Author Topic: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk  (Read 15824 times)

Jakejake

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 716
  • FIRE: June 17, 2016
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #50 on: May 26, 2016, 06:37:36 PM »
I just bought nineteen 12oz bags of starbucks coffee clearanced to $1.99 each, plus I had a (single) $2 coupon, plus $24 in store points that were going to expire soon - so it cost me $12 out of pocket.

I have no regrets - and I will still just drink my one french press pot a day!

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8774
  • Registered member
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #51 on: May 26, 2016, 07:13:06 PM »
An emphatic YES on the extra freezer:

-New ones consume low amounts of energy a la refrigerators
-Freeze produce when it's fresh/ripe/cheap, enjoy out of season without paying the premium
-Obvious bulk buy savings

Background: We bought our 230-L freezer for around 250 bucks and use it for fruit, veggies and pesto (my wife makes several kilos at a time). We keep it indoors (not in an uninsulated garage). Electricity for it costs less than three bucks/month.

Keeping a freezer in the garage is advantageous in the winter and disadvantageous in the summer.  Not sure if there's a net gain keeping it inside

I'm in the market for a freezer -- thinking about this one (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Haier-9.2-cu-ft-Freezer/49773399) but it doesn't have any energy info.  Can energy use vary a lot?  I've been waiting for a slickdeal but it's taking too long and I'd only save $30... need to pull the trigger soon.

One thing that has been obliquely mentioned so far, which I think deserves a little more attention: if your brain is wired in a particular way -- e.g. enjoying novelty, liking finding and shopping for things -- then strolling through Costco can induce a kind of euphoric stupor, where you are fascinated at all the (presumably!) great deals for items that you didn't even consider you might want or need.

Costco loves this, of course. They foster such euphoria on purpose. The sensation they want to create in the consumer's mind is, oh I am in a warehouse store, that means everything here must be a good deal, therefore if I see anything I'm interested in at all, it is probably not a bad deal to just go ahead and buy it.

I'm not necessarily talking about the (more elementary) scenario of, hey let's buy chicken breast at Costco at $1.99/lb, even though your grocery store has it on sale for $1.69/lb. Yes, watch out for that one too.

What I'm talking about is: hey I came to Costco to buy toilet paper and chicken breast, but WOW here is this giant 2lb bag of dried cherries! I LOVE dried cherries but usually don't buy them much bc they're expensive. But I'm at Costco. So my brain doesn't have normal reference points for what makes a good deal. Because I don't usually shop for dried fruit in a 2lb bag. But it's probably a good deal right? And I love cherries. So I'm going to buy it.

... This circuit can repeat a couple more times if you're not vigilant. Then you come home from Costco having spent an extra $50 or $100 on things you didn't actually need (or even remember that you wanted).

So THAT ^^^^ is what I think is truly the dark side of bulk grocery shopping.

The cure for this is pretty simple, of course: do the same research for Costco that you ought to do at the regular grocery store. Take note of prices over time. PLAN what you are going to buy. Run some math to make sure you're not actually getting taken to the cleaners on that "good deal". Basic stuff. Just easy to overlook, because when you're first getting into it, you can mistakenly believe that anything you buy in bulk is automatically a good deal. False statement.

Totally, I've done this.  But mostly for things I "need" that I've been waiting for a deal on.  If I see it at costco I'll grab it.  In fact, that happened yesterday -- I was researching a thing I need, and found the model I wanted but wasn't sure about the prices online.  Then I saw it at Costco on rebate for around 30% less than the cheapest online price.  So I snatched it.

 Thing is, Costco isn't always the cheapest but it's rarely outright expensive.  And they have a great return policy (which I have no shame using if I get home and realize I overpaid).  The biggest money wasters there are the amazing snacks they tend to have, and since I'm on a diet I don't buy that stuff anyways.  For those of you calling Costco expensive, what are you buying?  I'm sure there are a few in-season veggies I could get cheaper at the farmer's market but Costco prices definitely vary by season (just picked up some Blueberries for like 1/4 the price of a few months ago). 

