Is Bulk Buying Cheaper?

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    Is Bulk Buying Really a Good Savings Strategy?

    1. Taylor Lee

      January 22nd, 2015 at 7:50 am

      But what if you have bulk buying PLUS couponing? Super Bulk Buying!!!
      Really, though, I agree people hype up bulk buying a lot more than its really worth. Good on you for making it work with coupons for less!

    2. Sarah Cooney

      January 22nd, 2015 at 9:04 am

      Well… yes and no. A $1 coupon off of a $2 purchase is a 50% savings, but if you were to use that same $1 coupon on a $10 bulk purchase, it becomes only a 10% savings. With that said, the initial unit price is slightly less to start with on bulk purchases, but only just. In the end, you can still save more with smaller purchases and coupons, than with bulk buying and coupons. Thank you for reading!

    3. C@thesingledollar

      January 22nd, 2015 at 8:13 am

      I avoid both kinds of bulk buying actually, for the reason you mention….too many cough drops! 🙂 I do try to stock up when things I truly use all the time are on sale, but other than that I avoid it because I just don’t go through things fast enough to make it worthwhile. I’ve definitely over-bought from bulk stores too much in the past. I agree with you — the membership fee makes it really not worth it!

    4. Sarah Cooney

      January 22nd, 2015 at 9:00 am

      Completely understandable! I was only showing that it’s possible to get a similar quantity to the wholesale packages at a cheaper price, but you can still get that cheaper until price by buying 1 bag and using coupons, if you don’t want as much! And boo- down with member fees!

    5. Annie K.

      January 22nd, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Awesome article! I’ll definitely be thinking twice before I next visit a warehouse club!

    6. Sarah Cooney

      January 22nd, 2015 at 8:58 am

      Thanks for reading, Annie!

    7. Shannon @ Financially Blonde

      January 22nd, 2015 at 10:01 am

      Last summer I went through the exercise of comparing all of the usual items I buy vs. the bulk item unit cost of those items and for the most part, we are better off buying the items in smaller quantities (especially when there are store deals or coupons) then in bulk. It was really an eye-opening experiment that I think everyone should do before they blindly buy bulk.

    8. Sarah Cooney

      January 22nd, 2015 at 11:20 am

      EXACTLY! Thank you for reading Shannon!

    9. Kristin

      January 22nd, 2015 at 10:08 am

      Thanks for sharing this! I am single, so I have never been tempted to shop at a bulk superstore. I went with a friend once and was totally overwhelmed. I stick to a weekly grocery budget and can’t imagine spending so much money at once in one of these stores, even if I was buying in bulk. I just don’t have that mindset and feel like I get a better deal when I stick to weekly ads, coupons and deals.

    10. Sarah Cooney

      January 22nd, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      Me too, Kristin! As a single girl myself, I can’t imagine dropping so much money at once! Thanks for reading!

    11. Elroy

      January 22nd, 2015 at 10:54 am

      Bulk buying is only worth it if you use it all as well. My wife loves Costco [and there are ways to shop there without a membership] and so I pay the $45/year to keep her happy. She does a good job checking ads and running around to different stores to get different things. Since I’m hands off on the shopping and don’t want to hear any complaining about it, it’s hard for me to say, “hey you can save money clipping more coupons” [which she already does a little].

    12. Sarah Cooney

      January 22nd, 2015 at 11:19 am

      Hi Elroy! I will admit that there are SOME things that are difficult to coupon- for example, I have a friend who buys frozen tuna steaks in bulk. I will concede that I’ve never seen a coupon for that… it sounds like your wife knows her stuff, and as long as she’s proactive about shopping elsewhere and unsing coupons on the products that she can buy that way, there’s nothing wrong with bulking up every once in a while :). Thanks for reading!

    13. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom

      January 22nd, 2015 at 11:24 am

      I’ve found our local discount store has better prices on most of the stuff we actually use than the membership stores. But I admit that I haven’t done a full comparison. I used to coupon more, but I found I was stocking up on stuff I didn’t really need. It was just too tempting to buy 4 packs of Halls when we might use one roll every 5 years. The savings I got with couponing were pretty incredible, and the sale price + coupon to get the smallest cost per unit is definitely a great strategy!

    14. Sarah Cooney

      January 22nd, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      Thanks for reading, Emily! Absolutely- with coupons, there’s not really a need to over-buy, just to buy smarter! Keep up the good work!

