Back to the Basics / Couponing 101

Warehouse Clubs Vs. Grocery Store Deals and Coupons!

A common question I get all of the time is whether or not having a membership at a Sam’s Club or Costco is really worth it.  Instead of me making the decision for you, let me give you a few of my thoughs and facts about Warehouse Shopping Vs. Coupon Shopping.

There are a few staples that I always purchase at Costco instead of a Grocery Store.  Even with a great deal and a coupon, Costco wins out.  Those items are Kirkland Baby Formula (their store brand) and Trash Bags! And every now and then I will see better Blu-Ray prices, or baked good prices.

I have never been able to find a better price per trash bag than I have at Costco.  And, because of that, I go every couple months to get another HUGE box of them.  They last forever!

One of the things I always see people purchase at Costco is Baby Wipes and Diapers (any brand).  Unless you are getting those diapers for $.10 each and those Wipes for $.01-$.02 each, you are not getting a deal and could easily find a better price with Amazon’s Subscribe and Save Deals that pop up, or with a great store deal and a coupon.

Costco announced today that they will be raising their yearly membership fees 10%.  That means if you pay $50 right now, you will be paying $55 when you renew.  And, if you pay $100, you will be paying $110 when you renew.  I don’t think 10% is a really hefty price- but then again, it depends on how many times they plan to raise the membership cost and how often you really shop to save at Costco.

The most important thing you can do is price compare between the grocery stores you shop at, and warehouses like Costco and Sam’s Club.  Divide everything out by ounces or pounds.  That way, you will know for sure which one carries the best prices on particular items.  With the items that you are purchasing at Costco, will the increase in membership price affect your decision to renew??

For those who live in Utah, KSL Channel 5 came out to my home today to do an interview for the 6:30 News!  So, be sure to tune in to watch it! :)

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41 Comments

  1. actually, the best price i found for trash bags is FREE: by reusing the grocery bags you get at the story while shopping. Free and “green” :)

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  2. Thanks for this post! I am always wondering if I could be getting better deals elsewhere. Can’t wait to see you on the news!

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  3. When I started couponing I gave up my Membership until recently. However, there are a few things I always get when I go (Sams) which are garbage bags, some produce, and milk. I have found some really great prices on clothes as well!

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  4. I agree on the trash bags. I buy Kirkland wipes because I like them SO much better than any other brand. I feel like other kinds rip so eaily. Also, Costco may or may not have the cheapest produce but it is usually h best. Also clothes there can be a real deal!

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    • We love Kirkland baby wipes too! I will pay a little more because I hate Huggies and Pampers wipes. Haven’t ever found a store brand wipe that compares to Kirkland either!

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    • I agree too. And I am SO excited for the $4 off Kirkland wipes! Woot. Only happens twice a year. Time to stock up! I have two little poopin’ machines : )

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  5. I don’t buy much as Costco anymore because the pricepoint just doesn’t seem worth it any more. My comparison for couponsing is comparing against Grocery Outlet, where they don’t take coupons but some of the deals are amazing, especially on new products (the same ones that I see tons of coupons out for). For example, recently I bought a bunch of Betty Crocker cookie mixes for .87 each. There is currently a coupon out for .40 off one, but the regular full price is about $3, and goes on sale for about $2. The outlet price is still a lot lower. I’m about to give up on spending any time collecting and organizing coupons, because it’s just so much easier to just go to the outlet and get everything in one stop, usually for less than the small amounts I save by using coupons.

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  6. I stay with Costco for a few things that I know I can’t buy at the grocery store, frozen sherbert in fruit shells (my daughter loves), their garlic bread rocks, some assorted dips & appetizers that I take to parties. Also, it is almost worth the membership just for the cake from the bakery – a half sheet is something like $15 but the same size at Giant Eagle is like $35.

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  7. Ziploc Freezer Bags! lol I’ve only been couponing for 4 months or so and have yet to see a deal as good as I can get there.

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  8. Oh, and dog food is by far the best deal for the quality at Costco. Kirkland brand is made by Diamond brand. And I agree that baby formula (when I needed it) was a great deal there.

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  9. The things I buy at Sams are eggs (the big 5 dozen one) which are usually quite a bit cheaper, but the price varies alot, so when they are high I buy them on sale somewhere else. Milk is always cheaper, and butter and cheese. And I buy the Breyer’s natural ice cream, it’s a great deal and none of the high fructose corn syrup in it. Frozen seafood is not a deal there, chicken is not, beef you can find cheaper per pound, but not the 10% fat kind, so I buy it at Sams. That’s pretty much it except for laundry detergent, garbage bags, and store brand diaper wipes. Oh, and Energizer battery packs because, yes, no name brands are cheaper, but we have determined after many years that it’s worth it to pay a little more and buy energizer because they last way longer. The end. Wow, I didn’t realize I had so much to say about sams club.

