Warehouse Wallet Woes

The costly mistakes you're making at wholesale clubs.

Cashier swipes credit card
Avoid the mistakes shop smarter

Beware the warehouse club. Sure, the towering shelves stocked with gloriously wholesale-priced goods can make you feel like you’re in shopping heaven. And if you’re smart, it can be. On the other hand, if you’re not careful, warehouse clubs like Costco, BJ’s and Sam’s Club can turn into spending traps. Kiplinger's Cameron Huddleston, knows these dangers well (as do I, unfortunately). She identifies some key mistakes that consumers make while shopping at warehouse clubs.

Shopping Without a Plan

If you don’t know exactly what you want to buy when you walk in to a warehouse club, you’ll probably end up buying more than you need. Make sure you have a list ready before you go, and do your best to stick to it. Avoiding impulse buys is essential because warehouse clubs sell in bulk. Unfortunately, this often means avoiding those tempting free samples, as Huddleston says they often lead to purchasing items that you don’t need. (That's precisely why we have Money Rule #74: Don't Shop Hungry.)

Not Looking For Better Prices

Perhaps the biggest draw of warehouse clubs is the great prices. It’s true, buying wholesale goods offers valuable savings. This doesn’t mean that you should just accept that their prices are unbeatable. According to Huddleston one of the biggest mistakes that consumers make is just assuming that warehouse clubs offer the best prices. This isn’t always the case. Items like canned goods, eggs, cooking oil, bleach and many more can often be bought at a regular grocery store for better prices than at a warehouse club. And as a bonus, these goods are easy to find on sale at grocery stores, making your savings even greater.

Buying Too Much

At the risk of giving you TMI, this is my personal issue with warehouse clubs. Gallon size jugs of mayo give me the heebie jeebies. Huddleston reminds consumers to be careful. Even though the savings can be great, it’s important not to buy more than you need. This is especially true with non-frozen food and produce because it goes bad. If you don’t have a large family, it’s almost always a mistake to buy non-frozen food in bulk. All of your savings become moot if you can’t even use the goods that you purchase.

Article was written by Jean Chatzky for SavvyMoney®.