Warehouse clubs excel at making things seem cheaper, even when they’re not cheapest. Nonetheless, there are some great deals to be had.
The single best way to save? Record the prices — smartphones are great for this — and then compare your warehouse club’s prices against those of the other stores or websites where you shop.
As with any retailer, always watch for sales. It’s possible a discount at the local supermarket may beat the warehouse club price. Finally, watch the sizes on food items — if half of your purchase goes bad before you eat it, you probably haven’t saved money.
That said, there are some items that are often better buys at warehouse clubs. Here are 18 that will help you get the most from your membership.
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Beer, wine, liquor: Pretty much all of it will be cheaper at a warehouse store.
Bonus: In some states, nonmembers can buy booze at a warehouse club due to state laws that regulate alcohol sales. So call your closest club and ask about its policy for selling alcohol to nonmembers. Or just head to Sam’s Club, which allows nonmembers to buy its alcohol — see “6 Ways You Can Shop at Sam’s Club Without a Membership.”
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Warehouse stores can save you on both prescription and nonprescription drugs, although you still should shop around.
For an easy way to comparison shop for prescriptions, check out “2 Free Websites and Apps That Can Slash Your Prescription Drug Costs.”
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Gas at warehouse store pumps is often at least a few cents cheaper than elsewhere, and buying it there allows you to knock out two errands at one place.
Just be sure to gas up before shopping. You don’t want to find yourself waiting in line for a pump with bulk perishable groceries in the trunk.
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You can often get a good deal on tires at a warehouse club, if your local club has a tire service facility. Many clubs will install tires for you for a low fee or sometimes no charge.
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Of course, nobody wants to feel like they’re cutting corners when making funeral arrangements, but some warehouse clubs offer steeply discounted caskets. If you can get the same quality for a lower price, why not?
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Disposable batteries can be much cheaper at warehouse clubs, whether you prefer generic brands or brand names.
However, as we note in “5 Keys to the Best Deal on Batteries,” there’s little reason to buy brand-name batteries — regardless of where you purchase them.
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Laundry and dish detergent are generally bargains at wholesale clubs, and giant containers of soap won’t go bad before you can use them up if they’re stored properly.
If you’re willing to make your own detergent, though, your DIY product stands to be cheaper that any sold by a wholesale club. For the article “Easy, Dirt-Cheap Ways to Make Laundry Detergent,” a Money Talks News contributor tested a DIY laundry detergent recipe. He said he “couldn’t tell the difference between store-bought and homemade” — except that the latter cost only about 2 cents per load.
8. Paper goods
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Warehouse clubs often offer giant packages at low prices, although toilet paper and paper towels can sometimes be cheaper if you get them on sale elsewhere, so compare prices. This is another item you don’t have to worry about going bad before you use it all.