Today will be "Ways To Save At The Bulk Stores". This is stores like Costco, BJ's, Sam's Club, etc.. They can already save you some money, but we will go over maybe some ways you don't know. This could also inspire you to try them if you never have.
Don't buy a membership at all. Most of the bulk stores will allow members to bring a friend with them to shop. If you aren't going to use a membership more than a few times a year, ask to go with a friend who maybe goes every week or so. This will save you at least $40 a year.
You could also offer to split a membership with a friend if you want to go more regularly. Costco and Sam's Club give 2 cards per membership, so you can split it and then you won't have to go together every time you want to go shopping.
The USDA did a survey and found that 86% of the food items it compared were cheaper at a bulk type store. The best savings were canned goods, meat and store breand items (such as Kirkland's at Costco). What that means is that there is a good percentage (14% to be exact) of foods that do not cost less. You need to do a little math and compare unit prices. Compare how much per ounce, per pound, per liter that it costs at the bulk store compared to the same thing at your grocery store. Sometimes the bulk store wins, sometimes the grocery store wins.
When shopping at the big bulk stores it pays to buy the store brands much like it does are regular grocery stores. The store brand usually costs less. Example:
Tide (the 110 load size) = $19.99 while the Sam's Club version costs around $13.99 (146 load size). That is about $.12 a load and if you do a lot of laundry in a year - that's a savings.
This is just an example. I make my own so I don't even buy laundry detergent. It gives you an idea of how the store brand can help you save. Things like diapers are also something that could be price compared too.
When buying parishable foods at a bulk store and you have no where to really store that much, split it with a friend. Then you just pay half and you don't waste the food. If you have the room in your freezer you could freeze the great deals in fruits and vegetables, but if you don't and you can't eat 10 lbs. of apples in a few days - it makes sense to split it with others and share the cost, but get the savings.
Bulk stores offer much more than just food. Take advantage of the other extras such as gas, tires and car care, fast food or cafeterias. My "sister-by-choice" had her eyes examined and bought her glasses at one bulk store and saved a good bit over the mall stores. They also have great deals on seasonal things such as yard equipment or garden materials too. Toys at Christmas. Don't forget clothing.
Stick to the basics when stocking up. Last year I went through a pineapple kick. Loved pineapple and bought a lot of it because I got it in bulk at a really good price. Well, now I'm pineappled out and I have a lot I won't eat on my pantry shelves. Stick to pantry staples and basics when stocking up such as flour, sugar, rice and pasta.
Hope this gives you an idea of ways to save at these bulk stores. As always, be an aware and informed consumer.