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7 Sneaky Methods That Make You Overspend At Warehouse Stores

warehouse stores

Shopping at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club can be a great way to save money on the things you need. But warehouse stores are also full of potential money traps, and these can quickly turn a thrifty shopping trip into a budget buster!

In today’s post, we’ll be exploring 7 common “money traps” at warehouse stores. Because once you understand the subtle ways these stores try to convince you to spend more money, the better you’ll start to get at sticking to your budget! :-)

7 Money Traps To Avoid When Shopping At Warehouse Stores

warehouse stores

1. Seasonal Section

Most warehouse stores stock their seasonal and sale items right at the front of the store. The prices on these items are purposefully low, making them hard to resist for shoppers!

There are often genuinely good deals to be found here, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But those shiny deals up front can lower your defenses , leading to additional unplanned purchases. (And that’s exactly what they’re meant to do!)

warehouse stores

2. Center Aisles

The interior aisles at Costco can be hard to resist, especially the ones near the front of the warehouse. That’s where you’ll find all the stuff that you makes you say “I never knew I needed this until right now!”

But you didn’t actually need that item, because you didn’t know it existed until you saw it in those alluring center aisles! If you’re often tempted by these sorts of impulse buys, stick to the outer edges of the store to avoid being tempted.

warehouse stores

3. Big Shopping Carts

It’s no accident that most warehouse stores only have big shopping carts available! They know you’ll be more likely to toss something into your cart on a whim if you have the space for it.

So go ahead and use the giant shopping cart—just be mindful of what you’re putting in it!

warehouse stores

4. Free Samples

Enjoying a few free samples is one of the more popular perks of shopping at warehouse stores. And while there’s no reason not to enjoy them, it’s worth understanding why they offer them in the first place!

Free samples can prey on your sense of reciprocity, creating an urge to buy the product you sampled or something similar to it. Buying one item you didn’t intend to buy isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not great for your budget!

warehouse stores

5. Bulk Buys

While you certainly can save money by buying certain items in bulk at warehouse stores, that’s not always the case! While some items may be a steal, others may not be as good a deal as you think.

When you’re considering buying something at a warehouse store, take the time to do the math to figure out the price per unit. Compare that to what you would pay at a big box or grocery store to determine the best overall price.

warehouse stores

6. Targeted Marketing

Many stores have targeted marketing campaigns these days, including warehouse stores. Sam’s Club in particular is well known for sending out incentives and coupons to shoppers based on their purchase history.

If you anticipate those targeted marketing offers ahead of time, you’ll be prepared! Do the math first to figure out if taking advantage of that offer is the best choice.

warehouse stores

7. Final Offers

The ever-rotating offering of products at warehouse stores is meant to create a sense of scarcity. If products are coming and going all the time, you may be willing to buy a lot of something for fear that it will disappear!

While this is worth considering when making a purchase, it shouldn’t be the only thing you consider. If you don’t need the item or won’t use it regularly, there’s no need to worry about it getting discontinued!

What’s your best tip for shopping at warehouse stores?


Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • Jillee, you look so cute in your leopard boots! thanks for the tips! My best tip for Costco is to arrive early, just as the store is opening. The samples are not set up yet, so you can get through the aisles much faster. ( in my area large multigenerational family groups surround the sample tables and completely block the aisles, making it take forever to get through the store, I mean it’s nice seeing close families, but I’m usually busy!) Also, shop from a list and do not allow yourself to stop and look at items that are not on your list. Ok, occasionally something catches my eye that’s not on the list, but by making it a priority to get out of the store before samples are out, I avoid spending too much time looking at things I don’t actually need. The Kirkland brand toilet paper and select a size paper towels are similar quality to Northern and Bounty at a great price. Other favorites at Costco due to quality and price are: cage free organic eggs, organic spinach and Kale, organic frozen blueberries, coffee beans, avocados, Wine, over the counter meds and gasoline. Love your site! Have a great day!

  • Thanks for the tips! I have found for me (and especially my husband) that it’s better to avoid Costco instead of trying to dodge all those land-mines! I always find so many things I apparently can’t live without. Lol

    • I agree with the avoidance technique. I have purchased so much unnecessary stuff at Aldi, BJ’s and Sam’s Club that I now don’t even look at the flyers for them. The feeling that you have to stock up just because you are there? I think of how much gas it takes to drive to the next town, and that I will need to pay to have lunch out while there… and shopping locally with coupons and some forethought is a much better way to do things. And who needs a case of ketchup or a truckload of toilet paper all at once, anyway!

  • I do very well when I go to Costco. I go un with a list. Buy what’s on my list and leave. I have been known to go in for a gallon of milk or a rotisserie chicken and leave with those things. I find all the other things distracting, so I focus! Now, my hubby is another story. LOL!

  • Our closest warehouse store is over 40 minutes away, so it’s not very convenient. I used to go way over my budget with the thought that “it might be awhile until I can get back here again, so I better stock up!” I’ve learned to keep a running list on my phone of things we could use. I check the “Instant Savings” booklet of sales that are on and will try to only purchase those things on my list that are on sale. It seems like if they aren’t on sale one month, the next month they will be. The prices at my Sam’s Club aren’t that good if the items aren’t on sale. If I’m at the store and see something that’s not on the list that I’m interested in, I DON’T put it in my cart right away. After I’m done getting the items on my list, and I still want the item, I will go back for it. Nine times out of ten, I don’t go back!

  • I’ve often been caught up in this dilemma so when I have limited funds and time and definitely don’t want to buy more than just what I came for, I do not take a buggy. I can only carry so much in my arms and it definitely helps keep my purchases limited.

  • Jewel a smaller food store, now offers 2 gallons of milk for a lower unit price than one gallon. But if you can’t use 2 gallons, one spoils in 2 weeks. No savings there. Then there is buy 3 24 cartons of Pepsi for lower unit price. But storage becomes a problem. Deals like this smack senior citizens in the face.

  • Great article, Jillee! We need to educate ourselves before shopping so that we buy wisely. Another trend we have seen in the last year is panic buying. Paper products, gasoline, coffee, you name it! During times of scarcity, purchasing more than you will consume in a reasonable amount of time creates a shortage for everyone else.

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