Learn the rules of bulk-buying to reduce household expenses over time.
Buying household items in bulk is a key strategy for anyone who knows a thing or two about saving money. Unit prices drop as quantity increases, which, over time, has the benefit of reducing household expenses. But you have to know what to buy, as not all items are suitable for bulk purchase. Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar recommends the following three rules: (1) non-perishable is a must, (2) no items that lead you to use more of them by buying more, i.e. tempting sweets, and (3) you must have the space to store it.
What follows is a list of items that are considered ideal for bulk purchase. Keep this handy for the next time you're at Costco or encounter a great deal in the store.
1. Toilet paper: You never want to run out, and usage stays fairly steady, so this is a good bulk buy.
2. Toothpaste: The bigger the tube, the better. It won't go bad.
3. Rice & beans: These pantry staples can last for months, if not years.
4. Butter: Butter tends to be very expensive, especially high quality butter, so buy as much as you can when it comes on sale and pop it in the freezer.
5. Alcohol: Six-packs have a higher unit price than bigger 24-packs, as do jumbo-sized bottles or boxes of wine. You'll drink it anyway, right?
6. Nuts: Nuts are always expensive, which makes it even more important to buy them in large quantities. Extras can be stored in the freezer. They can be freshened up by toasting.
7. Pasta: It keeps forever and makes a perfect quick meal for hungry kids. Wait for sales on higher-quality, Italian-made pasta.
8. Oatmeal: You can never have too much oatmeal in a house. It keeps forever and is great for porridge, baked oatmeal, muffins, granola, bread, and smoothies.
9. Menstrual products and diapers: If you use disposable pads, tampons, or diapers, these are good to buy in large quantities, as they tend to be expensive over time. (Better yet, explore reusable/cloth options to do away with this expense altogether.)
10. Soaps: Laundry detergent, dish soap, shampoo, and bar soap keep indefinitely. Stock up when you can. Hamm recommends using smaller containers that can be refilled from a big one in the cupboard; apparently this reduces the amount used in the shower or while washing dishes at the sink.
11. Socks & underwear: This applies to kids, in particular, who wear through their clothes at breakneck speed. Buy the biggest packs you can find of undies and socks, preferably in the same color, which makes it easier to find a match in the laundry basket.
12. Olive oil: One can never have enough olive oil in the house. As it's pricey, buy the largest amount you can and store in a cool, dark cupboard. Refill a smaller container as needed. (My preferred source of olive oil is my Greek friend Marina's father, who ships his divine oil in 20-litre (5.3 gallon) containers that last me a year. Talk to a local Greek restaurant owner to see if you can find a similar deal. I have friends who do this for Kalamata olives, too.) Same goes for coconut oil -- the bigger, the better, if you use a lot of it.
13. Toothbrushes: This is an item you'll need for the rest of your life, so stock up if you can. Opt for recycled plastic or wooden toothbrushes to avoid plastic waste.
Which items do you always buy in bulk?