WMFW - Sam's Club Help

It's another backwards Works for Me Wednesday so I get to ask you a question. I have high hopes because I got some great veggie side dish ideas from my last backwards WFMW. Carrots have become my new favorite veggie - my eyes are so grateful.

On to the question. A couple weeks ago Craig and I joined Sam's Club. I haven't ever thought that it was worth it but I priced out contacts and I will save ~$33 a year on mine alone. Since a year membership is only $40, I figured I could save enough in other ways to make it a good deal.

But going through that place was so intimidating. I wasn't sure what was a good deal and what wasn't. Would I ever use up 18 rolls of paper towels? I like pickles, but did I need a gallon's worth? It was very stressful and I haven't been back since. But I do want to get my money's worth so I need your help.

Do you use Sam's Club (or Costco)? If so, what have you found to be a good deal? And just as importantly, what have you found to not be a good deal? Both good prices and usability are factors here. So let me know what works for you.


  1. Things we always buy at Sam's:

    Milk - we save $1-2 a gallon
    diapers - pampers are cheaper there than a discount store with coupon
    gas - usually 3-5 cents cheaper per gallong
    hamburger buns - my son eats a lot of them

    The biggest thing with Sam's is to remember that just because it's in bulk it's not always a good deal. Some things cost more there than the grocery store, especially if you end up buying a name brand instead of the store brand. Also, if you go on the weekends around lunchtime there are always samples. You can almost make a lunch out of it.

  2. It can be intimidating! And after some work you will learn what is best. You'll notice at Sam's that everything is prices "per unit". I take a calculator with me and multiply to find what it would be for a smaller version at a regular grocery store. I have 3 kids and the things we find good deals on are chicken breast, steaks, ribs, ground beef, juice (apple juice), oatmeal, all beef hotdogs, most of the produce (but only if you'll eat all of it), refrigerated bucket of chocolate chip cookie dough (that's always nice to have on hand for last minute company), shredded cheese (i freeze individual 16 oz bags from the one large bag), spices, and turkey breast sandwich meat.

    I also love their book selection, and usually end up purchasing an extra (or two). I can't take my husband with me... he wants to buy it all! And, like you said, what can one really do with THAT much food?!

  3. Its just me, my husband and our 1 year old so we don't buy a lot of bulk food at Sam's. I use them for formula, dishwashing detergent, laundry detergent, Toilet Paper, DVDs, Gas, party supplies, and electronics. I've also heard they are good for tires but I haven't needed any. I buy all my food at the grocery store and everything else at Sam's.

  4. It can be intiminating to go in there, but go in with a plan and it helps! I would take the time to just go in there and look for things that you would use, write the price down along with how much you are getting for that price and then go and compare it with your grocery store prices.

    Having a big family to feed, I love Sam's Club! Things we buy at Sam's are gas for the vehicles, baking supplies(flour, sugar, yeast, spices), meats, ketchup, cheese, laundry soap and some snacks that I can't make homemade.

    Something else to keep in mind about getting items in bulk...if you can't use it all or do not think you will use it all before it goes bad..split/share the cost of the item with a friend or family member.

  5. I think Sam's Club can save you a lot of money, if you've got the storage space for it. Milk, meat, and bread is usually significantly cheaper. Brand-name cereals are cheaper. You can also get some great frozen products, if you've got the freezer room for it.

  6. I have found some good deals that I go back for - dryer sheets, small bags of chips, Heinz ketchup (can't deal with Hunt's or generic)... Every now and then we will go in and find something that's been priced wrong or just priced to sell and we will pick it up. But not everything in the store is a good deal. A lot of people shop there thinking they are getting a good deal because it's bulk - wrong!

    I'd have to agree about the contacts. I picked mine up there last year and they even gave me a rebate for them. It was perfect!!

  7. here's what i buy at sam's on a regular basis:

    roasted chickens: $4.97. and tasty. worth the stop after work if you know there is not much time to prepare dinner. make some rice or steam a veggie and you have a tasty meal.

    laundry detergent: jess only uses tide.

    tires: good deals, and i can get them rotated while i shop and feed my kids lunch with all the samples.

    pizza: we love their pizzas. and they do these pizza specials where you can go in and build your own pizza...it's fabulous!

    oatmeal: we love oatmeal. i've bought airtight bins for oatmeal and it's a better deal to buy quaker oats at sam's club. well i think it is, anyway.

    contacts: best deal in town.

    their produce is more expensive, but some of it is amazing quality, which makes it worth the price.

    books: harry potter was like 18 bucks at sam's. 30 everywhere else.

    their cakes are also fab and less expensive than lee's, my second favorite cake place.

    soda is NOT cheaper at sam's.

    try the roasted chicken! you won't be sorry!

  8. If you bake bread, their price on yeast is really awesome. I always buy it there.

  9. We find that glasses are also a good deal...and...

    produce (love that organic lettuce mix! and organic apples!)
    dishwasher detergent
    dish washing liquid
    dog food
    some meats

    and it's a great spot to buy gifts!

    hope this helps

  10. We have three kids so it's not hard to make use of all of the bulk items we buy at Sams. The things I think you would find most useful as a couple without kids are:
    *laundry detergent
    *dishwashing powder
    *frozen chicken breasts
    *ground beef (we separate into 1 lb. packages and freeze)
    *Tires (the have the best prices that include rotations every 7500 miles)
    *most canned goods (they last forever, just make sure they really are cheaper than the store brand somewhere else)
    *definitely books/music-they are almost always cheaper
    *body wash, shampoo, etc. (it's a lot, but you'll use it eventually)
    *Also, I keep a separate budget for Sam's apart from my regular grocery and household expenses. Over the years I have just learned how much we need there each month. It just takes some time.

  11. I would suggest making a price book. This is where you keep a list of things you might buy at Sam's along with the price at Sam's and then break it down to the price per unit (lbs, ounces, whatever). Then record the price for that item at your local grocery store (and break it down to per unit). That way if the item goes on sale at your grocery store, you can check your price book, and you'll see the Sam's price and know if it's actually a better deal at Sam's or if you should stock up on the sale price at the grocery store.

    You'll also just know where the best place is to buy certain items.

    Making and organizing a price book can take some time, but it's worth it. I keep mine in a 3-ring binder.

  12. The savings on gas is awesome, too.

  13. P.S.

    Now that you have a Sam's Card maybe Craig will stop pressuring you to use generic feminine products.

  14. Nope, Loralee. Now we can just buy them in bulk, and save even more money!