You Don't Need to Stock Up Just to Save
Here at Qponsr, we're all about saving money (that's nothing new). That's why we love stores like Costco, and we're happy to take advantage of opportunities to buy one, get one free! But you have to draw the line somewhere, because you can definitely have too much of a good thing. This fantastic blog entry seems to capture the spirit when the author writes, "frugality is about value, not consumption."
If you can realistically use all of that spinach in the massive plastic bag that you purchased at Costco...before it goes bad, then it was a great deal. If you can't, buying bulk did nothing for you (except put some rotten spinach in your refrigerator). Here are some key points about buying more than you may need of something, because it's not always worth it:
You Should Only Be Buying in Bulk Sometimes
Don't, and I repeat don't do all of your grocery shopping at Costco. It's only worth buying in bulk when you're dealing with items that will not ever go bad, and that you absolutely need:
- Toilet paper (can be up to 50 percent cheaper in bulk)
- Soap/shampoo (you'll save a few cents at a time, but it's worth it if you and your family members share products)
- Office supplies you find yourself regularly replacing (ink cartridges, printer paper)
- Toothbrushes (these should be replaced every few months)
- Paper towels
- Meat (you can freeze what you don't use!)
- Breads (same as above)
There are other items people recommend buying in bulk, that we often disagree with:
- Who needs a 20-pack of alcohol (unless you're having a party)? Where do you plan to store all of those bottles? If you go through wine quickly, perhaps this is worthwhile, but we're not sure most people go through it quickly enough to justify the purchase. Unless you've got a really big wine rack, and are regularly having a glass or two with dinner.
- Vitamins are not all created equal. The Costco vitamins are good, but they are not always best for you. Vitamins have all different levels of quality, and some are better absorbed by your body than others. Also, they have a shelf life. Make sure you can get through them in time.
- Canned vegetables may have a long shelf life, but they go on sale in regular grocery stores a lot and are often cheaper purchased at individual prices.
You Have to Store Everything
If you have a garage and can keep items purchased in bulk at reasonable temperatures (where they won't get too hot or cold) then that certainly may help matters. But that's still space being occupied by boxes of food that could otherwise be occupied by more normal garage fare...like your car. Lots of people consume so much "stuff" that their garages are filled with it, and they can't even park their vehicle. Believe it or not, a garage is not supposed to be a storage shed.
You may be an organizer extraordinaire and have a perfect system down for organizing your excess items. But if you don't, be sure to consider this when you decide to buy in bulk. If you don't store things efficiently and effectively, you may have trouble finding them when you need them!
You might buy 20 cans of soup because they're on sale, but do you know if/when you will actually eat them? It's easy to keep them out of sight for storage purposes, and ultimately forget that they were even there. If you don't have space to store your items where you will remember that you have them, it may be better not to purchase them at all!
It's great to buy things on sale, and stock up on them when you can. But take "stocking up" with a grain of salt, and don't build a storehouse of canned goods in your shed. If you feel so compelled to buy lots of a non-perishable item, but aren't positive you'll use it, consider donating some cans to an organization of your choice. Ultimately, it's about striking that perfect balance between taking full advantage of discounts, and ensuring that you still have space in your house to walk around and you know, live.