For years, I had a membership to BJ’s wholesale club. It cost $40 a year, and I always felt like I was getting my money’s worth because I could find good deals on bulk packages of everyday household items and food.
Pros and Cons of Buying in Bulk
As a new mom, the pros of buying in bulk at BJ’s Wholesale Club seemed to outweigh the cons. When my first daughter was born, I got hooked on Pamper’s brand diapers, and I found that buying them at BJ’s saved us money (because I could stack a club coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon on top of already decent prices). BJ’s also had good prices on my then-preferred brand of formula – Enfamil – and always ran good deals on Luv’s wipes.
I started buying our meat, fruit, and veggies there, too, because they always have good per pound pricing and a nice selection. I would go to the store an average of once a month and leave with about $150-$200 worth of goods. Then, at Christmas, I would make extra trips there to scope out good deals on Christmas presents for everyone in our family. It seemed like a good place to stretch our dollars. In fact, I started going there for many of my regular grocery shopping trips because I knew I could find good-looking produce at good prices.
The Reasons Why My Warehouse Club Membership is No Longer a Good Idea
But, after a while, I realized that BJ’s totally had my number. I found myself throwing one or two non-grocery item in the cart on every visit that I didn’t intend on buying when I walked in the door.
I would also browse the grocery aisles for food that looked good for our weekly meals, and each one of those purchases would add at least $10 to the bill because I could only buy large packages there. I easily spent an extra $50 per visit simply because I found some good deals on things I sort of needed. And I paid BJ’s for this privelege!
Changes in Brand Loyalty and Finding Other Ways to Save on Diapers & Wipes
After my second daughter came along, I decided to switch to Target brand diapers upon the advice of a friend (best baby $ move I ever made!), and I started using Earth’s Best formula instead of Enfamil. I also signed up for a Subscribe & Save deal through Amazon to get Huggies wipes shipped to me at regular intervals. By doing that, I got 30% off the original price plus free shipping. Well, BJ’s obviously won’t ship my wipes for free, doesn’t carry Target brand diapers, and it didn’t offer Earth’s Best formula, so my three biggest money saving reasons to shop there disappeared.
I also realized that sometimes I just *thought* I was getting a good deal on certain items, but that was compared to retail prices at other stores. That wasn’t compared to sale prices that I matched up with coupons.
Saying No to My BJ’s Membership Renewal
When my membership came up for renewal about six months ago, I made the decision to let my membership expire. BJ’s kept sending me super enticing ads and coupon booklets for many months, but even though I was really tempted to re-join, I stuck to my guns and feel good about my decision. I’m no longer going on extra shopping trips and adding unnecessary expenses to our household budget.
Just today, my decision was validated by a blog post I read on personal finance site, Lenpenzo.com – 100 Words on Why Buying in Bulk is Not a Smart Idea – that stated Consumer Reports says bulk packages are more expensive 25% of the time. I’d totally believe that, and I likely fell for those prices all those years because I just assumed the warehouse club pricing was good on all items all the time. I feel duped! But, at least I got the last laugh…. :)