Early this week, Yahoo! Finance shared a list of 10 Things You Should Always Buy in Bulk.
The list included things like toilet paper, diapers, personal care items, and meat. It also included dog treats, gum, and paper plates.
While it is true that you can save money when buying in bulk, it’s not a guaranteed way to save money. It’s especially not a great way to save if you ignore unit prices and buy things you don’t really need.
If you’re truly set on saving money at the stores, you need to learn to calculate the unit prices of things.
So, for, example, if you are buying diapers, you would need to take the total price of the package and divide it by the number of diapers in the package to figure out how much each diaper costs. This will allow you to compare different size packages to determine which one is the best price.
When you factor in sales, manufacturer and store coupons, you may find that the cost per unit (or in this case, diaper) is actually less if you buy a smaller sized package.
And what happens if you’ve bought a box of 120 Size 2 diapers, but Junior has a growth spurt halfway through the box? Now you have 60 diapers you can’t use. Buying in bulk wouldn’t save you money in this instance.
Nor would it save you any money when it comes to bulk buying some kinds of food. Your bulk food purchase could go bad or get stale before you have a chance to eat it.
You also have to have room to store things when you buy in bulk. And sometimes, that comes with expenses, too (like the electricity to run a chest freezer or food storage containers).
You have to consider all of the costs of a bulk purchase, not just the bottom line.
So many of the things on the list of 10 Things You Should Always Buy in Bulk are items that you shouldn’t bother to buy at all if you’re interested in saving money, eating well, and protecting the environment.
Instead of buying the items on this list, you could search out alternatives. You can save a lot of money by switching to cloth diapers, using a reusable water bottle (filled with tap water from home), using regular plates and cloth napkins instead of paper, and making your own laundry detergent. You really don’t need to buy gum, and dogs don’t really need treats. You don’t need to buy personal care items in bulk when you know how to use coupons to get things for free or nearly free.
Buying in bulk can sometimes save money. Just be sure you pay attention to the value of what you’re buying.