Small Family? A Warehouse Club Membership Can Still Work for You

When I was growing up, my parents shopped at Sam’s Club. This made a lot of sense for our family, since there were five kids. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. My parents could pay a monthly membership fee to the warehouse club store, and the save by buying large quantities of the items and food we used most.

For my own family, the situation is quite different. My husband and I have only one child, and getting food at a warehouse club store is counterproductive since it would likely go bad before we could eat it all.

We’ve found, however, that we can benefit from a warehouse club membership — as long as we are careful about what we buy.

Shopping to Fit Your Family’s Needs

No matter where you shop, or what you buy, the golden rule of preparing for your family’s needs is to do what works for you. Look at your needs, and then shop to fit those needs.

We shop at a warehouse club store (I wish I could say it’s Costco, but there isn’t a Costco within 50 miles of us) for the non-food items that we can get on discount. Every six to eight months, we head to the warehouse club store and get what we need: Laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, and whatever else we need. We find that generic and name brand over-the-counter medications are also a great deal at the warehouse store. We also like to get business supplies from the club store.

However, it is important to comparison shop, even with the club store. We’ve found that tissues on sale at the local Shopko cost less than what we pay at the club store. So, instead of just going to the club store and loading up, we buy on sale when we can. Many paper products have the same story. By paying attention to the sale prices, we can save even over the big warehouse store.

But we find that the best deals on many of our household and personal care items are still found at the club store, which is why we still pay for a yearly membership, even though we don’t go in very often.

Your family’s needs might be different than my family’s needs, though. If you are trying to feed a larger family, the warehouse store can be a great help. You can find large quantities fairly easily, and the per-unit cost is often lower. Non-perishable canned items can also be a big help, if you have home food storage.

Think about your needs as a family, and then start comparing prices. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for sales at non-club stores, since that can help you save even more. Don’t assume that the club store always has the best prices, since sometimes it doesn’t.

What do you think? Do you shop at a club store? Why or why not? What kinds of things do you buy, if you do shop at one of these stores?

Image: Walmart via Flickr

About the Author

Miranda writes about financial topics for several web sites. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds, and her book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger, is available on Amazon.