Is Bulk Buying Cost Effective?

Sam's Club exteriorMost large cities have some sort of bulk buying warehouse. Depending on your city, it could be a Sam’s Club, Costco, BJ’s etc. Until recently, I never considered a membership for a married couple or small family a smart option. It only seemed to be cost effective for those really large families and local businesses.

Pros To Membership For Small Familes

Non-perishable items that are a necessity are generally a good buy, such as toiletries, cleaning supplies, and dry goods. The fresh food department is also very good. They have a butcher on site and cary a wide variety of fresh cut meat, as well as cheeses, and bakery items. If you have the storage space for bulk items, it can be worth it to get a membership to save money in the long run.

Cons To Membership For Small Families

Up front cost can be a bit tricky for some people. While you may be saving a decent amount of money in the long run, bulk buying  is expensive up front. That chicken breast you want may be $40-$50 right now, but may last you months and only cost a few dollars per meal.

The same goes with most of the items offered. You have to budget right to afford a monthly trip to the bulk warehouse because although you may only have 10 items in your buggy, your total could easily be $200!

Getting caught up in the “that’s a great deal” thinking can really get your wallet into trouble! They strategically set up those tasting centers to get you to buy items not originally on your list, and believe me, sometimes its really hard to resist (especially the cheese station)!

Waste was my biggest concern about buying a membership. It is only a good deal if you use all of the product. We try very hard to be conscious of this when we shop at our local Sam’s.

I also noticed that the variety of choices can be limited in the dry goods section, such as the cereal. We love cereal but unfortunately Sam’s does not stock our favorites.

Why We Tried A Membership

A couple times a year, the bulk warehouses offer weekends that are open to those without memberships. We decided to roam around during one of these weekends and were unsure as to if it would be worth it for just two people. I then needed to buy a large purchase through them for our wedding and they had the best deal hands down.

If I had made the purchase with out a membership, I would have had to pay an extra 10% surcharge, or I could buy a membership for $45. After talking it through with the hubby, we decided that it would only take a couple trips to pay itself off. I don’t think we would have gotten it had I not made the large purchase for the wedding. After this years membership is up, we will reevaluate if getting another membership is cost effective for us.

Do you shop at a bulk warehouse? What types of things do you regularly save money on? Does family size make a difference for you?


  1. Sometimes, in order for you to know if something is good or bad for you, you have to take into consideration your situation and your need(s).

  2. I sometimes use a family member’s Sam’s Club membership and I usually just buy things like toilet paper and paper towels. I don’t really stock up on food too much anymore. I don’t like having to throw it away.

  3. I don’t shop at these bulk warehouses because I live in NYC and there’s not many you can get to around here without a car (also, need a car to transport everything!). I’ve always wanted to check these out though – maybe one day if I live in a smaller city. Right now, my tiny apartment can’t handle so much stuff!

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