Bottom line, I don't feel bad if I slightly overpay for something at Costco since I think the gas to go elsewhere negates the overpay.  And the gas is really cheap at Costco.

warmastoast

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 127
  • Location: Austin Tx
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #52 on: May 26, 2016, 07:54:02 PM »
I've just bought about 6 months worth of gluten free staples for my son who has celiac disease.  The local grocery store had 20% off items that I will use anyway and that won't go off or are stored in the freezer.  My savings?  $40 ish.  I also won't run out quickly and I'm hoping that they will do another promotion in about 6 months.

I go to Costco and bulk buy stuff that I know I'm going to use - washing powder for example.  I used to go to Costco about once a month but it seems to have ended up being weekly now - milk/cheese/bacon/eggs are all cheaper, I buy large quantities of minced beef and make burgers/lasagne/bolognese,  chopped steak to make beouf bourguignon (I lived in france a long time) or goulasch in the slow cooker and my freezer gets stocked up full of healthy food ready for when I'm tired or in a rush.   A single mum of 3 kids and I have many demands on my time.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10897
  • Age: 61
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #53 on: May 27, 2016, 01:38:30 AM »
The cure for this is pretty simple, of course: do the same research for Costco that you ought to do at the regular grocery store. Take note of prices over time. PLAN what you are going to buy. Run some math to make sure you're not actually getting taken to the cleaners on that "good deal". Basic stuff. Just easy to overlook, because when you're first getting into it, you can mistakenly believe that anything you buy in bulk is automatically a good deal. False statement.
I totally agree with this part of your post. To refine the process further, I know my prices and keep a master list on my phone. I shop the perimeter of Costco and I never even see the promotional stuff. My grocery routine includes three stops, all in a row. First, 99 Cents Only, then Grocery Outlet, then Costco for anything the other two didn't have for less. I never darken the door of a "regular" grocery store.
And yes, I have been known to buy as many as FOUR packs of Costco TP and laundry detergent when they are on sale. We use the same amount of TP or laundry soap either way and I hate running out of basic stuff. I have made one bottle of Costco shampoo last almost a year. I have a sale-purchased twin pack in reserve, but It's stowed under the sink, so I don't even think about it. The amount I have in reserve of anything has no bearing on how much I use each time, because I'm a planner, not a Consumer SUKKA!


mountainlife

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #54 on: June 09, 2016, 10:13:34 PM »
I am single, but I love shopping at Costco. I live in a tiny town in the mountains, and the groceries are super expensive here. About once a month I drive two hours to the biggest city near me, and visit friends/go grocery shopping. I save a lot of money this way, even with the drive, because the grocery prices in my town are about 1.5x that of the prices in the city. There is literally no way to buy "cheap" food here. Plus, I love having a stocked pantry/freezer, and being able to cook whatever I want for meals. It keeps me from wanting to go out for dinner, and helps me keep my diet clean. The only time I run into eating more when I buy bulk is with raw cashews or pumpkin seeds...if I have huge amounts of them around, I eat them constantly! Everything else I just eat normal servings of, and get stoked because I don't run out in 5 days. I go grocery shopping in town once a week for some perishables like non dairy milk, and some raw veggies...but that's like a $25 trip.

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8774
  • Registered member
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #55 on: June 10, 2016, 12:57:04 AM »
I poop about twice as often due to all the toilet paper I have

kite

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 596
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #56 on: June 10, 2016, 07:31:40 AM »
I got away from the bulk buying habit in 2008.  A pricebook proved it didn't work for us any better than shopping weekly. 
Also -- my area was hit very hard by Hurricane Sandy.  The experience was a great teacher.  It wasn't our first multi-day power outage.  But it did highlight the ridiculousness of burning $4/gallon gas to run a generator to keep the freezer running. 
For us, the same mustachian logic regarding storing things on Craigslist applies to the chicken legs or pork chops we'll eat 2 weeks from now: I let Aldi's or ShopRite keep them in their fridge until I need them. The price will come back down like clockwork, and only then will I buy & cook them. 

