The Perils of Buying in Bulk

PerishablesOne common technique for saving money is to buy in bulk. Some use regular grocery stores. Others go to discount shopping clubs and load up with months worth of groceries and household supplies.

Either way, there are some risks involved.

The first question you should ask yourself is, “Am I getting the lowest price per unit?”

Case in point: I went shopping at our grocery store last week. I was buying toilet paper. I was deciding between a 12-roll package and a massive 24-roll package. Common sense says to buy the 24-roll package because it will cost less per roll.

But on closer examination, the larger pack was more expensive per unit! I actually saved money by purchasing two of the 12-roll packages.

I’ve found these pricing games are becoming more common. Perhaps the product manufacturers know we’ve been trained to buy in bulk to save money. Perhaps they know we’ll get lazy and won’t check the price per unit.

Another product to examine closely: Cheerios. I’ve found it’s often cheaper to buy two or three smaller boxes than the large family-size box.

The second question you must ask yourself when buying in bulk is, “Will I actually use all of this before it spoils?”

Often, when I purchase perishable products in volume to “save” money, it spoils before our family can eat it all. I know it happens to many other families as well.

If you’re buying perishables, only purchase what you know you will eat. Don’t buy extra to save a little bit on the per unit cost. If you’re forced to throw even a little bit away, you’re probably losing money.

In sum: Watch out for these two common pitfalls when buying in bulk and you could save a few dollars every single week. Make sure you always check the per unit cost, even if you think it’s “obvious” which package is cheaper. And when shopping for perishables, avoid buying more than you need.

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4 thoughts on “The Perils of Buying in Bulk”

  1. Very true. Costco and Sam’s don’t always have the best price around. My solution is to create a price book for stuff I normally use. That way I know what stuff is cheaper where. I used to snap pictures of the price tags using my cell phone but I quickly ran out of space. So, I created a spreadsheet on my pocket PC and that’s where I enter the prices now.

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