This Is the Biggest Rule I Set for Myself Before Shopping at Costco or Sam’s Club

7 Amazing Sam’s Club Buys Under $10

By: Brittney Myers |
June 4, 2023- First published on June 4, 2023
We all love the shock and awe of huge discounts, such as when you can save hundreds on living room furniture or get a half-priced gazebo. But it’s not those outsized deals that make warehouse stores like Sam’s Club such a great personal finance choice for so many families.No, that comes down to the solid savings on all our everyday necessities. Because, in the long run, shaving a few bucks off dinner each night will add up to way more money in your bank account than the occasional big score on furniture.With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best deals you can find under $10 at your local Sam’s Club.1. Member’s Mark spices: $3.68 to $9.98There are a lot of low-cost ways to improve your home cooking, not the least of which is making sure it’s spiced and seasoned properly. Sam’s Club offers a great range of popular spices, all of which have great reviews online. Prices depend on the particular spice, but they start at just $3.68. While the containers are fairly large, most spices have a shelf life of one to two years so you should have plenty of time to use them up.2. Member’s Mark over-the-counter medicines: $4.48 to $9.87Keeping the medicine cabinet stocked can get pricey, especially if you have family members who regularly go through items like allergy or heartburn medications. You can find Member’s Mark versions of many popular over-the-counter drugs, all for much less than you’d typically spend at the grocery store or drugstore. Prices vary, but start at just $4.48.3. Member’s Mark agave nectar: $7.98 Made from the agave plant, this sweet syrup has become a popular alternative to sugar and honey, especially in the vegan community as it is entirely plant-based. But while its growing popularity has helped it become more affordable, few places offer as good a price as Sam’s Club. Member’s Mark Organic Agave Nectar costs just $7.78 for a two-pack of 29-ounce bottles. While this may seem like a lot, agave nectar can last for years when stored properly.4. Member’s Mark walnuts: $7.98Not only are walnuts considered to have a wide range of health benefits, but they’re darn tasty, too. Of course, getting them out of their tough shells can be a serious workout. You can skip the hassle while also saving money by picking up Member’s Mark Natural Shelled Walnuts. A giant 3-pound bag will run you less than $8 at Sam’s Club.5. Member’s Mark broth: $8.48Alright, so the absolute best broth is always going to be one you make yourself. But who really has time to simmer chicken bones for hours? Sam’s Club offers two different Member’s Mark broths — chicken broth and beef broth — that are well-reviewed for taste and value. Get a 6-pack of 32-ounce cartons of either flavor for just $8.48.6. Member’s Mark loungewear: $8.98 to $9.98Thanks in large part to the work-from-home movement, a lot of folks have switched from business casual to business comfy (and I, for one, am happy for the change). If your new work uniform could use a few new pieces, scope out the deals at Sam’s Club. You can find a ton of different options — from knit pants to slouchy tees — for less than $10, making it easy to refresh your work-from-home wardrobe.7. Member’s Mark canned tomatoes: $9.48Canned tomato products are some of the most versatile items you can have in your pantry. You can use them for everything from a homemade pasta sauce to a hearty chili. And Sam’s Club makes it easy to keep them in stock. For just $9.48, you can get a 12-pack of 14.5-ounce cans of Member’s Mark Diced Tomatoes in Tomato Juice or a 12-pack of 15-ounce cans of Member’s Mark Tomato Sauce.Stack the savings with the right cardOn top of all of the other ways Sam’s Club can help you save, don’t forget to use a good rewards credit card when you shop. Purchase rewards from credit cards stack on top of any other type of deal or discount.

