We all get excited at the thought of buying a lot of stuff at a discount. Who doesn’t love a good deal? What’s even better is that buying in bulk can save both money and time. What could possibly go wrong? Actually, a lot. Fortunately with a bit of planning ahead and arming yourself with some knowledge anyone can become a successful bulk buyer but if you go in with no game plan, you could end up losing a lot more than you bargained for.
Here’s a simple list of dos and don’ts for successful bulk shopping, along with some great examples of the best items to buy in bulk:
1. Purchase items you use frequently. If you rarely eat meat, then buying it in bulk wouldn’t make sense since the meat wouldn’t be eaten before its expiration date. However, frozen meat lasts for six to nine months when stored properly and can be a great savings if you’re a big meat eater and have a family. Only buy what you know you will use.
2. Look up the shelf life of an item you intend to purchase. Many items have a much shorter shelf life than you think. Things like bleach, condiments (such as mayo and ketchup), spices, baking ingredients (such as brown sugar and flour), and brown rice all only last about six months. Buy in bulk only if you know you can finish them within their life span.
3. Do not buy items if you have no room for them. This goes for anything you want to buy — even if they’re small, they still take up both mental and physical space, and over time, a little can add up to a lot more than you bargained for.
4. Keep in mind that there are often environmentally friendly alternatives to certain household items. Instead of purchasing in bulk paper towels, you can use old rags. Rather than stocking up on harsh chemicals which are toxic to you and the environment, stock up on environmentally friendly cleaning agents. You can buy many of them in bulk and simply reuse their containers. Purchasing a water filtration system rather than buying bottled drinks- many of which are high in sugar or chemicals can save time and money and you’ll be doing a great service to the environment by not using so many bottles and cans.
5. Remember changes can occur. What I mean by this is that if you are buying something like diapers in bulk, eventually your child will grow out of that size. Also, while you or your children may love a certain cereal, if you buy it in bulk they may start to hate it. Personally, I can’t even look at a certain candy bar thanks to my mother buying it so often when I was a teenager. Sometimes a product such as a deodorant can stop working effectively for you because your body has gotten used to it and lastly, before you try out a new product in bulk, buy a smaller portion of it and try it out. You may find you don’t like it, it doesn’t work or you’re allergic and you may not always be able to return the unused portions.
The best items I’ve found purchased in bulk are these:
- Toilet Paper
- Trash Bags
- Pet Food and Supplies
- Laundry Detergent
- Office Supplies
- Salt & Pepper
As for storage, keep items you store as close to where you’ll be using them as possible and store them in cool, dry places away from the sun to ensure you get the longest shelf life out of them. As always, the best way to successfully save time and money is to only purchase bulk items you need, use and have room for, and will use before they expire whether they’re bought in bulk or not.