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10 tips for saving (and your health) at Costco and major outlets

If you have regular membership stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s Wholesale Club, or big boxing stores like Walmart and Target, you understand why they offer headache relievers in the front of the store and booze in the back. Sometimes you both have to endure the experience!

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But Jordan Page, mother of five and popular blogger at Fun, Cheap or Free and Budget Boot Camp manages to do anything and not only stay healthy, she also enjoys it! Read on as she shares her tried and true tips on pinging the mega stores.

1. Decide which business is right for you.

Member shops: If there are only one or two people in your household, Page suggests that you weigh the cost of membership against the money saved. If you think you haven't saved enough money over the year to pay for membership, ask the manager if you could get a refund.

Sometimes, between the cost of membership (Costco: $ 55 for Gold Membership and $ 110 for Executive Membership and Sam's: $ 45 for Sam's Savings, Business and Military Membership, and $ 100 for Sam's Plus Membership) and buying Items you really need, you don I really save. "When a baby comes," says Page, "it's a different story because you can really save diapers and formula."

Big box stores: Unlike membership stores, the big box stores are definitely a good choice, according to Page. "I think if you have one of these places within a reasonable drive, it is well worth it to be there."

Big box stores honor manufacturer coupons. "I don't believe in couponing much - I prefer sales - but for those who use coupons, these stores usually accept them."

Big Box Stores offer apps that give customers additional savings. For example, the Cartwheel app at Target gives special discounts on certain items that have been scanned with the app. Walmart's Savings Catcher app rewards the price difference compared to the advertised prices of the best local competitors.

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2. Create a smart ping list.

One of the smartest ways to navigate these monster shops is to make a list before you get started. Not just any list, says Page. "When you go to a department store, think about the items that you can buy in bulk to save money but not break your budget or end up wasted."

For example, if your family can realistically use five pounds of bananas in a few days, you'd better buy the number of bananas you need from your local grocer.

Download an app with the ping list and keep your ping list on your phone, not on paper. “You always have your phone with you,” says Page, “so you can add to the list as needed. I have two lists: one for Costco and the other for my local grocery store. "

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Check-out app: Sam’s club spokeswoman Tara Raddohl describes Scan & Go, an app that members can use to scan their own items over the phone. When they're done, they pay with a debit or credit card. The greeter at the door checks the purchases against the online receipt before the customer leaves. No cash register and no long lines! At this time, this is not available from Costco or BJ.

Your phone also has a calculator that comes in handy when calculating the unit price. It can also be a running sum of what you are buying so you don't go over budget.

Even your camera can help you find the best deals: “Somebody told me how their phone's camera helps them at the best prices,” says Page. “She photographs an item with the price on the shelf. When she's in another store, she pulls up the picture, compares the prices, and knows where the bargain is. "

3. Discover the best time.

Since every store is different, speak to the staff at your favorite store for tips on when. Looking for the freshest produce? Ask the production workers when they receive supplies. Do you want to make sure your favorite foods are in stock? Ask the warehouse clerk which shelves are usually in stock. Don't you like long lines Ask the cashiers for the best ping days and times.

Some stores honor sales in two-week ads on a specific day. For example, on Wednesdays, Sprouts employees can take advantage of last week's sales ad as well as this week's, says Page.

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Of course, if you ping online, it is always a good time.

Sam's Club members can order online and either place their order at home for a fee or redeem it the next day at no additional cost - and no minimum purchase is required.

Costco offers online ping and home delivery for a fee. You currently do not have an online ping / in-store pickup.

Walmart offers free same day pickup but requires a minimum purchase of $ 50.

Target offers free shipping on purchases over $ 25 and same day in-store pickup with no minimum purchase.

4. Take advantage of discounts and sales.

While Costco and Sam’s Club do not accept coupons from manufacturers, BJ’s do accept them. In addition, all three stores have their own voucher and discount offers, which can be very valuable.

Coupon discounts are automatically taken into account when registering. Have the sales booklet handy when you're making your list or ping; or get the app for your sales items for the month - including special seasonal sales like Christmas.

Remember, stores like Costco spin sales every two to three months. That is, if there is a coffee voucher, for example, buy enough to wait for the coffee to sell again two to three months later. Ask your local dealer how often the sales are rotated.

Learn to read the codes: At Costco, when an item is not restocked, an asterisk will appear on the price tag on the front of the shelf. So if you love pitted dates, for example, and you see an asterisk next to the price, it's time to stock up!

When an item is tagged on Costco, the price always ends in $ .97. If you can find an item that you'd like to starred and end in .97, whatever your budget has in store can be worn before it's gone. (On Sam’s the sales prices end with ISB and are in the Instant Savings Book, which appears several times a year.)

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5. Take advantage of 30-day low price guarantees.

Check if your warehouse or wholesale market pays back the difference in price if the item you bought goes on sale within 30 days. Costco does, but check with your local Costco store to see if it requires the original receipt or if employees will look up your receipt using your membership number.

Raddohl says that Sam's 100% customer satisfaction allows customers to return the higher priced item and buy it again at a lower price, essentially providing the same benefit to customers.

6. Compare prices at the pharmacy.

At both Sam’s and Costco, members do not need a membership card to buy prescription drugs. Compare their prices with those in your local pharmacy. You can discover significant savings on your prescriptions, and they sometimes offer free health checkups for high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.

7. Check the brands of stores.

Warehouses and large retail stores do not stock every brand of every item manufactured. If they did that, they'd lose money, says Page. In order to guarantee the best price for customers, they usually carry the most popular brand of an item, such as Bounty paper towels, as well as the brand of paper towels.

Here's What You Didn't Know: At Costco, the same company often makes both products. They are not identical - one may be thinner or larger - but they are close in quality.

Raddohl says Sam's store brands are made by an established manufacturer like with paper towels or an independent supplier like wine and olive oil. In both cases, the consumer receives a quality item at a reduced price.

“If you haven't tried a branded warehouse, give it a try,” says Page.

8. Score in the meat department.

You can often find very good meat in department stores, including the type of premium beef you would find in a restaurant. "The meat may not be the cheapest price per pound," says Page, "but the quality is very good."

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9. Look beyond the food.

Most people for groceries in the warehouses but the biggest dollar savings are often on the other side of the store, in the non-food department, says Page. Buying non-perishable bulk items like laundry detergent and baby diapers (one of Costco's biggest sellers) will save you the most money - and these products won't spoil.

Other money-saving non-perishables that offer significant savings include electronics, jewelry, glasses, photos, tires, and gasoline.

“The savings on one of these items often pay off for membership for a year,” says Raddohl.

10. Plan seasonal items ahead

Warehouses work on an early / early basis. This means that seasonal items such as garden and lawn products appear months ahead of their competitors in their stores. You also need to think ahead and stock up when seasonal items become available. If you buy one or two such items every time, you won't have to pay full price in your regular store later.

This post was originally published on February 2, 2017.