When you’re caring for a large family or living on a budget, buying in bulk may seem like the perfect solution to save a few bucks. But, the reality is that many common household items and foods to feed your family are not always the best to buy in bulk.
In fact, the appeal of buying in bulk can leave you strapped for cash with overloading pantries and cupboards of unneeded items. Learn how to save on your most-used items and get the best bang for your buck when shopping at bulk stores. You may even find yourself resisting the urge to “go bulk.”
How to Conquer the Bulk Buy Temptations
Although a month’s supply of toilet paper, chips or fruit juices may seem like a bargain, the urge to buy more than what you need in bulk can put a serious dent in your pocketbook. The temptation to fill your cart with unnecessary items can take over if you’re not careful.
Instead of splurging on those flashy items on display, stick to a strict list, suggests Kevin Gallegos, consumer finance expert at Freedom Financial Network in San Mateo, Calif. “Stick with frequent-purchase items and stay away from items you use infrequently,” says Gallegos. Although you may find a great deal on carpet shampoo or freezer bags in bulk, you may be tying up money that could be better spent on items you use on a daily basis.
Keep cash on hand to resist the temptation to overspend when frequenting warehouse and bulk stores, says Gallegos. “To get the most from bulk buying and not overspend, learn to create and use a simple budget that includes categories for basic areas of spending,” he suggests. “Before you shop, determine what your monthly allocation is for these categories, make a list and then go to the store.”
Take the determined amount of cash with you so you avoid overspending by purchasing a cart full of items you may not use. “With bulk buying, realize that you might spend two months worth of budget for some items,” says Gallegos. “Just make sure to allocate appropriately in your budget so you don’t overspend next month.”
Even though it may appear that bigger is better when walking into a bulk store, narrow down your potential buys by choosing a smaller cart. There are often sneaky ways stores can tempt you to buy more. If you are toting a small basket or mini cart, you will not be able to overdo it at the warehouse club.
Look Beyond Bulk Options
Savings come in many forms, so it’s best to do your research before heading to any store. For example, if you want the best buy on fresh fruits and vegetables, scope out the local farms and farmers’ markets to get the most bang for your buck. “Farmers and ranchers often will be able to offer excellent prices and savings on large quantities,” says Gallegos. “If you don’t need perfect-looking fruit, maybe for baking, cooking, canning or just eating, ask about ‘B’ fruit or bruised boxes. ‘B’ doesn’t mean sub-par in taste or vitamins – these ‘B’ or bruised fruits can be up to half off and taste just as good.”
Grocery stores can also offer items in bulk if you need to stock up on large quantities for your family. “Often, retailers of any kind will be able to provide bulk pricing upon request for certain items,” says Gallegos.
In addition, many grocery stores offer double or triple coupon days so you can maximize your savings. Sign up for e-coupons online or register for manufacturer coupons on items you use frequently. Coupons are definitely worth cutting, says Teri Gault, CEO and founder of The Grocery Game, an online grocery savings website.
“It’s all about timing with coupons,” says Gault. “People get discouraged with coupons, mostly because they don’t know when to use them. A lot of people cut a few coupons and go to the store, only to find out that it is cheaper to buy a different item without the coupon.”
The key to using coupons successfully is to stack the deals. The sale plus a manufacturer coupon plus a store coupon plus register rewards equate to great savings, says Gault. “That’s called stacking the deals, and most stores allow some sort of stacking, especially with a sale,” says Gault.
Check your weekly circular for the best buys on meat, produce and household items, too.