Our area is preparing for something very exciting: a brand new BJ's!! I am thrilled since currently I travel almost 30 minutes each way to shop at one. I find shopping at BJ's to be worth the trouble but am greatly looking forward to having one closer if just to run in and get cheaper milk.
How does one go about shopping at BJ's? Aren't all wholesale clubs alike? And are they a good deal or a bad one?
For starters - not all wholesale clubs are alike. BJ's accepts manufacturers coupons while all other warehouse clubs do not. What's more - they will accept a coupon per barcode. Meaning if you have 12 cans of beans and each can has its own barcode you can use 12 coupons (not to exceed the value of the item and coupons do NOT double). However, if you have say a box of cereal which has two bags inside it and can not be sold individually then you can only use one coupon.
Pretty much everything that is packaged as if you took five or so of them off the shelf and wrapped them together in a big package - you can use a coupon on each of them :)
Warehouse clubs can be a great deal - they have cheaper milk and cheese and other basic products (not always meats) - but they can also be a poor deal. You pick up one *extra* item and instead of spending a few dollars you could spend $5, $10, $20 or more.
BUT if you go in with a plan and stick to it you will be on your way to a budget friendly way to stock up.
How is that?
1. Make a budget before you go - as my friends say I have a *thing* for numbers so almost to the dollar I can guess the cost of each item on my list so before I go I already have a general idea of exactly how much it will cost me. If I find I'm off by a lot and the item is not a good deal, I pass. I also have a pretty good idea of what I spend on any given item at the grocery store and I'm not paying more for it at BJ's (or any other wholesale club). I will add I'm not perfect and I do find extra items in my cart often (we really love those darn Veggie Straws!!)
2. Collect your BJ's coupons - each month I get a coupon booklet in the mail and a few times a year I get the BJ's Journal which contains a large number of coupons. These coupons are the basis for my monthly plan as to what I'm stocking up on - I only buy the crackers or snacks that I have a coupon for and I enjoy seeing each month what new items I get to add to my pantry. I also plan meals around the items I am able to purchase in bulk.
3. For me the items in the booklet are essentially "on sale" and we all know the rule: using coupons on sales saves you money! Once I have the booklet I use a coupon database site to match my manufacturers coupons to the BJ's coupons.
4. With both sets of coupons and a monthly shopping list in hand I head out to BJ's. As I shop I calculate my total cost so that I'm not overspending. In my last trip I saved over $50 in coupons alone.
BJ's really is a great and easy way to stock your pantry. It's also much faster than grocery shopping for sales alone since a sale item at BJ's is much larger than a sale item at the grocery store.
For BJ's official coupon policy go HERE
Since I am planning a BJ's shopping trip this weekend be sure and check in as I will do some coupon match-ups for the items I'm purchasing.
And don't forget that triple coupons starts at Harris Teeter on Wednesday and Southern Savers already has 2 lists out with coupons. I'm looking forward to that trip too!