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Does buying in bulk really save that much money?

Posted at 5:00 AM, Mar 18, 2022

Buy more now and save more later. It seems like a good idea, which explains why Costco, Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale are so popular.

Millions of American shoppers like Tracy Reese like to buy in bulk to fight inflation, which is currently running close to 10% a year. She says she comparison shops and ends up saving money by shopping at Sam's Club.

"I buy things like the water, paper towels, toilet paper, things like that, and it's a lot cheaper here," Reece said.

Brittany Downing is a mom of five. She says she saves big bucks on cereal with a family that can through a box in a single day.

"I can get two bags of cereal here at Sam's for about six bucks and one box (at the grocery store) in a family size is probably $6," she said.

Why bulk buying may not always make sense

But sometimes buying in bulk can actually lead to wasting money, according to marketing expert Kelly Goldsmith of Vanderbilt University.

"That space that it takes up in your house effectively costs you money because you can't put anything else there," she said. "So think it through, and do you actually have the space to accommodate 48 rolls of toilet paper? Or is it going to be in the corner and really annoying you all the time?"

Toilet paper is one thing. But what about perishable items? Goldsmith worries that is where waste can eat up the savings from buying in bulk, especially for those who don't have a large family.

"If you look at things like meat and cheese, these are items where you really can save money buying in bulk," Goldsmith said. "But if it half of it ends up in the trash can, you are not saving any money at all."

Those buying perishables in bulk probably need a larger freezer or refrigerator, which can cost hundreds of dollars.

But shoppers shouldn't let that scare them because there are so many things to buy in bulk that require only a small amount of closet space.

Woman's Day magazine says some of the best things to buy in bulk are:

  • Detergent
  • Toilet paper
  • Diapers
  • Batteries
  • Trash bags
  • Light bulbs
  • Rice

Notice that almost all those items can last for several years once purchased, so there is no fear of having to throw them away after a month or two.

Kelly Goldsmith says ultimately, the internet can be a shopper's best friend. It's easy to find out if a 24-pack of paper towels is really a deal.

"Do that comparison shopping across websites," Goldsmith said. "It's super easy in this day and age and that way you make sure you're getting the best deal for you."

That way, you don't waste your money.

Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").
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