If you've ever watched "Extreme Couponing," your reaction was probably a mixture of "these people are crazy" and "maybe I should be doing that!" You can certainly save money if you're knowledgeable about bulk buying, and you don't have to take it to an extreme. Read our essential rules to stocking up and you'll be the queen of Sam's Club in no time.
The golden rules to bulk buying
When you're shopping at wholesale stores, you probably won't know what qualifies as a great deal at first. Being a savvy shopper will stem from taking note of the price per unit. Sometimes it will be conveniently located near the price, but most often you'll need to calculate it yourself. Simply divide the price of the case by the number of units it contains. If a roll of paper towels is $2 at the grocery store and the price per unit for a 10-pack is $1 at the wholesale club, that deal is saving you 50 percent!
You don't have to go crazy with the coupons, but it's probably worth it to peruse your weekly fliers. If you have a coupon for a product that's on sale, you can save even more. If there are items you go through quickly, like paper towels or pasta, keep an eye out for coupons and stash them in your purse.
Bulk buying can save you a lot of money in the long run, but don't try to do too much at once. An article on The Simple Dollar noted that first-time buyers try to buy everything in numbers and end up with too-high bills. They recommended increasing your budget by just 25 percent each month and splurging on especially good deals.
Steer clear of these items
There are a few things that aren't worth buying large numbers of, the most obvious of which is perishable items. However, you should also avoid buying large items that you won't have room to store and products that you've never tried before.
Another big faux pas when bulk buying is products you'll use more quickly if you have them in the house. For example, chips or cookies have enough preservatives that they won't go bad fast, but if you always have them in the house, you'll likely be eating them all the time. This practice probably isn't good for your health, and it also won't save you as much money if you're constantly using up your stash.
U.S. News & World Report suggested that novice bulk buyers focus on items like trash bags, toothpaste, dishwasher and laundry detergent, dry foods and office supplies. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to spot a great deal and will have a little extra pocket money each month.
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