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    • Also nuts are a great deal at Sams. And produce is not a good deal in my opinion.

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  10. I agree…nuts are an awesome deal at Costco. I love so many things about Costco…they treat their employees well and While I am price sensitive, I appreciate that they treat employees well. I also love the trash bags and milk and bananas. They also have the best strawberries when they are in season. I will say that I have bought diapers and TP there when I am near the end of my stash. Yes, they are cheaper on amazon and rite aid, and ido those deals when I can, but every now and then I have to get it there. And that’s ok. I have spent a lot of time running all over town getting deals and now that I have a good stash, it’s ok not to get every deal and if I have to get some things at Costco, I am ok with that, especially if it means I can spend more time doing things my kids want to do. We have to put a value on our time and time with kids is precious. I love good deals, and I am glad I have learned how to save, but we can’t get so obsessesd. And if it means I buy a box of diapers from Costco, rather than clearing the shelf at rite aid so no one else gets the deal, I am ok with that. Happy shopping!

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  11. I ALWAYS buy my garbage bags at Costco too. One box lasts usually close to a year for us. We don’t shop there that much because they are 30 minutes away, but we keep our membership mainly because we have a credit card through them that pays us around $200-$300 cash a year to use so I figure after the membership fee we still are at least $150 ahead by keeping them. (we just have our automatic bills go through it and pay it off every month, we get 1% everywhere, 2% on travel and restaurants, and 3% on gas which all add up fast)

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  12. I always buy my litter at Costco. I’ve only found it there and it’s much cheaper than litter any where else. I buy almost all my meat, frozen chicken breasts, kitchen trash bags, some fruit and veggies, ziploc bags. It’s expensive at the visit but will last us a month so well worth it. I’m unhappy about the raise in price . Recently they’ve downsized their fruit yet keeping the higher price!

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  13. We are lucky in South Florida because we have Sams, Costco AND BJ’s. And BJ’s takes manufacturer coupons so I can often get a better deal there unless a store has that item on sale. They also send out great coupon books each month.

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  14. Completely agree, Melea! I buy trash bags, paper plates, plastic silverware (those all last FOREVER), paper towels, beer, vitamin water, and (of course) no one beats Sam’s Club on formula, diapies, and wipies. I sometimes will go buy their 2 for $4 chips for parties if that’s the item I’m “tasked” to. Also, men’s designer tees and hoodies like Nautica and Hurley you can sometimes find for under $10 – tees and $20 – hoodies! Great prices. Normally, everything else in the array of things to buy goes to Target. Great post, thank you!

    PS: Will look for you on KSL tonight! Congrats!

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  15. I really do like Costco, trash bags, cream cheese, milk, roasted chicken (I can get 2 meals from 1 chicken usually) FUEL is a big savings. If fuel jumps at regular stations, I save 20-30 cents per gallon several times a month. If nothing else but fuel, the added cost would save me money.

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  16. Formula! I would die with out Costco and there formula. Although 2 years ago it was a much better deal. They have since changed from 2 large cans at $19.95 now they are one larger can for $16.95. That bummed me out. But it is still WAY cheaper there. I buy my trash bags at Target. They are by far my favorite. Good price and they have yet to rip on me.

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  17. I like Costco’s batteries. Consumer Reports rated their brand just as good as name brand, but at a fraction of the price. The only better deal I’ve seen was at Staples when you could get them basically for free (get the money back in Rewards dollars) and when they were ridiculously low at Rite Aid sometime last year.

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  18. My husband never goes to Sam’s club without me so I split the complimentory membership with someone else! That way I only pay 1/2 the price of the membership. I stock up on garbage bags there also they last forever. I buy laundry and dish detergent there when I haven’t been able to stock up at a lower price. I just wish they had soy baby formula, that is what my babies have had to be on and they only sell normal and gentle formula there, So I end up getting my soy formula at Smith’s. Their store brand comes on sell and then I get the points so I save with the “gold checks” later on!

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  19. Fiber 1 bars! They are like $10 at Costco for a 30 pack, which is a good deal in itself, but I watch for the coupons, (they have one out right now) that takes like $3.25 off!! They are a staple at my house.

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  20. I recently read an article that said that name brand clothing can be lower quality when they sell it through warehouses. So beware, if you buy clothing at Costco/Sam’s/etc

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  21. I have actually found the clothing to be better at Costco AND they take anything back! So if you hate it, take it back! :) I love me some Costco! They just sell things that other stores don’t!

