How to Save Money by Buying in Bulk

by Traci K. on July 23, 2010

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Buying in bulk can help you save money, but if you aren’t smart about what you buy in bulk it might just be wasteful. There are a number of things that shouldn’t generally be bought in bulk such as ice cream, milk, butter, cheese, sour cream and other perishable items. They often expire before you would be able to use the entire amount! However, there are a few general guidelines that will help you decide what items you might be able to save on when you buy in bulk.

Do you have an extra freezer ? If the answer to that is “No,” then you want to limit the amount of perishable foods you purchase in bulk. We only have a normal size freezer, so if I stock up on anything perishable it’s usually meat while it’s on sale. I also limit myself to no more than half of my freezer being bulk items. It can make sense to stock up on the current $2 per pound sale chicken breast but don’t go overboard or you might not have any room for dessert, literally.

Don’t forget to check the per unit cost of anything you’re considering buying in bulk. Whether you’re thinking about stocking up on the on-sale toilet paper at your local grocery store or buying it from Sam’s club, BJ’s, or Costco make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. You can usually check online or just call and ask the pricing. If it’s not the lowest per unit cost, it’s not going to save money.

How much storage space do you have at home? My husband and I have a very small apartment and not a lot of space to keep bulk items. We stock up on toiletries when they are on sale (because they are relatively small), toilet paper, and certain pantry staples (like types of pasta, canned fruit and vegetables, tomato sauce, and certain spices). We also buy cat food and litter a month at a time: a large pet food container keeps the food fresh and sealed from air for long=term storage. If you don’t have space for what you want to stock up on, buying in bulk can be counterproductive.

Do you have friends or family that use some of the same perishable products you do? A co-op might be a great way to save money by buying in bulk. If there isn’t a local co-op near you, you can always start your own with family and friends. If you have a group of people to split large purchases of perishable items with (like meats, fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products, spices, and fresh breads), you can save a tremendous amount. This work great with other items you wouldn’t typically buy in bulk as well, like baby diapers, formula, paper towels, and cleaning supplies.

Buying in bulk is a great way to save money as long as you shop smartly, do your homework, and especially if you can share the savings by splitting the cost with others!

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