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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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10 things not to buy at sams

A few weeks ago I spent an evening walking through Sam’s being a spy.  I was on a hunt for things that were horrible buys and to get an idea of what would be a good deal.  I’m going to share the bad news first, here’s what you shouldn’t buy in Sam’s (or I’m going to be bold here and say any warehouse club).  Don’t fret, tomorrow I’ll share a list of deals that are amazing at Sam’s.

10 Things NOT to Buy at Sam’s

1.  Dog Treats & Dog Food

Rather than going big for your pets, the deals are much cheaper in grocery stores and Target with sales and coupons.  One example:

Sam’s – Dentastix Treats, 62 ct., $19.94
Publix – Dentastix Treats, 6 ct., $1
Target – Dentastix Treats, 32 ct., $9.32

To compare the same size, grab 10 of the Publix packages for $10.  You save $9.94 off the Sam’s price to buy it somewhere else.

2.  Soda Bottles & 2 Liters

I would never pay more than $1 for a 2 liter soda, and I’m definitely going to pay to join a club just to pay $1.32 a bottle.  Wait for sales at the grocery store and even without coupons you’ve got their price beat.

Sam’s – Coca Cola 2 Liter, 4 pk., $5.28
Most Stores – Coca Cola 2 L, $1

Other size bottles are also over priced.  We can normally find the 6 pack, 16.9 oz bottles, on sale for $2-$2.50 each in the grocery store.  At Sam’s they are basically $3.12 a pack.

3.  Paper Plates

This is one item that even Fred’s beats the warehouse price.  Comparing name brand plates (Dixie) you can get them for 4¢ a plate at various stores on sale or 8¢ a plate at Sam’s.  That’s double the price!

4.  Paper Towels & Toilet Paper

Let me guess, this is the item you bought your membership to save on… yeah you aren’t saving.  To compare savings we have to go to sheet level as Sam’s is sneaky and sells rolls that are unique sizes that no one else carries.

Sam’s – Charmin Ultra Strong, 24 super mega rolls or 8448 sheets, $24.98
Various Stores – Charmin Ultra Strong, 6 Mega rolls, 1968 sheets, $4

Grab 5 packs in the grocery store and you’ll pay $20 total saving almost $5.  You’ll also have a few extra rolls.

5.  K-Cups

As long as your house can handle smaller packs of k-cups then you want to buy these in the grocery store.  On average you’ll get k-cups for various brands around 30¢-37¢ each at the grocery store versus 42¢-45¢ at Sam’s.  That’s an easy 12¢ per cup or on one 12 count package $1.44 saved not shopping at Sam’s.

sam's club cereal

6.  Cereal

This is one example I’ve given hundreds of times teaching workshops.  I was glad the evidence backed me up (though I’m sorry for anyone that buy their cereal at Sam’s).  Typically in a grocery store cereal on sale with a coupon is around $1-$1.50 per box.  At Sam’s you can grab a box that is the same as 2.5 grocery store boxes for $7-$8.50 depending on the brand.

Sam’s – Kellogg’s Special K Cereal, 38 oz, $8.49
Kroger – Kellogg’s Special K Cereal, 18 oz, $1.38

To compare by the ounce here, you’ll pay 7¢ an ounce at Kroger or 22¢ an ounce at Sam’s… that’s an insane difference.

7.  Canned Vegetables

The case of veggies isn’t a savings either.  They have packs of vegetables usually 8-12 cans that are on average 80¢ a can.  Some higher end products, like Lesueur Peas, were up to $1.24 a can. In a grocery store these are less than 55¢ and sometimes around 40¢ depending on the sale.  That’s comparing the same name brands too!

condiments sam's

8.  Salsa & Other Condiments

Whether you coupon or not, these are easily cheaper in the grocery store! Ketchup, Mustard and Relish are routinely free to $1 each and Salsa is usually around $2 in grocery stores.  The price in Sam’s is almost triple!

9.  Laundry Detergent

Massive containers of laundry detergent just take up space and collect more dust.  They don’t save you money.  Every name brand product Sam’s sold was cheaper comparing against past and current sales at grocery stores!