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  22. I agree on the trash bags comments. I usually buy 3 boxes and dont have to buy more for a year. It’s awesome and they actually hold up. I buy milk and water bottles from Costco too, they are fairly cheap, plus there are more in a case than at the grocery stores.
    I will be watching to see you on the news!! :)

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  23. Didn’t see you when they talked about Costco. Rude did they cut you out? I’ll try again at 10pm.

    I like bananas, vitamins, egg whites, cat litter, marathon toilet paper, organic produce in the winter, and olive oil!

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  24. Oh I see you changed it from the 5 news to the 6:30 news. Thanks for a great site by the way.

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  25. I heard you on KSL radio when I was out driving around this evening! I get the executive membership (with 2% cash back on purchases) and always get back enough to cover the cost of my membership. Costco is great if you are disciplined and only get what is really a good deal.

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  26. I usually wait to renew my sams and costco membership at expos. Usually womens expos have a booth and reps there, they usually do discounted memberships and renewals with free giftcard. You can also pick up freebies from their booth too, I have gotten vitamins, contact lens solutions, candy etc.

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  27. I see that no one has mentioned THE best reason to go to costco (and I go many times a month) THE CAFE! Talk about savings and quality all in one. In fact I ate there today. Forgot my wallet and I got a full meal with my pocket change :)

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  28. LOL Craig, that’s not it, it’s the SAMPLES! That is honestly how I feed my toddler dinner on a good sample night. Somehow food that he won’t eat at home, he will totally eat there. Okay, how have I never bought trash bags from Costco? To repeat everyone else: Kirkland wipes are the best! Huggies are a better deal than Amazon when they have the $6 off coupon (if I’ve done my math right). I get milk, cheese, butter, bakery items (especially their rolls), batteries, Kirkland protein shakes (taste better than Slimfast). I’ve never bought Kirkland formula but you can use Enfamil ‘checks’ there which can be a super good deal. Lastly, they just have some brands that I love that I can’t even find anywhere else!

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    • This is true! With the coupon for $6 off the Huggies and $4 off the Kirkland wipes it is a GREAT deal! I always stock up when this coupon comes out (and I bring along my two sisters who each have memberships but no kids) to have them buy the max amount with the coupon allowed and then I pay them back. They love it because they have the executive membership so they are getting cash back, and I love it because I am getting an awesome deal! By doing this I never have to buy wipes or diapers between sales (I only have one kid) and I know I am getting the best price out there! I have also found great deals on meat, produce, milk, butter, dish soap, diet coke, and laundry detergent. Getting a good price there means waiting for a coupon, or going during a roadshow event.

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  29. I get their batteries, cinnamon and trash bags. I recently found Costco’s off brand of Zyrtec (with 365 pills) for a fraction of the price (I believe it was around $15 or $18.) of regular Zyrtec. GREAT deal! I also really watch for the Costco coupons that come out for the Electrosol and Cascade Dishwasher soap and Lysol or Clorox disinfecting wipes and chocolate chips. These items are just an okay deal without the coupon but seem like a good deal with the coupon.

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  30. I recorded it at didn’t see it on the news was it on?

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    • Profile photo of Melea Johnson

      Yeah, they changed it an hour before to show at 6:30. Ill try to find a link to it so everyone can watch it if they want. :)

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  31. I always buy the following for way cheaper than found in grocery stores even if you have a coupon.

    Olive Oil
    Salad mix
    Bread items (especially hot dog buns)
    Ball Park Franks
    Bacon
    Seasonings and spices (like taco seasoning)
    Frozen chicken cutlets

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  32. I saw your interview and you did a Great Job. I have found that coupon buying usually wins but I have found great buys on clothes and Vitamins and a few other items such as Protein 1 90 bars.

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  33. Costco purchases (if I can’t buy them w/o couponing or price matching @ walmart!):

    milk, sping mix lettuce, bananas, eggs, whole wheat bread, berries, dates, batteries, protein powder, vitamins, pans, a mattress, blankets, sneakers, socks, computer monitors, camera, photo albums, pre-made cards, a couch, jeans, jackets, dark chocolate covered acai berries, GASOLINE. Love the diversity, all with the handiness of a cart for your child to sit in! (No fee Amex card that pays back…another good reason.)

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  34. I’ve been wondering what Utah grocery store(s) I should be shopping at for the best food deals??? This summer I’ve been shopping Walgreens/Rite aid for hygiene/home stuff so I’m well stocked there. But it seems like I haven’t been seeing great grocery deals. Any ideas.

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