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10897
  • Age: 61
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #57 on: June 10, 2016, 08:04:44 AM »
The only time I run into eating more when I buy bulk is with raw cashews or pumpkin seeds...if I have huge amounts of them around, I eat them constantly!
I was single until quite late in life and a Costco fan since the early Price Club in San Diego days. My trick to avoid falling into the same trap is to move some of the nuts/snax/whatever into a smaller container, such as a canning jar. I then hide the balance until I "run out". The giant packs of TP are great for this purpose, lol! Everything keeps better and I pace myself more easily when portioning out of a normal size container. Aslo, I shop from a master list on my phone and scrupulously avoid the center of the store. Bulk shopping all the way, baby!

Classical_Liberal

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1148
  • Age: 43
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #58 on: June 10, 2016, 10:58:17 AM »
I poop about twice as often due to all the toilet paper I have

Only if I purchase bulk fiber one bars.  Jesus, dont ever eat more than one of these a day!

akzidenz

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 94
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #59 on: June 11, 2016, 03:37:44 PM »
if people are perfectly rational actors, then buying in bulk makes a lot of sense. but i think a lot of people in this thread have articulated how people can be imperfect, and so buying smaller quantities makes more sense…

one big reason i don't buy in bulk is that it gives me a lot of joy to shop around for a new deodorant, shampoo, moisturizer, whatever when i've finished my old one. i'm still very consumerist in some ways and get a lot of quiet joy from shopping and choosing something. if i buy my stuff in bulk, i start feeling this itch to buy some other beauty good—a fancy sleeping mask or hand cream or something. not buying in bulk lets me control this impulse. i just tell myself, "don't buy anything until something you own runs out! then you can experience the joy of shopping again!"

i guess the most mustachian attitude is to not feel swayed by the joy of shopping at all! but as an interim measure, my little decadence in a new shampoo scent every few months keeps me on budget and happy.

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8774
  • Registered member
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #60 on: June 11, 2016, 07:38:59 PM »
I buy my shampoo when it's on sale at costco.  Last time it was on sale I waited and said "next sale."  But then I ran out of shampoo and had to pay "full price."  Then a month later it went on sale.  I should really start keeping one in reserve.  IT's not like shampoo goes bad, right?

Catbert

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1720
  • Location: Southern California
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #61 on: June 12, 2016, 01:59:34 PM »
I buy my shampoo when it's on sale at costco.  Last time it was on sale I waited and said "next sale."  But then I ran out of shampoo and had to pay "full price."  Then a month later it went on sale.  I should really start keeping one in reserve.  IT's not like shampoo goes bad, right?

My rule about Costco sales for things that I use is to look at my supply.  If < 6 months then I buy, if >6 months I pass.

Goldielocks

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6445
  • Location: BC
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #62 on: June 12, 2016, 02:05:42 PM »
Don't buy i bulk if the smaller package sizes are very useful! 

Some of the smaller packages are acutally better quality and designed for freshness storage specific for that item, for much longer than anything else. 

Too often I buy from bulk bins or in large bagged quantities, then when I get home, I have to either spend money and time to divvy it up,  put it into an (somewhat expensive) bulk storage container for freshness, or it sits and sits because I don't actually like to use that huge bag.  Re-using other containers may result in "mystery" storage if you are not labelling closely, and the items never seem as attractive out of the original package. 

My son (13) consumes items in their small original packages so fast, but when they are sitting in an un-decorated /named storage container, the same thing gets passed up.  This is a good thing unless he makes a poor substitute choice.

Sometimes the large items are on the floor or somewhere where they are more prone to damage in storage.

Now I think before I put something into my cart -- how will I use it in this size? how much $ and effort to store it properly?
« Last Edit: June 12, 2016, 02:07:21 PM by goldielocks »

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8774
  • Registered member
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #63 on: June 12, 2016, 08:22:49 PM »
Don't buy i bulk if the smaller package sizes are very useful! 

Some of the smaller packages are acutally better quality and designed for freshness storage specific for that item, for much longer than anything else. 

Too often I buy from bulk bins or in large bagged quantities, then when I get home, I have to either spend money and time to divvy it up,  put it into an (somewhat expensive) bulk storage container for freshness, or it sits and sits because I don't actually like to use that huge bag.  Re-using other containers may result in "mystery" storage if you are not labelling closely, and the items never seem as attractive out of the original package. 

