Bulk up: The Pros and Cons to Warehouse Clubs

A growing family means increases in such things as living space, vehicle passenger area, and budget allocations. The biggest of these distributions is in the form of a grocery budget. No matter how many sales you take advantage of or the amount of coupons you use, the grocery budget never quite makes it through the pay period, which means pulling money from the emergency bucket or other category. At the end of each cycle the only solution you have to save money is to harvest wheat and raise livestock in your backyard.

Don’t buy that chicken coop right this moment, because there is one other option you have – membership in a warehouse club. Stores like BJ’s Warehouse, Costco, and Sam’s Club cater to customers looking for their money to go much further by selling items in bulk. By making large purchases, customers can stretch their budgets. Like anything, shopping at a warehouse club has its pros and cons. Below are few of the items to consider.

Upfront fees

You can’t walk into a warehouse club and shop like you would a grocery store. You need to pay an annual membership fee to take part in all these retailers have to offer. Memberships range from $50 to $100, and while this may seem expensive, the fee gives you an entire year to shop and entitles you to some of the other extras, such as discounts for eye wear, automotive service, and travel. If you’re unsure a warehouse store is right for you, ask if they offer a one-day trial pass for you to sample the club and its offerings.

Budget Challenges

A warehouse club isn’t normally a place where you go on a weekly grocery excursion. Since you buy everything in bulk, you end up paying more during your trip. In turn, you may not have much left over for other groceries in that particular pay period. The upside to this situation is the grocery budget for the weeks right after the warehouse trip may be less. It can be a challenge to modify your budget to fit this new way of food shopping; however, it should become easier to distribute funds as long as you keep a regular schedule.

Grocery Options

Whether it’s the local Kroger’s or Whole Foods, your grocery retailer features a variety of national and store brands that tend to have a regular place in the aisles. This isn’t always the case at warehouse clubs. Because they sell in bulk, there’s less shelf space to accommodate multiple brands. In addition, items you find at the club one week may not be there the next time you visit.

Another thing to consider is the type of grocery items sold. If your family relies on pre-packaged items and processed foods for their meals and snacks, the club should be fine for you. However, if your focus is on natural foods and organics, you may find a limited selection at a warehouse club.


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