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Dollars & Sense: Does Buying in Bulk Really Save Money?

Dollars & Sense: Does Buying in Bulk Really Save Money?

Dollars & Sense
SouthEast Bank| November 13, 2020
Dollars & Sense: Does Buying in Bulk Really Save Money?

By Ben Luthi

Ben Luthi has been a freelance writer since 2013, covering all things money and travel. His work has appeared in many major publications and financial websites, including U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times, Fox Business, Experian, FICO and more. Ben lives in Utah with his two kids, and loves spending his free time traveling, hiking and talking about credit cards.

On paper, buying in bulk sounds like a great idea because you’ll save money on each unit you purchase. It’s why wholesale clubs like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s are so popular. But while buying in bulk can be a good way to cut down on everyday purchases, it may end up costing you more if you’re not careful. 

Here are some of the pros and cons of buying in bulk and how to avoid spending more than is necessary.

The Benefits of Buying in Bulk

Whether it’s a three-pack of shredded cheese, a 100 oz. tub of mayonnaise or a 40-pack of disposable razors, buying in bulk requires more upfront spending, but it could be a better financial decision. Here’s how buying in bulk can help your money situation:

For these reasons, it may be worth having a wholesale club membership, even if it costs money each year — as long as your savings exceed the annual cost.

The Drawbacks of Buying in Bulk

Depending on how you do it, making bulk purchases can save you money and cut down on your shopping trips. But there are also potential drawbacks that could end up costing you more than you think:

For these reasons, it’s important to be mindful about how you shop in bulk, so you can avoid spending too much or bringing too much home.

What You Should and Shouldn’t Buy in Bulk

It’s really up to you to decide what to buy in bulk and what not to. Each family is different in how they consume food and other items, so it’s important to know your spending and eating habits. However, there are certain items that typically do better when bought in bulk than others.

Here are some items that make sense, especially if you know you’ll use them completely:

In contrast, some bulk items are more likely to expire before you have the chance to use them, including:

Again, it’s important to keep track of the types of items that you end up throwing away to determine which ones to avoid. But if you and your family can manage to consume everything before it goes bad, it may not be an issue.

The Bottom Line 

Buying in bulk can save you money, but it’s important to be intentional about what you choose to buy and how much. Ask yourself a few questions to determine whether buying something in bulk is worth it:

The last question is one of the most important. It can be easy to buy a lot of something at a wholesale club that you don’t really need and didn’t budget for. If you’re not careful, you could run up a huge charge every time you shop, making it difficult to meet your other financial obligations and goals.

Also, evaluate your bulk shopping habits from time to time to make sure you’re still taking advantage of the savings. Consumption habits can change, and if you’ve bought large quantities of something in the past but don’t eat that much anymore, it may be time to adjust your shopping list. 

The most important thing is to be mindful of how you spend your money, so you can avoid wasting cash that you could be using for other important financial goals.

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