Are discount clubs worth it?

BJs, costco, discount clubWe just renewed our membership to BJ’s and I started thinking are discount clubs really worth the money that we pay to be part of them?  I think it was $53 for the year to renew, which allows us to go into the club and purchase merchandise, it also allows us to book travel at discounted rates.

Do they actually have better prices?

There are some products that we buy just at BJ’s and some that we buy at the grocery store.  If you like Olive Oil, it is definitely cheaper at BJ’s.  I have also noticed that it has prices lower for baby products too such as formula.  When you have a baby it is very convenient to drop in and buy the larger tubs of formula or diapers rather than having to go out to the grocery store weekly and stock up.  Is there anything that you go to BJ’s or any other club like this for?  I know some that go there for their meats.

Does the membership pay for itself?

That is a good question.  The amount that we shop there we probably break even.  This was up until a few months ago when my wife wasn’t working and we couldn’t go to the store and drop 200 on a trip to BJ’s.  Now that we have a little more flexibility with our cash flow that will be something that I let you know about next year.  A great thing about BJ’s is that they allow you to use manufacturer coupons as well as store coupons so you can end up saving a decent amount.  The BJ’s that we go to has a gas station attached and the gas is usually a few cents cheaper than the local pumps.  So I guess if you only fueled up here you could end up making up a good size chunk of your premium paid for the membership back.

Free Trial Membership?

Yes sometimes they offer a free trial membership, make sure you read the literature very closely.  Sometimes they say it is free and you may be hit with a surcharge when you go through the checkout.

What do I think?

I have decided that you need to evaluate your own situation to see if it is worth it to you. I know we could probably go to the local store and pay a little bit more for each product but we enjoy the peace of mind being able to shop at the discount club whenever need be.  Having a party, no problem go to BJ’s and score some great deals on soda, stationary and other materials for the get together.  Evaluate your own situation to see if it would be advantageous for you to become a member.  If you do make sure to capitalize on your use of coupons!  Everyone’s situation is different and if you think spending a few bucks to save a few bucks is not worth it to you, then there are lots of other ways out there to save!!!  Are you a member?  What is the main item that you go there for?

PHOTO BY: MattHurst
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Comments

  1. For me, I don’t think it’d be worth it. I think I would just spend more.
    Michelle recently posted..Spending, Life, Income and Food Updates… 4/30/2012My Profile

  2. We have CostCo and Sams Club out where we live. I’ve never subscribed to them just because I don’t like buying in massive bulk. I think it gets annoying to keep inventory and figure out what all you have.

    While I think there are some definite benefits to these places, it would just be an extra stop that we need to make and I’m not sure the amount of savings is worth my time.
    WorkSaveLive recently posted..How to Retire Comfortably: Start With the End in MindMy Profile

  3. I have a Costco membership and I think it’s worth it. I have run the numbers before and for the things we buy (mostly non-perishable items) it is a savings over the grocery store. They also have much better prices on Microbrews :-)
    Sean @ One Smart Dollar recently posted..5 Things You Should NOT to Do With Your Tax RefundMy Profile

    • @ Sean – Hmm never checked out their microbrew selection at BJ’s. I know they have a wide assortment at the one near us. I will tell my wife that you said we need to check it out. :-)

  4. It’s worth having. I have a BJ’s membership. I buy 32 bottles of poland spring for 4.49. That savings alone pays for my membership since I use a case per week. I also get my protein powder there. It is crazy cheap. $30 for a 5 pound bag. Next cheapest I have found is $38. I buy a bag every two months.
    ShortRoadTo recently posted..Low Minimum Investment Mutual FundMy Profile

  5. I think that this post is wrong and you suck!

    {just kidding!}

    I like Costco for the staples — frozen burgers, for example — and also for the things that I will splurge on. For example, I’m loving coconut water these days, and the 12-pack was $15 at Costco. I have willingly spent $2-3 on one coconut water, so it’s worth it to me, unless I start drinking them in place of water.
    Frugal Portland recently posted..My Lowest Point, Part 2 of 2 — the guy on the Amtrak CascadesMy Profile

  6. I personally can’t justify the membership costs. Most of the discount superstores are far compared to the grocery store that’s 3 blocks away from my apartment, and with gas prices rising, I hate making extra trips. Also, I only shop for one person, and I don’t have a ton of room to store extra stuff at my apartment.
    LifeInTransition recently posted..Transitions and FinancesMy Profile

  7. I’m in the same situation as LifeInTransition. Since I’m just buying myself, I’m pretty sure it would not be worthwhile. It would simply take me too long to go through those bulk purchases. If I had a wife and kids though, I’d be all over it. You just have to remember that amid all those great deals, there are bound to be things that are more expensive. So you still need to watch prices and not assume things are cheaper just because it’s a larger quantity.
    Modest Money recently posted..Importance Of Diversifying Online BusinessMy Profile

    • @ Jeremy – that is what most assume. It is at the warehouse store and we are buying in bulk so it has to be cheaper. Sure some things may be a few cents cheaper but do you really need a gallon of body wash if it is just you…

  8. My parents are die-hard American Express by Costco fans, so when I showed interest in signing up for a rewards card, they led me there.

    I don’t come out ahead by too much yet, but it’s great for the big-item purchases I make. I bought my tv there last year (w/ their super generous electronics return policy). I also bought all four of my tires there at the start of this year, which means free tire rotations for the life of my tires. Plus, you can do the free food sample circuit for a cheap lunch ;) My parents always buy discounted movie tickets at Costco and gift to couples that need a free date night.

  9. For my little family of 2 (me and BF), it just doesn’t make sense to shop at Costco. We only buy food there (the outside food…like pizza and hot dogs) but for us, we prefer to shop at Food 4 Less where we are not obligated to buy in bulk. The only things we buy at Costco are toilet paper, movie tickets, and huge items that we want to save on like a printer or something!

    Once I have kids I think it would really beneficial to shop there though – from first hand experience, my mom has made a lot of trips there and it has been worth it for our family!
    From Shopping to Saving recently posted..How to Get Along With Older Coworkers and How It Helps YouMy Profile

  10. I used to have a Costco membership and I ended up spending way more and never using what I bought – there was too much of it!

    • @ Daisy – I hear you, who really needs 5 tubes of tooth paste?? I mean how long is that stuff good for to keep around the house. Even a family of 5 would take a while to go through that many!!

  11. It definitely depends on your habits and how large your household is. If you have a family of 6 I could see it being more beneficial than if it is just a 2 person household. It also depends how conveniently located the stores are to where you live and work.
    Lance @ Money Life and More recently posted..Rental Property – The Beginning (Part 1)My Profile

  12. I shop just for myself, but I think the membership *can* be worth it if I shop carefully. I save a lot of money buying contact lens solution at BJs which is 3 bottles for $10 (their generic brand), compared to at least $8 per bottle of most other store brands. Also large bottles of generic vitamins and pain relievers are good deals. I also buy paper products there, as they do not go bad, and I have the storage space for them. Frozen items last a long time, and are worth it as long as they reflect a decent savings. I hate to keep having to run to the store for things, so I like to buy in bulk….minimizes trips to the store, which I feel minimizes my overall spending, even if a single trip to BJs seems expensive.

    • @ Susan – A single trip to BJ’s usually rings in around 250. It is very expensive and sometimes hard to see the savings. But at the end of the year when i look at our expenditures it does add up.

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