The judicious purchase of foods and household items in bulk can be a wonderful strategy for decreasing how much you spend on groceries. While bulk purchases often have lower per unit costs, they do cost more upfront because you are buying large quantities.
A 16 oz. package of pasta costs $0.99. You can get the same pasta for only $0.83 per 16 oz. if you’re able to purchase it in bulk (the 96 oz. package sells for $4.98). Similarly, a 16 oz. bag of shredded cheese costs $3.99. You can get the same shredded cheese for $2.80 per 16 oz. if you’re able to purchase it in bulk (the 80 oz. bag sells for $13.98).
As you can see from these numbers, bulk purchases may save you money in the long run, but you must have more money to make the initial purchases. If your budget is anything like mine, you don’t have enough money available to pay the upfront costs. Once you’re in the swing of making bulk purchases, the money you save each month can be saved and used to pay for the next bulk purchase, but how do you scrounge up enough to make the initial purchases? I’ve found 3 strategies that are realistic for my household.
Strategies for getting started with bulk purchasing
- If surplus money becomes available unexpectedly, such as from an income tax return or a pay bonus from work, use some of it to make a few bulk purchases. For each product purchased, divide the cost of the product by the number of months it will last you. Then take that amount of money out of your food or household supply budget for the appropriate number of months and put it in savings. When you run out of the products, you will have money saved to make the next bulk purchases.
- Even if surplus money does not become available, you can hold back a small amount of your budget for one or two months in order to make a bulk purchase the following month. Pick just one or two staple items when getting started. Use this strategy a few times during the year in order to build up the number of items you are able to purchase in bulk.
- Find “bulk buying buddies” with whom to share the expense. Find family members, friends, or neighbors who are interested in purchasing the same products you would like to purchase. Then go in together on the purchases. In doing this, you will be paying less upfront. Of course, you will not have bulk portions, but you will still be paying the lower per unit prices. This tactic is especially useful if your home does not have large amounts of storage space.
Do you make bulk purchases? What ways have you found to handle the upfront costs of buying in bulk?