The past two years have been a whirlwind of events-buying a house, having babies, engagement, wedding, traveling, our house falling apart, etc. Needless to say, we’ve had lots of moments that made us reflect on previous purchases- like where the hell did $$$ go?? Honestly, one of our biggest mistakes has been waiting until we needed something (usually, diapers/wipes), then running to the closest store to pick that item up. So, Tyler and I have become skilled in buying in bulk by trial and error. Here is the ultimate guide to buying in bulk.
What’s the key to buying in bulk?
1. Pick a store that’s best for your needs.
You don’t have to choose one store to shop at, and just because a store is “wholesale” doesn’t mean it’s going to have the best deal. So, where do I like to buy in bulk and why? Here are my wholesale store reviews:
Amazon: I’ve bought various items when I originally tried the Amazon Prime free trial and while it’s nice to have delivery- I found that I didn’t really care for it. Mainly it’s because a lot of items on Amazon are sold through a third party, which means you never know what you’re really going to get. I do like that it offers movies and TV shows, as apart of Prime. We tend to travel a lot, and I have to have something to do on the plane (aka watch movies). The membership for Prime is $99/year, which is less than $10 per month.
Sam’s Club: I used to work for a marketing company, which was my very first job out of college. We were partnered with Sam’s Club, so I was spending every day traveling to different Sam’s Clubs all over Indiana. I would spend an entire day bored shopping in Sam’s Club, so I became well-versed in the atmosphere. I wasn’t all that impressed- think about your recent experiences at Walmart (they lack in the customer service department). Also, they recently suspended their travel offers. Their basic membership is $45, and they also offer a membership that’s $100 (it has a cash back feat.), which is cheaper than Costco.
Costco (OUR WINNER!): In my former opinion, Sam’s Club and Costco were quite similar. But, we got an executive membership with Costco as a Christmas gift, and I LOVE it- I know, total adult thing to say. The Costco membership we have is $120 per year. There are also less expensive options (aka “basic” membership), but I would go with the Executive Membership. The Executive Membership offers more, such as getting money back at the end of the year (To see what all the Membership offers, visit the website). I also thought I’d mention that not only can you do regular grocery shopping, but you can find deals on travel (we’re booking our honeymoon to Bora Bora through Costco!), appliances, tools, etc. On top of that, the membership truly saves money in the long run-given that you shop it correctly!
For example, here are some screenshots that I took of the same items on different websites:
*I will admit for this specific example that Amazon Prime offers 20% off of certain items if you do auto delivery, which makes the price per diaper $0.23, just like Costco, however you’re only receiving 132 diapers per shipment rather than 150. *
As you can see, though, not only are you getting more diapers through Costco, but they’re cheaper. I’ve found this with a lot of items that we typically would have bought at the nearest grocery store.
2. Buy things that don’t expire quickly
Aka Canned goods! And pre-packaged snacks!
3. Be willing to spend more money in one transaction.
This pains me the most-seeing large transactions, but done correctly it will save money in the end. You’ll have to budget a little differently- spending more money in the first month or two, but then the following months you won’t have to frequent stores as much, because you’ll have items in bulk!
4. Be willing to pay to shop.
If you chose to purchase a membership, break it down. For example, the Executive Membership at Costco is $10 a month. I’ll bet you’ve spent $10 in one Starbucks run before 😉
5. Look at the price-per-unit
It’s hard to foreshadow, but occasionally, you’ll find a grocery store with a special. For example, my local grocery store has sales on noodles (the price goes from $1.00 to $0.80). At that point, I grab as many as I can.
6. Refill as soon as you notice you’re getting low.
Don’t risk running out and then needing that item! You’ll probably do what we do and be forced into buying a more expensive version of that item.
7. “Off”-brands can still be good.
I’ve noticed there’s a lot of off-brands at Costco and Sam’s Club. But, just because something isn’t “name brand”, doesn’t mean it isn’t good. We buy a lot of Kirkland items, because they work just as well as the name brand items (Kirkland vodka is supposed to be just as good as Grey Goose!). Don’t buy in bulk if you haven’t tried the item before, though!
If you choose Costco as your go-to store, below I’ve listed our top Costco purchases, and things you should always buy from Costco:
1. Water [bottles]
You can get more in a case of water from Costco, and for the same price as what you would get at a regular grocery store. Unfortunately, they don’t have a big selection for water. If you aren’t too particular, like us, we just get the Costco brand water.
2. Paper towels, tissues & toilet paper
With the twins, we’ve bought a lot of diapers from EVERYWHERE. Costco definitely has a better deal, because they have bigger boxes for the same price as a regular store.
5. Fruit (Frozen and fresh)
Usually, I would be opposed to getting perishable foods, because bulk means a lot of food. If you have kids, make shakes or are a healthier eater, Costco is the best place to buy fruit. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the freshest fruit, depending on where you live (Indiana definitely doesn’t get the ‘cream of the crop’). However, their fruit is the same price as a grocery store, and you get double the amount!
9. Canned goods (I usually get tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes and chicken broth)
My go-to meals are pasta. Baked penne, spaghetti, fettuccini, buttered noodles, and so on. I make my own sauces, and it’s a delish meal (with a TON of leftovers) thats inexpensive- including purchasing noodles and beef/chicken.
10. Baby clothes
I’ve bought sleepers from every store you could possibly imagine. Come to find out- Costco carries the Carter Brand for kids, and it’s WAY cheaper than any other store. Trust me-I’ve bought Carter’s sleepers from the Carters store, our local grocery store (Meijer), Target, Kohl’s, etc. The only time you may find cheaper at another store is if you find a [fleece] Christmas sleeper in July.
Ok, this isn’t an actual shopping item, but every time we go to Costco we not only get free samples, but we get a slice of pizza, a hot dog and soda from the cafe. The pizza slices and hot dogs are huge, and it’s a cheap meal.
What is your favorite store to shop in bulk at?