5 Things to Never Buy at Sam’s Club

By: Dana George |
June 13, 2023- First published on June 13, 2023
It’s easy to go wild while shopping at Sam’s Club. After all, there are new things to see and buy every time you walk into the warehouse store. And while many purchases are spot-on, some only make sense if you go in with a plan. Here are five things it rarely makes sense to buy at Sam’s Club. 1. Huge containers of anythingIf you’re excited by the idea of purchasing a one-gallon container of mayonnaise, you’re my kind of person. However, it may not be the best idea, particularly if you’re unsure how long it will take to consume a container of mayonnaise as large as a newborn baby.While there are dueling expert opinions on the matter, Dr. Karen Latimer is quoted in EatDelights as saying that a jar of mayonnaise can last for months if left unopened and stored away from sunlight. However, once that jar is opened and refrigerated, you have between two and three months to ensure it’s consumed. And if you accidentally leave it out for eight hours? Prepare to toss it. In short, unless you’re running a school cafeteria, a massive quantity of mayo may not be a good buy. It’s easier to save money on groceries if you’re willing to give up mega-sized products. 2. Fresh produceEvery time I walk into a warehouse store, I rack my brain to figure out who would benefit from purchasing the fresh produce. It’s colorful and looks supremely healthy, but you can’t just pick up two or three tomatoes or apples. So, unless you’re throwing a huge party and need enough avocados to put a bowl of guacamole on every table, or you’re a summer camp director and know the kids will tear through 10 pounds of onions with their burgers, you’ll probably save money by picking up the actual quantity of produce you need at your local farmer’s market or grocery store. Given that an estimated 20% of the food we buy goes to waste, making an extra stop could be worth the money. 3. SunscreenSummer is upon us, and we all know better than to allow our skin to burn in the midday sun. Sunscreen is essential, but unfortunately, it does expire. According to Mayo Clinic, we have 36 months to use sunscreen from the time it’s manufactured. The active ingredients will break down faster if exposed to excessive heat or direct sun. Picking up a three-pack of sunscreen as you browse your local Sam’s Club may seem like you’re saving money.. However, if you still find yourself squeezing sunscreen from one of those bottles three years later, you’re essentially putting lotion on your body and expecting it to protect you from the elements. 4. Vitamins and over-the-counter medicines One of the things that make vitamins and over-the-counter medicines so attractive at Sam’s Club is how much less you have to pay per unit. After all, the less you spend, the more money you’ll have to put away in a savings account, right? It’s not quite that simple.Let’s say you need to pick up Bayer Low Dose Aspirin. At Target, you’ll pay between $0.05 and  $0.06 per tablet. But at Sam’s Club, you’ll pay only $0.03 per tablet. In this situation, there’s no doubt that Sam’s offers the best bargain. According to Bayer, aspirin remains 100% effective for up to four years, and you’ll probably use an entire bottle of aspirin in that time. However, it can be tough to determine when other products in the pharmacy department are due to expire. The Food & Drug Administration does not require vitamin manufacturers to put expiration dates on their products. While some manufacturers do so willingly, it’s not something you can count on. For example, if you were to pick up a 400 count bottle of Vitamin C + Zinc 500 mg at Sam’s Club today, you’d pay $0.04 per capsule. Here’s the problem: A Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences study found that 92% of vitamin C supplements lose efficacy after 12 months of storage. But unless you know that in advance, you don’t know if you’re getting an actual bargain. 5. Diapers and toilet paperGoing out of your way to purchase either diapers or toilet paper at Sam’s Club may cost you more than it’s worth. We all use toilet paper. Retailers know that, so they frequently discount toilet paper to lure shoppers into their stores. Chances are, you’ll score a deeper discount by purchasing TP when it’s on sale at your local market. You can compound the savings by using a coupon. The same is true of diapers. Today, the cost of Member’s Mark Newborn Diapers comes out to $0.16 per diaper. At the same time, Target’s Up & Up Newborn Diapers sell for a little less than $0.14 per diaper. It’s not a huge difference, but the savings add up when you consider how many of those things you go through while a child is young. By determining what constitutes a good buy and which products you want to avoid before walking into a Sam’s Club, you can spend less and keep more in your bank account.  

