Monday, July 25, 2011

When buying in bulk doesn't make sense

Buying in bulk is often a great way to cut the unit price of whatever it is your buying, groceries especially.  It's a tactic we use in our $25 grocery budget and makes even more sense when their are more than two of you in the house.  We buy things like toilet paper in bulk since I know we'll use it eventually and it doesn't spoil.  However, there are several drawbacks when buying in bulk and sometimes it just doesn't make sense.
  • The food spoils before you can eat it all
  • You won't use everything you've bought
  • It disrupts your cash flow or you can't afford the larger quantity
  • You buy and use more than you would have if you hadn't bought in bulk
  • Buying in bulk isn't actually cheaper or is more expensive per unit than buying individual items
  • You have no place to store it
It's important to consider all of these pitfalls when you consider buying in bulk and these are some of the reasons why we only buy large quantities of a few key staples that keep well.

Do you buy any of your groceries in bulk?  In what other areas has buying in bulk produced savings for you?

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    1. We actually do pretty good with the stuff we buy in bulk. If we've thrown anything out it's probably because it got forgotten about versus not being able to use it all in time.

    2. We buy in bulk but only when it works for us. We don't buy bulk stuff we don't eat very often. It works well for things like nuts and seeds though. We eat a lot of these.

    3. Britney (one of our contributors over at TotallyMoney) looked at this the other day

      Buying in bulk makes sense for non-perishable items, for produce with a long shelf life and as long as you're not going to be swimming in toilet rolls thanks to zero storage space.

      My boyfriend and I buy cereals and rice in bulk as well as toiletries, but that's where it ends.

    4. We mainly buy household supplies--TP, paper towels, toothbrushes, etc--in bulk. Occasionally we'll buy food but it has to be something really good that we know we'll eat. Other than that, we stay away from bulk. It usually winds up going to waste.

    5. TP is pretty much the only thing we buy in bulk. :)

    6. I buy paper goods and laundry detergent in bulk - like you said, they don't spoil. As for food items, only canned and boxed bulk items for me; and only when they're on sale. Perishables expire too quickly for just two people.

    7. Once I bought a half membership to Sam's Club and it just didn't pan out for us (we have two in my household). What I do want to try to do is buy in bulk at grocery stores (in the bulk bins)--will have to try it out and do a price comparison.

    8. We do buy a few of our groceries in bulk, along with household items. But the groceries are things that can either be frozen or that don't spoil. (Stuff like popcorn, sauces, soups, pasta.)

    9. Another one... when it's not really a deal! Costco's pretty good about beating the competition, but sometimes Walmart and other "discount" stores end up charging the same or more than other options, especially on the endcaps.

    10. Buying perishable food in bulk is dangerous for the budget! Sure, you pay less per item, but you also run a risk of not using everything.

      Bought some mangoes in bulk recently...price was great, but got sick of eating a mango (or two) each day for 3 days. After taking a break for a few days, I found that the remaining ones were quite ripe and likely not good for long. It was a good lesson on what not to buy in bulk, at least not unless everyone at home will eat something.

      Paper products, things that you'll use and won't go bad...that's fair game and often a great purchase.

    11. We used to buy a lot of perishables in bulk because there were two teenagers in the home. They're grown now and we've had to shift more grocery shopping from the big box stores to regular grocery stores. It's painful sometimes to pay almost the same price for half the product, but I can't stand to waste food!

      1. I used to be in the same situation but sell half to my neighbor who is happy to split it. We do this for eggs, loaves of bread, bags of produce, etc.

    12. Bucksome - Teenagers do eat like crazy! At least you realized that you needed to buy less - my parents are still struggling with buying less food than they used to. I think it's in part because my dad can't pass up a "good deal". Drives my mom nuts.

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