Money Matters: Six Strategies for UC Davis Students to Maximize the Value of a Warehouse Club

Shopping in Davis or Woodland, CA presents you with a lot of options. While many Davis families swear by warehouse clubs such as Costco, sometime UC Davis students don’t realize who much value they can get buying in bulk. The good folks over at The Simple Dollar have produced a guide of Six Strategies for Maximizing the Value of a Warehouse Club. Here are  a few of our favorites:

Fill up your gas tank while you’re there

Many warehouse clubs have an attached gas station that requires you to use your membership in order to fuel up. Most of the time, these gas stations offer fuel prices that are about a dime per gallon cheaper than other nearby stations.

Obviously, then, it makes sense to fuel up every time you happen to be near your warehouse club when you’re low on fuel. More than that, though, I fuel up every time I’m there. I always want to leave the parking lot from my local Sam’s Club with a full tank of gas.


The reason is simple – if I fill up every time I’m there, I directly lower the number of times that I’ll have to fill up at other stations that are more expensive than my local warehouse club. In fact, other than road trips, I don’t believe I’ve filled up anywhere else for the last year or so.

Let’s say that I filled up 80% of the time at my local warehouse club, saving a dime per gallon each time, and I drive 10,000 miles per year in a 20 mile per gallon vehicle, that means that 400 gallons were sold to me at a discounted rate, adding up to $40 a year in savings just from the gas alone.

This isn’t always a guarantee, of course. You should always check the gas prices in your area and make sure that your warehouse club is beating those prices before you sign up for a membership.

Pick up prepared foods (like rotisserie chicken)

If you’re ever in a situation to order takeout food, check out your local warehouse club. Their takeout options are generally tasty and extremely competitively priced.

Different family members raved about the Costco rotisserie chickens, with one person claiming it was a weekly meal. A few people spoke highly of the pizza at Sam’s Club – while it’s not my favorite pizza in the world, it is very competitively priced.

A take-out option from a warehouse club can be a very cost-effective substitute if you’ve already made the decision to get a take-out meal. (The value of a take-out meal itself is another question entirely.)

Buy gift cards for restaurants you go to

Warehouse clubs tend to offer gift cards that are available at a slight discount – it’s not a big deal when you can buy a $25 gift card for $24.88, for example.

Where the real bargain comes in is when they sell bulk packs of gift cards associated with a restaurant that you dine at regularly.

Let’s say, for example, that you enjoy eating at Old Chicago Pizza and/or Rock Bottom Brewery, two restaurants owned by CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries. You like them enough that you might eat at each place once per year.

At Sam’s Club, you can buy $100 in face value in gift cards from CraftWorks for $80. In other words, the next $100 you spend at either of those restaurants immediately receives a 20% discount if you use the discounted gift cards instead.

If a restaurant has discounted gift cards at Sam’s Club, we basically don’t eat there without using a discounted gift card to pay for our food. If you make the assumption that such a discount has no impact on our schedule of eating out, then it’s a direct money saver for us.

For the other tips, read the rest of the article: Six Strategies for Maximizing the Value of a Warehouse Club.