How to Claim Your Google Class Action Settlement Cash by July 31

By: Natasha Etzel |
June 24, 2023- First published on June 24, 2023
Many of us use search engines like Google multiple times daily, and the same was true for many people 10 or more years ago. You may be owed money if you used Google between 2006 and 2013. The technology company has agreed to a $23 million settlement to resolve a user privacy class-action lawsuit. Eligible individuals can submit a claim to collect payment through July 31, 2023. Here’s what you need to know about this news.Google agrees to a $23 million settlementA class action lawsuit alleges that Google violated users’ privacy by sharing search queries with third-party websites between Oct. 26, 2006, and Sept. 30, 2013. You can file a claim if you performed a Google search and clicked on a search result during this time. Google denies any liability or wrongdoing, but has agreed to make payments to claimants who file.You may wonder how much money you can expect to receive. Since millions of users are expected to be eligible for compensation, payments will likely be small. Current estimates suggest that each claimant could be owed approximately $7.70. However, the payment amount could change as more users submit claims.While this amount of cash won’t significantly impact your checking account balance, filing a claim is worthwhile. No matter how minimal, extra cash can be a win for your personal finances. Whether you’re working to pay down credit card debt or build an emergency fund, a few extra dollars could help you reach your financial goals sooner.How to file a claim to receive a paymentThe deadline to submit a claim or exclude yourself from this class action settlement is July 31, 2023. You can file a claim if you used Google during the dates mentioned above. Below are the steps you need to take to collect the cash you’re owed:Visit the claim website and review the details of the settlement.Register to receive a class member ID.Use the class member ID sent to you to start a claim.Provide the required contact information and choose your preferred payment method (bank account, Venmo, PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, or a prepaid Mastercard)Complete and submit the claim form by July 31, 2023.Currently, there’s no set date for when to expect payment. The final approval hearing is scheduled for Oct. 12, 2023. You can visit the claim website for updates. If you wish to receive compensation, submit a claim before the deadline passes. If you do nothing, you give up your right to compensation and won’t receive a payment.This isn’t the first class action settlement of its kindGoogle isn’t the first technology company to be accused of violating users’ privacy. Facebook allegedly allowed third parties to access private user data from 2007 to 2022. The company admits no wrongdoing, but has agreed to a $725 million settlement. Claims are still being accepted for the Facebook privacy settlement through Aug. 25, 2023.If you were a Facebook user in the United States between May 24, 2007, and Dec. 22, 2022, you’re eligible to receive payment. Staying alert to class action settlements like this is worthwhile, as it could help you boost your savings account balance.

