Wholesale clubs are pretty common throughout the United States. Some of the more popular ones being: Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJs. These clubs do require that you pay a membership fee, but in return you gain access to bulk products at wholesale prices. But does purchasing an industrial-sized package of toilet paper really save you that much money? The short answer is: it depends.
The Impact of Bulk Buying on Your Monthly Budget
Even though buying items at wholesale prices can save money in the long-run, they’re still more expensive upfront. So, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you’ll need to make sure that stocking up on items to use over the next several months won’t set you back financially or cause strain on your credit card balance.
What Items Should You Buy in Bulk? What Shouldn’t You Buy?
Unless you own a restaurant (or have an extremely large family), purchasing most perishables in bulk will not be cost effective for the simple fact that the products will expire before you can possibly consume them entirely. However, even if you’re just a household of two, there are certain items that usually are cheaper when purchased in bulk. These include: laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, batteries, and other similar products.
Buying in bulk also usually comes in handy for large holiday dinners because large cuts of meat are typically more cost effective at wholesale clubs than custom orders at your regular grocery store. Even if it’s not holiday season, if you have a deep freezer, purchasing large quantities of meat at once and then thawing it out as needed can be a cost-effective alternative to purchasing smaller but pricier pieces of meat more frequently.
Buying in Bulk vs. Using Coupons
If you do want to save money on perishables, using coupons at any regular grocery store usually will save you just as much money as a wholesale club… and you also won’t be left with 30 gallons of peanut butter.
Convenience of Less Frequent Trips
Even though smart couponing can save you money, many people still enjoy shopping in bulk for the convenience factor. By stocking up on large quantities of products you use frequently (like paper towels or laundry detergent), the less often you need to purchase them—which saves gas and hassle.
So, ultimately, it’s personal preference that determines whether or not you should buy in bulk and the benefit is largely influenced by your unique lifestyle and needs. If you value convenience above spreading out spending over time, then maybe stocking up and storing some items is the right choice for you. But if you don’t mind clipping some coupons now and then, then maybe the wholesale membership won’t be worth it for you.