GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- It's no secret buying in bulk can reap big savings, but you might not always find the lowest price at big box warehouses. So where do you find the best prices on everyday items?
Consumer Savings expert for Promotionalcodes.com Sarah Platte joined us on KARE 11 News @ 4 with some of her best tips and buys.
Tips for shopping the warehouse club
• Don't join before shopping with a trial run. Most warehouse clubs offer trial memberships, so be sure to enroll in this before committing to an annual membership. While it doesn't take many purchases to reap the savings benefits, you should make sure you will actually use your membership to avoid wasting $40 or more on fees.
• If you regularly shop at a warehouse club, sign up for the club rewards program. Though it doubles the price of annual membership, you'll receive 2 percent cash back on purchases annually. Many members receive checks of $250 or more at the end of their membership year just by stocking up on basic necessities.
• Make a list and stick to it. Warehouse clubs have a knack for marketing specialty products. When purchasing food in bulk, be wary of trying new items unless you've had a sample. You could end up with a whole case of something you are sick of after a few servings.
Best items to buy at the warehouse club
Laundry detergent never expires, so it is a great item to buy in bulk. Comparing price per laundry load for the same laundry detergent size, brand and concentrate, you'll pay 16 cents less per load by purchasing at the warehouse club.
• Cost: $0.21/load at warehouse vs. $0.37/load at grocery store
• Total savings after 96 loads: $15.36
Never, ever buy your batteries at the grocery store. Batteries seem to be one of those items that we misplace or forget to purchase, so most grocery stores put them at the checkout to entice you to make a split decision while you're waiting in line. For this reason, the markup for batteries at the grocery store is astronomical, charging $1.19 per battery versus $0.32 per battery at a warehouse club-a savings of more than 70 percent!
• Cost: $0.32/battery at warehouse vs. $1.19/battery at grocery store
• Total savings after 40 batteries: $34.61
With many summer BBQ's ahead, many of us are stocking up on charcoal. Warehouse clubs charge 30 percent less per pound for charcoal. Typically packaged in a two-pack, you could split the purchase with a friend if you do not plan to go through more than one bag to ensure savings.
• Cost: $0.56/lb. at warehouse vs. $0.80/lb. grocery store
• Total savings after 18 lb bag: $4.41
You will pay the same price for four times the amount of sunscreen at the warehouse club versus a grocery store. That said, sunscreen expires, so you'll need to think about if you will actually end up using all of it before the expiration date. Consider splitting the sunscreen between multiple locations: your home, the car, kids' sports bags and beach bags to ensure your savings are worth the bulk purchase.
• Cost: $0.53/oz. at warehouse vs. $1.62 at grocery store
• Total savings after 30 oz. bottle: $32.70
Feeding our four-legged friends can get expensive, but the warehouse is the clear winner in this price contest. For a 52 lb bag of dog food, it will be $24.99 at a warehouse club-the same price as a 30 lb bag at the grocery store. Stock up on the bulk pet food and you will spend 40 percent less at the warehouse club.
• Cost: $0.48/lb. at warehouse vs. $0.83/lb. at grocery store
• Total savings after 52 lb. bag: $18.17
Tips for shopping the grocery store
• Be wary of flashy displays. Grocery stores often use neon-colored posters to get your attention on a product. These signs don't always equal a sale or even the best value, so look beyond the colors to see if a real sale is being offered.
• Read the fine print. When you come across a deal like 5 items for $5 or buy-two-get-one-free, you can usually get away with paying the sale price without having to buy the suggested amount of items. Check with a manager to be sure.
• Combine store sales with manufacturer's coupons. Most grocery stores will allow you to stack a manufacturer's and in-store coupons on top of sales, and some grocery stores even offer special days when they will redeem your coupon for double the value. Use an app like Grocery Gadget to keep track of your shopping list and store coupons on your grocery store rewards card. Sift through printable grocery coupons on CouponWinner.com.
Best items to buy at the grocery store
Stick with the grocery store for cheaper, more seasonally accurate produce. Warehouse clubs only offer produce in 2-3 lb. quantities, so unless you go through three pounds of strawberries before they go bad you are out even more cash.
Organic strawberries $1.99/lb. at grocery vs. $2.49/lb. at warehouse
Apples $1.29/lb. at grocery vs. $1.54/lb. at warehouse
Banana $0.89/lb. at grocery vs. $0.99/3 lb. at warehouse
Tomatoes $0.99/lb. at grocery vs. $1.65/lb. at warehouse
Per sheet, toilet paper ends up being roughly the same price at the grocery store and warehouse club; however with a sale or coupon you can easily cut costs. Paper towels cost 50 percent less at the grocery store, without a sale and without needing an extra storage closet for the endless supply of paper towels.
Toilet paper price is the same per sheet at grocery and warehouse (excluding grocery store sales)
Paper towels $0.01/sheet at grocery store vs. $0.02/sheet at warehouse (total savings on pack of 8 rolls: $7.68)
Grocery store sales on toothpaste cannot be beat-consider going outside your normal brand to reap the benefits! Purchase your yearly supply on the grocery store deals like 10 tubes for $10. You will end up paying 60 percent less per tube than at the warehouse club.
Normal: $0.59/oz. at grocery store vs. $0.33/oz. at warehouse
Sale offer: $0.12/oz. at grocery store
Total savings after a year of toothpaste (avg. household goes through a 7.8 oz tube every 2 months): $9.82
Non-perishable items like corn and diced tomatoes are cheaper at the grocery store, but more than that, the warehouse clubs only offer 12 packs (or larger), which is too much to handle for most families' storage space. Again, grocery stores frequently offer canned good sales where you can usually buy as much or as little as you want to get the sale price.
Canned corn and diced tomatoes both $0.06/oz. at grocery store vs. $0.07/oz. at warehouse
Grocery stores time the sales cycle for soda most closely to popular holidays and sports events, so stock up around these times! Expect to see offers like buy two 12-packs, get three 12-packs free during the upcoming Labor Day promotions. You'll end up paying 17 cents per can at the grocery store versus the normal low price at a warehouse club for 25 cents per can.
Normal: $0.28/can at grocery vs. $0.25 at warehouse
Holiday or sale offer: $0.17/can at grocery store
Savings after 36 pack of cans: $2.88
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