Bulk Buying

Photo by v2osk on Unsplash

Hello everyone.

I hope you are all staying healthy and safe.

A few posts ago, we talked about ‘Consume Less Consumables’ in Doing More with Our Money Blog #6. Applying those strategies can certainly lead to a lot of savings!

Now let’s talk about saving even more money with consumables through Bulk Buying.

Yes, I know we were trying to use less consumables, and now I’m telling you to buy more of them, but stay with me here.

I know a lot of people already tend to buy extra when there’s a sale on something they use often.

When I was addicted to Diet Coke, I would buy 10+ cases any time it was on sale, saving a ton.

Pro tip – I saved significantly more when I kicked that habit and switched to water! 😊

If you don’t buy up when items are on sale, don’t take it from me, take it from billionaire ‘entrepreneur, television personality, media proprietor’1 and owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, Mark Cuban. In an interview with Vanity Fair2, Cuban mentions:

 “It’s so hard to make a return on regular investments that … you’re better off buying two years’ worth of toothpaste when it’s on 50 percent discount. There’s an immediate return on your money.”. He suggests to take it further with “any reusables or consumables…when they’re on a huge sale…buy them…That’s a real savings that you get to put in your pocket.”

Now that we’ve established it can be a good idea to bulk up on items when they’re on sale, let’s talk about buying bulk, or up-sizing when items aren’t on sale, but there are different sized packages available.

A couple of things to consider when buying in bulk:

  • Don’t do it if you have to use a credit card and pay interest. Only do it if you can fully pay for it now.
  • Don’t buy more if it’s likely you will just consume more. For example, let’s say you typically eat a normal size bag of chips over a week. If it’s on sale, or there is a super-sized bag available, don’t bulk buy if you will just eat more. That’s not good for your pocketbook or your waste-line!
  • Don’t bulk buy if you aren’t sure you will use before it expires or is no longer useful to you. The last thing you want to do is end up throwing out half a vat of Miracle Whip you bought in 2015 because it was a good deal.

Keep that in mind for items other than food as well. While I sit in my home office writing this, I’m looking over at my printer that is gasping for life. A few months back, I loaded up on ink cartridges that were on sale. It didn’t occur to me the printer might crap out before I use them, leaving me with cartridges that may not fit a new printer! Fingers crossed my printer survives a little while longer!

Now that we have those thoughts in mind, let’s look at a few examples I came across while shopping last week. These examples all come from one store, and are a snapshot in time. That said, I can say with experience this is pretty indicative of what you will regularly see at most stores.

Glass cleaner, cereal and cat food. If it makes sense for you to buy the larger formats, you will see significant savings in these examples. The larger bottle of this glass cleaner saves us 33%, Bran Flakes  34% and cat food 46%!

Check out how I came to these numbers in the chart at the bottom of this post.

I get that it’s less convenient to carry and store larger sizes but is our convenience worth overpaying by that much?!

If our investments increased by 33%, 34% or 46% we would be over the moon. Why aren’t we as excited when we save that much?

Oh, and for the glass cleaner, if you need the spray nozzle, just buy one of the spray bottle, and make sure you keep it to refill from the larger bottle.

I use small containers for daily use that I refill from a larger container for many things like this and salt & pepper, olive oil, laundry detergent, etc. etc. etc.

You can see in the pic above that the smaller bottle of this dish soap is on sale for $1.77 from $2.47. Even with the sale, you would still save 16% buying the larger bottle.

For me, the larger bottle of 5L would probably take me two+ years to go through, so I’m ok buying two of the smaller bottles on sale. But if it weren’t on sale, I’d definitely buy the larger bottle to save 40%!

It’s not like it’s going to go bad before I use it.

It’s natural to assume buying the larger format of this ketchup will save us money. This is a perfect example where sometimes that’s just not the case.

With this one, buying the smaller bottle actually saves you 15%, and it’s not even on sale!

Shame Walmart, shame.

Like the ketchup, buying the larger unit of deodorant at this store results in losing money, not saving!

Buying the small single unit saves you 7% compared to buying the larger single unit.

Shame Walmart, shame part two!

That said, Walmart recovers a bit with the third option – a two-pack of the large one. Buying the two-pack saves you 10% compared to the smaller single unit, and 16% compared to buying one of the single large units.

Plus, who doesn’t want to smell like ocean surf?

These are just a few examples for illustration. The math changes item by item and store by store, so you will have to keep that in mind when you shop.

Now, I fully understand this takes a bit of work. You may have to do some math, and nobody likes doing math!

Fortunately, most of us carry powerful calculators in our pockets. That, and many retailers actually do the math for you on the shelf tags.

Ketchup shelf tags showing the price per 100 ml

In these shelf tags for the ketchup, it indicates that the smaller bottle has a cost of $0.19700 per 100ml and the larger bottle is $0.23133 per 100 ml.

When you’re out shopping next, take a moment to see if there are different sizes available, do some quick math, think if there’s any potential for waste, and make sure you won’t just use more because you have more.

Then bulk buy as you see fit!

Even on just a couple of items here and there, the savings will add up, ensuring we are all Doing More with Our Money.

How many cases of beer do I save with Bulk Buying? Like with the ‘Consume Less Consumables’ post, I really don’t know. It would take a lot more time than I’d like to determine all the savings across the dozens of items I buy in bulk. That said, I know I’m saving a lot, and I hope you will too!

Thanks for reading, everyone!


1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Cuban

2 https://www.vanityfair.com/video/watch/mark-cuban-s-guide-to-getting-rich

4 Replies to “Bulk Buying”

  1. I totally agree with the danger of consuming more because there’s more around. That’s why I never stock up on chocolates and ice cream even if they’re on sale lol

  2. Great article, Mike. Thanks for highlighting the cost per unit on the shelf tag! Very helpful.

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