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When Should You Buy in Bulk?

One of the common admonitions that consumers often hear is to buy in bulk. When you buy in bulk, the reasoning goes, is that you get an overall discount for buying large quantities.

In some cases, this works well, providing you with a lower per-unit cost on items that you purchase regularly. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t make sense to buy in bulk [3].

When it Makes Sense to Buy in Bulk

It makes sense to buy in bulk when you plan to use items regularly, and when it can get pricey otherwise. My family doesn’t do much shopping at the warehouse store [4]because we don’t often get through some of the bulk items. There are some things that we do get all the warehouse store, like over the counter medications, but many things, like fresh produce, we don’t get through before they spoil. (And some items, like paper products, are a better deal when we buy them on sale elsewhere.)

If you know that you will get through the items before they go bad, it makes sense to buy in bulk. It also makes sense if you are purchasing non-perishables that you know you will use over a long period of time. We stock up on toilet paper and paper towels when they are on sale at the local Shopko in order to pay higher prices at other times. We also buy pasta in bulk, as well as many canned items that we rotate as part of our home food storage [5].

Stocking up can mean that you aren’t at the mercy of higher prices when you really need¬†something. However, it doesn’t make sense to buy in bulk if you end up throwing a portion of it away. Think about how often you use the items, and whether you are better off buying smaller quantities and not paying the large up front cost that often comes with buying in bulk.

Interesting Things to Buy in Bulk

It’s fairly clear that you can buy paper products and groceries in bulk, and save. However, there are actually other items that it might make sense to buy in bulk:

In the end, it can be worth it to pay a little extra up front in order to save money over time. Evaluate your needs, and your own spending habits, and then decide what items you should be buying in bulk.

(Photo: wachovia_138 [8])