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1. Try before you buy. Most wholesale clubs will let you take a test drive before joining by shopping with a free one-day pass. When deciding which club to join, take a clipboard or notebook and compare prices. It will soon be evident which one is best for you.
2. Membership fees. Wholesale Clubs can be great for shoppers whose local supermarkets do not double coupons, who prefer products that are not often discounted with coupons, who have large households, or who need to purchase in large quantity. Check the stores’ website and ask in person about special membership promotions and what services are offered to non-members. As required by law in most states, selected services such as Pharmacy are provided to non-members.
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3. Bargains. Batteries are the best price at a wholesale club. Milk is generally cheaper. Club prices average 25% less on fresh and frozen meat, chicken, and fish and USDA grades of beef offered are higher at a lower price than supermarkets. Extra-large pies, muffins, pastries and bagels are less than you would pay at a supermarket bakery. Private label/store brand household and paper supplies are less than name brands.
4. Check unit cost. Comparing unit cost is the key to knowing whether the item you are buying is a tremendous deal. Put your calculator to work and run the numbers. Smaller sizes might work better for you if you have a tight budget. CouponMom.com lists deals for Costco and Sam's Club and shows the unit cost as well as the price to make it easy for you to compare prices from your computer.
5. Discipline. The building, containers, and savings can be big – so is the temptation to load up your cart. Beware of impulse purchases and use CouponMom.com’s Strategic Shopping. Stick to your list and the amount you intend to spend even when surrounded by acres of seemingly irresistible bargains.
Stephanie Nelson is the Coupon Mom. Her web site, www.CouponMom.com, has 6 million members, and she is established as the nation’s top expert in couponing across the country. Nelson has been called ‘”the rock star of the recession” by the Washington Post and her book, The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half, is a New York Times best seller.