Yes, it is true. We are bulk buyers! I've extolled the savings of buying in bulk many times (you can check out past bulk mentions here, here, here, and here). Typically, I talk about bulk shopping from the bins at my local grocery store. Today, however, I'm talking about bulk from a warehouse store. That's right folks: we are card-carrying Costco members! We've been using our membership for about a year and a large part of our small food budget comes from the fact that we buy the basics in bulk, which are so much cheaper than buying them individually at the grocery.
Ready for the disclaimer? Here it is: warehouse stores can be dangerous. DANGEROUS, I tell you! Literally every aisle is teeming with amazing new finds (both food and non-food). It is super easy to get off-track in a warehouse store. Everytime we are there I see people with HUGE carts full of every frozen delicacy you can think of, plus gadgets and cheesecakes and bagels and giant bags of chips and...you get the picture. I shudder when I think of how much their cart probably adds up to. My bet is that a lot of folks have some buyer's remorse after a trip to the warehouse.
If you want to cash in on the savings of buying in bulk but don't want to cash in your bank account every time you visit the warehouse, then there is good news: you can easily make the warehouse savings work for you in a big way, which will lead to savings for the rest of the month.
This is how we do it (Montel Jordan style):
We make a Costco trip once a month. It is a good idea to limit trips and plan well; if we go multiple times a month then we inevitably end up buying extra things that we don't really need. So, once a month it is. We take a shopping list and we are only allowed to purchase items that are on the list. We also keep it pretty simple and always buy the same things - that way we know that we are buying only the necessities and not being distracted by the glitz and glam of, say, the cake section. We also set a budget (which is worked into our monthly living budget) and we add up our cart as we go through the store to make sure that we stick to it. So, to recap, if you want to shop at a warehouse you should:
- Plan your trips (once a month only)
- Take a shopping list (and stick to it)
- Set a budget before you go (and stick to it!)
For all you enquiring minds out there, we have $125 budgeted for Costco each month, and that is part of the overall food budget for every month. Ultimately, it makes each week of shopping cheaper. Here is what we always buy at Costco:
- Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Basalmic Vinegar
- Cereal (usually multi-grain cheerios)
- Whole-wheat spaghetti
- Toliet paper
- Paper towels
- Laundry detergent
- Dryer Sheets
- Dishwasher tablets
- Trash bags
- Contact solution
- Toothbrush heads
- Hearing aid batteries
The nice thing is that we only need to buy the household items every few months (probably 3 times a year), so those are not monthly expenses. We buy oil, walnuts and vinegar every 3-4 months; cheese, sausages, and spaghetti every 2-3 months; and chicken and cereal every month. You can see how it is easy to break it down and stay on budget.
Last night was our monthly Costco trip; we bought chicken, spaghetti, grapeseed oil, olive oil, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, cereal, contact solution, and hearing aid batteries. We also did a stop at the Costco Liquor store to stock up for the next few months (these purchases are an extra expense not included in the $125). And yes, we came in below budget.
Stay tuned for a more thorough description of how we use all our Costco purchases throughout the month! I'll break it down more next week.
Now, I'd love to know what you buy at the warehouse stores! Do you have a membership? Do you use it? What do you buy to save money? Leave a comment below!