Money Moment: Buying in Bulk

By Dr. Jennifer Hunter

Welcome back to Money Moment, episode 17, with Dr. Jennifer Hunter.

Dr. Jennifer Hunter

This episode covers what you need to know about buying in bulk. Buying in bulk can save you and your family valuable money. However, when done incorrectly, bulk buying has the potential to cost you money. Buying in bulk requires careful planning and budgeting to guarantee that you are getting the best savings while also avoiding waste.

There are many benefits to buying in bulk. You will notice that buying your favorite products in larger quantities typically costs less. Additionally, bulk products allow for less packaging waste, healthier food choices, and consumers typically spend less time shopping for bulk products. Today we will discuss guidelines to keep in mind when buying in bulk.

Christopher Boswell/Photospin

Investigate your options

While many shoppers think of their local warehouse store as the only or best place to buy bulk products, many local grocery stores, health food shops, cooperatives and online stores also offer bulk products. It is important to survey the area in which you live to determine where you will be able to find the products that you wish to purchase at the best prices. There are many stores that offer bulk items and some stores carry brands that other stores do not. Become aware of weekly sales and feature products.

Calculate the cost per unit.

Many stores will provide the cost per unit of the product that you are interested in buying. However, some stores may not. To calculate the cost per unit, figure out how many units you will be buying. A unit is the actual amount of something that you will be buying. For example, the number of ounces of orange juice that you get in a bottle is considered the “units”. Cost per unit requires that you take the total cost of the product and divide it by the unit. To save money you should aim to spend at least 50% below what you would usually pay per unit.

Buy bulk items gradually

If you are a first-time bulk buyer it is tempting to buy everything in bulk at once. However, doing so will cost you a lot of money up front. Consider gradually introducing bulk items into your household. You will also want to make certain that you have enough storage space. Buying in bulk requires adequate storage space. If you have a garage, basement, or closet at home, carefully determine how much space you can set aside for the bulk purchases. Keep in mind that some bulk purchases will require refrigeration or freezing. You will want to use caution when buying perishable food in bulk. Only buy perishable foods in bulk when you know that you will be able to consume, can, or freeze these products within the next few days. Allowing perishable items to spoil will waste both the product and your money.

Never buy something that you have not tried before

Bulk buying is not the time to try new products. If, for some reason, you decide that you do not like the product, you will either be stuck using it, or wasting it.

Take advantages of coupons and sales

Many bulk suppliers will offer coupons and sales on certain products. Be sure to review weekly circular ads to stock up on coupons that you may be able to use for these purchases.

Avoid impulse purchases

While it may be tempting to buy a giant tub of your favorite snack, be mindful of your shopping list and your budget. Impulse buys may impact your spending, as well as the amount of space that you have available to store the products at home.

Consider sharing your bulk items with friends and family

If you are limited on space or budget, and still wish to buy in bulk, ask your friends and family if they are willing to split the purchases with you.

Evaluate your bulk buy

Keep track of your receipts for your bulk buy. Are there items that did not last as long as you had planned, or items that you forgot about? Did you find better deals on certain products at different stores or in similar quantities? Many retailers are competitive and will offer sales, so be sure that you are flexible in your shopping routine.

Be patient

Becoming a successful bulk buyer takes time. Don’t beat yourself up if you find that you have a few missteps along the way. You will become much more comfortable with the process once you have done it a few times and are familiar with brands, prices, and store offerings.

By following these tips, you and your family can potentially save a significant amount of money by taking advantage of bulk buying some items.

Join us for the next episode, where we discuss family money saving tips while on the go.

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