# Is Your Local Warehouse Store Worth Your While? Here’s How to Find Out

My wife and I have been members at Sam’s Club for years. We use it to buy tons of items in bulk – but over time, we’ve realized that some items simply aren’t cheaper there. While visiting, I’ve noticed the same trend with Costco as well – it’s got spectacular prices on some staples, but poor prices on other things.

Is it worth it for you? I can’t answer that question – it’s clearly worth it for us, as we save literally hundreds a year shopping at Sam’s Club versus shopping at other grocery stores and department chains.

However, I can suggest a pretty easy way for you to figure out for yourself if you would save money at a warehouse store.

Your first step is to make a big list of all of the things you might be willing to buy in bulk for your home. The items to really focus on are nonperishable items that you use consistently and perishables that you use only on a very consistent basis. Some of these might include dishwashing detergent, laundry detergent, laundry softener, garbage bags, flour, rice, bread, milk, eggs, fruit juice, cleaning supplies, water filters, breakfast cereal, oatmeal, and so on.

One great way to do this is to save grocery and department store receipts for a few weeks (or a few months) and use those as a starting point. Go through those receipts, pick out the items that are regularly repeated (or are nonperishable and you have room to store), and make a new list of just those items.

On that same list, write down the prices and the units. So, for example, if you buy a bundle of 36 rolls of toilet paper, write down the number of rolls and the price of the package. Number of rolls, number of bags, number of packets, number of servings, and so on are all key numbers to write down here.

After that, you’ll want to calculate the price per unit of each of these items. It’s easy – just divide the price of the package by the number of units. If you bought a 36 pack of toilet paper for \$7.99, you’d just divide \$7.99 by 36 to get \$0.22 per roll. This is an important number to have when you’re evaluating bulk prices.

Get a Day Pass
Once you have your list of things you’d regularly buy in bulk, get a day pass to your local warehouse store. Call the local branches and ask whether or not you can get a day pass at the front desk. Most such stores will offer one once – often, any purchases you make with that pass would cost you 10% extra (but don’t worry about that).

Go to the store, pick up your pass, and go around the store with your list and your calculator. Ideally, you’ll want to find as many of the items as you can – and you’ll put only the ones that are actually a bargain into your cart.

Know How to Calculate Per-Unit Prices
Figuring out which ones are a bargain is pretty easy. Just find the item you’re looking for, find the price and the number of items in the package, then use your calculator to divide the price by the number of items to get the price per item. If it’s better than the one on your list, add the item to your cart and jot down the better price per item on your list, along with the number of units. Don’t worry about the 10% difference on your one day pass at all yet.

Easy enough – most of you probably yawned your way through that tip. But here’s the kicker. At the end of the trip, you’re going to need to decide if the full membership is worth your money. Here’s how you do that.