Typical warehouse clubs require an annual fee to shop there. The casual consumer assumes that because they pay a membership fee, the prices must be super low! But most wholesale clubs do not accept manufacturer coupons nor have seasonal sale cycles.The only things they dole out for free are samples. You can save money by shopping in bulk, but only if you avoid these pitfalls and know when to buy and when to pass up products.

To Buy or Not to Buy: Successfully shop at wholesale warehouses by being very careful. Some products are cheaper, such as dairy, some meat, baking goods, electronics, and a few big ticket items. The key is to compare price per unit with your local grocery and drugstores. Make sure you have room to store the bulk packages (usually an additional freezer and/or extra shelving is necessary for the avid warehouse-goer). To be effective, stick to a list, resist impulse buys, and price compare.

Impulse Buys: Carts big enough to sleep in tempt shoppers to impulse buy to fill it up. The problem is that at a regular store an impulse buy may cost you a few dollars, but an impulse buy at a warehouse can tack on $20 plus. Trying out a bulk new product that you end up not liking means a lot of space taken up by a leftover product that is never used and is even eventually tossed out. If you don’t have a lot of mouths to feed, buying in big packages can be wasteful when things expire before you have a chance to use them.

Go Dutch: Love your local Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s but can’t stomach the whole membership cost? Consider splitting up wholesale bargains and club costs with a friend to take advantage of good prices on electronics, produce, dairy, eggs, and big ticket items.

Seasons and Cycles: Keep in mind that shopping sale cycles and weekly deals at more than one store with coupons (including great perks like Reward/Catalina promotions, stacking a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon, or price matching) can add up to much bigger savings than shopping a warehouse alone. National drugstore deals include free or moneymaker items, like oral care, medicine, household cleaners, and feminine products. Grocery store specials with coupons can get you pasta, cereal, soup, cake mix, boxed dinners, and more for under $0.50 each. Chain grocery stores also offer a wide variety of specialized food, a multitude of flavor options, and clearance items, most of which are usually not available at wholesale clubs.

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20 thoughts on “Extreme Couponing Tip: Be Wary of Warehouses”

  1. mark b says:

    I have to disagree with this one. Here’s why:

    We try not to eat any processed foods at all, and unfortunately most coupons for food are for highly processed food. Pretty much anything in a box or package is processed, even the boxed low fat health foods. We’ve pretty much quit trying to coupon because of all the unhealthy food.

    Costco’s produce and meat is so much fresher than Kroger, tom thumb and Albertsons, and is considerably cheaper. We save enough just on the produce and meat to pay for the membership and still get a decent rebate check at the end of the year. Plus a lot of their veggies are organic , meats are hormone free and still cheaper or the same price as the grocery score.

  2. I definitely agree with sharing memberships. My husband and mother-in-law split the Costco membership, while my mother has Sam’s. Some items are good prices, especially for those of us still building stock piles. And I completely agree with Crystal; I have yet to find an in-store deal that beats our bulk prices. At Costco, the produce and dairy are usually good deals, as we mostly buy organic. Costco is fantastic for organic, especially meat. We just have to make sure we keep space in the freezer!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have let my Costco membership lapse and usually don’t shop at Sam’s.  But I picked up a tip from a youtube video in which the person making the video (it was on food storage) suggested getting a one day pass when you felt it was time to visit one of the warehouse stores.  Simply Google for a one day pass using the name of your warehouse store as part of the search criteria.  But as this article points out you need to have done some pricing research at your non-membership stores to completely know if what you find at a warehouse store is a good deal.

    Another alternative is to find a friend who has a membership and ask if you can tag along and include your items in their basket (of course working out the reimbursement how-to ahead of time).

  4. Smbridges says:

     I wish that I lived near a BJ’S!!!

  5. Brittaney says:

    I have to disagree with this! Costco ALWAYS has seasonal sales. Their non-seasonal items they drop the price down til it’s gone. Especially after christmas time, we get items for DIRT CHEAP!!! I can get a ton of items at costco cheaper than i can matching a sale price with a coupon at any other store! I wrote out a list of stock up prices of items we use all the item and price matched with costco’s regular price and about half my list is still cheaper at costco!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, you have to watch for the prices that end in .97 instead of .99.  Those are the clearance prices.  I have scored some major deals that way.  My local warehouse was clearing out hershey’s candy and had the 32 bar box for $9.97, no limit, no coupons.

      I’m lucky enough to have a Business Costco near me and they have special expos three times a year when they mark down prices.  They also carry a lot more business supplies, and I have never been able to find better prices on binders, pens and paper, even with coupons combined with sales, anywhere else.

    • Anonymous says:

      Speaking of Cosco..U can’t beat their discount on gas 2!! I save a ton by filling up there…way cheaper than giant eagle fuel perks:)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I don’t shop at Sam’s Club as much as I used to (before I started couponing) but there are some items that I just get cheaper, especially milk and eggs.  Sam’s also has a cafe that I can take my entire family to and spend less than $30.00 for a meal, the savings in food alone pays for the membership. Also Sam’s has a gas station where the prices are usually .10 or more cents cheaper than my local gas station.  I do agree that there are a lot of things that are overpriced, and I do wish they would take coupons!

  7. Crystal says:

    The two things that I can never find great deals on that I always buy at Costco are toilet paper and paper towels. On TLC’s Extreme Couponing they stockpile hundreds of rolls of paper towels and toilet paper, but my local adds only have $0.25 off or $0.50 off. Not enough to make a great deal. For $20, I can have a 6 month stockpile of paper towels from the Warehouse. I do wish they accepted coupons though.

    • Anonymous says:

      BJ’s has always accepted our coupons. I’m in Orlando and we don’t have doubles and we tend to get those lower value coupons so I know what you mean!

  8. Mrsblackson says:

    BJ’s takes manufacturer’s coupons and you can combine them with their store coupons and discounts. 

  9. Tiffany says:

    BJs Wholesale is the BEST!  You CAN use coupons there, and you can stack a manufacturer’s coupon with a BJ’s coupon for the same product.  AND, for multi packs, you can use a manufacturer’s coupon for EACH item.  For example, if you are purchasing a 3 pack of Ragu and have 3 manufacturer’s coupons that are each $1 off 1 jar, you can use 3 of those coupons, plus a BJ’s coupon for a lot of savings.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, BJ’s is definitely the most coupon friendly wholesale club around! And thanks for mentioning about the multi-packs– that’s a definite bonus! Wish we had a BJ’s around here :)

  10. Dawn Roscoe says:

    Just an FYI, for people living with a BJ’s wholesale near them – they DO accept manufacturer’s coupons, and they frequently have less than gigantic sizes of product, so check them out.  Their memberships (at least in VA) run $40 or $80 per year and many of their locations also have gas.

    • Anonymous says:

      Also keep a lookout for their periodic free 30-day membership trial. Then you can try it out for free and see what kind of savings you can get.

    • mrsblackson says:

      Also check with the company you work for to see if they offer a membership discount. I saved $10 on my renewal this way.

  11. Sam’s Club coupon policy can be found here -> http://samsclubanswercenter.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/272/~/coupons  The gist is that they don’t accept manufacturer’s coupons, but they have their own program called  “eValues” if you are a Plus member.