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The Benefits and Savings of Buying in Bulk
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When you hear “buying in bulk”, what image comes to mind? Huge tubs of mustard and an overflowing drawer of toothpaste tubes? In past years, stocking up or buying in bulk began getting a bad reputation due to the popularity of “extreme couponing”. But the concept of stocking up or buying in bulk is, of itself, a solid financial choice. That’s because buying larger quantities can save you 50% or more on your grocery budget. You just have to be smart to get the benefits and savings of buying in bulk without falling into the traps. Here are my best tips:
Rule #1 – Don’t shop only based on need. Stocking up and buying in bulk breaks you out of the cycle of shopping only based on need. That is, buying only what you need each week. Shopping that way can seem financially smart but results in you actually pay more in the end. That’s because you end up paying retail price for items week after week. You need them right now, no time to wait for a good sale. On the other hand, when you stock up when deals are good, you reduce the number of purchases you have to pay regular retail on and you save money throughout the month.
Rule #2 – Never stock up on things you won’t use. No matter how good the deal is. If you won’t eat it or use it before it goes bad, it’s a waste of money.
Rule #3 – Watch the sale cycles. Stores put items on sale, in a wide variety of categories, on a 6-12 week rotating cycle. That means if something is a really good deal this week, stock up. It saves you from paying full price when you need more 2 weeks from now and it’s no longer on sale.
Rule #4 – Play the competition timing game. That is, if one major manufacturer has their products featured this week, another is likely to be next week or within a couple weeks. Manufacturers pay a crazy amount of money to have their products featured and competition is fierce. So if you see Coke brand products on sale one week, for example, expect Pepsi brand products the following week. Whatever the major competing brands are, in every category of consumables, use these indicators to predict what you’ll find on sale next and time your purchases accordingly.
Rule #5 – Buy large quantities or large packages and store them properly. Proper storage and rotation of your stock is key to making bulk buying pay off. You want to make sure items are used in a timely fashion and kept fresh. Otherwise, you’re only throwing money away later. One caveat though, make sure that the larger package is actually cheaper per ounce. Just because a package is larger doesn’t always mean it’s cheaper. Do the math before putting it in your cart.
Rule #6 – Shop multiple stores. When most think of buying in bulk, they think of warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco. And those stores can be great options. Along with club stores, you should look to stock up at regular stores as well. Stocking up on the best deals involves shopping multiple stores throughout the month because stores sell things at different price points and run different sales cycles. To save the most money, you need to know who is holding the best sales each week. You don’t want to buy at 30% off, only to find out another store was 50% off for the same item.
Rule #7 – Don’t shop without a plan. You can’t plan to stock up when you aren’t even sure what you’re looking for. Without knowing what you really need and what you’re getting low on, you end up spending your whole budget on whatever you think you need. Which may not be accurate and wastes both time and money.
Rule #8 – Know the regular retail of the things you regularly buy. Without knowing regular retails, you can’t spot a good deal from a bad deal. Knowing a stock up price or being able to do the math on large quantities or bulk packages gives you the edge on when to buy and what to pass on.
Rule #9 – Don’t buy everything you can think of just because you’re already in the store. Although convenient at the time, this will always blow your grocery budget. By shopping with the bulk and stock up mentality, you’ll know that just waiting a few days can mean the difference between paying retail and saving up to 50%.
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