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Money Matters Blog

Monday, July 21, 2014

When is it a good idea to buy in bulk?

Have you ever wondered when it does and doesn’t make sense to buy in bulk? If you have a membership card with a wholesale retailer like Costco or Sam’s Club, you’ll want to learn which bulk items you can purchase to save money in the long run. What are some of the best and worst things to buy in bulk?

  1. Fresh Produce – Bulk food wholesale stores and co-ops offer a lot of choices of merchandise these days, including fresh produce. This may seem like common sense, but unless you’re preparing food for a very large group, buying produce in bulk may not be the best choice. Many fresh produce items only remain fresh for a matter of days so you’ll want to skip buying it if you don’t plan on eating it right away.
  2. Meats and Seafood – Like fresh produce, buying huge quantities of meats and seafood can be tricky, especially when buying them fresh. Meats and seafood can develop freezer-burn after a period of time if left in the freezer too long. It’s important to store a large quantity of frozen meat and seafood in a large capacity freezer at a very low temperature. Many freezers included as part of a refrigerator might not be up for the task.
  3. Natural and organic items - Even when packaged, items that are natural or organic may have a shorter shelf life. Some natural and organic products have minimal processing and fewer chemical preservatives. While better for your health, these products may not last as long causing you to throw them away sooner.
  4. Personal Care Items – Just because it’s sold at a bulk retailer does not mean it’s less expensive. Make sure you comparison shop before you buy and always look at the unit cost. Be careful of buying items like diapers in bulk, since your child could outgrow a certain size quickly, leaving you with hundreds of diapers you don’t need. Another important factor with pharmaceuticals, makeup and personal care items is the expiration date. Check the date and make sure you’ll use the entire item before it expires.
  1. Paper goods and office supplies – Products such as toilet paper, paper towels and tissues are excellent bulk buys. These items do not expire and the unit cost is usually less as well. Significant savings can also be achieved by purchasing your office supplies in bulk. So be sure to stock up on supplies like paper, pens, pencils and sticky notes.
  2. Toothpaste and toothbrushes – The long shelf life and small storage space make toothbrushes and toothpaste great buys at a bulk store. Many people see a better value on these items when purchased in bulk.
  3. Alcoholic beverages – One of the reasons alcohol is a suitable bulk purchase is the exceptionally long shelf-life it has. Great deals can be found on cases of beer or larger bottles of wines and other types of spirits. If you’re hosting a party with alcoholic drinks, make sure to purchase the alcohol and mixers in bulk to cut down on party costs.
  4. Gas – Some warehouse clubs also sell gasoline. Check out the rates and you’re likely to save compared to what regular gas stations charge. You’ll most likely need a membership card to take advantage of their gas sales. Try to go early in the morning or times when lines are shortest, too!
Buying in bulk can be an excellent opportunity to save money, just make sure you are checking expiration dates, unit costs, and keeping your home storage capacity in mind. Most importantly, ask yourself if you really need what you’re buying. If it is an item that you know you will use in the future, then buying in bulk could be a great idea. If you find out you purchased too much, consider splitting items up with family and friends. Keeping these tips in mind can help make you a smarter consumer. Have any tips of your own about buying wholesale? Include them in a comment below.

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