If you’re serious about saving a buck here and there, you’ve probably heard about the magic of bulk buying. The concept works like this – by buying 4 pounds of peanut butter instead of one jar, you’ll pay a lower price per ounce of peanut butter, saving you money.
What a steal, right? Unfortunately, bulk buying is also an easy way to lose money if you don’t purchase your items strategically.
When Bulk Buying Isn’t a Great Deal
You Don’t Need the Product
The most important question to ask yourself before making a bulk purchase is, “Will I use this?” If your answer is “no” or “maybe,” put the item down and run far, far away. Otherwise, you’ll end up storing the item indefinitely, donating it or pawning it off on your friends.
The other possibility is that you’ll use it, but way more often than necessary, which is wasteful and expensive.
The Product Will Expire Before You Use It
Perishable items like fruits and vegetables aren’t wise bulk purchases because you won’t have the time to scarf them all down within the expiration window. Meat isn’t worth it either unless you have your freezing and thawing routine down to an exact science.
Even seemingly “non-perishable” items like spices, condiments, peanut butter and canned foods expire or lose their flavor within a few years, so don’t trust that you’ll have forever to finish them.
The one exception to this rule is if you have a large family. With more mouths to feed, there will be plenty of product turnover in your home, which could make a bulk buying a smart choice.
You Don’t Have the Storage
All that stuff has to go somewhere. If you need to buy an extra fridge or freezer, install additional shelving or pay more for electricity to buy bulk food, it isn’t wise.
The Product Is Unhealthy
We’ve all caved and bought a giant box of cookies or monster-sized tub of ice cream. What tends to happen after that? We eat an enormous amount of sweets in a few days like a kid after Halloween.
Overeating like this is unnecessary and unhealthy. Some researchers have even suggested big-box stores contribute to the obesity epidemic in the U.S.
You Can Get It Cheaper at Another Store
Bulk buying usually saves you money per unit, but there are some items that are cheaper at grocery or discount stores. In this comparison of 50 products, seven were cheaper at Kroger than Costco.
Many items are also cheaper at Walmart than Sam’s Club, despite the stores being owned by the same parent company. This discrepancy recently prompted an outrage that forced Sam’s Club to backpedal on their stance toward Walmart price matching.
You Were Persuaded by a Sample
Samples are half the fun of going to a wholesale club, but don’t forget – they’re offered because the advertising works. In-store demonstrations and samples can boost sales by a whopping 600 percent.
Also, nix the habit of going to warehouse stores just for the limitless free samples. The demonstrator will pressure you into buying the product, or you’ll end up shopping for “just a few things” before you leave.
You Can’t Afford to Pay Up Front
Buying in bulk requires spending more money now for a better deal in the long run. If you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck or have a tight grocery budget, this isn’t feasible. Worst case scenario, you’ll add to your credit card debt and end up losing all the money you saved by paying interest.
You Don’t Get Your Membership’s Worth
Don’t forget that in-person warehouse stores charge an annual membership fee just so you can walk in the door:
If you don’t shop regularly enough to justify the annual fee, consider canceling your membership.
What Items You Should Buy in Bulk
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Dishwasher detergent
- Laundry detergent
- Trash bags
- Dry rice
- Dry beans
- Pet food
Financial Education and Credit Counseling With American Financial Solutions
There are plenty of other ways to save money besides buying in bulk. If you’re in a tight spot financially and need helping digging yourself out of debt, try talking to the certified credit counselors at American Financial Solutions. They can evaluate your current situation and formulate a plan to help you start saving and get out of debt.
For credit, housing, student loan and bankruptcy counseling, call us today at (888) 864-8548.
Published Oct 10, 2018.