How to Save Money by Buying in Bulk

Whether you have a brand of detergent you love or a go-to cereal your kids are always crazy for, buying in bulk can save you both time and money while shopping.

In this article, we’ll review the some of our favorite bulk buying strategies in order to make sure you are only buying things you actually need, and are not being fooled by clever marketing strategies. By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to combine both buying in bulk and leveraging promos and deals to save hundred of dollars on your purchases!

We’ll discuss:

  • Top tips for buying in bulk

  • The best product categories to buy in bulk

  • The benefits of bulk buying

  • Things you can do to avoid wastage when buying in bulk.

Let’s dive right in!

1. Only Buy in Bulk Things You’ve Already Purchased

No matter how good the deal is, and no matter how much money you can save by switching brands and buying bulk, you should never purchase a new product in bulk without trying it first!

This rule is there for one simple reason: you need to know you can use everything you buy before you purchase it.

You don’t want to waste your new stockpile of resources just because it turns out you don’t actually like dried pinto beans. Additionally, you need to be aware of the health and safety impacts of the things you buy.

Now, we’re not suggesting that there is anything inherently dangerous about bulk buying from a food or product safety perspective.

The main point is that you need to know if what you’re buying in bulk agrees with you. If you buy a brand-new soap, for instance, you need to know that it won’t give you an allergic reaction.

It’s a lot less of a cost to find that out with a five-pack of soap than it is with five hundred bars of soap!

2. Don’t Buy Bulk Perishables

Perishable products, like fruit and dairy, are a ticking time bomb because they spoil quickly.

When you buy perishables in bulk – let’s say tomatoes – you have two options.

One option is to eat tomatoes every day, for every meal, until you’ve burned through your stockpile.

The other option is to get into canning, drying, and otherwise preserving as many tomatoes as humanly possible until your pantry is full of them and you’re eating them with every meal for years to come.

Buying in bulk is about ensuring you have to shop less often and getting a better price on the goods you buy. It’s not just about buying a lot of something because the price is right!

For that reason, buying non-perishable items is the best way to go because you get more bang for your buck without locking yourself into eating everything in a few days.

Anything you buy in bulk should last for at least six months. This gives you a consistent timetable to work from, and it allows you to incorporate the food into your diet more naturally.

Items like grains, dried beans, wheat, seeds, and nuts are the best options for purchasing in bulk because they can be used in a wide variety of recipes, keep longer than six months, and are healthy and substantial foods.

3. Make Sure You Are Saving at Least 10%

The value proposition of buying bulk is that you pay more upfront for a greater volume of product so that you can save money on a per-unit price.

To balance out the higher initial cost, you need to ensure that you are saving at least 10% of the total price you would pay on the product if you were to buy it as individual units.

If you’re not saving 10% or more, you’re just buying a larger quantity of product than you usually would!

In that case, you’re better off waiting for a sale and purchasing multiple individual units at a lower sale price.

4. Always Price Check Against Individual Units

When you see a weight price that looks great, be sure to check it against the individual units.

It might be that buying bulk gives you a great per-lb price, but an individual unit of 1 ½ lb is only a few dollars more – less than one and a half times the by-weight bulk price.

In other cases, especially when shopping online, larger storefronts will often display false bulk prices with greater savings than you’ll actually get.

For this reason, be sure to check bulk prices against individual unit prices to ensure you’re actually getting the deal you signed up for.

What Stores Offer the Best Bulk Deals?

Some stores are better for bulk buying than others, and some stores are better for bulk buying certain products than others.

There are two big names in bulk buying: Sam’s Club and Costco. Both of these companies run on a bulk-buy business model, offering wholesale prices on thousands upon thousands of different products.

Both Sam’s Club and Costco are membership-only retailers, so you need to pay to join.

However, if you shop wisely, you’ll more than make up for that entry price with the savings you can achieve by buying in bulk.

5 Great Categories to Buy in Bulk

The best items to buy in bulk have a shelf life of at least 6 months. This ensures they will not go bad, and can be used eventually. There is no worse feeling than thinking you are going to save money by buying in bulk only to throw your purchase away a few months down the line.

When buying in bulk each of the below categories should save you at least 10% on price and will keep for at least six months.

  1. Cleaning Products

These household necessities are meant to last a long time by design, so it’s no surprise that you can buy many types of cleaning products in bulk!

A word of caution, though: many of these products contain harsh chemicals that might not keep well when stored for long periods, so it’s best to check the label before stocking up.

Examples of the best cleaning products to bulk buy:

  • Dishwashing liquid and soap
  • Laundry detergent powder
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Disinfectant sprays.
  1. Personal Care Products

Like household cleaning products, personal hygiene products are also generally safe for long-term storage and bulk buying!

These are usually designed to stay effective for at least a year, so larger households can take advantage of the deals available. For your bulk buying needs, check out these products:

  • Hair care
  • Toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Lotion, moisturizer, shaving cream.
  • Non-Perishable Food Items

It’s can be a good idea to bulk buy non-perishable food items if you want to cover a lot of potential scenarios.

Maybe you can’t be bothered whipping something up in the kitchen during a busy work night. Or, perhaps your town is bracing for a storm!

