When you have a large family and cook large meals often (Shabbos, anyone?), you need to buy a lot of food. That adds up very quickly. I remember going on huge shipping trips with my mother to buy food, and the bill was astounding. While we are not quite there, my growing family has food bills that feel overwhelming at times. We try to act cheaply and are careful with what we spend, but there are some bills that you just can’t cut too low.
The excellent idea is to buy foods in bulk if possible. Buying large amounts of food, if you have storage space, means you can get lower prices on some samples and specialty items. We used to go to Sam’s Club to stock up on basics like tomato sauce, coffee, sugar, and paper goods for hosting and some other great deals that we found there. Sam’s club was one of our go-to stores growing up, and that has;t changed. We loved being picked to go with my mother even though it meant trucking through the ginormous warehouse because it was super fun. Everything is so BIG. We loved looking at other people’s carts. Why do they need 1,000 packets of Splenda? Who eats that much baked-beans? While similarly stocking up on the foods that we ate often. I’m sure people were taking lances at our cart as well.
The problem with big-box, bulk stores like Sam’s Club is that if you are not careful, you can very easily spend way too much money and blow your budget quicker than you blink. Here are some ways to get the best deals at Sam’s Club and the like.
Tips to Save Money when Buying in Bulk
- Only buy what you need. This may seem simple, but just you wait until you see pasta sauce for dirt cheap. Even if the price per unit is meager, if you are not going to use it up promptly, then don’t buy it.
- Look for deals. Not everything is a deal, and not always is it worth it to lay down the money. You can check out sites like Slickdeals for the best Sam’s Clubs deals and discounts that are currently on offer.
- Buy shelf-stable items if you are worried. If you are nervous that you may not be able to finish all the items promptly, then focus your buying on shelf-stable or items that can be frozen.
- Make a list. Make a list and check it twice against sites like Slickdeals to ensure you aren’t overspending and aren’t getting seduced by the fun displays or tempting prices.
- Share. Find a friend who likes similar items as you and split items that you like. Many times items come in smaller packages that are repacked into larger ones, making for easier splitting. This can help you save on food and not overwhelm you with too much stuff in your home.
- Make a list of items that are worth it to buy in bulk and reevaluate every so often.
- Only buy things in bulk you know you like and will use. There is nothing worse than buying a shampoo you hate than buying 5 gallons of a shampoo you hate.
- Look for coupons, deals, and discounts to help you save often. Sam’s Club often has a coupon booklet at customer service you can use to help you save even more money.
I think that buying in bulk is a piece of great personal finance advice that often is misused. People think that they need to buy in bulk to save money without thinking about whether buying in bulk will actually save them money. The worst case of this is when a lady explained that she goes into debt to shop because “bulk is always cheaper.” she was spending money she didn’t have to save money on items she wasn’t going to use quickly enough. If you don’t have the right storage space or the right needs, then don’t do it because you won’t save any money.
On the other hand, if you do have a large family or use certain items a lot, then you should absolutely use these tips to buy items in bulk and really save a lot of money on one of our biggest bills. Who can argue with the idea of saving even more money? Not me!