To start, I want to make something perfectly clear at the start of this. I am 100% against buying in bulk in MOST cases. There are exceptions of course, but most of the time I’m of the opinion that you will spend more money in the long run. With that being said, buying in bulk is something that ends up being a very personal decision, just as deciding how much to stockpile is. For some, they do purchase in bulk to stockpile, for others, they purchase bulk because of the “great” deal it can be. Whatever your reasons, before you purchase anything in bulk sizing, you need to look at the pros and cons of bulk buying and whether buying in bulk will really save you money on that item or not.
Does Buying In Bulk Really Save Money?
You might be asking exactly why I’m against buying in bulk a lot of the time. It’s actually quite simple. A lot of the time when you buy in bulk, you actually pay more per unit or pound because you’re paying for a larger packaging. While it can be annoying as all get out to deal with ten different 4 count toilet paper packages, if the price per roll is cheaper, then it is smarter to buy the smaller package. When you first start considering a bulk deal, you need to be VERY sure that you have figured out the cost per unit or ounce. This is very important. A lot of the time, the bulk price means you’re actually paying more for what you’re getting. If you aren’t sure how to figure the cost per unit, it’s pretty easy to do. 🙂 Divide the cost of the item by the number of items. If you want to figure out a 24 pack of tp that costs $6.78, you would do $6.78/24. In this case it would mean you were paying .28¢ per roll.
Cost per ounce (or pound) is figured the same way. The cost divided by the size. So an 18 ounce bottle of shampoo for $4.49 means you would be paying .249¢ or .25¢ per ounce. That’s an insane price and I’m sure none of us would willingly pay that much!
Like I said earlier, buying in bulk is a very personal decision. So, to help you decide which route is the best for you, I have created a buying in bulk vs. not buying in bulk guide. Read it over and then decide what is right for you personal situation and your family.
When to Buy in Bulk
- You are getting something free that your family will use before it expires. If you have 20 coupons that make the items free and your family uses it everyday, then buy all means stock up! Before you purchase all 20 items though, double check that your family really will use the items before they expire. Also, be sure that you have the room to store all 20 because there is nothing more frustrating than not having enough room to store something you just bought.
- Personal hygiene items are great to have stock of. If you come across a great deal or you find that it is cheaper to buy toilet paper in bulk, then by all means do it! Toilet paper is never going to expire and it is also something you don’t really want to be without. Soaps and other beauty items typically have a long shelf life too.
- Buying in bulk is a great idea when you don’t have a stable income. If your income is seasonal or varies from month to month, its smart to have a stockpile. You never know when money might stop flowing in or get very tight. Having a stockpile will allow you to live off that for a while.
- When you have a large family it is often beneficial to purchase items in bulk. Buying small boxes of cereal, snacks or drinks might end up cost you more than if you just bought in bulk.
Related: 4 Tips for Saving Big on Meat
When Not to Buy in Bulk
- Certain items you will want to avoid buying in bulk. Condiments that you don’t use more than once or twice a year probably don’t need to be bought in bulk. If you only use mustard a few times a year, you probably don’t need to purchase 20 bottles of it.
- Fruit and vegetables are not items you will want to buy in bulk unless you plan on canning or dehydrating.
- Items that can’t be frozen and have a short shelf life you will want to avoid buying in bulk.
- If you are only purchasing for one or two people you might want to rethink buying items in bulk. Sometimes when you are only purchasing items for one or two people it can be cheaper to just buy smaller quantities.
- Over the counter medicine isn’t always wise to purchase in bulk. Medicine expires fairly quick and you might not be able to use it all before it expires.
Remember that creating a stockpile and purchasing in bulk is a personal decision. There really isn’t a wrong or a right way to do things. Talk with your family and come up with the best solution for you. What you stock up on is probably different from what your friend wants to stock up on and that is okay!