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Bulk Up

By Brittany Dale

Forgive me for missing Tuesday's post. I picked up a lovely stomach flu or something similar. I'll spare you the details but my brain was unable to produce a thought beyond breathe in, breathe out and don't go too far from the bathroom. While I'm not in tip top shape, I'm going to attempt coherent thought anyway!

Bulk stores! 8 gallons of dishwasher soap, what?! Buying food and other items at large quantities and highly discounted prices seems like a great deal. When thoughtfully considered; is it really?

I am often in conflict with myself whether or not it's actually a good deal to buy in large quantities or not. Are the savings really worth finding space for that 187oz jar of marinara sauce? 

From the price comparison and the blog strolling I have done, it seems that some items are a bargain and worth the trip, and others can be a rip off. There are other factors that could make or break your desire to make the extra trip and become a member.

Membership Fees: We are lucky in my household because we share a membership with my boyfriend's parents. By “share” I do mean, mooch off of and not pay anything for because they are gracious, loving people. We have decided that we wouldn't pay the membership price if we didn't already have one because we shop there so infrequently. Each family will be different of course. The membership dues may pay for themselves in one trip for some.

Family Size: My tiny family of two (plus dog food) has a small grocery need. We don't use a lot of paper goods like toilet paper or paper towels and we don't have to buy things like diapers. We also couldn't eat 10 pounds of bananas if you paid us. If you have children or multiple children, 200 bananas may actually be on your shopping list which makes a trip to Sam's worth any fees or trips.

Food preference: The foods that you buy most often may be cheaper at bulk stores. Dairy is a consistent money saver at bulk stores but my family barely gets through one quart of milk per week so buying 2 gallons at a time just would do us any good. Below are two links to posts about what to buy and what not to buy at bulk stores. If your favorite foods are on the buy list, then shopping at Sam's would be worth it, and vice versa.

Passionate Penny Pincher – What Should You Buy at Sam's Club?
Frugal Wife = Wealthy Life – What to Buy at Sam's or Costco (Carole)

Clearly I'm not the only penny pincher thinking about this subject.

The strategy that works best for my family is to stay away from anything not on my list; just like the regular grocery store. The $10 bags of mixed candies just behind the registers and the packaged foods they have in the middle of the store are huge money wasters for us. When it's on the list we do buy bags of M&Ms but I have to remind myself that we don't need any of the other stuff. I buy only what I know we will use and I do keep in mind what good prices for items are just to know I'm not getting ripped off.

The bottom line that I keep coming back to is everyone is different. The staples in my home may not be the same in yours. The only way to truly know the best place to buy groceries for your family is to understand what you buy and use consistently and the prices that you normally pay for them.

What's your vote: Yay or Nay for bulk buying? 


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It really depends…for me “bulk” means a 24-pack of toilet paper or a 5lb bag of rice…those things I WILL buy because we’ll use them and they’re cheaper in the long run.  I don’t own a membership to any stores for those things though; I buy them at Big Lots or at the regular grocery store.

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