Rebecca Graf is a trained accountant who worked in the field for more than 20 years.
Have you ever bought something in bulk? It's just buying product in very large quantities with the idea of saving money. Instead of 4 rolls of toilet paper, you purchase 72. Per roll the larger quantity is cheaper. Buying in bulk can be cost-effective... at times.
Bulk buying is only smart sometimes. It works well if you do it right and follow these tips.
What Constitutes Bulk?
Buying in bulk, according to The Free Dictionary, is "the act or practice of buying a large quantity of a good at once." Instead of buying one roll of toilet paper, you buy fifty. Instead of four chicken breasts, you purchase twenty.
Bulk buying is not just four rolls of toilet paper instead of an individual one. Bulk typically is an extremely large quantity compared to normal. It is the two-gallon jar of pickles versus the sixteen-ounce jar. That is bulk buying.
Only Get When You'll Use Within a Year
Have rules for your bulk buying: for example, only buy what you will use within the next year. Anything beyond that can put you in a bind. Beyond a year is too far to think of buying groceries or household supplies.
Think of the storage needed. Twenty extra-large jars of mayonnaise have to stored somewhere. One closet might not be big enough for so much in the way of condiments. Also, mayonnaise isn't used enough to go through so much for several years.
Do you have the space for a hundred rolls of toilet paper? How about three cows? Enough freezer space?
I'm not exaggerating. A relative of mine found mayonnaise on sale. His wife had to clean out a closet to hold it all. Ten years later, there was still mayo to be used. They had to throw it out. Was it really such a savings?
Buying in bulk is to save you money in the long run. It shouldn't result in wasted food or wasted money.
When Bulk Buying Is Not a Good Idea
There are times when buying in bulk is not a good idea. In fact, it is a very bad idea. Think about these situations:
- Low on cash. When you are tight on cash, buying in bulk just wastes money. Bulk buying is cheaper per ounce or item, but it costs more upfront. Avoid bulk purchases when you are short on cash. Wait until you have the cash to spend for items you might not use for a few weeks.
- Perishables. Bulk items are things that should last you a long time. Buying milk in bulk will waste your money unless you have reason to use that milk in the next week or so. There is no sense in buying so many eggs if you are just going to throw them away because you couldn't use them all up in time. Big waste of money.
- Storage. If you do not have the freezer space for fifteen whole chickens, why are you buying them? Make sure you have the storage space for bulk buying. If not, avoid it.
Have the Storage
I've mentioned this a few times already, but I really think it needs a little more focus. Most people don't think of this when they are buying in bulk.
- Dry goods: How much cabinet, shelf, or closet space do you have? Not everyone lives in a large house. Many live in small apartments. There is not a lot of space for things. Make sure you have enough space for all that extra you get.
- Perishables: This is the most important. Don't buy all those ribs if you don't have the freezer space for them. Not everyone has an extra freezer or two. It might be a good deal, but not if the food will go bad.
Make sure you have the storage before you make the purchase.
There are many benefits to buying in bulk. The two main ones are saving money and having items when you need them.
- Saves Money in the Long Run: When you buy in bulk, it should cost you less per ounce, pound, or piece than if you bought them in standard quantities. One box of mac and cheese could be $1 but bought in bulk should be considerably less per box. You spend more upfront, but in the long run you save money.
- Keeps Items Handy: Be honest, running out of toilet paper at a most unfortunate time is not a good thing. Buying a roll at a time is pricey and can leave you stranded on the toilet. Having bought toilet paper in bulk, you will always have some when you need. There is no running out quickly when you purchase in bulk.
Watch Expiration Dates
You really need to be careful here. Expiration dates warn you when the product is no longer good and/or dangerous to your health. Buy a large quantity of yogurt on sale? Great! If you eat it before it expires and you have to throw it all out. If you eat it long after the expiration date, you could get food poisoning.
Only buy in bulk if you can use before the expiration dates. You don't want to make yourself or your family sick while you think you are saying money.
Marketing is a very powerful force. Teams of marketers can make you feel like you have to have an item or that the price is just right. They are counting on you not to think as you purchase it. Not all price deals are such great deals.
One item is $5. The ad says that if you buy ten all you have to pay is $53. What? Stop and think about this. Ten at regular price is only $50. They are trying to make you think that buying more will save you money. It doesn't always.
Calculate your "savings". Pay close attention and be careful how you save your money.
These are either the greatest thing to save you money or the biggest scam. In truth, they can be both at the same time. You have to really be able to benefit from them to make them worth the cost.
Membership clubs are places where you pay a yearly membership in order to have access to the building and all items within. Once you have the membership, you can shop there. Most of these places cater to bulk purchasing. You cannot buy a four-roll package of toilet paper. You have to buy twenty rolls or more.
If you are a family of two, this is might be the biggest waste of money you will do. If you are a family of six, this might be the best idea you can do to save money. What you have to be careful about is not assuming all there costs are the cheapest. Know your prices. I've found where some items can be found much cheaper at regular grocery stores.
Split Bulk Purchases
I mentioned above how bulk buying in some cases for a family of two is not such a good idea. Don't let that stop you. Try splitting the bulk purchases with other smaller families.
You might not need the largest package of toilet paper, but the price is so good and tempting. You would never find the price per roll so cheap anywhere else, and you really need toilet paper. Why not go in with someone else? Split with your sister's family or your neighbor's. That way, you both save money.
This is a very common practice. I had a friend who went in halves with her in-laws on meat. They saved a ton of money that way. Work with others who need savings but don't need the large quantities.
Buying in bulk can be a great money saver if you do it right and pay attention. Be smart with your money and how you spend it.
© 2019 Rebecca Graf
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 13, 2019:
Interesting article. Sometimes buying in bulk helps but not always. Thanks.