Personal Finance

Dave Ramsey Says This Is the ‘Biggest Problem Most Folks Run Into’ at Costco or Sam’s Club

A person shopping in the freezer aisle with a cart full of groceries.

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Don’t shop at Sam’s or Costco without reading Ramsey’s warning.

Key points

  • Stores like Costco and Sam’s Club can save you money by allowing you to buy in bulk at a discount.
  • Sometimes, however, membership in these warehouse clubs can actually cost you.
  • Finance expert Dave Ramsey warns about the biggest problem many warehouse club members run into: overbuying.

Joining Costco or Sam’s Club may seem like a great idea if you’re trying to keep your credit card bills down by spending less on groceries. These warehouse clubs offer discounted bulk buys as well as house-brand products that can be a great value.

But, while you may want to join one of these members-only clubs if you can reduce your spending by switching to shopping there, it’s important not to make mistakes that end up costing you.

Finance expert Dave Ramsey warns of one common error that many people run into at these types of stores.

Don’t make this mistake that Dave Ramsey warns about

Ramsey is generally a fan of wholesale clubs, even indicating that he and his wife are members of Costco and Sam’s Club. However, he believes there’s a potential pitfall to shopping at them — and it’s one many members run into.

“The biggest problem most folks run into with wholesale clubs is overbuying,” Ramsey warned. “Lots of people think overbuying isn’t a big deal, especially if it’s something that only happens by mistake once in a while. But the truth is it’s really dangerous.”

Ramsey believes overbuying can be a big mistake because you could end up wasting money on items you don’t end up using. He gave the example of purchasing a really large jar of mustard that you don’t use before it goes bad, but this could happen with a huge array of different products.

In fact, you could end up spending too much at warehouse clubs not only by buying too much of an item and seeing it go bad, but also by impulse buying and purchasing things you don’t need because you’re enticed by store displays, samples, and a promised bargain.

How can you avoid falling into the overbuying trap?

Ramsey is absolutely right that overbuying is a huge risk of warehouse club membership. Many people overspend because they feel like they need to justify their membership, while others do so because they don’t have a realistic idea of how much of a particular product they’ll actually end up using.

The good news is, you can avoid this common problem so you get the benefits of warehouse club membership without the downfalls. There are a few ways to do that:

  • Track your family’s consumption habits before shopping. Pay attention to how much of a particular item you use over time. If you go through one regular-sized ketchup every few months, for example, buying an industrial-sized bottle probably isn’t the best choice.
  • Shop with a list. You’ll be less prone to purchase random items because they come across as a bargain if you have a plan for what you’ll purchase before you go into the store.
  • Split bulk purchases with friends or family: Some of the best bargains come from buying large quantities of items. So, see if you can team up with loved ones to split the cost and each take home the amount you need.

By following these tips, you’re less likely to end up making the mistake Ramsey warns about. This will ensure your warehouse club membership ends up helping you financially rather than harming you.

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