Part of the ABC’s of Couponing Guide
Costco vs. Couponing: Which is cheaper?
“Is it cheaper to buy at a wholesale place like Sam’s Club or BJ’s or Costco, or to coupon?” I have received this email several times, and so I decided to investigate to determine where you can get the most bang for your buck.
First you have to know what price you should be holding out for with a coupon deal. I have created several Stock Up prices guides and I am constantly updating them and adding new products. Email me if you find a stock up price that isn’t on my list and you’d like it added.
Stock Up Prices: Prices a couponer should pay for the following items by purchasing them on sale and/or with coupons:
- Beef, Fish, Pork & Poultry.
- Cleaning Supplies & Paper Products.
- Grocery Items.
- Drugstore/Hygiene items.
- Baby items.
Next, I went to Costco in Utah and checked out several prices. Keep in mind that they do not accept manufacturer coupons. To compare apples to apples, I wrote down the price per unit.
In general, I was mortified by Costco’s prices and found them much higher for all hygiene, baby care items, and most foods (cereal, pasta, etc…) then what I am willing to pay. Here’s some examples:
|Diapers||Huggies size 3 228ct. $39.99 (or $.18 per diaper)||Huggies size 3 40ct. (Jumbo size) $5.50 is my price point on these, $.13 per diaper, but as couponers we get these for even less regularly!|
|Baby Formula||Similac 34 oz. $27.89 or $.82 per ounce||Similac 25 oz. $9.99 or $.40 per ounce – we get great coupons for these and Enfamil.If you haven’t signed up for both of their mailing lists, I would! They mail out some killer coupons!|
|Bounty Paper Towels||$1.85 per roll
||$0.55 per roll|
|Sugar||$.56/lb if you bought the largest bag at the cheapest price
|Boneless Skinless Chicken breasts||$2.79/lb||1.49/lb (we don’t get many coupon deals on this, but by watching sales I can buy when the price is low and stock up in my freezer!)|
|Razors||$19.99 for set of 10 nice Gillette disposable razors||Free – $0.50 per razor|
|Fruit/Veggies||Not sure about Costco, but Sam’s Club has great prices on fruits/veggies during the non-season of the items. This is one thing you may want to buy, where produce is expensive, you can save $$||Best deal if you buy veggies during the on-season.|
Now there are some great deals at warehouse stores:
- Cheese and organic produce seemed really cheap! Although Smith’s has some yummy cheese that goes on sale sometimes.
- Prescription medications – I couldn’t test this one out, but I’ve heard they are 40% cheaper then at regular pharmacies.
- Electronics & ink cartridges – These seemed priced fairly low!
- Gas savings: Gas was $.18 per gallon cheaper at Costco then the gas station I normally fill up at, thus getting a membership and filling up just for the gas savings would be worth it if you commute to work or drive a lot in general. It would take 266 gallons to “cancel out” the $40 yearly membership fee. I calculated that I use around 750 gallons of gas per year. This, of course, is based on my gas mileage in my car (it’s horrible!) and the miles I drive on average per year, so your totals may be very different! Also, if the gas station is clear out of your way and you won’t be using it often, that wouldn’t make sense to get a membership just for that!
- Gift Cards: My friends who shop at Costco (I personally only go with my friends and I don’t have a membership) tell me they often score 20% off gift cards to various places!
So where can you get the most bang for your buck? It depends on what you are buying!