In either case, these food items make sure you and your family are always well-prepared and well-fed.

  • Canned goods, like meats, beans,
  • Dried food, such as fruits and vegetables and meat jerky
  • Nuts, seeds (like rice), and granola and protein bars
  • Cereals, crackers, and jams.
  1. Office Supplies

Another category of products you can safely buy in bulk is office supplies.

These simply never expire and are very cost-effective if you have a lot of office work, papers, and documents you need to create on a daily basis. Supplies to consider include:

  • Boxes of pens, pencils, and markers
  • Reams of paper, such as bond, construction, and vellum paper, as well as stationery
  • Staples, clips, and pins.
  1. Household Essentials

Running your home means having a ready supply of all the essentials, whether that’s in the kitchen, in the garden, or just general use.

Because these products can cover just about anything you might use in your home, we won’t blame you if you’re scratching your head wondering what you can buy in bulk.

Check this list out!

  • Paper towels and cotton towels
  • Wipes, brushes, brooms, mops, and rubber gloves
  • Screws, nails, duct tape.
  • Baby Supplies

If you have a little one at home, it’s a good move to buy baby supplies in bulk to save money and keep them (and you) happy.

You’ll definitely burn through your supplies faster than you think, and having excess stock will reduce those draining trips to the grocery store when you’re contending with a newborn.

  • Diapers and baby hygiene supplies, such as bath soaps and moisturizers
  • Bottlefeeding items and boxes of formula milk
  • Clothes, blankets, and swaddles.
  1. Pet Supplies

Who says your fur friends should miss out on all the joys of bulk buying? As part of the family, pets have their needs as well – and the best part is that you can stock up on their supplies in bulk too!

  • Dry, wet, and canned foods and treats
  • Pet hygiene supplies, such as bath soaps or gels, flea medication, and worming tablets
  • Toys, tags, and collars.

What Are the Primary Benefits of Buying in Bulk?

You now know what to be on the lookout for when you’re buying in bulk, as well as great categories to stock up on.

But you may still be wondering: why should you do it? Here’s a rundown of the top benefits of buying items in bulk!

  1. Whether you’re an in-store or online shopper, buying in bulk saves money either way.

You’ll need fewer trips to the grocery, cutting down fuel costs and giving you more time to spare. Online shipping prices are also a lot more cost-effective because you won’t need deliveries as often

  1. Many stores offer huge discounts when it comes to bulk buying compared to retail pricing. It’s not surprising to see savings of around 10% or more when buying in bulk

  2. Because you have a better idea of how long your products will last, you can budget and plan for future purchases much more effectively.

Knowing when you’re running low on supplies allows you to take some of the pressure off of your finances.

  1. Having extra supplies at the ready means you’re always prepared for emergencies and other unexpected adverse events!

For example, in the event of a disaster, your canned and other non-perishable foods will keep you fed while waiting for things to return to normal.

  1. Buying in bulk is also environmentally friendly! Unlike retail items which are individually packaged, it’s common to see bulk items packed together as a single item.

For example, buying six rolls of toilet paper in one go means you’re dealing with only one plastic packaging, not six.

What Should You Avoid Buying in Bulk?

Generally speaking, items that spoil easily, are perishable, or don’t have a long shelf-life for one reason or another are things you should cross out of your bulk buying list.

These will only waste your money and time and leave you with the stress of unexpected grocery runs and expenses!

Some examples include:

  • Fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats, and frozen goods
  • Spices and condiments, as these lose their flavor
  • Baked goods and cooking oils
  • Bleach
  • Facial care products, like creams and sunscreen.

How to Avoid Waste When Buying in Bulk

Before buying in bulk, you should first track your consumption for around two months to understand how much you actually need.

Doing this can help you temper your excitement and buying more than necessary.

It’s also important to set a rule for when you should consume the products you bought.

It can be around six months or a year, but you should remain conscious of the expiration date for each item you buy.

Practice the First-In, First-Out approach as well!

This makes sure you’re using up the products you bought earlier rather than forgetting about them until they’re past salvaging. It will also help you visually track how your supplies are holding up.

Bulk pricing always offers a bigger discount, so it can be tempting to buy the biggest quantity in order to get the biggest savings.

However, if you end up throwing away half of what you purchase, you haven’t really saved anything and the discount doesn’t matter!

Other Tips to Save Money Buying Bulk

  1. Buy more to get greater savings and split purchases with family and friends. This way, you gain access to even greater savings with larger orders and pay even less by splitting the costs

  2. Many wholesalers offer coupons for money off purchases. Using coupons can help cut your costs even further!

  3. Opt for products that have a much longer expiration date. This gives you more room to work with for when you should use these items so they’re not lying around unused until they’re no longer as effective or safe to use

  4. Just because you’re buying in bulk doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stick to a budget!

It’s easy to get carried away with the possible savings and forget that you shouldn’t spend more than necessary

This will also help you figure out what items you can benefit from buying in bulk instead of getting too excited and emptying grocery shelves without a second thought

  1. When buying in bulk, it’s important to keep track of how much you have left at home.

Regularly checking your inventory ( at least once a month) will allow you to stay on top of your supplies and help you project when you’ll next need to go on a grocery run.

about the author

Kevin Wang
Content Associate