By Chris Dato • December 22, 2014
While surviving as a broke college student is Southern California, I quickly learned the value of buying in bulk. After moving out with my best friend and becoming responsible for buying our own groceries, we were
shocked flabbergasted at what a huge expense our first trip to the grocery store as adults turned out to be. We immediately realized that we needed a better solution. The answer: splitting the cost of a membership to a warehouse store. We have discussed before some of the dos and don’ts of buying in bulk, but I wanted to share some of the items that I found were best you buy from a warehouse store.
Toiletries are some of the best items to buy in huge quantities, for a number of reasons. The first is that these items tend to have a very long shelf life, so you will not have to worry about expiration dates. Secondly, these tend to be the types of items that you will not just suddenly stop using, as they are likely a part of your morning routine everyday.
We have talked before about the benefits of buying your toothpaste in bulk from warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. But one item that you might not have considered buying in bulk is a set of toothbrushes. I know what you are thinking, “Do I really need to buy toothbrushes 10 at a time?” In short, yes. According to Everydayhealth.com, you should replace your toothbrush every 3 months, although most Americans wait closer to 9 months. Buying toothbrushes in bulk will not only save you money, but also promote better oral hygiene. Additionally, it is always nice to have extra brushes for unexpected (or unprepared) houseguests.
While products like paper towels and toilet paper break down to about the same price per sheet whether you get them at a department store or a warehouse store, you can still benefit from buying in bigger quantities. Its not like you are going to suddenly stop using toilet paper (hopefully), and there is nothing worse than suddenly realizing you have run out.
You have to be careful when buying food items in bulk, as you are not really saving any money if you end up tossing half of what you bought in the trash because it expired. The key is to be strategic with your purchases, finding items that you use frequently and that have a decent shelf life. For reference, a decent shelf life would refer to a year or more.
Many dry good make for smart items to buy in bulk. Especially if you have kids, getting your cereal in bulk is a great investment. Just be sure you don’t buy so much that you are sick of it hallway through the box. As broke college kids, my roommate and I went through our fair share of bags of rice that it took two people to carry in from the car. Rice can last for up to a year, and is the perfect food for getting the most meal for your money. Similarly, pasta is cheap and very filling, and can last up to two years in a sealed container. Canned items, such as tuna and soup, have a very long shelf life, and are typically 30% cheaper when buying in bulk. Better clear some cabinet space!
Alcohol, without a doubt, is the best-kept secrets in bulk buying. Because of the quantity price breaks the stores receive, you can find great savings on top shelf alcohol brands. For example, Grey Goose Vodka is typically 15% less expensive than retail according to Marketwatch.com. However, this is not even the best tip when it comes to getting the best price on alcohol. Did you know that Kirkland Brand Vodka (which is Costco’s home brand) costs about 25% less than name brand, is produced by Grey Goose!? Don’t pay more just for the label, especially if you are stocking up for a party. But what makes alcohol the ultimate warehouse store item? Well, due to anti-prohibition laws, Sam’s Club does not even require you to be a member in order to purchase alcohol! This is also true of Costco, but only in California, Massachusetts, and Michigan.
Even with the initial cost of a membership, you can still find huge savings by shopping at warehouse stores. The key is to know what items are good for buying in bulk, and to ensure that you have the space to conveniently store what you buy.
Chris Dato A Southern California kid born and raised, Chris is happiest with sunglasses on his face and sand under his back. Although a self-proclaimed master money saver, he prefers the term 'responsibly frugal' to 'cheap.'