Are you buying in bulk for the right reasons? In other words, are you buying in bulk because it’s saving you money and multiple trips to the store? Or are you buying in bulk because everyone else you know is doing it?
You should have strategic financial reasons to buy items in bulk. Otherwise, you are just wasting money in the short and long term.
Look at it like this – when you buy in bulk, you are buying at wholesale prices instead of the retail prices you find at the supermarket. And you will only save money buying in bulk according to your personal household budget and how quickly your household uses up bulk products.
There are several reasons why you would want to buy in bulk.
Saving Money Buying Items Per Unit
Primarily, consumers buy items in bulk at places like Costco or Sam’s Club to save money by buying items according to the price per unit. When you buy large quantities of a product, you need to calculate how much you are paying per item, pound, ounce, gram, and so on.
What does that mean?
Let’s imagine that you buy two rolls of a popular brand of paper towel for $4.69 at the supermarket. In that scenario, you are paying $2.34 per unit retail.
At a Costco, Sam’s Club, or another bulk wholesaler, you could buy 12 rolls of the same brand for $18.98. That means you would pay $1.58 per roll of paper towel.
And that goes the same for peanut butter, batteries, oatmeal, toothpaste, and so on. When you shop at a bulk wholesaler, there should be stickers or displays on shelves near the item that inform you of the price per unit.
Here is a buying in bulk calculator you can use.
Why is it important to pay attention to price per unit when buying in bulk?
Saving Money on Your Budget
The average American household spends about $5,000 annually on groceries alone. Or about $400 monthly.
You could save about 25% on your annual grocery bill by buying in bulk.
But are you saving money on your bulk purchases? Or are you buying in bulk for its own sake?
Optimal Reasons for Buying in Bulk
Hey, if you want to buy in bulk, we aren’t going to stop you.
What we are saying is that people who buy items in bulk usually have a good reason for doing it.
Do you have a large family? Consumers with large-capacity households are going to go through plastic bags, soap, toothpaste, batteries, paper towels, hot dogs, and other such items a lot quicker than a person who lives by themselves.
Have you moved into a new home? You may want to stock up on groceries in bulk to make sure you don’t run out of items soon.
And does your family run out of certain supermarket products quicker than others?
That is why we stress that you should have a budget and shopping list every time you shop. Know which products your family members use a lot. Then you will know what you need to buy in bulk.
You don’t need to buy everything in bulk.
Avoid Buying These Items in Bulk
Some supermarket items spoil quickly. Or the ingredients inside the product lose their potency quickly.
Here is a list of items that you should not buy in bulk unless you use them up quickly before they go to waste or lose their vital potency:
- Canned veggies
- Fresh produce
- Olive oil
But most of all, don’t buy products you seldom use or don’t use up before they expire. You will just waste time and money buying large quantities of items that you will either throw away or give away.
Efficient Strategies for Buying in Bulk
Listen, go buy a 40-item bulk package of raspberry marshmallow cream if you must. But if you are not going to eat it before it goes bad, what is the point?
Buy groceries according to your household budget and needs. Also, make a shopping list before you shop and stick to it. Don’t buy in bulk for its own sake. You should have a strategic financial incentive to save money per item on your bulk packages.
Buy bulk items that you and your family enjoy and will use up before it goes bad.
Make sure that you have extra space and freezer space to store bulk items. Otherwise, your living space may aesthetically resemble a mini-Costco.
Make schedules with relatives, friends, or neighbors to buy in bulk. That way you can buy groceries that last a month or longer and have help transporting goods home.
Use coupons when applicable.
Whatever you do, never buy in bulk for its own sake without a strategic financial incentive. Otherwise, you are wasting time and money.
Allen Francis was an academic advisor, librarian, and college adjunct for many years with no money, no financial literacy, and no responsibility when he had money. To him, the phrase “personal finance,” contains the power that anyone has to grow their own wealth. Allen is an advocate of best personal financial practices including focusing on your needs instead of your wants, asking for help when you need it, saving and investing in your own small business.