwise, they’ll expire and will leave you with a bit of a hole in your bank account- a hole that could have easily been avoided in the first place!

That’s just one example, though. There could be many other things you’re buying in bulk when you probably only ever need a couple- don’t fall into that warehouse trap!

Return policy.
Photo by kamomeen – Shutterstock.com

6. Keeping Things You Don’t Need

How many of us have sadly stashed or trashed items we didn’t think we could return? There’s always that one thing we were sure we would use only for it to collect dust days or even weeks later and we’re so used to seeing warehouse clubs in another light that we forget that they have return policies too.

If you’re unsure of an item or if you accidentally brought something you forgot you already had at home, time to check up on that store’s return policy.

We’ve found that Costco is by far when it comes to returning items, both those brought in brick-and-mortar stores and online. For example, they even have a 90 days return policy for most electronics, but plenty of other items fall into the same category with only a few exceptions.

7. Not Splitting What You Can

Sharing is caring!

You might have found a great deal on foods, paper goods, or other necessities but it might not make sense to keep them all for your household- especially if you’re worried about their shelf life.

Splitting up your purchase with friends and family is the smartest thing you could do. You’ll still save money on the items you buy compared to what you’d pay in regular stores, but you could save even further if you split everything in half, or even three ways, with other people that need the same items.

Don’t forget to take your household size into consideration. If you live with your kids and parents under the same roof then, yeah, buying in bulk makes sense. But households consisting of two people won’t benefit from the same amounts!

8. Forgetting Your Home’s Space Limits

Show of hands… how many times have you returned from a shopping trip only to realize that there’s virtually no room left in your house to store everything (at least, not neatly).

Well, you’re just asking for trouble if you buy in bulk without considering your home’s limits. While you might not want to walk away from a fantastic deal, your home might become cluttered if you don’t have enough places to store everything that’s in your shopping cart.

Worse still, if you store your items poorly and ruin some of them in the process, you’ll end up losing however much you spent on them. So, before you give in to temptation, ask yourself if your home’s space limits can handle it.

Shopping list.
Photo by Stokkete – Shutterstock.com

9. Not Being Flexible About Your Shopping List

Despite all your meticulous planning, it’s OK if you want to deviate from your shopping list. It’s not the end of the world if you have a good reason for it, especially if the new items you want to buy happen to also be on sale.

Here we’re talking about trying out samples specifically. Instead of buying things blindly, give in to your taste buds and try some things out. You might love whatever you’re sampling so much that it could replace something from your shopping list entirely, and that’s okay.

Just remember that while samples are there to give you an idea of what you’re purchasing, warehouse clubs know we’re also more likely to buy something just because we’ve tried that particular thing out. Try not to fall into this trap and only ever buy what you truly enjoyed!

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