Tags: warehouse | clubs | grocery | bulk

What You Shouldn't Buy at Warehouse Clubs

Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013 07:48 AM

By Kristin Caliendo

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Shopping at warehouse clubs is not only convenient, but it saves you money on bulk purchases. Whether you are a member at Costco, Sam's Club or BJ's Wholesale Club, you can take advantage of money-saving purchases on almost everything from batteries to saving money at the pump, according to Kiplinger.

Warehouse clubs typically run very efficiently and have bargaining power with vendors, thereby offering customers great prices on their goods.

In general the per-unit price is typically decent. But buyer beware! Some items actually cost more than what you'd pay at your local grocery store.

Editor’s Note:
Add Up to $152,046 to Your Social Security Benefits Using Weird Trick

Kiplinger recommends steering clear of these 11 items that aren't always a bargain at warehouse clubs:

1. Books and DVDs
While it might be tempting to flip through the bright, glossy pages of books and DVDs, there's no real bargain to buying them at the warehouse club. Check out sites like Amazon.com, which will save you anywhere from 15 percent to 20 percent plus free shipping, Andrew Schrage, co-owner of the personal finance blog Money Crashers, tells Kiplinger. If you are really looking to save, the public library carries many of the same titles and new releases for free.

2. Clothing and Shoes
It might seem like you are getting a great deal on the latest fashion trends, but what you are getting is actually a lesser-quality version of what you'd purchase at a department store.

3. Condiments
Unless you are throwing a feast for 40 or plan to sip on that 64 oz. container of hot sauce, you aren't really saving any money buying in bulk because you can't possibly consume it all before it expires. Most condiments have a shelf life of only six months to a year, consumer expert and Offers.com vice president Howard Schaffer tells Kiplinger.

4. Diapers
The generic diapers at the warehouse stores might seem like a good price, especially in comparison to the name-brand choice; however, according to Lauren Ward, a research analyst for personal finance site CreditDonkey.comn, they're typically about 4 cents more per diaper than Target and Wal-Mart's generic diapers are. National Geographic did a study showing that the average American uses 3,927 diapers in a lifetime. At 4 cents more a diaper, watch where you shop.

5. Electronics
The prices at warehouse clubs aren't bad, but you can get better deals elsewhere on televisions and electronics, says Schaffer. It's not always easy to compare prices, as often items are sold with accessories at the warehouse clubs. When buying single items, you might not find the exact product, but something just like it can be 10 percent to 15 percent less at popular stores such as Best Buy or Sears.

6. Liquid Bleach and Detergents
These products only keep their efficacy for six months, says Trae Bodge, senior editor of money-saving site RetailMeNot. So unless you plan to spend most of your time in the laundry room, it's highly unlikely you will be able to use all the product before it goes bad. If you are dead set on buying detergent in bulk, go with the powdered formulas, which will last longer, Bodge notes.

7. Name-Brand Cereal
Ward says that the prices on name-brand cereal are relatively the same at both the grocery store and the warehouse clubs, so shop the sales at the local market and get a variety of cereals for the entire family.

8. Milk
Milk typically costs 50 to 60 cents less at the grocery store, says Ward. The warehouse clubs give the illusion that you are getting a lot more for your money, but considering how much you'll have to pour down the drain due to spoilage, you are better off buying milk at the grocery store when it's on sale.

9. Paper Products
A great tip comes from consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch, who says paper products typically go on sale the first and third weeks of the month and you can get a greater deal making the purchase at your grocery store or Wal-Mart.

10. Soda
The warehouse club is not the place to buy soda. With grocery stores luring in shoppers with rock bottom sales prices, you're better off watching for the sales at your local grocery stores, says Jeff Yeager, author of four popular books on frugal living, including his most-recent How to Retire the Cheapskate Way. You could easily spend twice as much at the warehouse club, says Yeager, where you could spend nearly $8 on a 24 pack of soda verses $4 on sale at the grocery store.

11. Sunscreens, Lotions and Creams
Schrage says that at the warehouse club you can typically spend more than 10 percent to 15 percent on sunscreens and lotions than at drugstores.

Beauty products, particularly face creams expire in three months to a year, Bodge tells Kiplinger. When buying in such a large quantity you run the risk of wasting what you don't use.

The overriding theme is to not be fooled by convenience. Just because the bone-in steaks are a smoking deal doesn't mean you are always saving money. It's very tempting to buy things you don't need just because the price seems good.

Oftentimes consumers make impulse buys, which they regret later when unloading the heap of boxes from their car.

Editor’s Note: Add Up to $152,046 to Your Social Security Benefits Using Weird Trick

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