When I was in grade school, my Home Economics teacher told us that buying in bulk is cheaper. I used to believe her until my own experience proved otherwise. When I started being savvy in the grocery, I noticed that items packaged in bulk aren’t always cheaper than buying them in smaller, regular sizes. Plus, it’s not always the wisest decision to buy products in bulk.
Still, products sold in bulk are usually cheaper. If you do it right, bulk buying can give you more opportunities to save. Here are some basic tips:
Always do the math. If you carry a cellphone with you at all times (you’re Pinoy, so you probably do), you have a calculator. Use it. Find out how much the product costs per unit (gram, mL, piece) for the regular packaging, and how much it costs per unit for the bulk packaging.
Here’s an example. A 100 gram bar of soap costs P17.00. When the same soap is sold in packs of 3, each pack costs P45.00. Which is cheaper, the 90 gram bar or the 3-pack for P45.00?
If you multiply how much a single bar costs (P17.00) by the number of bars in a pack (3), you’ll find that buying 3 individual bars costs P51.00. Since the 3-pack is only P45.00, buying it would be cheaper.
Be careful, though. Some manufacturers decrease the per-item weight of products in bulk to make buyers think that they are getting things cheaper. In the soap example given above, make sure that each bar in the pack is also labeled 100 grams. Sneaky manufacturers might use 90 gram bars in the bulk packages.
Don’t worry about the math-induced headaches you might get. It’s likely that you only have to do it once for each product you want to buy in bulk.
Buy non-perishables. Items such as toilet paper, plastic bags, dishwashing liquid, and other non-perishables are okay to buy in bulk. They won’t spoil easily and won’t be a hassle to store.
You can only safely buy perishables in bulk if you know how to preserve them, will consume them soon in large quantities (ex. if you’re having a party), or if you have assurance of the product’s quality. I found this helpful guide on how to freeze different food items. Worth looking into if you want to consider buying food in bulk.
Consider other factors that are important to you. We’ve already mentioned quality. If quality is important to you (and it should be), you need to take that into account before buying a product in bulk. After all, it isn’t a frugal choice to buy toilet paper in bulk if it breaks away easily and doesn’t absorb too well.
Another factor you may want to consider is how environmentally friendly your bulk purchase is. Sometimes, products that are packaged in bulk are prone to excessive packaging – there’s one big plastic bag wrapping the bulk of the product, individual plastic bags wrapping each item, etc. If you think a certain bulk purchase is less environment-friendly than its regular equivalent, then don’t buy it in bulk.
Know where to buy. Makro is a good place to start buying in bulk. Their bulk products are usually cheaper, especially the generic ones such as Savepak and Aro. I’ve already talked about the good quality of the Savepak dishwashing liquid, so it isn’t necessarily true that branded products are better.
You can also go straight to the manufacturer if you want to buy a product in large quantities. In fact, you might get it cheaper there.
The next time you think you’re getting a great deal from a bulk purchase, stop for a minute, do the math, and consider if you really are getting a great deal. My Home Economics teacher was mostly right. Buying in bulk can be a great money saver, but only if you do it well.