My son (13) consumes items in their small original packages so fast, but when they are sitting in an un-decorated /named storage container, the same thing gets passed up.  This is a good thing unless he makes a poor substitute choice.

Sometimes the large items are on the floor or somewhere where they are more prone to damage in storage.

Now I think before I put something into my cart -- how will I use it in this size? how much $ and effort to store it properly?

A lot of the "bulk" packaging at costco is just a bunch of the regular packages in one larger package.  For example, they might have a package of 12 individually packaged 1-lb pastas.  Their gum is often just 24 regular packs of gum.  Ans so on.

Goldielocks

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6445
  • Location: BC
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #64 on: June 13, 2016, 06:12:10 PM »
Dragoncar, I think that is why met of Costco here is not a deal compared with store brands nearby.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10897
  • Age: 61
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #65 on: June 13, 2016, 07:17:52 PM »
A lot of the "bulk" packaging at costco is just a bunch of the regular packages in one larger package.  For example, they might have a package of 12 individually packaged 1-lb pastas.  Their gum is often just 24 regular packs of gum.  Ans so on.
I think this is somewhat less true than it used to be. IIRC, pasta is six or eight to a master pack, which I find more manageable. The fact that I get six or eight individual packages is what makes it possible to store and portion out. Recipes call for a pound of pasta (or eight ounces or whatever). They do not call for six pounds of pasta. Only the Duggers eat that way.

As for goldielocks' comment, I don't really understand it. There's still the amount of product vs. packaging to be considered, along with the number of shopping trips.

Goldielocks

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6445
  • Location: BC
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #66 on: June 14, 2016, 12:19:19 AM »
A lot of the "bulk" packaging at costco is just a bunch of the regular packages in one larger package.  For example, they might have a package of 12 individually packaged 1-lb pastas.  Their gum is often just 24 regular packs of gum.  Ans so on.
I think this is somewhat less true than it used to be. IIRC, pasta is six or eight to a master pack, which I find more manageable. The fact that I get six or eight individual packages is what makes it possible to store and portion out. Recipes call for a pound of pasta (or eight ounces or whatever). They do not call for six pounds of pasta. Only the Duggers eat that way.

As for goldielocks' comment, I don't really understand it. There's still the amount of product vs. packaging to be considered, along with the number of shopping trips.

Hi -- I rambled a bit before...

I have found that I need to add the cost of breaking down bulk packages (including cost of my containers, temporary or otherwise) into my cost per serving calculation.  Also that sometimes a smaller package is substantially improved storage life.  Also that some items are just not worth it to buy in bulk because of damage while in storage.

Obviously, I buy a lot in bulk, still, but the ability of the quality of the packaging to add real value to the goods is something I had not previously considered.  I thought all packaging was just a waste for landfill and just designed for marketing and convenience to get you to buy (sucka!) but it can add real value.

Now that my son is 13 and often self-feeding, I have also found that those marketing packages with pretty pictures and smaller "fresher looking" sizes appeal more to him, and therefore we have less waste.  He tends to pass over the boring "bulk container' items and constantly reach for the attracitve packaging.  I did not expect this, as it results in items being thrown out if not eaten after a long time.  How we can we have more waste despite his eating more?  etc.

Matilda

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 27
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #67 on: June 14, 2016, 01:44:20 PM »
Most things you won't use more of just because they're readily available in your home.  I try to keep my freezer well-stocked with meats (ground beef, pork chops, chicken thighs, etc.) and my pantry stocked with dry goods, simply because it makes no sense not to.  I picked up the habit in college in VT when I realized how easy it is to get snowed in for days (or at least the car buried and can't be bothered to dig it out!) and it was logical to have the ingredients for many days' worth of meals on hand.  I keep it up now, because times have been hard lately and the paychecks don't quite reach sometimes.  (Sometimes, food in the freezer is a kind of $$ in the bank, depending on your income level and situation.)