    15. Mrs. Maroon

      January 22nd, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Timely article for me since I went to the local warehouse store just yesterday! I certainly agree with your assertion that lower unit prices can be found through shopping sales and using coupons. I try to stick to bulk buying for products I know we use all the time. For lots of those, we don’t have the luxury of waiting until a coupon comes out. We need it when we need it. Plus I fear is be the one to buy something just because I could get it at a great price, even if we wouldn’t necessarily use it. I find buying what we need for now is the best way to keep my spending in check. The unit prices might be a little higher, but the overall cash outlay will likely be less.

    16. Sarah Cooney

      January 22nd, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      The couponer’s creed is “buy it now, when it’s cheap or free, so you won’t have to pay full price when you DO need it!” Of course, if you’re going to buy something you wont use just because there’s a good price, then that defeats the purpose. Keep up the good work, Mrs. Maroon!

    17. Ben Luthi

      January 22nd, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      Pretty sweet! I think buying in bulk is helpful if you have a large family, but otherwise you either end up wasting the extra food or paying more for the annual membership than you actually save because you rarely have a justified reason to buy that much.

    18. Sarah Cooney

      January 22nd, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      You definitely do have to be careful about wasting food, but for non food products, or even non perishable food products, buying large quantities can be good at times- just use coupons and sales- not bulk stores! Thank you so much for reading, Ben!

    19. Chela @SmashOdyssey

      January 22nd, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      Very interesting! My mom got me a free membership to Sams recently, and my husband and I walked through one day. We don’t have kids, so first of all, buying in bulk doesn’t work for perishables. Secondly, we live in a tiny apartment, and literally don’t have room to store 5 years worth of paper towels! And most importantly, the prices were almost the same as at the normal grocery store. I can see how bulk buying would be convenient for large families but it’s definitely not for us.

    20. Sarah Cooney

      January 22nd, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      Bulk superstores can be intimidating for sure! I completely understand not being able to store that much at home. I demonstrated buying 144 cough drops just to show the price difference, but you can get that same unit price and NOT buy 8 bags if you want! Just use coupons and sales, and you’ll be shopping smarter, even if you don’t buy out the store!

    21. Dariana

      January 22nd, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      Super informative article! Thanks for the great advice Ms. Cooney!

    22. Sarah Cooney

      January 22nd, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

    23. Michelle

      January 22nd, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      We don’t spend a lot of time buying in bulk. If we had a lot of kids, then we would invest more time into this.

    24. Sarah Cooney

      January 23rd, 2015 at 8:20 am

      Thanks for reading, Michelle!

    25. Petrish @ Debt Free Martini

      January 23rd, 2015 at 2:09 am

      I believe bulk buying can be beneficial when you split the products with a friend. My sisters do this and it works out pretty great. Otherwise there are only certain products that are worth the trip to purchase in bulk. Its up to the consumer to determine what that may be.

    26. Sarah Cooney

      January 23rd, 2015 at 8:19 am

      There are definitely times that buying large quantities is smart- just make sure you’re getting the smallest unit price, and not just buying blindly because the store claims it’s a good deal. Thanks for reading!

    27. Holly@ClubThrifty

      January 23rd, 2015 at 7:56 am

      I don’t buy much in bulk (aside from TP) because I don’t have a ton of food storage room. We do fine by checking unit prices and buying the best value or what is on sale.

    28. Sarah Cooney

      January 23rd, 2015 at 8:16 am

      It’s all about the unit price! Thanks for reading, Holly!

    29. Lila

      January 23rd, 2015 at 5:48 pm

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with paying a membership to shop if people choose to do that and if their families benefit, like if it’s a family of five. I could see how for some families bulk buying could work out. I don’t bulk buy, usually if something is running out in a few days, I will get on Amazon and get it.

      You can also use their subscribe and save subscriptions, as well as prime pantry. From Amazon Prime Pantry I’ve ordered mayo, napkins, dish liquid, q-tips, etc. On Amazon, I’ve even gotten appliances like a steamer, a computer monitor, a shredder, kitchen utensils, kitchen dinnerware, toilet paper, Swiffer, etc. And now Amazon has digital coupons.

      I like to go to Nebraska Furniture Mart in real life for big ticket items like a mattress. I only go there when I need something that big. I’ve only been there like 2-3 times. I pretty much do most of my shopping online with Amazon, I like to think of Amazon as my personal assistant. I still shop in real life for groceries. I’d have them delivered if they didn’t cost $25 for delivery.

