Is Buying in Bulk Actually Worth It?

If you like reality TV then you’ve probably seen commercials for the specialty shows like “Doomsday Preppers” and “Extreme Couponing.” While these shows may seem a little silly and a lot like a waste of time, there are those who make the concept of these shows a daily part of their lives.

In “Doomsday Preppers”, the people actually build bomb shelters on their property, teach their kids to shoot and hunt, and stock their shelters with MREs, long lasting shelf stable foods, and household items that can be purchased in large quantities. On “Extreme Couponing”, people, usually women, spend hours a day clipping coupons. They take their superbly organized coupon accordion folders with them to the grocery store on double coupon day and fill their carts with 10 or more of the same item. They walk to the register with $600 worth of groceries and walk out of the store having only paid $150. The $600 worth of groceries typically ends up in a large storage space filled to the roof with shelves over flowing with enough food to last the couponers more than a year.

Yes, you can stock up on groceries to save money, but there is a fine line between saving money by buying 2-3 of an item to use over the month and buying in such large quantities that your car has been exiled to the driveway indefinitely so you can use the garage as a pantry.

So, where do you draw the line? When does buying in bulk become a problem and not a solution? Here are a few more questions you should ask yourself before renting the U-Haul for your next shopping trip.

Do You Have the Time?

Any extreme couponer will tell you that they devote HOURS of their day to finding, clipping, and organizing their coupons. Honestly, do you have a few extra HOURS a day to give to clipping coupons? Not only does it take hours to clip the coupons, but it takes several hours in the store to load up the MULTIPLE carts with the goods and products you’re buying. Do you have time in your day to spend HOURS in the grocery store? Can’t your time be better spent elsewhere?

Instead of spending those precious hours clipping coupons and pushing MULTIPLE carts (you can learn the art of cart trains) around a store, learn how to comparison shop using online copies of local grocery store fliers. Know what you need to get, find out who carries it cheaper, and go there to get it. If the store is out of your way, why not print out the flier and take it to a store that offers price matching…like Wal-Mart.

Do You Have the Space?

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, people who buy months’ worth of groceries at one time have to have someplace safe to store their purchases. That means that typical storage rooms Those in-kitchen pantries just don’t cut it. Unless you have an actual bomb shelter to stock, you’re going to have to move your car and store your purchases in the garage, an auxiliary storage shed in the yard, or an empty bedroom in your house. Before going on your trip to the grocery store with your coupons in hand, you should consider where your items will end up. Do you have the space in your house, in your life, for the amount of items you’re planning to purchase?

Do You Really Need it?

One of the most popular places to shop for bulk items, without the coupons, is Sam’s Club. Sam’s Club is a store that began as a product distributor for businesses and restaurants, but families and individuals began to recognize that buying bulk items saved them time and money. When it comes to club stores like Sam’s, their bulk items are actually bulk SIZED items, which means that you may go into the store looking for mayonnaise and leave the store with a one gallon jug of mayonnaise (which is a reasonable amount of mayonnaise for a restaurant but not for a single woman).

Do you need a gallon of mayonnaise? Do you need a 5 gallon jar of pickles? Do you need six months’ worth of crackers?

Before you consider buying in bulk, you need to sit down and consider if you will actually use the products you buy BEFORE they expire. If not, don’t buy it, otherwise you’re wasting money rather than saving it.

If you want to stock your bomb shelter with 60 cans of pork and beans, but all means, buy in large quantities. But if you are only looking to feed yourself or your family, consider buying your groceries two weeks at a time using price match options to save time, money, and living space.