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Can Buying in Bulk Actually Cost You More?

Published March 3, 2014

buying groceries in bulk

There are two types of shoppers: those who shop more but buy less and those who shop less but buy more. In theory, buying in bulk helps you save money because the individual price for something is lower. In other words, the more you buy, the more you save. However, buying in bulk can be expensive and may end up costing you more in the long run. Though bulk buying may be a great way for larger families to help cut costs, smaller families may not benefit as much. Are you shopping for only a few people? If so, you may want to think twice about buying in bulk.

The Problem with Buying in Bulk

Buying in bulk means stocking up on a particular product. Rolls upon rolls of paper towels, five pound cereal boxes, and enough laundry detergent to last a year are just a few examples of everyday bulk items that are both large and cumbersome. If your storage space is limited, you may not have enough room for everything. This is particularly true if you’ve bought food that needs to be refrigerated or frozen. You may also buy too much of something and have too little time to consume it.

Buying More than You Actually Need

One of the biggest dangers of buying in bulk is items you don’t need. Many people buy in bulk thinking they’re saving money by buying a year’s supply of something in advance, yet they end up only using a third or fourth of what they actually paid for. Only buy items you’re already familiar with in bulk, and be sure to check stores’ return policies before you buy.

Remember to Look for Deals and Use Coupons Whenever Applicable

With all the available deals these days, there’s no reason not to take advantage of coupons and other ways to save. Though buying in bulk can make you think that you’re saving money, using coupons for smaller items may have a more immediate impact. For example, when you use a $1-off coupon on a 32-ounce container of laundry detergent versus the larger economy size, you immediately save money per ounce.

Shop Wisely. Shop on a Budget

Check print and online sales circulars on Sunday (other days of the week may apply, too, depending on where you live). Apps like Groupon and Scoutmob are also great tools to help you find deals and shop more efficiently and effectively. Make a grocery list of the things you need, and avoid falling into the trap of paying for items you don’t.

Choose Store Brands over Name Brands

When you have a choice between the brand-name products and the generic store-brand, choose the store-brand. Not only are store-brands cheaper, they’re nearly identical to their name-brand counterparts. Tests by Consumer Reports and many other organizations show that many, if not most, store-brand products are consistently equal to or better than their name-brand counterparts. The only real difference with store brand products is the money you can save.

Buying in bulk can be a great way to shop for many people, but it isn’t for everyone. Next time you plan your grocery list, think twice before shopping for items in bulk. For more money-saving tips, visit CreditGUARD’s everyday budgeting tips page.

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