Why You Should Focus on Passive Income, Not a Side Hustle

As the gig economy continues to flourish, more and more people are looking for ways to supplement their income outside of their day jobs. Two popular terms that have emerged are “side hustle” and “passive income.” While they may seem interchangeable at first glance, there are some key differences that define each term. While both options can help you earn extra money, here is why you want to focus on passive income.What’s the difference?A side hustle generally refers to a job or project you work on outside your 9-to-5 job. It typically involves actively earning money by performing a service or selling a product. Common examples include delivering food, online tutoring, or freelance writing.Conversely, passive income requires an initial investment of time and/or money, but then can generate money with little or no ongoing effort from you. For example, rental property or investing in stocks can generate passive income.Passive income offers more securityThe problem with a side hustle is that it depends on your time and physical presence. You only have so many hours in a day and can only trade your time for money for so long. If you get sick, or if you need to take a break for any reason, your income source dries up.Passive income, on the other hand, offers more security. Whether it’s through rental properties, stock dividends, or a business that runs itself, passive income streams can continue to earn money for you even when you’re not actively working.Passive income offers more flexibilitySide hustles often require you to work during inconvenient hours or to accept work that doesn’t align with your passions or long-term goals. On the other hand, passive income streams offer more flexibility.Once you’ve set up your income source and established a system for maintaining it, you can enjoy more free time and more control over how you spend your energy. Passive income also gives you the freedom to pursue other ventures or projects that may not generate immediate income but could lead to greater wealth and satisfaction in the longer term.Passive income can provide long-term wealthWhile side hustles may offer immediate relief from financial stress, they often don’t provide a sustainable path to long-term wealth. With passive income, however, you have the potential to build a portfolio of income streams that can continue to grow and provide steady wealth over time.Whether it’s through compound interest or by buying a rental property that appreciates in value, passive income can help you achieve your financial goals without continually trading your time for money. Best of all, you can add multiple passive income streams and create assets that you can potentially sell later.Building your passive income portfolioSo, how do you go about building your own portfolio of passive income streams? The first step is to identify your strengths and interests. What do you enjoy working on or learning about? What skills or assets do you have that could be leveraged for passive income? Once you’ve identified your niches, it’s time to start exploring the various strategies for earning passive income, such as:Investing in dividend-producing stocksBuying real estate to rent outStarting a business that can be automatedCreating and selling digital products or coursesReceiving royalties on properties such as books, music, or artworkBuilding a blog or website that generates revenue through ads or affiliate marketingHigh-yield savings accounts and CDs (While the returns may be relatively low, these financial instruments offer a secure way to earn passive income with minimal risk)As you begin building your portfolio, it’s important to remember that passive income takes time and effort to establish. You may not see immediate results, and it’s important to stay patient and committed to the process.Consider diversifying your revenue streams by establishing multiple sources of passive income. Even generating $25 from each source on a monthly basis can add up in the long run.While side hustles may offer some short-term benefits, prioritizing passive income can provide greater financial security, flexibility, and long-term wealth. By identifying your niches and exploring the various strategies for building passive income streams, you can begin building a portfolio that allows you to enjoy more autonomy and financial freedom. Make no mistake — it’s still going to take discipline and hard work upfront. But the benefits of investing in a passive income stream could potentially outlast your active earning years and set you up for a more comfortable retirement.

These 3 Costco Perks Can Pay for Your Membership All By Themselves

A basic Costco membership costs $60, and if you’re not a member yet, you might think this sounds like a lot of money out of your checking account simply for the privilege of shopping at a certain store. But there is so much more to Costco than shopping for food and other products in its warehouse clubs. In fact, there are several different perks to being a Costco member that can justify membership all by themselves.1. GasMost Costco warehouse clubs have their own gas stations, and most estimates find that they charge about $0.20 less per gallon than other gas stations in the area. For a typical U.S. driver, the savings on gas can easily add up to more than $100 per year. And for a two-driver household, the savings can be over $200 annually. If you use the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi to pay, which offers 4% back on gas up to $7,500 per year, the savings can be even greater.Of course, this assumes you take full advantage of the Costco gas stations and fill your car up there most of the time. But if you make a conscious effort to use this perk, it can more than pay for your Costco membership.2. TravelCostco sells travel packages to members. Not only do these generally beat competitors on price, but Costco also is an extremely convenient place to book travel, according to Fodor’s. For example, Fodor’s found that Costco often gives superior onboard credits when booking cruises and/or Costco gift cards. Upgraded rooms and credits on other forms of travel are also quite common.While not all Costco travel deals are likely to be cheaper than you can book elsewhere, it’s entirely possible to find a deal that includes added value that exceeds the cost of membership.3. PharmacyAs my colleague David Chang found, Costco has lower prescription drug prices than the major pharmacy chains, and Consumer Reports research confirms this. And while it’s true that you don’t have to be a Costco member to fill a prescription there, there is a Costco Member Prescription Program discount card that is a member exclusive.According to Costco’s website, the discounts from the CMPP depend on the drug, but can range from 2% to 40% or even more. Costco also offers pet medications, and these are also typically at lower prices than the competition.There’s moreThese are just three examples of ways you can get tremendous value for your Costco membership fee, and there are certainly others. As a personal example, I fill propane cylinders at least four or five times per year at Costco, and it costs roughly half as much as it would to fill them elsewhere. Costco also offers gift cards for as much as 10% below their face value, which can save you a ton of money on things you were going to buy anyway.But the bottom line is that your savings from Costco member perks can easily justify the cost of membership, and if you take advantage of several of them, it can quite literally result in hundreds of dollars in annual savings.

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