Two examples:
Sam’s – Gain Flings, 120 ct., $24.98
CVS – Gain Flings, 14 ct., $1.98

Sam’s – All Free & Clear Detergent, 150 loads, $14.28
Bi-lo – All Free & Clear Detergent, 32 loads, $1.49

Per packet that 14¢ at CVS to 21¢ at Sam’s.  Per load on the liquid, Bi-Lo is 4¢ per load and Sam’s is 9.5¢.  With the amount of laundry I do, that would be a huge difference at the end of the year.

10.  Diapers

Are you surprised?  I know most Mama’s want the biggest package of diapers ever, but try to refrain.  The same rule for paper goods, and detergent above in the list applies here.  We see bigger sales on the smaller packs, plus through in coupons and Sam’s can’t ever compete on diapers!

Sam’s – Huggies Size 3, 164 ct., $39.98 (23¢ per diaper)
Kroger – Huggies Size 3, 27 ct., $2.49 (9¢ per diaper)

The Kroger price is right in line with prices we also see in the drugstores.  If this is one item you decide to coupon for, it’s completely worth it!  You’ll save $25 just on one box!!

I promise I don’t hate Sam’s and warehouse clubs.  There are things that are deals, just not all the classic items we think of.  Tune in tomorrow for the list of 10 things you should buy!

    • Kristan Crass

      Thanks Jenny…I have tried and tried to tell folks it’s not always best to buy in bulk. Sometimes yes…but just do the math I tell them. Thanks for all you do!!! You’re such a blessing!

    • Glenda Peterson

      Your CVS price for the gain detergent is not correct, you might be able to get their price with an advertised ad plus a $2.00 coupon.

      • Marianne

        I feel certain that is what Jenny did. That will not happen at Sams.

    • Summer

      Bakery cakes!!!!!

    • KC

      and never buy the membership at full price – watch for a Groupon deal

    • Bee

      I’m not a warehouse fan, but I do find it difficult to buy large quantities for a family of some items at the prices listed here. A $1 box of cereal only lasts about 2 days in my house – they are just so small. It is too much work to coupon for that small of quantity. I won’t buy cereal at Sam’s because they only sell sugar cereals.

    • Arrowood Jamie

      Jenny, Our Costco is going to open soon. Are you going to have information about them? Did I see somewhere that they have coupons to use in the store? (Store coupons) What’s their membership entail and is it a better place to shop instead of Sam’s Club?
      Cereal is expensive at Sam’s. I can get it so much cheaper elsewhere using coupons. I stock up on laundry soap probably twice a year from CVS. I only buy Viva and I get great deals on that at CVS too.
      Aldi’s grocery store now has lower meat prices comparable to the restaurant store and it tastes better.
      Thanks for all u do! It is appreciated!

      • Linda Morgan Johnson

        Costco coupons are like Sam’s Instant Savings.

    • jessica

      im curious where you find diapers and laundry soap for so cheap. i use coupons on a regular basis but will not go to 10 different stores. time is also money which makes a one stop shop with 2 little more reasonable.

      • V Kelley

        Publix will sometimes have the All detergent as a bogo, with coupon makes it around that price. Kroger will have it on sale and them ads extra savings with their buy 5 get $5 off type deals and I can usually get it for $1.50-2.00 each. I will stock up then.I don’t have time to clip coupons anymore, but often there are digital coupons on kroger website

    • Autumn

      I have 4 kids and have NEVER found a pack of huggies diapers for anywhere close to $2.49

    • V Kelley

      I disagree on some of this. Here’s why. You can’t always get those cheaper prices in the grocery store. And I know this varies from area to area. The All detergent at $1.49 is a sale price, which I can’t always find. The Sams brand toilet paper is the same as charmin. The huggies size 3 comes 240 count at 33.98/.14 cents each. They aren’t that cheap at my kroger. Soda is always more expensive at sams. But certain veggies are cheaper at sams, ie. LeSeur baby peas $1.19 ea at sams, $1.75 at kroger