So.  Are we likely to eat more pork chops in a week, a month, or a year because there are many in the freezer, than if there weren't?  Maybe?  But if we are, it's likely in place of something else.  Maybe we grab a package of already-bought-cheaply chops instead of buying not-on-sale ground beef for that night's dinner, so that is no bad thing.  Maybe, because I bought a year's worth of peanut butter, (regular-sized jars, on a deep sale, not giant jars), my kids eat more PB sandwiches than they would have.  But they're not limitless eating machines; if they eat more peanut butter than they're eating less of something else.  Applying this theory across the board, it shouldn't matter if you DO actually consume more of whatever you bought on discount, as long as it's something that you don't regret eating from a nutritional standpoint.  Don't stock up on stuff that you consider nutritionally inferior, or don't want your family consuming on the regular.

As several other posters have pointed out, decanting large bottles into smaller ones helps alleviate the tendency to use more shampoo/ condiments/ whatever, and buying in bulk often doesn't equate to getting *larger* containers of things anyway, so much as *more* containers. 

Don't try to buy treats in bulk.  Snacks, (if you buy "snacks", a whole 'nother post!) If I buy 4 pints of Ben and Jerry's, it will last me... 6 nights.  And then I'll feel awful.  If dried raisins or cherries make you go crazy with fruit lust, do not buy a 2-pound bag.  I can buy those and keep them around to make granola with, because I don't get the urge to just nom on them. 

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8774
  • Registered member
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #68 on: June 14, 2016, 03:10:22 PM »
Yeah, I don't buy junk food at costco.  Too easy to get fat!  At some point this summer we will have 7 or 8 people in the house so I might consider getting some of those delicious croissants, muffins, or cookies that I otherwise would NEVER get through in time

thisisjeopardy

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 51
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #69 on: June 15, 2016, 11:34:36 AM »
The #1 thing to do is make sure buying in bulk is actually less expensive. Retailers and even places like Amazon know this and you should always do the math and compare. It's never a guarantee that buying in bulk saves.

We get 5# of several different types of legumes and brown rice. We never use white rice because it's just the bad carbs with all the good stuff milled away and the brown rice will spoil, but we're good for 5# a month easy.

I also found that buying in micro transactions can come out ahead to, for some of the things mentioned above: less spoilage, getting and using what you need for when you need it and avoiding overuse. The only example I can think of are the bulk bins for grains and mostly spices.

At my grocer, you can buy those 1.5 oz jars of spices for like $2 - $8 depending on the quality or quantity. But I can to the spice shop area and get a much much better return on value. In some cases by a couple hundred percent. But I have to be careful because at that same shop, they sell garbanzos, black beans, etc, at like $3.99/lb and I can go back to the other part of the store and get $1/lb in some cases (not factoring in organic or non-GMO).

Matilda

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 27
Re: Reasons Not To Buy In Bulk
« Reply #70 on: June 16, 2016, 11:08:46 AM »
The #1 thing to do is make sure buying in bulk is actually less expensive. Retailers and even places like Amazon know this and you should always do the math and compare. It's never a guarantee that buying in bulk saves.

We get 5# of several different types of legumes and brown rice. We never use white rice because it's just the bad carbs with all the good stuff milled away and the brown rice will spoil, but we're good for 5# a month easy.

I also found that buying in micro transactions can come out ahead to, for some of the things mentioned above: less spoilage, getting and using what you need for when you need it and avoiding overuse. The only example I can think of are the bulk bins for grains and mostly spices.

At my grocer, you can buy those 1.5 oz jars of spices for like $2 - $8 depending on the quality or quantity. But I can to the spice shop area and get a much much better return on value. In some cases by a couple hundred percent. But I have to be careful because at that same shop, they sell garbanzos, black beans, etc, at like $3.99/lb and I can go back to the other part of the store and get $1/lb in some cases (not factoring in organic or non-GMO).

THIS. I work at Whole Foods, which has an excellent bulk section, and the difference in price between bulk spices and jarred is amazing.  I can refill ANY of my spices or herbs for less than a dollar.  The most extreme difference is probably vanilla beans-- $16 for 2 beans in the baking aisle, or approx $1/each in the bulk section.  Stuff like nuts cost a lot less in the bulk section, compared to the cheapest bagged ones (the store brand).  I haven't yet found anything that is more expensive there.  For the scant work of filling a bag instead of grabbing one, you can get a big discount on your groceries.