Buying in bulk has numerous benefits that you do not want to miss out on! However, buying in bulk can be intimidating, because there is a wide variety of items that can be purchased in bulk. Because of this, it can be difficult to know which items actually make sense for you and your family.
This post serves as a guide to those of you new to buying in bulk to learn what items are best for it, which items aren’t so good, and how to save the most money.
What should I buy in bulk?
As previously mentioned, the best items to buy in bulk are going to be those that you and your family use a lot of, that you restock on frequently, and that you know you will be using in the immediate future.
For the average household, the most common bulk purchases are as follows:
- Paper towels
- Toilet paper
- Cooking oil
Most stores carry these items with bulk options for sale, and common stores known for selling items in bulk are those like Sams Club and Costco.
What should I not buy in bulk?
Well-planned bulk purchases save you money, time, and prevents waste, but buying the wrong items end up costing you those exact benefits. In general, items with a short shelf-life and that are perishable are not so good items for buying in bulk.
- Meats, unless planned accordingly with adequate freezer space
Notice a theme? In general, perishable goods are not good options for buying in bulk. However, any item that you are not going to use quickly enough to justify the bulk purchase also is not a good bulk purchase for you. But how do you know what those items are? That brings us to rule number one of bulk shopping.
Rule Number One
Only buy items that you and your family consume in large quantities! This can help eliminate some of the stress caused by the variety of items available. It may be tempting to take advantage of bulk sale items, but it is important to put your money where it counts most when buying in bulk.
In addition, items purchased unnecessarily, especially when purchased in bulk, hinders you more than helps you. This is because unnecessary bulk purchases:
- Create more waste
- Take up space in your home
- Cost you more money in the long run
Before you purchase a bulk item, consider the following questions:
- Is this something I use a lot of?
- Is this an item I need to re-stock on frequently?
- Do I plan to use this item frequently in the immediate future?
If you answer yes to these questions, then the item is probably a good choice for you to purchase in bulk. If you answer no to any of these questions, then it is good to reconsider purchasing the item in bulk.
How to tell if the deal is a good one
Remember the phrase, “price per unit”. This is how much money you are paying for a specific amount of an item. To calculate this number, you just need to divide the total cost of the item by how many units are in the item.
price per unit = total price of item ÷ weight or quantity of items purchased
Example: You are at the grocery store and there are two options for bulk purchases of paper towels. Option one contains 30 rolls of toilet paper for $20, and option two contains 25 rolls of toilet paper for $15. To understand the better deal, divide 20/30 for option one, and 15/25 for option two. This makes the price per unit of option one $0.66, and for option two, $0.60. In this scenario, option two saves you six cents for every roll of toilet paper.
In an ideal situation, buying in bulk saves you money as opposed to not doing so, because this gives you a lower price per unit.
Most common mistakes
The most common mistake of bulk shopping is not having enough storage space for your purchases. This is why it is important to purchase the items your family will use the most, and not the items that are going to be sitting around for a while. You can avoid not having enough storage space by planning accordingly.
Before you go to the store, prepare a list of the items that you are interested in purchasing in bulk and ensure that you have a designated location for the items before you leave. Clear the space ahead of time so you know exactly how most room you have to work with.
Be sure when you are preparing for your grocery trip that you have budgeted accordingly as well. Buying in bulk saves you money in the long run, but the upfront cost is higher than not doing so. Be sure to stay within your budget while you are at the store so that you do not accidentally overspend!