Thanks to the internet, it’s easy for me to buy items in bulk, especially when I think I’m going to save money in the process.
But when I end up with six unused cans of shaving cream or only wearing five out of 10 shirts I bought at once, I realize I actually spent more than necessary.
It turns out that buying in bulk the right way takes some effort. After years of buying in bulk from wholesalers, such as Costco, and click-to-buy websites, such as Amazon, I’ve learned a thing or two about the practice.
5 do’s and don’ts of buying in bulk
Buying a product in bulk only helps your wallet when:
- You need it (and don’t just want it).
- You can store it.
- You won’t use it faster because you have more of it.
Here are five actionable do’s and don’ts to make the most of buying in bulk.
1. Don’t buy more than one without a trial
If you need a new item, it’s always wise to buy one of it first. If it’s a piece of clothing, for example, wear it, wash it, and see how it holds up. If it doesn’t last, then you avoid the mistake of buying a bunch of it.
I learned this lesson the hard way. My wife and I bought a 200-count box of Costco’s Kirkland Signature trash bags. Its “tear-stop technology” is touted on the box. Unfortunately, the technology doesn’t stop the bags from leaking at the bottom.
I think we still have about 175 trash bags left.
2. Don’t shop without a list
Whether you shop at a wholesaler or your local store, you might be tempted to take advantage of sales. You can usually find discounts online or near a store’s entrance.
But buying in bulk is only worthwhile when you’re investing in a product you need. Discounts might encourage you to buy a bunch of something you don’t need.
To combat this, write a shopping list before browsing online or in a store. Once you know what you need to buy in bulk, look for coupons to score even more savings.
3. Do buy items you need and can store
The shopping list will help you stick to items you need now. But you can also include items you’ll need in the future. Before you buy these items, ensure they:
- Have a long shelf-life
- Could be shelved in your living space
- Aren’t priced lower elsewhere
Toilet paper is an easy example. You know you’re going to need it, and it doesn’t have an expiration date. But you do need to ensure your store is offering the best price.
However, initial savings won’t make up for overflowing closets at home if storage is an issue. Many times, my wife and I have skipped a bulk purchase simply because our New York City apartment didn’t have space for it.
4. Do be careful about buying food in bulk
Speaking of shelf life, avoid buying large amounts of food that’ll spoil before you can eat it. You want to be wary of buying produce, such as fruit and vegetables. Anything you can’t freeze might not be a good candidate for buying in bulk.
Zero in on nonperishables that you consume regularly. Think about what you normally buy, whether it’s rice, pasta, or something else. Examine the potential savings of buying in bulk by:
- Using cost per unit to compare prices
- Asking for wholesale discounts at your local grocery store
If you stock your kitchen with essentials that don’t expire, it’ll become easier to save money with meal planning.
5. Don’t sacrifice quality for immediate savings
When buying in bulk, you might be tempted to buy a lower-quality version of a product to score the biggest possible savings. However, being cheap ends up costing more in some cases.
Say you have the option of buying five low-quality work shirts for $50 or five higher-quality work shirts for $100. The lower-quality shirts will save you more money today, but the higher-quality tops could save you more over time. If they’re truly higher quality, they’ll last longer, and you won’t need to spend more money to replace them as quickly.
Avoid the mindset that you’re buying in bulk strictly to save money. Instead, adopt the mindset that you’re buying products you already know and like, so you might as well buy them in bulk to save money.
Consider the benefits of buying in bulk
Being a better shopper might not swing your finances the way that earning a big raise or making wise investments could.
But if buying in bulk trims your expenses, it gives you more money to do other things. Say you have student loans or other debt to pay off. Increasing your monthly payment by as little as $20 per month could save you hundreds of dollars in interest, according to our loan prepayment calculator.
Consider creating a budget to manage your spending and see how buying in bulk could play a role. Once you know how you’ve spent your money in the past, you can be more decisive about where it goes in the future.
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.54% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of March 18, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
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The information provided on this page is updated as of 0318/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
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3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.5% effective February 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
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