Posts Tagged ‘costco’

Joining a Wholesale Club – The Whole Story

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Wholesale clubs are as famous for their low prices as they are for their jumbo packs of garbage bags and pain relievers.  But with so many wholesale clubs to choose from (and so many plans to consider), how can you know which is the most worthwhile?  Spending time comparing different stores can be tedious, confusing and stressful.  Plus, since you can’t really test out any store without a membership (or a friend with membership), making this comparison isn’t easy.  Since we’re friends, I’ve decided to help you out by providing this information at a glance.  I’ve provided you with comparisons of the personal plans offered by Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club – but of course, I’d be happy to hear feedback about any other wholesale club if you think it’s worth joining.

Wholesale Club Basic Plan Upgraded Plan
bj Inner Circle

$45/year

BJ’s Rewards

$90/year

costco Household Membership

$50/year

Executive Membership

$100/year

sam Advantage Plan

$40/year

Advantage Plus

$100/year

Each wholesale club offers different advantages for upgrading your plan.  Among the best benefits offered by Costco and BJ’s is 2% cash back up to $500/year.  In other words:

If you spend (or anticipate spending) $5000/year at Costco or BJ’s (which is about $416/month), you’ll get $100 back, which will cover the cost of your membership.  But, don’t panic by that high number – remember that wholesale clubs sell more than just food.  They also sell furniture, clothing, electronics, and various other items at discounted prices.  It is therefore entirely possible that you can spend $5000 a year at your local wholesale club.  You should know, however, that you’ll need to spend $25,000/year to get the full $500, so you may not want to hold your breath on that one.

While Sam’s Club does not seem to offer the 2% back, their Advantage Plus plan does offer a wider range of services than Costco and BJ’s premium plans.  Included in Sam’s Club’s Advantage Plus savings are auto buying deals, travel services and health and wellness services.

Another way to test the value of different wholesale clubs is to compare prices on your favorite items.  As a sample, I’ve compared the prices on 2 random items.
Wholesale-Club
Canon PowerShot SD780:

BJ’s – $189.99

Costco –  $179.99

Sam’s Club – $198.88

Huggies Soft Skin Baby Wipes (600 count):

BJ’s – $12.99

Costco – sells only Huggies Naturally Refreshing wipes, 1000 count for $34.99

Sam’s Club – $14.85

Other things to consider before joining a wholesale club:

Location. If you need to drive long distances to save money, you’ll likely be wasting money on gas instead of saving it at the wholesale club.

Your consumption practices. Buying at a wholesale club requires buying in bulk, which means that you may be stuck with 10 red peppers, when you really only needed 1.  If you’re feeding a family, buying in bulk can be fantastic.  If not, you may wind up saving money on products you don’t need…which doesn’t really count as saving.

Your spending habits. When you buy in bulk, you’ll likely spend more money up front than you would if you’d purchased the products as-needed.  If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford to think ahead, the savings of the wholesale club may be outweighed by the spending required to buy in bulk.

Brand loyalty. Many wholesale clubs are renowned for their quality store-brand items that offer everything from paper goods to gourmet chocolates.  You can save considerably if you’re willing to forego name-brand items for store-brand knockoffs.   If not, you may not truly enjoy the full extent of the savings that a wholesale club has to offer.

I hope this helps you determine whether a wholesale club is right for you – but if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let me know!

Happy wholesaling,

Billy

Where Can You Find Cheap (or Free) Wedding Invitations

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

wedding-invitationYou’ve picked out your dress, the flowers and the food…but no wedding can be complete without the guests.  (Unless, of course, you’re eloping, but that’s a different story entirely).  As someone who studied advertising strategies (how do you think I’m able to find great deals advertised both in print and online?), I can tell you that the best way to ‘advertise’ your event is to find a way to use a minimal advertising budget to get the highest return on investment.  In this case, you should use cheap wedding invitations to get as many guests as possible to your wedding.  You’re probably thinking that cheap wedding invitations won’t inspire people to attend your event, but if so, you’d be wrong.  There are plenty of ways to create inexpensive or even FREE wedding invitations that will make a great impression on your friends and family.  Here are some ways to help you get started:

  1. Explore unconventional options. Did you know that Costco sells wedding invitations?  If you didn’t, you probably haven’t done your homework.  Don’t be afraid to ask around for local stationery options which may provide affordable alternatives to traditional printers.
  2. Buy cheap wedding invitations online. Yes, it is possible to create gorgeous (and cheap) invitations all by yourself.  One of my favorite places to make wedding invitations (and other stationery) is Vistaprint whose do it yourself wedding invitations start under $1 a piece.  Many online services print the invitations for you so you needn’t worry about feeding your paper piece by piece into a printer.
  3. Print your own invites. With kits from office supply stores like Staples and OfficeMax you can enjoy embossed paper (which normally costs a fortune) at a surprisingly reasonable price.  Just a warning though – if you’re going to use do it yourself invitations you may want to practice on regular paper of the same size so that any errors won’t be on your fancy paper.
  4. Use postcards instead of letters.  Reading this suggestion in print may make you gasp, but if you’ve ever received a postcard wedding invitation you’d know that this is actually a fun and funky option, especially for those having a unique wedding ceremony.  Postcard wedding invitations will save you money on postage and envelopes, so they’re a double-winner in my book.
  5. Use postcard RSVP cards.  Even if you choose not to use postcards for the actual invitation, you can opt for postcard invitations which will create a cheap wedding invitation package without compromising the style of the actual invitation.
  6. Use one envelope.  Believe me, nobody will accuse you of choosing cheap wedding invitations if you only use one envelope.  Not only will you be protecting your budget, you’ll be protecting the environment.
  7. Skip embellishments.   You may be drawn to over-embellished wedding invitations, but these extras will add to the price of the invitations and to the shipping costs.  If you’re looking to make wedding invitations within a reasonable budget, skip the extras.  Oh, and did I mention that even the fanciest get tossed in the garbage?  Why waste money on this additional expense?
  8. Choose a standard shape.  Yup, it’s true…envelopes with unique shapes cost more to ship.  The often cost more to print as well.  I’m sure you can find beautiful wedding invitations that are a standard shape and size.

If you’re truly looking to scale back (or are even more ecological than I am), you may want to consider an Evite.  Still, while Evites are popular for reunions, holiday dinner and birthdays, they aren’t entirely acceptable for wedding invitations.  It would, however, be cool if you could contribute to the trend and see if it catches on.  Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this cheap wedding invitation suggestion as the ultimate way to save money.  If you do use an electronic wedding invitation, please share – I’m sure my friends will be as inspired as I will be!