The Truth About Buying In Bulk

The Truth About Buying In Bulk

We’ve been taught that buying larger quantities is financially smart but is that the real truth when it comes to buying in bulk? The answer isn’t black and white and depends on your situation.


Pushing keyboard button to buy online

If you buy eight 38-ounce bottles of Dawn detergent online for 17.5 cents per ounce but can buy one same-sized bottle at Target for 17.8 cents per ounce, is it really worth having eight bottles on hand? You’ve handed over $53.20 to save $.91. Saving almost $1 by laying out $53.20 may or may not be worth it to you and that’s OK.

BUT, the next part of the guideline is just as important. Do you have room to neatly store the excess? If you have a place for the 7 extra bottles of Dawn so that you remember you have them, know where they are, and can easily access them, great. If any part of this isn’t true, however, you should think twice before buying in bulk.

Here are some ideas to consider when determining whether you have sufficient storage space to buy in bulk:

If you can store the excess in or near the place you’ll be using it, great.  For instance, do you have room under the kitchen sink for the extra Dawn bottles?  Be honest, though.  If placing the extra bottles under the sink means everything else is now wedged in, you don’t really have room.

Paper towels falling out of stuffed closet

Setting up a central storage place for overflow products can be a great solution. Often, this will be a garage or basement. Once again, no cheating. Packages of paper towels, toilet paper, and water bottles placed here, there, and everywhere isn’t good organization and should be avoided. Good organizing is placing overflow products on shelves or pallets which create boundaries, keep everything visible, and help you keep similar items together.

Messy plastic bags

When storing excess items, ALWAYS take them out of shopping bags. A good maxim to remember is, “anything in a bag is invisible.” It may seem obvious that the Target bag has extra soap and deodorant in it when you set it on the garage floor in September but by October you’ll have no clue what’s in the bag and will find yourself back at Target buying more soap and deodorant.

Buying in bulk doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. It may be a pain to run out of toilet paper and water bottles and you’ve got room to neatly store them in the garage so go ahead and buy them in bulk. But if it’s unlikely that you’ll run out of Dawn before getting a chance to buy more and you don’t have room for the excess, don’t buy that particular item in bulk.

Think of your space as real estate. Some real estate is more valuable than other real estate. For most of us, a pantry is VERY valuable real estate because there’s so much we need to store there. It is very tempting to store bulk items in the pantry but using valuable real estate this way may not be worth the trade-off. Sure, you have room to store those extra 24 rolls of paper towels and 1,000 red Solo cups but now you have to move 15 cans of veggies to see if you have green beans, the salad dressing bottles are all falling over, and you have to eat all the Oreos because there’s no place to put them (OK, that last one may actually be a different problem, but you get the idea.). In this case, using the pantry for bulk purchases is too costly compared to being able to see and easily access everything you have in the pantry.

Buying in bulk is neither good nor bad by itself but it’s good to consider whether you’re saving enough to justify a larger layout of cash upfront AND whether you have room to neatly store and access the excess.

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