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Should You Join a Wholesale Warehouse Club If You’re Not Buying for a Large Family?

For families with children living at home, buying a membership to a wholesale warehouse club like Costco or Sam’s Club is a no-brainer. When you’re feeding growing kids, whether you’ll go through large amounts of produce, dairy and meat isn’t even a question.
But what about if you’re a single adult, a childfree couple or an empty nester? Are there ways for you to take advantage of savings offered by wholesale clubs/ bulk packaging without wasting food – or your money? Absolutely.
For most, the approximately $60 annual membership fee is well worth the savings you can find throughout the year at Costco or Sam’s. Here are a few tips for making the most of your membership:

  • Buy the foods you eat regularly. Unless you’re hosting a dinner party, buying foods you don’t eat routinely are likely to just take up space before they go bad.
  • Don’t shop hungry. This is solid advice no matter where you’re shopping for groceries, but it especially applies at places like Costco. You’re more likely to succumb to impulse buys that leave you wondering what you were thinking once you get home. And when it comes from a warehouse club, you’ll have a lot of that item.
  • Stock up on frozen and shelf-stable foods. Canned soups and vegetables, canned tuna, frozen burritos, pasta, rice and dried beans will stay good for a long time. As a bonus, many canned and frozen foods are packaged into servings perfect for one or two people.
  • Buy individually-packaged items in bulk rather than traditionally bulk-packaged items. Warehouse stores often sell regular-sized products packaged together for bulk pricing. Don’t think you’ll need to buy a gallon drum of ketchup either. You can buy three regular bottles of ketchup bundled together.
  • Share your membership. If you have a friend or family member in a similar living situation to you, consider splitting the membership cost and making shopping trips together. Together, you can purchase the things everyone needs – like toilet paper – and split the cost. This also helps people with less storage space.  
  • Purchase your paper goods. Toilet paper, paper towels, tissues and napkins are fantastic items to buy in large quantities.
  • Think outside the bulk. Consumer Reports research has shown Costco has some of the lowest prices on prescription drugs, and you can find substantial savings on travel, gasoline and auto parts as well.
  • Check out the clothes. Wholesale clubs usually offer their own brands of high-quality clothing. And will often carry brand names of items such as shoes, coats and pajamas.
  • Stock your bar. Costco’s Kirkland Signature hard liquors usually cost substantially less than other name brands, and (unless you’re particularly loyal to another variety) taste just as good. And according to some sources, wineries will sell their excess of their expensive wines under different labels at bulk stores, for a fraction of the price.
  • Save on gift cards. Wholesale clubs will sell gift cards to for restaurants, specialty stores and movie theaters at a discount, often up to 25 percent off. Buy them to give as gifts or use yourself. 
  • Let them know if it’s just not working out. Costco will “cancel and refund your membership fee in full at any time if you are dissatisfied.” The same applies at Sam’s – but only for 30 days after joining.

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