    30. Sarah Cooney

      January 24th, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      I love that Amazon now has digital coupons! It sounds like you’ve got a great system down for yourself, Lila! Thanks for reading!

    31. marty

      January 24th, 2015 at 12:08 am

      I just recently graduated and started taking care of my own shopping and I was also brought up on bulk is better! But I am finding that depends on how many your feeding and the particular items your buying. Some items that are not perishable for a large family it easier and cheaper to buy in bulk but for everyday thing it seems to cost more. It all depends what kind of deals you can get

    32. Sarah Cooney

      January 24th, 2015 at 12:32 pm

      Absolutely, Marty! “It all depends what kind of deals you can get”- I’m not totally against buying large quantities of things, just make sure you’re getting the lowest possible unit price!

    33. Weekly Update - Sunburnt Saver

      January 24th, 2015 at 8:06 pm

      […] Sarah is a new staff writer at The Broke and Beautiful Life, and she has an excellent post debunking bulk buying. Do you buy in a bulk? You might want to check out Sarah’s post about how, sometimes, not buying […]

    34. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank

      January 25th, 2015 at 4:37 am

      I just love the bulk buying because I am never running out of items. How many times have people tried doing a recipe and find out they are missing a vital ingredient? Yay!

    35. Sarah Cooney

      January 27th, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      My boyfriend calls my closet “Cooney’s General Store”- because I have a shelving unit that I house all my couponing spoils in, and it’s always fun to “go shopping” there when I need something. I hate running out as well! Thank you for reading, Jayson!

    36. Tania

      January 26th, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      I do have a Costco membership but I’m very particular about what I buy there. I go maybe once a month and grab just a few things. Being a one person household and a light eater, most products there are not worth it. The wine is a good deal (on my favorite moscato asti, I save about $8/bottle compared to the grocery store and it never goes on sale). I also buy cheese, gluten free bread and laundry detergent (when Costco has it on coupon). Each year I do evaluate my needs and determine which type of membership I’ll get. So for this year I knew I needed tires so I got the cash back higher cost membership (but came out ahead after the cash back) and my tires were also lower priced than at competitors. Gas is also cheap and if the line is reasonable I’ll fill up there as well. For the items I don’t buy at Costco, I agree. I save a lot by buying generic brands, farmers market or by buying only the quantity I’ll need in terms of spoilage (I just don’t need that much food). Also limiting processed foods (which many are buying at Costco) saves me a ton too (no soda, cookies, etc for me). I am on Maui so our shopping options are quite limited. We can’t coupon the way some of you on the mainland can, it’s not the same here.

    37. Sarah Cooney

      January 27th, 2015 at 8:01 pm

      Hawaii is an absolutely gorgeous place- but for sure harder to find good deals sometimes. It sounds like you have a good system that works for you. If you have a store that DOES accept coupons though, and find that they’re hard to come by there, coupons.com is a good place to print them. Thank you so much for reading, Tania!

    38. Jess @UsedYorkCity

      January 27th, 2015 at 8:16 am

      Coupons > Costco! I think my biggest issue is I don’t really know where to look for coupons. I don’t get any newspapers for the traditional ones…are there any apps (other than the RetailMeNot) or internet sites that you’d recommend for finding coupons for everyday Duane Reade kinda items? I’d love to see a post on that!:-) And welcome to the site, Sarah!

    39. Sarah Cooney

      January 27th, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      Thanks, Jess! It’s exciting to be here! As far as websites go- coupons.com and smartsource.com are sites where you can print coupons. If you’re looking for a specific brand or item, I love going to TheKrazyCouponLady’s coupon archive: http://thekrazycouponlady.com/print-coupons/ – she not only lets you know what’s available, but has links to where you can find each coupon to print! Coupons>Costco for sure!! Thanks for reading!

    40. This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

      January 27th, 2015 at 10:52 am

      […] Sarah Cooney shared some thoughts “Debunking Bulk Buying.” […]

    41. Kayla @ Everything Finance

      January 27th, 2015 at 1:01 pm

      I don’t bulk buy many things, except personal care products that don’t expire and a few pet supplies. But I only buy in bulk when it is actually cheaper (I do the math to make sure!).

    42. Sarah Cooney

      January 27th, 2015 at 7:55 pm

      Way to do the math, Kayla! Thanks for reading!

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