This weekend is one of a couple of times a year that non-members can shop free at Sam’s Club. I don’t have a Sam’s Club or Costco membership for a variety of reasons, which I detail in this post: 11 Things To Consider Before Joining A Warehouse Club. (None of the eleven reasons are the cost of the membership, by the way!)
But, I take advantage of the weekends where non-members can shop without a surcharge whenever I can – there are usually 2-4 per year – and I’ve found that I’m able to stock up on items I need without actually having a membership.
If you’re a faithful coupon user, you know that you can get most things cheaper by waiting for the right sale + coupon combinations at the grocery store. Even now, when I’m not using coupons as much as I used to, I’m still generally able to beat Sam’s (or Costco) prices just by being patient and stocking up when the good sales hit.
But, there are still a few things that I have a hard time stocking up on at the grocery store, mostly because I don’t want to be a shelf-clearer and buy fifty bags of pasta at one time. Also, because I have many young children and I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it, but grocery shopping with five little ones is quite a challenge. My trips to the store are more limited these days simply because of that, so I don’t hit all the sales like I used to.
(It makes me feel really old to say I don’t do something “like I used to”.)
What I’m buying at Sam’s Club this weekend
Here’s a list of things that I’m planning to buy at Sam’s Club during their non-member weekend:
Canned Whole Tomatoes
(Fresh) Parmesan Cheese
Here are the things that I’m going to check prices on to see how they compare with what I’d pay at the grocery store:
Cottage Cheese (we’ve been eating a lot of cottage cheese patties!)
Things that are cheaper than the grocery store but aren’t really stock-up items or amazing deals:
And here’s a list of things that I normally buy at Sam’s (but I’m not buying them this time because I don’t need them):
Other Gourmet Cheeses (asiago, romano)
What I’m not buying at Sam’s Club
And, here’s a few things that I considered buying at Sam’s and why I decided not to:
Macaroni Pasta – I considered buying this, but it was $0.95 per pound, which is basically the regular price of the off-brand at the grocery store (OK, I’d save $0.05). I know that I can wait for a sale and get it for less, even without a coupon, so I’m not going to be buying this at Sam’s. I can’t justify spending a lot of money at once by buying something in bulk when it is only marginally cheaper than shelf price at the grocery store, and especially when I know I can wait for a sale and save a lot more.
Diapers – I briefly considered buying diapers at Sam’s because we are going through them like crazy. But, I have the feeling that if I do, I will end up wasting them because my kiddos are growing too quickly, thus negating any savings. They aren’t that much cheaper at Sam’s than what I’d pay with even a decent sale anyway, and if I end up buying too many, my savings are negated by the waste.
Toilet Paper – I’m tired of running out of toilet paper. If you have a stockpile of toilet paper you are either a really, really extreme couponer; never use the bathroom and definitely don’t have any kids who use 5x as much as needed; or have some secret that you need to clue me in on (I might even pay you for the secret). But, in looking at the price of toilet paper on the Sam’s website, it doesn’t seem to be much, if at all cheaper than I get regularly get with a sale + coupon. So, I won’t be blowing my budget buying TP at Sam’s this time.
My strategy for shopping at Sam’s
Part of the Sam’s Club shopping experience is the discovery of new items you didn’t know they carried. I excerise caution in buying things that aren’t on my list, since even one impulse purchase at Sam’s is usually in the neighborhood of $10 or more. (Not exactly like an impulse buy of a candy bar at the checkout!)
I don’t even stop in the non-food area of Sam’s unless I have a very specific item on my list, like white t-shirts/undershirts for Jeremy. They do have some good deals on clothing, books, and whatnot, but really, do I need any of that? Nope.
I’ll be taking cash with me and will have an estimate of what I’m spending; however, since I only shop here a few times a year, I’ll be taking a little bit of extra cash so that I can have the freedom to buy an unplanned good deal or buy more of a particular item if I feel so inclined. (Last time, I bought two trees for $12 each so it was nice to have that extra cash with me. They were small, but seem to be doing great!)
All in all, I feel like not having a Sam’s membership really does help curb my expenditures (see what I mean here where I list some of the pitfalls of a warehouse club membership). At some point, I’ll probably get either a membership to Sam’s or Costco, but every time I consider it, Sam’s does a free day!