In one of our first monthly debt repayment updates (where we show exactly what we earned, spent, and paid on debt), I mentioned that the $244 we spent for groceries that month (yes, for the entire month for our family of 5) consisted of only 3 transactions: Winco, Grocery Outlet, and Sam’s Club.
I knew from the start that sharing all of our financial details would open us up to criticism, but I was surprised that it was spurred by this post. A reader told me, among other advice, to stop shopping at Sam’s Club.
I’m Not Your Typical Sam’s Club Shopper
I assume the reader was thinking of all the brand name bulk items at Sam’s Club which in most cases are not a great deal. I pass by the double boxes of name-brand cereal, the crackers, the granola bars, and even the frozen cream puffs. No mini quiches or taquitos for us.
Sam’s Club isn’t the place I stock up on pantry items. While some people push around the flat bed carts loaded with bulk everything, my cart is relatively empty unless my kids are tired of walking. In fact, one time the cashier commented on my low total saying, “Wow! I never see people make it out of here under $100.”
So What DO I buy?
Sam’s club usually has the best price on dairy products. Milk, cheese, butter, sour cream, and cottage cheese are cheaper at Sam’s. Yes, you do have to buy 4 pounds of butter or a 5 pound block of cheese, but that is fine with me.
We also buy some fruits and veggies at Sam’s. Bananas and spinach, for example are cheaper at Sam’s that any of the other places we shop. I also like to get the #10 cans of pineapple chunks. It’s much cheaper than buying that amount of standard cans of pineapple. I use what I need then freeze the rest in smaller portions.
Other grocery products that are a good deal include cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup (only in November-December), yeast, and craisins (when thy have the $3 off sale a couple times a year), just to name a very random few.
Most Sam’s Clubs also sell gas. It is always the cheapest place to get gas and usually it’s about $.10 cheaper than anywhere else. We always fill up when we are at (or near) Sam’s Club. Since we live in the boonies and my husband commutes, any savings on gas are appreciated.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved trying food samples at Sam’s Club. My husband doesn’t appreciate teasing his taste buds with samples, but the rest of us love them. Every time we go, there are 5 to 10 different samples available. I’m often surprised with the generous portions.
I love their large shopping carts. You can buckle two kids side-by-side into the regular cart. For a mom with kids close in age, this is much-needed improvement on typical grocery carts.
Of course none of these perks merits paying for a membership, they are nice fringe benefits.
While it’s nice getting some grocery items cheaper and getting less expensive gas, do you want to know the real reason why a Sam’s Club membership is worth it for us? The TIRES!. We buy tires at Sam’s Club, which includes free balance and rotation whenever you want and free flat repair for the usable life of the tires. Also, for the first 3 years you get 24 roadside tire change service.
When our membership runs out (which it will this month), we go without a membership until we need our tires serviced. Last year we renewed our membership when the van tire got a nail in it. We paid $45 to renew our Sam’s membership and they fixed the tire for free. That’s definitely cheaper than what it would cost us to get our tire serviced elsewhere.
We have always had wonderful service from the technicians at Sam’s Club. Once we had an irreparable flat, but since the tire was still under warranty we got two new tires free (since you are supposed to replace them in pairs)!
Current Deal on a New Membership
Occasionally Groupon, Zulily and Living Social will have a deal on purchasing a Sam’s Club membership where you get a Sam’s Club membership, Sam’s Club gift card, and free merchandise vouchers all for the normal price for just the membership. When you find a deal like this, it’s a great time to sign up!
I’ll keep the current offers that I find here:
- Get a $20 Sam’s Club gift card when you sign up for a membership and the regular membership is only $45! That’s like getting a membership for $25!
How about you?
- Do you have a club membership anywhere (Sam’s, Costco, BJs)? Is it worth it?
- What do you love to buy there? What do you NOT buy there?
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