Before You Sign Up For a Warehouse Club, Ask Yourself These Questions

costco membership
Niki Love under Creative Commons

A lot of people save money by shopping at warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club or Costco. It’s a great way to buy in bulk and pull in huge batches of lasagna or breakfast burritos to stash in your freezer.

But will your warehouse club automatically put cash back in your pocket? Not necessarily.

U.S. News states that before you sign up for a warehouse club and pay the membership fee, you need to ask yourself a few important questions.

Is the Warehouse Club Convenient?

If you buy a warehouse club membership but never shop there, that’s money lost. So U.S. News asks you to seriously consider whether the warehouse club will fit into your life and routine.

Is the club located near your home or work? If you have to drive out of your way to go to the warehouse club, you’ll probably avoid shopping there — even if you bought a membership.

When it comes to grocery shopping, most people choose convenience even if it means paying a little more. After all, do you really want to add a half-hour of travel time each way to go to the warehouse club when you could just stop by the grocery store near your house?

Does the Warehouse Club Offer the Best Deals?

People often assume that a warehouse club offers the lowest prices, but do your homework.

Check prices of grocery and household staples against the prices offered at your local supermarket or big box store. You may be surprised to find which one has the best deals.

U.S. News suggests going to your local grocery store and using your smartphone to compare grocery store prices to the ones listed on the warehouse store website. Comparing prices also lets you know which food and household items you should buy at the warehouse club, and what’s better to buy somewhere else.

Don’t forget about gas. Many warehouse clubs include gas stations, but make sure the gas is a good deal before you fill up!

If it is a great deal, U.S. News suggests planning your shopping trips to include gas; after all, every penny saved makes your warehouse club membership that more valuable.

By doing a little research before you buy that warehouse club membership, you’ll be more likely to use your club membership and save money.

Want to learn more? Read the whole story at U.S. News.

Your Turn: Do you shop at warehouse clubs? Are they convenient? How much money do you save?

Nicole Dieker is a freelance writer focusing on personal finance and personal stories. Her work has appeared in The Billfold, The Toast, Yearbook Office, The Write Life and Boing Boing.